In our 669th issue:
Law enforcement has been ablaze with indignation since Apple first announced three weeks ago that it was expanding the scope of what types of data would be encrypted on devices running iOS 8. When Google followed suit and announced that Android L would also come with encryption on by default, it only added fuel to the fire. But these decisions, first and foremost, are about protecting the security of users. These companies have made a sound engineering decision to make mobile security as strong as they know how, by bringing it in line with laptop and desktop security.
After months of delay, Warner has finally released documents detailing its notice-and-takedown practices. The information was filed under seal in the now-defunct Hotfile litigation until a federal court, prompted by a motion from EFF, ordered Warner to produce them for the public. These documents confirm the movie studio's abuse of the DMCA takedown process. They describe Warner "robots" sending thousands of infringement accusations to sites like the now-closed Hotfile without human review, based primarily on filenames and metadata rather than inspection of the files' contents. They also show that Warner knew its automated searches were too broad and that its system was taking down content in which Warner had no
rights--likely a violation of the DMCA.
For years, local law enforcement agencies around the country have told parents that installing ComputerCOP software is the "first step" in protecting their children online. But as official as it looks, ComputerCOP is actually just spyware, generally bought in bulk from a New York company that appears to do nothing but market this software to local government agencies. In the course of investigating and documenting the spread of that software through some 245 agencies in 35 states, EFF has conducted a security review of ComputerCOP and determined it is neither safe nor secure.
They Fight Surveillance - And You Can Too
EFF has launched two projects to help you fight "privacy nihilism"--to show that despite the skepticism of your friends and colleagues, you can do something. In Counter-Surveillance Success Stories, we've collected examples of individuals and small groups who have chosen to battle unlawful spying in their own countries--and have won. And on our new I Fight Surveillance site, we're showcasing individuals from around the world who are taking a stand.
For Shame: Gannett Abuses DMCA to Take Down Political Speech
Like clockwork, another news organization is abusing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's hair-trigger take down process to stifle political commentary just when that commentary is most timely. A Kentucky newspaper's editorial board live-streamed an interview with a Democratic candidate for Senate, and captured 40 uncomfortable seconds of her trying desperately to avoid admitting she voted for President Obama. A critic posted the video clip online--and the newspaper's parent company Gannett promptly took it down.
Stop the Spies: Australians Rise Up Against Mandatory Data Retention
The latest shadow over the civil liberties of Australians is a yet-unnamed mandatory data retention bill that will be introduced into the federal parliament during the week of October 27. Under the flimsy pretext that this measure is urgently needed to fight terrorism, the bill would require Australian Internet providers to scoop up highly personal information about their customers as they use the Internet and store it for two years for law enforcement agencies to access. On October 6, a grassroots website called Stop the Spies was launched to expose this threat and to mobilize ordinary Internet users to stop it.
Adobe Spyware Reveals (Again) the Price of DRM: Your Privacy and Security
The publishing world may finally be facing its "rootkit scandal." Two independent reports claim that Adobe's e-book software, "Digital Editions," logs every document readers add to their local "library," tracks what happens with those files, and then sends those logs back to the mother-ship, over the Internet, in the clear. In other words, Adobe is not only tracking your reading habits, it’s making it really, really easy for others to do so as well.
EFF Intervenes in Canadian Court Case to Protect Free Speech Online
EFF has filed a brief with the British Columbia Court of Appeal in Canada weighing in on a ruling that Google must block certain entire websites from its search results around the world. Such a broad injunction sets a dangerous precedent, especially where the injunction is likely to conflict with the laws of other nations. In its brief, EFF explains how the trial court's decision would have likely violated the U.S. Constitution and constituted an improper "mandatory injunction" under case law in California, where Google is based. By blocking entire websites, Canadian courts potentially censor innocent content that U.S. Internet users have a constitutional right to receive.
DEFCON Router Hacking Contest Reveals 15 Major Vulnerabilities
A DEFCON contest to find vulnerabilities in consumer router software this summer was hugely successful: participants discovered 15 "zero-day" vulnerabilities, including seven that allow full takeover. Those bugs have all been disclosed to the manufacturers, but fixes have been slow to roll out.
Listen: Audio from [UNDER SEAL] v. Holder, EFF's National Security Letter case
EFF squared off last week against the Department of Justice in the Ninth Circuit on behalf of gagged recipients of national security letters. The court has published an audio recording of that hearing.
NSA Mind-Bender: We Won't Tell You What Info We Already Leaked to the Media
In Wired, Kim Zetter reports that the National Security Agency has refused to release information in response to a FOIA request about the agency's authorized leaks to the media.
NSA's Director of Civil Liberties and Privacy's new report on Executive Order 12333 [pdf]
Rebecca J. Richards, the director of NSA's Civil Liberties and Privacy Office, has issued an overview of the civil liberties protections built into the agency's signals intelligence programs.
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Editor: Parker Higgins, Activist
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