In our 640th issue:
One law has tripped up security researchers and filmmakers, blocked competition, outlawed phone unlocking, and undermined your right to make backups of your videos and music. What's the culprit? It's the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and it's chaining up your technology.
But now, after 15 years of unintended consequences, a great new bill in Congress could finally fix many of its problems. We need to make sure this bill gets the attention it deserves. Contact your legislators today to urge them to support the Unlocking Technology Act.
As we detailed in last week's deep-dive newsletter on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, EFF is in Lima, Peru, at the 17th round of secretive negotiations for the sprawling multinational agreement that is the TPP. As with all the previous TPP talks, the public is completely excluded from the process. We're on the ground to educate and call attention to the agreement until the negotiators make the discussions transparent and democratic.
We're happy to announce that we will now accept Bitcoin donations through our website. You can use them to make one-time donations, set up monthly donations, or get an EFF membership. Bitcoin, while innovative, has a number of limitations and weaknesses in its design, and might yet turn out to be just the first draft for future crypto-currencies. But as an organization that supports cryptographic experimentation, we believe the best answer to Bitcoin's potential shortcomings is for others to come along and offer superior alternatives.
Do Not Track: Are Weak Protections Worse Than None At All?
The struggle to nail down the long overdue Do Not Track standard continues at the W3C Tracking Protection Working Group face-to-face meeting in Sunnyvale. There seems to be no clear path forward towards agreement regarding the core issue of ensuring that the standard provides users with enough privacy protection to justify its existence. With the group set to begin winding down in July, there is a lot of uncertainty about whether a consensus standard can be reached in such a short time frame, and if no consensus standard emerges, what will happen next.
Congressional Outrage Over AP Phone Records
It's too bad that something like the Department of Justice's subpoenas for Associated Press phone records has to happen before our elected leaders take notice, but we're not ones to complain about outrage at violations of civil liberties. We used the Sunlight Foundation's handy tool Scout to search Congressional speeches for prime examples of the snowballing fury at the Department of Justice.
What's At Stake in CLS Bank -- Do Software Patents Hold Up The Sky?
A big decision in CLS Bank v. Alice saw a divided Federal Circuit tackle the patentability of software. Five judges voted to strike down patent claims to a "computer system" programmed to implement a financial transaction. But five judges would have upheld the claims. With the case seemingly headed to the Supreme Court, what's at stake?
Disappointing Unsealing Decision in Aaron Swartz Case
The public lost another battle in the U.S. v. Aaron Swartz case, this one over transparency. Last week the U.S. District Court judge handling the prosecution sided with the government, MIT, and JSTOR and refused to make public any information in the case that any of these three entities wished to keep under seal. The ruling effectively grants those groups a veto over what the public gets to know about the investigation.
Another Bill to Fix the Patent Troll Problem... Well, Part of It
Though it was paraded around as the biggest change to patent law in half a century, the America Invents Act of 2011 failed to address many of the patent system's largest problems. Notably, trolls are still able to abuse overly broad patents to threaten companies large and small. Now Senator Chuck Schumer has introduced new legislation targeting the issue: the Patent Quality Improvement Act.
EFF's Patent Questionnaire for Startups
If you work at a startup (and have five minutes!) we'd like to hear about your experience with patents.
Internet Archive: "National Security Agency <3s Internet Archive?"
An unclassified document from the National Security Agency from 2007 has some nice words to say about the Internet Archive, its founder Brewster Kahle, and the Wayback Machine.
Washington Post: "How the FBI’s Online Wiretapping Plan Could Get Your Computer Hacked"
The FBI is pushing for expanded power to eavesdrop on private Internet communications, but computer security experts worry that plan could compromise the security of Americans' computers and could even pose a threat to national security.
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If you aren't already, please consider becoming an EFF member today.
Editor: Parker Higgins, Activist
EFFector is a publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
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