In our 678th issue:
Senator Mitch McConnell is attempting to extend the NSA's mass phone records surveillance program. A few days ago, he introduced a bill to extend Section 215 of the Patriot Act for 60 days. McConnell's temporary reauthorization is designed to deflect public attention on this issue and give NSA apologists more time to water down reform efforts.
With your help, we can stop him. If you're in the United States, please pick up the phone and call your Senators. If you're outside the United States, please share this urgent alert on Facebook and Twitter.
Right now, we're in a powerful position to push for strong reforms to mass spying. On June 1, Section 215 is set to expire. Perhaps more importantly, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit recently ruled the whole program illegal. Let's send a strong message to Congress: not one more day of phone record surveillance. Let's rein in NSA mass spying under the Patriot Act, then use that energy to fuel our larger agenda of ending global mass surveillance once and for all.
For a few hours last week, it looked like the tide had turned against the massive and sprawling Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, as a group of Senate Democrats refused to let the Fast Track deal proceed to the floor for debate. We've targeted Fast Track because it's considered essential for TPP: without a deal to limit Congress to an up-or-down vote on the entire secretive agreement only after it's been finalized, the text and its anti-user, anti-consumer clauses would face scrutiny that they simply could not withstand.
On Thursday, though, the Senate reached a compromise and will allow Fast Track to proceed to the debate and vote stage. TPP and its ilk remain a looming threat as we turn our attention to the Senate floor, and to the House of Representatives, in order to stop our elected lawmakers from greasing the skids for an agreement the public cannot read but knows spells trouble.
If you are in the United States, it's more important than ever that you speak up now and tell your lawmakers to oppose Fast Track.
New EFF '404' Report Shows How Draconian Copyright Policies Stifle Online Speech Worldwide
Overly broad intellectual property laws in Russia, Colombia, and Pakistan—which U.S. trade regulators say aren’t tough enough—stifle access to innovation and threaten artists, students, and creators around the globe with prison, censorship, and state prosecution. EFF's newest report documents these and other problems with intellectual property laws worldwide, offering a first-of-its-kind analysis countering the U.S. Trade Representative's annual report.
EFF and Gamers to Copyright Office: Multiplayer Matters (Of Course)
The Entertainment Software Association responded to EFF's submission in the ongoing rulemaking on Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act by saying it doesn't think online multiplayer play really matters. In a comment to the Copyright Office, the ESA has claimed that "it is inaccurate to suggest that multiplayer gameplay over the Internet is a ‘core’ functionality of [a] video game." We couldn't disagree more.
California Wants to Create a Task Force to Review Computer Crime Policies--Guess Who's Not Invited to the Table
Whenever lawmakers congregate to discuss computer crime, you can reliably predict that the debate will gravitate toward expanding police powers, leaving the realistic concerns of everyday Internet users by the wayside. The make-up of California's proposed High Technology Crimes Task Force, which would be assigned to reevaluate the laws governing prosecution of identity theft, credit card fraud, and unspecified "Internet crimes," suggests more of the same.
What Every Librarian Needs to Know About HTTPS
For librarians, simply protecting people's book check-out records is no longer enough. Library patrons frequently access catalogs and other services over the Internet. We have learned in the last two years that the NSA is unconstitutionally hoovering up and retaining massive amounts of Internet traffic. That means that before a patron even checks out a book, their search for that book in an online catalog may already have been recorded. And the NSA is not the only threat. Other patrons, using off-the-shelf tools, can intercept queries and login data merely by virtue of being on the same network as their target. Fortunately, HTTPS is a solution, and it's getting easier to deploy every day.
EFF Asks Patent Office to Focus On Protecting Public from Bad Patents
EFF has joined Public Knowledge and Engine in submitting written comments to the Patent Office regarding its Patent Quality Initiative. We urge the Patent Office to ensure that this program actually reduces the number of invalid patents being issued. Its quality efforts should serve the public interest, not the special interests of patent applicants.
Organization of American States on NSA's Metadata Programs
The top human rights watchdog for the Americas, the Organization of American States, has issued a strong call for reform of the NSA mass surveillance metadata programs to bring them into line with international human rights law.
John Deere: You "Own" Your Tractor, But We Can Still Rip You Off
Our request for copyright law exemptions to cover car security research and repair has kicked off a major debate about what manufacturers think "ownership" really is. Here, Cory Doctorow takes on John Deere's latest entry: a letter to dealers about what they're actually selling.
Canadian Prime Minister Letter Confirms Industry Lobbying Tied to Copyright Extension
Michael Geist has obtained a revealing letter from Candian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to Music Canada, an industry lobbying group.
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Editor: Rainey Reitman, Activism Director
EFFector is a publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
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Final Countdown: NSA Spying Banner for Webmasters
We're pushing Congress to end mass surveillance under the Patriot Act, and you can help spread our visual reminder that time is running out for bulk collection of phone records. We're running a countdown banner at the top of every page on the EFF site until June 1. If you have a website, please embed the banner on your site.
Oakland Privacy Workshop
EFF is a co-sponsor of "The Dissidents, the Displaced, and the Outliers," a transbay visual art exhibition about housing security and digital privacy. EFF Activist Nadia Kayyali will lead a digital security workshop on threat modeling as part of a series of events.
May 23, 2015
Surveillance Self-Defence Tech Lab
EFF's International Director Danny O'Brien will advise activists at the Oslo Freedom Forum on how to defend themselves against digital attacks by state actors and others.
May 25, 2015
Ideas City, New Museum
EFF's Jillian York will speak at the Ideas City festival, which this year takes its theme from Italo Calvino's 1972 classic Invisible Cities.
May 28, 2015
New York, NY
EFF's 8th Annual Cyberlaw Trivia Night
Tech attorneys from throughout the Bay Area will once again gather to drink wine and beer, eat delicious food, and prove their prowess in summoning obscure tech law minutiae from the very depths of their oversized brains. They'll vie for the coveted EFF Pub Quiz Cup--and an entire year's worth of bragging rights. Are you ready to join the challenge?
June 18, 2015
San Francisco, CA
Digital Searches & Litigation in the Era of Secret Cell Phone Tracking
EFF Senior Staff Attorney Hanni Fakhoury will discuss legal challenges to cell phone tracking surveillance at the Oregon Criminal Defense Lawyers Association's 2015 Annual Seminar.
June 19, 2015