EFFector: Volume 23 (2010)

EFFector Online 23.35 - December 21, 2010

EFFector Online 23.34 - December 13, 2010

EFFector Online 23.33 - December 3, 2010

EFFector Online 23.32 - November 23, 2010

EFFector Online 23.31 - November 3, 2010

EFFector Online 23.30 - October 22, 2010

EFFector Online 23.29 - October 15, 2010

EFFector Online 23.28 - October 1, 2010

EFFector Online 23.27 - September 24, 2010

Patent Office Agrees with EFF's Arguments on C2 VOIP Patent In response to EFF's reexamination request, the Patent Office has preliminarily found the C2 patent invalid as obvious, agreeing with many of the arguments EFF put forth in its petition. ...

EFFector Online 23.26 - September 17, 2010

PRIVACY AND SAFETY QUESTIONS LOOM OVER FEDERAL PROGRAM TO TRACK PRESCHOOLERS The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the ACLU of Northern California (ACLU-NC) are calling for answers to critical privacy and safety questions that loom over a controversial federal program to track Head Start preschoolers with radio frequency identification (RFID) ...

SECURITY ALERT - STOP USING HAYSTACK SOFTWARE NOW Based on announcement made by The Censorship Research Center, we recommend that users stop using all versions of the Haystack anti-censorship software immediately. ...

EFFector Online 23.25 - September 10, 2010

EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT ASKS EU ACTA NEGOTIATORS TO PROTECT CITIZENS' FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS In a victory for democracy and transparency, the European Parliament adopted Written Declaration 12 (WD 12) on the proposed Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement earlier this week. While the European Parliament must give a "consent vote" for the EU to be bound by ACTA, WD 12 should be seen ...

EFF LOCATION PRIVACY WIN: COURTS MAY REQUIRE WARRANTS FOR CELL PHONE LOCATION RECORDS In a highly anticipated ruling, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia held that federal law gives judges the discretion to require the government to obtain a probable cause search warrant before accessing cell phone ...

EFFector Online 23.24 - August 27, 2010

EFF SEEKS TO HELP RIGHTHAVEN DEFENDANTS The Electronic Frontier Foundation is seeking to assist defendants in the Righthaven copyright troll lawsuits. Righthaven has filed hundreds of copyright infringement lawsuits seeking to shake down bloggers and others for stiff copyright damages. Righthaven has developed a lawsuit business model based on searching the internet for stories ...

EFF's CINDY COHN WINS IP VANGUARD AWARD FROM STATE BAR OF CALIFORNIA We're pleased to announce that EFF's Legal Director, Cindy Cohn, has won a 2010 Intellectual Property Institute Vanguard Award from the State Bar of California. Cindy was one of four legal professionals honored for spearheading ...

EFFector Online 23.23 - August 20, 2010

EFF TO VERIZON: ETISALAT CERTIFICATE AUTHORITY THREATENS WEB SECURITY EFF's open letter urges Cybertrust, a division of Verizon, to evaluate whether the trusted SSL CA certificate it issued to United Arab Emirate-based Etisalat should be revoked. Etisalat recently threatened to discontinue service to BlackBerry users after Blackberry developer Research in Motion refused to provide the UAE government with surveillance back doors in its encryption services. This follows a mislabeled firmware update to approximately 100,000 UAE BlackBerry subscribers that contained malicious surveillance software in July 2009. ...

EFFector Online 23.22 - August 12, 2010

COURT REJECTS WARRANTLESS GPS TRACKING: EFF-ACLU ARGUMENTS AGAINST ALWAYS-ON SURVEILLANCE WIN THE DAY The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit firmly rejected government claims that federal agents have an unfettered right to install Global Positioning System (GPS) location-tracking devices on anyone's car without a search warrant. The court agreed...

PURCHASE COOL STUFF AT EFF'S DEF CON AUCTION AT EBAY! Even if you couldn't make it to Las Vegas this year, you can still own a piece of EFF/DEF CON history by bidding at EFF's eBay auction. All auctions end on Wednesday, August 18, 2010, so bid now! ...

EFFector Online 23.21 - August 6, 2010

EFF OFFERS NEW HELP FOR TARGETS OF PREDATORY COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT LAWSUITS: Website Resources Explain Rights and Options for Those Caught in Movie-Downloading Shakedown EFF has published a comprehensive collection of resources to assist the thousands of individuals accused of online...

THANK YOU, DEF CON! EFF would like to thank everyone who supported EFF at the Black Hat and DEF CON conferences in Las Vegas last week. The community support was stronger than ever. Special thanks to Jeff Moss and the Black Hat and DEF CON organizers for their ongoing support of EFF each year....

EFFector Online 23.20 - July 26, 2010

EFF SECURES HUGE WIN FOR INNOVATION, FREE EXPRESSION AND CREATIVITY!! EFF won three critical exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) anti-circumvention provisions, carving out new legal protections for consumers who modify their...

EFF AT BLACKHAT AND DEFCON Join EFF this week in Las Vegas at Black Hat USA 2010 and DEF CON 18. There is still time to register, and EFF supporters receive a 25% discount on Black Hat...

EFFector Online 23.19 - July 16, 2010

EFF URGES COURT TO BLOCK DRAGNET SUBPOENAS TARGETING ONLINE COMMENTERS This week EFF served a motion to quash dragnet subpoenas that put privacy and anonymity at risk for the operators of dozens of Internet blogs and potentially hundreds of...

SUPREME COURT SHOULD UPHOLD THE FIRST SALE DOCTRINE EFF joined with Public Knowledge and other groups to urge the Supreme Court to reject a bogus copyright theory and uphold your right to resell or even give away the products...

EFFector Online 23.18 - July 9, 2010

EFF CELEBRATES 20TH ANNIVERSARY WITH NEW ANIMATION BY NINA PALEY This week marks EFF's 20th anniversary! To thank you for your support over these two decades, please enjoy this new animation created especially for us by celebrated...

EU ACTION UPDATE: KEY DEADLINE FOR EU DECLARATION ON ACTA EXTENDED Fantastic news! Thanks to the efforts of committed allies and EFF activists in the EU, more than 300 Members of European Parliament (MEPs) have signed the Written Declaration opposing the worst parts of ACTA, helping...

EFFector Online 23.17 - July 1, 2010

THOUSANDS OF ISP SUBSCRIBERS TARGETED IN MASS COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT LAWSUITS WILL HAVE A BETTER SHOT AT DEFENDING THEMSELVES after a federal judge held on Wednesday that they needed to be notified that their information was being released by their ISPs and informed of their legal options, such as the option to challenge jurisdiction. The.....

Last week, a federal judge rejected the efforts of Viacom and other copyright owners to hold YouTube responsible for infringing material uploaded by a tiny minority of YouTube users. EFF and a coalition of public interest and industry groups had filed an amicus brief supporting YouTube in the case. The ruling is the latest in a series...

EFFector Online 23.16 - June 23, 2010

GET MORE PRIVACY ON THE WEB WITH THE HTTPS EVERYWHERE EXTENSION FOR FIREFOX! Released last week as a public beta by EFF and the Tor Project, the Firefox extension helps guarantee that your browser is using encryption when visiting Google Search, Wikipedia, EFF, and many other sites that offer HTTPS.....

EFF RECENTLY LAUNCHED THE "SUBPOENA DEFENSE" LIST TO HELP TARGETS OF MOVIE-DOWNLOADING LAWSUITS. EFF has heard from many people, distressed to learn that their identity is being sought by the US Copyright Group for allegedly having downloaded a movie using BitTorrent. While EFF cannot advise each of these defendants individually, we have assembled a list of attorneys nationwide who are willing to help advise and possibly represent subpoena targets. ...

EFFector Online 23.15 - June 11, 2010

EFF IS DEFENDING THE RIGHTS OF THOUSANDS OF INTERNET USERS FROM PREDATORY MOVIE-DOWNLOADING LAWSUITS by asking judges in Washington, D.C., to deny attempts by the U.S. Copyright Group (USCG) to lump scores of people as defendants into copyright infringement cases....

OBVIOUSLY NOT LEARNING FROM THE SOCIAL NETWORKING PRIVACY MISSTEPS OF FACEBOOK AND GOOGLE, YAHOO! RECENTLY UNVEILED PLANS TO EXPOSE ITS USERS' ACTIONS ONLINE by automatically publicizing what Yahoo! Mail users do on Yahoo! websites to other Yahoo! Mail users. The convoluted scheme avoids exposing lists of email contacts, ...

EFFector Online 23.14 - June 1, 2010


EFF HAS TAKEN FACEBOOK TO TASK FOR PUSHING USERS INTO UNPRECEDENTED OVERSHARING, joined by a concerned chorus of privacy-conscious users....

EFFector Online 23.13 - May 17, 2010

EFF UNVEILED RESULTS FROM THE "PANOPTICLICK" BROWSER PRIVACY PROJECT, which demonstrated that more than 8 in 10 people use browsers with unique, trackable signatures. Having a distinct browser signature means your individual movements on the web may be easier to track, and several companies are already selling products that claim to use browser fingerprinting to help websites identify users and their online activities.

For the full white paper "How Unique Is Your Web Browser?": https://panopticlick.eff.org/browser-uniqueness.pdf

For more about Panopticlick: http://www.eff.org/press/archives/2010/05/13

EFFector Online 23.12 - April 28, 2010

A SLEW OF NEW FACEBOOK SCHEMES THREATEN USERS' PRIVACY, and EFF has created tools to help Facebook users protect their information. One of the most radical changes is "Instant Personalization," which gives other websites (Yelp, Pandora, and Microsoft Docs, at the moment) personal information from your Facebook profile as soon as you visit their pages. Moreover, even if you opt out of Instant Personalization, your friends can leak information about you unless you block each application individually.

To completely opt out of Instant Personalization:

For more on Facebook's plans to make your information public:

EFFector Online 23.11 - April 11, 2010

LITTLE MORE THAN TWO WEEKS AFTER EFF TESTIFIED to a Senate subcommittee that federal electronic privacy law needs to be updated to protect against secret video surveillance, Senator Arlen Specter responded by introducing a bill to do just that. The Surreptitious Video Surveillance Act of 2010 creates serious criminal and civil penalties for secret, nonconsensual video surveillance inside any temporary or permanent residence, be it your house, your apartment, or your hotel room.

EFF looks forward to working with Congress to ensure that the bill properly balances privacy rights, public safety, and the free speech rights of photographers, videographers and journalists.

For more about the bill:

For EFF's original testimony at the Senate hearing:

EFFector Online 23.10 - April 9, 2010

JOURNALIST EVAN RATLIFF WILL DISCUSS HIS ATTEMPT TO "VANISH" at the next installment of EFF's dynamic Geek Reading series on Tuesday, April 13. In a groundbreaking experiment last August, Evan challenged readers of Wired Magazine to track him down as he dodged across the country. Evan will share his behind-the-scenes experiences of what it means to disappear in the digital age, exploring the questions of privacy, surveillance, and identity. Join us this upcoming Tuesday at 7 PM at 111 Minna Gallery in San Francisco. Hope to see you there!

For ticketing information:

EFFector Online 23.09 - April 1, 2010

European ACTA Negotiators Reject "Three Strikes" Moniker

Seething Danes were seen stomping out of the ACTA negotiation chambers in Wellington, New Zealand, citing frustration with the United States negotiators' continued pushing of "three strikes" proposals.

"ACTA is an international agreement," fumed negotiator Olaf Atdis. "It's absurd for the United States to continue demanding a baseball analogy when a football analogy would be much more representative of the diversity of the negotiating countries."

"Three strikes" laws and policies require Internet service providers to automatically disconnect their Internet users on repeat allegations of copyright infringement by entertainment company complaints, but EU negotiators reportedly prefer a "carding" system. ISPs that receive complaints would issue "yellow cards" and "red cards," tracking the official penalty system of the Fˇdˇration Internationale de Football Association (FIFA).

EFF spoke out against both naming conventions. "These sports analogies are antithetical to the spirit of the open Internet," argued EFF International Director Gwen Hinze. "The Internet is much more like the Force, which as Obi-Wan taught us all, 'surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together.' Evil Sith-Imperial complaints should not result in an individual being severed from the Force. That's clearly preposterous."

For more about yellow cards, red cards, the Force, and ACTA:

EFFector Online 23.08 - March 26, 2010

GOVERNMENT EXPLOITS SSL CERTIFICATES SECURITY FLAW? Researchers released a draft paper about an inherent browser security flaw with evidence that governments may be able to surreptitiously spy on users' "secure" communications. Most modern browsers rely on certificate authorities (CAs) to vouch for whether a secure site is what it claims to be. But there's evidence that governments are being sold tools that they can use as part of a scheme to have CAs issue certificates for surveillance operations, enabling the undetectable spoofing of ceratin websites or services.

For details about the security research:

AS PROMISED, GOOGLE HAS STOPPED CENSORING SEARCH ENGINE RESULTS IN CHINA this week, definitively underscoring the gap between Western democratic values and the Chinese government's authoritarian approach to the Internet. Censorship technology operated by the Chinese government is still active, but Google itself is no longer complicit and has taken a principled stand along those who fight censorship in China and the rest of the world.

For more about Google ceasing censorship in China:

EFFector Online 23.07 - March 19, 2010

EFF CELEBRATES SUNSHINE WEEK, a national initiative to highlight the importance of government transparency and freedom of information. On Thursday, EFF urged the White House to fulfill its promises for open government during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee meeting on open government. In addition, EFF has posted a fascinating comparison of a censored FBI document and the uncensored version of the same FBI document, highlighting the Bureau's attempts to keep information under wraps even as EFF (and other government agencies!) fight for oversight and accountability.

For more about the redacted FBI documents:

For the side-by-side comparison:

For more about our congressional testimony:

EFFector Online 23.06 - March 1, 2010

Pentagon Discloses Hundreds of Reports of Possibly Illegal Intelligence Activities

The Department of Defense has released more than 800 heavily-redacted pages of intelligence oversight reports, detailing activities that its Inspector General has reason to believe are unlawful. The reports are the latest in an ongoing document release by more than a half-dozen intelligence agencies in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed by EFF in July 2009.

Much of the reported improper activity consisted of intelligence gathering on so-called U.S. Persons, including citizens, permanent residents and U.S.-based organizations. Although Defense agencies are generally prohibited from collecting such information (except as part of foreign intelligence or counter-intelligence activity), it is apparent from the unredacted reports released to EFF that some DoD components have had chronic difficulty complying with that prohibition.


EFFector Online 23.05 - February 19, 2010

Digital Books and Your Rights: A Checklist for Readers

Over the last few months, the universe of digital books has expanded dramatically, with products like Amazon's Kindle, Google Books, Internet Archive's Text Archive, Barnes and Noble's Nook, and Apple's upcoming iPad poised to revolutionize reading. But while this digital books revolution could make books more accessible than ever before, there are lingering questions about the future of reader privacy, consumers' rights, and potential censorship.

What questions should consumers ask before buying a digital book or reader? EFF has published "Digital Books and Your Rights," a checklist for readers considering buying into the digital book marketplace.

Full press release: http://www.eff.org/press/archives/2010/02/16-0

Full report on Digital Books and Your Rights:

EFFector Online 23.04 - February 4, 2010

Come Celebrate EFF's 20th Birthday with Adam Savage and Friends on February 10!

Join TV geek Adam Savage and a cast of EFF legends and luminaries at EFF's 20th birthday party! Our birthday fundraiser on February 10th will celebrate two decades of digital freedom-fighting in San Francisco's world-famous DNA Lounge.

Adam will present a unique look back and forward to EFF's founding and the future of digital rights. DJs Adrian & the Mysterious D, the duo that founded the seminal, globe-trotting mashup party "Bootie," will get people moving with their genre-mashing blend of tracks, with guest DJs dropping sets throughout the evening. It's a once-in-a- lifetime event for those who love freedom, technology, and celebration!

EFFector Online 23.03 - January 26, 2010

Some Lessons from the AT&T/Facebook Switcheroo. Over the weekend, there was an odd story about people using AT&T's wireless network trying to log in to Facebook and suddenly finding themselves logged in to somebody else's Facebook account. What could have caused such a strange phenomenon to occur? ...

FBI Replaced Legal Process with Post-It Notes to Obtain Phone Records DOJ's Office of the Inspector General has issued a long-awaited report on the FBI's use of 'exigent letters' to obtain phone records. While the report has many interesting and shocking revelations, three issues jumped out at us: Post-it note process; a secret new legal theory; ...

EFFector Online 23.02 - January 15, 2010

EFF called on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to close loopholes in its proposed regulations for network neutrality -- loopholes that could let the entertainment industry and law enforcement hinder free speech and innovation. Under the new rules, ISPs would get a free pass to block content in pursuit of copyright infringement or when they voluntarily adopt measures to help law enforcement.

"The central goal of the net neutrality movement is to prevent ISPs from discriminating against lawful content on the Internet," said EFF Civil Liberties Director Jennifer Granick. "Yet the FCC's version of net neutrality specifically allows ISPs to make those discriminations -- opening the door to widespread Internet surveillance and censorship in the guise of copyright protection and addressing the needs of law enforcement."

EFFector Online 23.01 - January 6, 2010

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has asked a federal judge in San Francisco to quash a baseless subpoena aimed at outing an anonymous online critic of a Pennsylvania company called USA Technologies. A hearing in the case took place on Friday, December 18. The judge has not yet issued a ruling.

Earlier this year, EFF's client -- Yahoo! user "stokklerk" -- posted to the Yahoo! message board dedicated to the company, criticizing USA Technologies and its CEO George Jensen, Jr., for plummeting stock prices, high compensation rates for executives, and consistent lack of profitability. Another anonymous poster had similar complaints. In response, USA Technologies filed suit in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, alleging that the statements violated federal securities regulations because they were part of a "scheme" for the authors to "enrich themselves through undisclosed manipulative trading tactics." USA Technologies also alleged that the online posts were defamatory. As part of that lawsuit, USA Technologies issued a subpoena out of the Northern District of California to Yahoo! asking for the critics' identities.