EFFector Online Newsletter

EFFector       Vol. 15, No. 29       September 23, 2002     ren@eff.org

A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation     ISSN 1062-9424

In the 228th Issue of EFFector:

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Electronic Frontier Foundation Opposes Consumer Threat

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) strongly criticized a draft bill that would create a "broadcast flag" mandate for digital television (DTV). The draft, prepared by Rep. Billy Tauzin and released ahead of committee hearings to be held later this month, calls on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to issue regulations that would force the redesign of consumer electronics equipment, eliminating broad swaths of functionality in the name of advancing the U.S. transition to DTV.

"This bill is hostile to innovation, consumers, and fair use," said EFF Senior Intellectual Property Attorney Fred von Lohmann. "In order to solve a non-existent problem, this bill puts digital television innovators under the thumb of federal technology regulations and harms the long-awaited transition to DTV."

"In order to make Hollywood movie studios more comfortable with digital TV, this bill takes away the benefits consumers are poised to receive from open TV and video standards," said EFF Staff Technologist Seth Schoen. "Instead of allowing free and broad competition among technology developers, it would restrict video equipment features and obsolete millions of today's TVs and VCRs by preventing interoperation with equipment made after 2005."

Recognizing that this bill will hinder the DTV transition, EFF urges Rep. Tauzin to revise substantially his legislation before its possible introduction.


For this release:

Tauzin Broadcast Flag legislation draft:

EFF Fair Use FAQ:

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A coalition of civil liberties groups, including EFF, recently urged a secret appeals court to reject a Justice Department (DOJ) proposal to expand government wiretap powers and evade constitutional protections against surveillance.

At issue in the case is whether the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) may be used for ordinary criminal wiretaps, which are tightly regulated by the courts: for instance, the government must show "probable cause" that a crime has been or will be committed.

FISA wiretaps, however, are allowed if the government simply shows that the target is probably a "foreign power" or an "agent of a foreign power"; evidence of criminal conduct is not required.

Unsurprisingly, FISA wiretaps may not be used when the government's main goal is to gather evidence of a crime -- if the government could do so, it could bypass the Fourth Amendment's "probable cause" requirement.

The case began in May after the mysterious Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), which hears all FISA wiretap requests in secret, rejected a DOJ proposal to allow FISA to be used for criminal investigations and to allow prosecutors to direct and control FISA surveillance. Instead, the FISC modified the DOJ proposal, reciting a history of government abuse that included serious errors in at least 75 cases.

The secret May decision came to light in August when the FISC, in an unprecedented move, released the decision to Congress and authorized its publication. Only once before has a FISC opinion been published -- and that time, DOJ had asked for it to be published. That the FISC allowed the opinion to be published strongly suggests that the FISC was very concerned that the Ashcroft proposal would seriously harm civil liberties.

Last week's amicus brief was filed in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review (FISCR). Because no FISC decision has been appealed, this is the first time the FISCR has ever heard a case. If the FISCR again rejects the DOJ proposal, DOJ may appeal to the Supreme Court.

The ACLU-led coalition includes EFF, the Center for Democracy and Technology, the Center for National Security Studies, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, and the Open Society Institute.

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Help get the word out! EFF is planning to run banner ads on some of the major online filesharing services. We want to spread the word that we are protecting peer-2-peer networks and filesharing on the internet. We need help devising some short, snappy banner slogans. Got any good ideas? Please send them to: kevin@eff.org

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Share-In Thanks, Pics

The Second Annual Music Share-In was another great success! EFF would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to everyone who gave of their tme, resources, and talents to make it happen. We're already looking forward to next year. Thank you to:

Our gracious hosts:

Share-In 2002 Bands and Performers:

Share-In 2002 Media Sponsors:

Share-In 2002 Vendors:

And of course, a thank you to all the volunteers, interns, and EFF staff who worked so hard to make the Share-In a success.

Check out some pictures of the event:


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Deep Links

Deep Links features noteworthy news items, victories, and threats from around the Internet.

How Poor Countries Can Avoid the Wrongs of IP Rights Report from the Economist on the pitfalls of intellectual property policy for developing nations. Check it out at: http://www.economist.com/opinion/displayStory.cfm?story_id=1325360

Industry Blamed for Missing Content-Protection Deadline How the movie industry failed to devise a new DRM scheme for DVDs by their self-appointed date. Available here: http://www.eetimes.com/story/OEG20020917S0033

Cybersecurity Plan Lacks Muscle Declan McCullagh and Robert Lemos on the new Cybersecurity proposal from the government. Read it at: http://news.com.com/2100-1023-958545.html?tag=fd_lede

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