In our 652nd issue:
U.S. government intelligence officials released previously classified documents over the weekend related to a long-standing EFF case on the constitutionality of the NSA warrantless surveillance programs dating back to the Bush Administration. In a brief filed with the released documents, the Obama Administration claims that litigation in Jewel v. NSA would jeopardize state secrets–a strange claim considering NSA spying is discussed daily in the world's most popular news outlets and even at a presidential press conference last week.
The President's Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies released a report last week packed with over 40 recommendations that call for increased organizational transparency, the protection of online security tools, and serious reforms to NSA programs as well as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The review group condemned the NSA's attacks on encryption and other essential security tools, but failed in its recommendations to address the constitutionality of NSA programs. The report moreover left room for continued, untargeted, and global mass surveillance.
A federal court ruled last week that the NSA's mass surveillance of phone records is most likely unconstitutional. In the case, Klayman v. Obama, the judge ruled that the plaintiff's data should be removed from the NSA's data storage and that the NSA is prohibited from collecting any further phone records from the plaintiffs. The judge made a critical claim against the use of the Smith v. Maryland–the decision from the 1970s that the government relies on to justify NSA spying–ruling that the secret FISC interpretation of that case is not applicable in today's high-technology landscape.
One Small Step for Privacy, One Giant Leap Against Surveillance
All 193 members of The United National General Assembly that unanimously approved a resolution aimed at upholding the right to privacy for all peoples–regardless of whether or not individuals live in the country that is surveilling them–a core principle of international human rights law. The resolution entitled "The right to privacy in the digital age" reopens the opportunity for work on the protection of privacy across borders. EFF, in partnership with academics and civil society organizations across the world, has developed the 13 International Principles for the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance, which can be used by states and advocates to push for
stronger privacy protections internationally and at home.
54 Civil Liberties and Public Interest Organizations Oppose the FISA Improvements Act
Senator Feinstein's FISA Improvements Act, if passed, will legalize and strengthen NSA's unjustified and unconstitutional mass surviellance programs. This bill must be stopped. That's why EFF spearheaded a letter signed by 54 public interest organizations to collectively oppose the Feinstein bill, which has already passed out of the Senate Intelligence Committee. The letter calls on members of Congress to reject the FISA Improvement Acts and champion real NSA reform.
NSA Turns Cookies (And More) Into Surveillance Beacons
The NSA is using Google's cookies–typically used to supply creepy personalized ads and search results–as a part of the U.S. government's massive, unconstitutional surveillance efforts. With these cookies, the NSA hacks into people's computers, monitors whenever your browser interacts with a Google product (regardless of being logged in), and assigns a unique identifier to track all users of Google search, even if the person switches networks or is in a different country.
Google Removes Vital Privacy Feature From Android, Claiming Its Release Was Accidental
One day there was an critically important app privacy feature for Android phones, and the next day it was gone. Google claimed that they had only accidentally released App Ops, a privacy feature that allowed Android users to install apps while preventing the app from collecting personal data, like one's location or address book. It is essential that Google enable this privacy feature that corrected a serious flaw in Android security. Apple fixed the problem with user data escaping through apps years ago.
Dancing Baby Files Opening Brief in DMCA Abuse Appeal
Universal Music Group is one step closer to being held accountable for abusing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. EFF filed an opening brief on behalf of Stephanie Lenz, who was charged with copyright infringement for posting a video of her baby dancing to the Prince song, "Let's Go Crazy," despite the fact that Ms. Lenz's video was a fair use and protected free expression under the First Amendment.
We Can Hear You Now: Verizon and AT&T Plan First Transparency Report (Update-AT&T, Too!)
Less than a day after Verizon announced its plans to be the first telecom to release a transparency report detailing government requests for user data, AT&T also came out saying they too will issue a transparency report next year. The announcements came as a surprise, since both companies took a stance against shareholder requests for more transparency just last month, claiming shareholders had no ground to demand the companies take any action.
EFF's Reading List: Books of 2013
At the close of every year, we put together a list of books released in the past twelve months that we feel have helped to drive the conversation in digital rights. While we don't endorse all of the arguments the authors raise, we are delighted to call attention to books by Gabriella Coleman, Susan Crawford, Bruce Schneier, and others, all doing noteworthy writing and research on EFF issues.
Secret contract tied NSA and security industry pioneer
Reuters reports that documents leaked by Edward Snowden reveal that the NSA arranged a secret $10 million contract with RSA, one of the world's most influential computer security firms, to install a flawed formula to generate "back doors" into encryption products.
White House Tries to Prevent Judge From Ruling on Surveillance Efforts
The White House is trying to prevent a ruling in federal court on a long-standing EFF case on the constitutionality of NSA warrantless surveillance programs dating back to the Bush Administration, claiming that litigation would jeopardize state secrets.
Using copyright to keep repair manuals secret undermines circular economy
iFixit CEO, Kyle Wiens, writes about how electronic manufacturers that copyright their repair manuals undermine customers' ability to fix the things they own and hurts the environment by encouraging needless obsolescence.
Pacific Trade Deal Needs More WikiLeaking
This Bloomberg op-ed argues that Asian countries should opt out of joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership until legislatures can see, debate, and vote on the treaty's undisclosed contents.
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Editor: April Glaser, Activist
EFFector is a publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
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