April 28, 2006

Government Moves to Intervene in AT&T Surveillance Case

DOJ Will Assert Military and State Secrets Privilege and Request Dismissal of Lawsuit

San Francisco - The United States government filed a "Statement of Interest" Friday in the Electronic Frontier Foundation's (EFF's) class-action lawsuit against AT&T, announcing that the government would "assert the military and state secrets privilege" and "intervene to seek dismissal" of the case.

EFF's lawsuit accuses AT&T of collaborating with the National Security Agency in its massive surveillance program. EFF's evidence regarding AT&T's dragnet surveillance of its networks, currently filed under seal, includes a declaration by Mark Klein, a retired AT&T telecommunications technician, and several internal AT&T documents. This evidence was bolstered and explained by the expert opinion of J. Scott Marcus, who served as Senior Advisor for Internet Technology to the Federal Communications Commission from July 2001 until July 2005

Much of the evidence in the case is currently under seal, as AT&T claims public release of the documents would expose trade secrets. A hearing on the issue is scheduled for May 17th.

For the full Statement of Interest:
https://www.eff.org/legal/cases/att/USA_statement_of_interest.pdf

For more on EFF's suit:
https://www.eff.org/legal/cases/att/

Contact:

Rebecca Jeschke
Media Coordinator
Electronic Frontier Foundation
press@eff.org

Posted at 04:12 PM


April 27, 2006

EFF Honors Craigslist, Gigi Sohn, and Jimmy Wales with Pioneer Awards

15th Annual Ceremony Highlights Innovations in Information Technology

Washington, DC - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) will honor craigslist and its leaders, Craig Newmark and Jim Buckmaster; Gigi Sohn of Public Knowledge; and Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia at its 15th annual Pioneer Awards ceremony. The presentation is at 7pm on Wednesday, May 3 at the International Spy Museum in Washington, DC, in conjunction with the Computers, Freedom, and Privacy conference (CFP).

This year's award winners all represent vital, community-building organizations dedicated to spreading knowledge in or about our digital world. They were nominated by the public and then chosen by a panel of independent judges for their innovations in the realm of information technology.

Craigslist is the world's most-used classified forum in any medium, serving as a non-commercial community service. Craigslist focuses on helping people with their basic needs – starting with housing and jobs – with a pervasive culture of trust. Craigslist's Craig Newmark founded the online community in 1995, and he still acts as a customer service representative. Jim Buckmaster has been craigslist's CEO since November of 2000, helping to transform it into one of the most popular websites in the world while maintaining its renowned public service mission.

Gigi B. Sohn is president and co-founder of Public Knowledge, a nonprofit organization that addresses the public's stake in the convergence of communications policy and intellectual property law, and serves as PK's chief strategist, fundraiser and public face. Sohn often testifies before Congress on intellectual property and technology policy, and she takes an active part in debates about proposed legislation.

Jimmy Wales is the founder and president of the Wikimedia Foundation, a non-profit corporation that operates Wikipedia – a free, online, collaborative encyclopedia. Wikipedia started in January of 2001, and now it's one of the most-used reference sites on the Internet, with editions in over 200 languages.

"I'm thrilled to honor this year's Pioneer Award recipients," said EFF's Executive Director, Shari Steele. "The Internet is a web of communities, among other things, and Craig, Jim, Gigi and Jimmy have all been instrumental in helping to give people the tools they need for sharing information online."

The judges for this year's awards were Kim Alexander (President and Founder, California Voter Foundation), Esther Dyson (editor, Release 1.0, CNET Networks), Edward W. Felten (Professor of Computer Science and Public Affairs, Princeton University), Mitch Kapor (Chair, Open Source Applications Foundation), Drazen Pantic (Co-Director, Location One, New York), Barbara Simons (IBM Research [Retired]and former President ACM), and James Tyre (Founder, The Censorware Project).

Since 1991, the EFF Pioneer Awards have recognized individuals and organizations that have made significant and influential contributions to the development of computer-mediated communications or to the empowerment of individuals in using computers and the Internet. Past winners include Tim Berners-Lee, Linus Torvalds, and Ed Felten, among many others.

This year, the Pioneer Awards are sponsored by Sling Media, a consumer electronics company working to demystify convergence technologies and to create empowering experiences for the digital media consumer. Sling Media's Slingbox transforms Windows-based laptops, desktops, PDAs, and smartphones into personal on-the-go digital TVs. Learn more about Sling Media at http://www.slingmedia.com.

More on the EFF Pioneer Awards:
https://www.eff.org/awards/pioneer

Contact:

Katina Bishop
Projects Coordinator
Electronic Frontier Foundation
katina@eff.org

Posted at 08:09 AM


April 18, 2006

Court Case to Determine Rights of Online Journalists

Arguments Set for April 20 in San Jose

San Jose - On April 20, EFF Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl will argue Apple v. Does – a case with broad implications for journalists and their right to protect the confidentiality of their sources – before a San Jose, California, appeals court.

Apple Computer, Inc., has sued several unnamed individuals, called "Does," for allegedly leaking information to online reporters about an upcoming product code-named "Asteroid." As part of the suit, Apple has subpoenaed Nfox, the ISP for PowerPage publisher Jason O'Grady, demanding that the ISP turn over the communications and unpublished materials O'Grady obtained while he was gathering information for his articles. Apple has also been granted permission to issue subpoenas directly to Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) clients PowerPage and AppleInsider for similar information.

The trial court held that if a journalist publishes information a business claims to be a trade secret, this act destroys constitutional protection for the journalist's confidential sources and unpublished materials. EFF and co-counsel Thomas Moore III and Richard Wiebe have appealed, asking the appeals court to correct the error and restore the well-settled constitutional protections for a journalist's confidential information.

"The California courts have a long history of supporting and protecting freedom of the press," said EFF Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl. "We are looking forward to the opportunity to ask the Court of Appeal to correct a ruling that endangers all journalists."

WHAT:
Apple v. Does (O'Grady v. Superior Court)

WHEN:
April 20, 9:30am

WHERE:
333 W. Santa Clara St. Suite 1060
San Jose, CA 95113

For more on the Apple v. Does case:
https://www.eff.org/Censorship/Apple_v_Does

Contacts:

Kurt Opsahl
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
kurt@eff.org

Rebecca Jeschke
Media Coordinator
Electronic Frontier Foundation
press@eff.org

Posted at 07:47 AM


April 17, 2006

EFF Debate: "Email - Should the Sender Pay?"

Esther Dyson and Danny O'Brien Face Off April 20 in San Francisco

San Francisco - What is the future of email? Should anyone ever have to pay to send it? Or would payments undermine free speech on the Internet? These are just a few of the questions raised recently by AOL's controversial plans to adopt a "certified" email system.

For more on the issues surrounding pay-to-send email, join EFF for a debate on April 20 in San Francisco. EFF's Activism Coordinator Danny O'Brien and tech expert Esther Dyson will face off over the question "Email - Should the Sender Pay?" Entrepreneur and EFF co-founder Mitch Kapor will moderate.

To reserve a seat for this debate, please email press@eff.org.

WHAT:
EFF Debate: "Email - Should the Sender Pay?"

WHEN:
Thursday, April 20th 7-8:30pm

WHERE:
Roxie Film Center 3117
16th Street, San Francisco
(between Valencia and Guerrero)
415-863-1087

RSVP:
press@eff.org

For more on this event:
https://www.eff.org/bayff/aolmail_debate.php

To learn more about the DearAOL campaign against AOL's planned sender-pay system:
http://www.dearaol.com

Some recent coverage of the controversy concerning AOL:
http://news.com.com/AOL+charged+with+blocking+opponents+e-mail/2100-1030_3-6061089.html

For Esther Dyson's editorial, "You've Got Goodmail":
http://www.release1-0.com/freshproduce/article.php?serialnum=FRP200603170000

Contact:

Rebecca Jeschke
Media Coordinator
Electronic Frontier Foundation
press@eff.org

Posted at 07:47 AM


April 13, 2006

AOL Censors Email Tax Opponents

Won’t Deliver Emails Mentioning www.DearAOL.com

UPDATE After this press release was sent out Thursday afternoon, AOL stopped blocking email with links to www.DearAOL.com. Officials at the company stated that problems of this nature generally take three to five working days to fix. However, this was fixed after 24 hours of undeliverability - and approximately twenty minutes after this press release was widely distributed. This incident only increases our worry about organizations who don't have the ability to seek instant press attention. The next time AOL's anti-spam filters fail for a small organization – or one without political muscle – will they move so quickly to fix them? Or will they push organizations to just sign up with Goodmail and pay to avoid the problem?

San Francisco - AOL is blocking delivery to AOL customers of all emails that include a link to www.DearAOL.com. Today, over 100 people who signed a petition to AOL tried sending messages to their AOL-using friends, and received a bounce-back message informing them that their email "failed permanently."

"The fact is, ISPs like AOL commonly make these kinds of arbitrary decisions – silently banning huge swathes of legitimate mail on the flimsiest of reasons – every day, and no one hears about it," said Danny O'Brien, Activism Coordinator of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). "AOL's planned CertifiedEmail system would let them profit from this power by offering to charge legitimate mailers to bypass these malfunctioning filters."

After reports of undelivered email started rolling in to the DearAOL.com Coalition, MoveOn co-founder Wes Boyd decided to see for himself if it was true.

"I tried to email my brother-in-law about DearAOL.com and AOL sent me a response as if he had disappeared," said Boyd. "But when I sent him an email without the DearAOL.com link, it went right through."

While AOL may imply that censoring www.DearAOL.com is part of some anti-spam effort, their own customers are witnessing how faulty AOL's spam measures would be if that were the case.

"I forwarded www.DearAOL.com to my own AOL account and it was censored. Apparently I can't even tell myself about it," said Kelly Tessitore from Framingham, Massachusetts.

"This proves the DearAOL.com Coalition's point entirely: left to their own devices, AOL will always put its own self-interest ahead of the public interest in a free and open Internet," said Timothy Karr, campaign director of Free Press, a national, nonpartisan organization working on media reform and Internet policy issues. "AOL wants us to believe they won't hurt free email when their pay-to-send system is up and running. But if AOL is willing to censor the flow of information now to silence their critics, how could anyone trust that they will preserve the free and open Internet down the road? Their days of saying 'trust us' are over – their credibility is zero, zip, nada."

The DearAOL.com Coalition represents over 15 million people combined – and has grown from 50 member organizations to 600 in a month. Since the beginning of the DearAOL.com campaign, more than 350,000 Internet users have signed letters to AOL opposing its pay to send proposal. Coalition members include craigslist founder Craig Newmark, the Association of Cancer Online Resources, EFF, Free Press, the AFL-CIO, MoveOn.org Civic Action, Gun Owners of America, and others.

For more on the issues surrounding pay-to-send email, join EFF for a debate on April 20 in San Francisco. EFF's O'Brien and tech expert Esther Dyson will face off over the question "Email - Should the Sender Pay?" Entrepreneur Mitch Kapor will moderate.

More information about the DearAOL.com Coalition:
http://www.dearaol.com

More information on next week's debate:
https://www.eff.org/bayff/aolmail_debate.php

Contacts:

Danny O'Brien
Activism Coordinator
Electronic Frontier Foundation
danny@eff.org

Rebecca Jeschke
Media Coordinator
Electronic Frontier Foundation
press@eff.org

Posted at 01:57 PM

Digital Copyright Law Hurts Consumers, Scientists, and Competition

EFF Report Highlights More Unintended Consequences in Seven Years of DMCA

San Francisco - In the seven years since Congress enacted the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), examples of the law's impact on legitimate consumers, scientists, and competitors continue to mount. A new report released today from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), "Unintended Consequences: Seven Years Under the DMCA," collects reports of the misuses of the DMCA -- chilling free expression and scientific research, jeopardizing fair use, impeding competition and innovation, and interfering with other laws on the books. The report updates a previous version issued by EFF in 2003.

The report tells the story of the delay of the disclosure of the Sony BMG "rootkit" vulnerabilities on millions of music CDs. The dangerous software flaws were initially discovered by Princeton graduate student J. Alex Halderman. But Halderman delayed sounding the alarm about the security problems for several weeks so he could consult with lawyers about potential violations of the DMCA. The report also details the DMCA's role in impeding RealNetworks from selling digital music to Apple iPod owners, along with other unintended consequences from the DMCA.

"Rather than being used to stop 'piracy,' the DMCA has predominantly been used to threaten and sue legitimate consumers, scientists, publishers, and competitors," said EFF senior staff attorney Fred von Lohmann. "This law is not being used as Congress intended, and a review of the past seven years makes it clear that reform is needed."

For "Unintended Consequences: Seven Years Under the DMCA":
https://www.eff.org/IP/DMCA/?f=unintended_consequences.html

For more on EFF and the DMCA:
https://www.eff.org/IP/DMCA/

Contact:

Fred von Lohmann
Senior Intellectual Property Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
fred@eff.org

Posted at 08:22 AM


April 06, 2006

EFF Files Evidence in Motion to Stop AT&T's Dragnet Surveillance

Internal AT&T Documents Had Been Temporarily Held Back Due To Government's Concerns

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) on Wednesday filed the legal briefs and evidence supporting its motion for a preliminary injunction in its class-action lawsuit against AT&T. After asking EFF to hold back the documents so that it could review them, the Department of Justice consented to EFF's filing them under seal -- a well-established procedure that prohibits public access and permits only the judge and the litigants to see the evidence. While not a party to the case, the government was concerned that even this procedure would not provide sufficient security and has represented to the Court that it is "presently considering whether and, if so, how it will participate in this case."

"The evidence that we are filing supports our claim that AT&T is diverting Internet traffic into the hands of the NSA wholesale, in violation of federal wiretapping laws and the Fourth Amendment," said EFF Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston. "More than just threatening individuals' privacy, AT&T's apparent choice to give the government secret, direct access to millions of ordinary Americans' Internet communications is a threat to the Constitution itself. We are asking the Court to put a stop to it now."

EFF's evidence regarding AT&T's dragnet surveillance of its networks includes a declaration by Mark Klein, a retired AT&T telecommunications technician, and several internal AT&T documents. This evidence was bolstered and explained by the expert opinion of J. Scott Marcus, who served as Senior Advisor for Internet Technology to the Federal Communications Commission from July 2001 until July 2005.

The internal AT&T documents and portions of the supporting declarations have been submitted to the Court under a tentative seal, a procedure that allows AT&T five court days to explain to the Court why the information should be kept from the public.

"The public deserves to know about AT&T's illegal program," said EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn. "In an abundance of caution, we are providing AT&T with an opportunity to explain itself before this material goes on the public docket, but we believe that justice will ultimately require full disclosure."

The NSA program came to light in December, when the New York Times reported that the President had authorized the agency to intercept telephone and Internet communications inside the United States without the authorization of any court. Over the ensuing weeks, it became clear that the NSA program has been intercepting and analyzing millions of Americans' communications, with the help of the country's largest phone and Internet companies, including AT&T.

"Mark Klein is a true American hero," said EFF Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl. "He has bravely come forward with information critical for proving AT&T's involvement with the government's invasive surveillance program."

In the lawsuit, EFF is representing the class of all AT&T residential customers nationwide. Working with EFF in the lawsuit are the law firms Traber & Voorhees, Lerach Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman & Robbins LLP and the Law Office of Richard R. Wiebe.

For the notice of motion for preliminary injunction:
https://www.eff.org/legal/cases/att/NotMot.pdf

For the motion to lodge under temporary seal:
https://www.eff.org/legal/cases/att/MotionReSealing.pdf

For more on EFF's suit:
https://www.eff.org/legal/cases/att/

Contacts:

Derek Slater
Acting Media Coordinator
Electronic Frontier Foundation
derek@eff.org

For Mark Klein:
Miles Ehrlich, Esq.
Ramsey & Ehrlich
miles@ramsey-ehrlich.com

[Note, 04/07 - J. Scott Marcus' title corrected.]

Posted at 12:01 AM


April 05, 2006

EFF Challenges Dangerous Patent on Internet Test-Taking

Illegitimate Patent Chills Distance Learning and University Education

San Francisco - An extremely broad patent claiming to cover almost all methods of online testing is coming under fire today.

Test.com has used this illegitimate patent to demand payments from universities with distance education programs that give tests online. However, a patent reexamination application filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today shows that Test.com wasn't the first to come up with this testing method.

"Bogus patents like this one highlight the problems with the current patent system. This is a good example of exactly what needs to be fixed to make patents useful to innovators and educators alike," Schultz said.

In conjunction with Theodore C. McCullough of the Lemaire Patent Law Firm, EFF filed a request for reexamination with the United States Patent and Trademark Office showing that IntraLearn Software Corporation had been marketing an online test-taking system long before Test.com filed its patent request. But Test.com claims that its patent allows it to collect license fees for virtually all online testing methods, preventing educators from developing online coursework and communicating with students over the Internet. As online testing is critical to Internet education, the enforcement of this patent threats academic speech and academic freedom.

"Our nation's education system already faces severe budget constraints and a shortage of resources," said EFF Staff Attorney Jason Schultz. "We shouldn't be diverting resources away from teaching to pay off bogus patent threats."

The challenge to the Test.com patent is the second filing from EFF's Patent Busting Project, which combats the chilling effects bad patents have on public and consumer interests. The first reexamination request was granted on Monday and involves a Clear Channel patent for a system and method of creating recordings of live performances, locking musical acts into using Clear Channel technology and blocking innovations by others.

Just last week, the United States Supreme Court heard arguments in the eBay v. MercExchange patent case, signaling how important patent issues are in today's economy. EFF filed an amicus brief in that case, asking justices to consider the critical free speech implications in its ruling.

For the full Test.com patent reexamination request:
https://www.eff.org/patent/wanted/test/testcom_reexam.pdf

For more on EFF's Patent Busting Project:
https://www.eff.org/patent/

For more on IntraLearn Software:
http://www.intralearn.com/

For more on eBay v. MercExchange:
https://www.eff.org/legal/cases/ebay_v_mercexchange/

Contacts:

Jason Schultz
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
jason@eff.org

Jerry Goguen
IntraLearn Software Corporation
jgoguen@intralearn.com

Theodore C. McCullough
Attorney
Lemaire Patent Law Firm

Posted at 11:31 AM


April 04, 2006

Citizens Lobby Congress for Reliable Electronic Voting

Hundreds Join EFF and Other Groups to Fight for Election Integrity

San Francisco - Hundreds of citizen lobbyists from across the nation will be in Washington, DC, this coming Thursday and Friday, working to help secure the future of safe, reliable electronic voting through the passage of HR 550 -- the Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act. HR 550 would ensure a voter-verified paper record of every vote, establish mandatory random hand-counted audits, and prohibit the use of secret software and wireless communications in voting machines.

The "Lobby Days" were organized by the HR 550 "I Count" Coalition, which includes the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Common Cause, Verified Voting, Voters Unite, VoteTrustUSA, and Working Assets. The coalition will hold a lobbying training session for activists before they go to work on Thursday.

"HR 550 represents the best opportunity to solve a number of problems related to the use of electronic voting equipment," said EFF Staff Attorney Matt Zimmerman. "By participating in this event, voters will get a chance to make their voices heard in Congress and demand transparency and accountability in elections."

HR 550 has made significant progress in the House of Representatives, largely through the grassroots efforts of voting activists. Lobby Days will help continue the momentum and show members of Congress that many of their constituents are passionate about voting integrity.

Lobby Days Schedule:

Thursday, April 6

Lobbying training session
9am to noon
Human Rights Campaign
1640 Rhode Island Ave. NW
Washington, DC

Meetings with members of Congress and staff
Noon to 6pm
Capitol Hill office buildings

Friday, April 7

Press conference
10am
Rayburn Terrace
(rain location: RHOB 2168)

Additional media availability
10am to 5pm
RHOB 2168

Additional lobbying visits
10am to 5pm
Capitol Hill office buildings

HR 550 "I Count" Coalition:
http://www.icountcoalition.org

EFF's Lobby Days Blog:
https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/archives/cat_evoting_lobby_days.php

Contacts:

Matt Zimmerman
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
mattz@eff.org

Derek Slater
Activist
Electronic Frontier Foundation
derek@eff.org

Posted at 09:53 AM


April 03, 2006

Bogus Clear Channel Patent May Be Revoked

Patent Office Orders Reexamination at EFF's Request

San Francisco - At the request of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the US Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) today agreed to reexamine an illegitimate patent held by Clear Channel Communications. The patent -- for a system and method of creating digital recordings of live performances -- locks musical acts into using Clear Channel technology and blocks innovations by others.

"The Patent Office agrees that there are serious questions about the patent's validity," said EFF Staff Attorney Jason Schultz. "This is a significant victory for artists and innovators harmed by Clear Channel's patent and for anyone concerned about overreaching, illegitimate patents."

Clear Channel now has two months to file comments defending its patent, to which EFF will get to respond. The PTO will then determine whether to invalidate the patent. In roughly 70% of instances like this one in which a request for reexamination is granted, the patent is narrowed or completely revoked.

"Patents serve an important role in our economy," said Schultz. "Keeping illegitimate patents out of that system benefits all of us, helping up-and-coming artists and entrepreneurs."

EFF filed the request for reexamination in conjunction with Theodore C. McCullough of the Lemaire Patent Law Firm and with the help of students at the Glushko-Samuelson Intellectual Property Clinic at American University's Washington College of Law. The Clear Channel patent challenge is part of EFF's Patent Busting Project, aimed at combating the chilling effects bad patents have on public and consumer interests. The Patent Busting Project seeks to document the threats and fight back by filing requests for reexamination against the worst offenders.

For more information about EFF's request and Clear Channel's patent:
https://www.eff.org/patent/wanted/patent.php?p=clearchannel

For EFF's Patent Busting Project:
https://www.eff.org/patent/

Contacts:

Jason Schultz
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
jason@eff.org

Theodore C. McCullough
Attorney
Lemaire Patent Law Firm

Posted at 12:32 PM