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Tag Archive: Electronic Frontier Foundation


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Groups Issue Warning: Pro-Corporate TPP Could Kill the Internet

“What we’re talking about here is global Internet censorship.”

Digital rights groups warn that TPP “will criminalize our online activities, censor the Web, and cost everyday users money.” (Photo: Getty)

The “disastrous” pro-corporate trade deal finalized Monday could kill the Internet as we know it, campaigners are warning, as they vow to keep up the fight against the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement between the U.S. and 11 Pacific Rim nations.

“Internet users around the world should be very concerned about this ultra-secret pact,” said OpenMedia’s digital rights specialist Meghan Sali. “What we’re talking about here is global Internet censorship. It will criminalize our online activities, censor the Web, and cost everyday users money. This deal would never pass with the whole world watching—that’s why they’ve negotiated it in total secrecy.”

“The TPP will criminalize our online activities, censor the Web, and cost everyday users money. This deal would never pass with the whole world watching—that’s why they’ve negotiated it in total secrecy.” —Meghan Sali, Open Media

TPP opponents have claimed that under the agreement, “Internet Service Providers could be required to ‘police’ user activity (i.e. police YOU), take down Internet content, and cut people off from Internet access for common user-generated content.”

Among the deal’s provisions are rules that could criminalize file-sharing, whistleblowing, and breaking digital locks, even for legitimate purposes. Of course, because the contents of the pact have been negotiated largely in secret, the exact implications of the TPP on user rights is yet to be seen.

However, Electronic Frontier Foundation’s (EFF) Maira Sutton wrote on Monday, “We have no reason to believe that the TPP has improved much at all from the last leaked version released in August, and we won’t know until the U.S. Trade Representative releases the text. So as long as it contains a retroactive 20-year copyright term extension, bans on circumventing DRM, massively disproportionate punishments for copyright infringement, and rules that criminalize investigative journalists and whistleblowers, we have to do everything we can to stop this agreement from getting signed, ratified, and put into force.”

Furthermore, “The fact that close to 800 million Internet users’ rights to free expression, privacy, and access to knowledge online hinged upon the outcome of squabbles over trade rules on cars and milk is precisely why digital policy consideration[s] do not belong in trade agreements,” Sutton added, referring to the auto and dairy tariff provisions that reportedly held up the talks.

“The fact that close to 800 million Internet users’ rights to free expression, privacy, and access to knowledge online hinged upon the outcome of squabbles over trade rules on cars and milk is precisely why digital policy consideration[s] do not belong in trade agreements.”  —Maira Sutton, EFF

With a major protest against the TPP and other secret trade deals planned for November in Washington, D.C., EFF is crowdsourcing slogans related to how the TPP threatens digital rights and freedoms around the world.

“Successive leaks of the TPP have demonstrated that unless you are a big business sector, the [U.S. Trade Representative, or USTR] simply doesn’t care what you have to say,” wrote EFF’s Jeremy Malcolm.

“Enough’s enough,” reads the group’s call-to-action. “The time for whitepapers and presentations is past. The USTR has failed us, so now it’s time for the public to rise up and take their message about the TPP’s threats to user rights to Congress, which has the ultimate authority to approve or reject the deal for the United States.”

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Government Claims EFF’s Lawsuits Don’t Cover Ongoing Surveillance – Raising Fears Key Documents May Have Been Destroyed

UPDATE: Judge White today continued his temporary restraining order in these two cases until a more permanent order could be put in place. The question of whether the government improperly destroyed evidence so far will be briefed over the next several weeks.

San Francisco – The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) will fight disturbing new government claims in an emergency court hearing Wednesday – claims that may imply records documenting ongoing government surveillance have been destroyed despite a judge’s order.

Over the last several weeks, EFF has been battling to ensure that evidence of the NSA surveillance program will be preserved as part of its two cases challenging the illegal government spying: Jewel v. NSA and First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles v. NSA. But in a court filing late Monday, the government made shocking new assertions, arguing that its obligation to preserve evidence was limited to aspects of the original Bush-era spying program, which the government contends ended eight years ago with a transition to FISA court orders.

“This argument simply does not make sense. EFF has been demanding an injunction to stop this illegal spying program, regardless of the government’s shifting justifications,” said EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn, who will argue in front of U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey S. White at the hearing Wednesday. “But these government claims aren’t just nonsensical – they are extremely worrisome and dangerous. The government is suggesting it may have destroyed years’ worth of evidence about its illegal spying, justified by its own secret interpretation of our case. This is about more than just phone records; it’s about evidence concerning all of the government’s spying. EFF is asking the court for a full accounting of just what is going on here, and it’s time for the government to come clean.”

Read More Here

 

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– Jon Queally, staff writer

Not content to wait for action at the federal level, those opposed to the ongoing mass surveillance of the NSA and other agencies are speaking out and pushing laws at the state level to ensure privacy rights are protected. (Image: thedaywefightback.org)Concerned about the government’s increasing surveillance powers but unimpressed with the congressional response in Washington so far, state lawmakers from both major political parties are now taking it upon themselves to protect the online and communication privacy of their constituents.

Meanwhile, individuals and privacy groups are planning their own grassroots response to mass surveillance, hoping to repeat past victories by harnessing the power of digital communications to ensure they are adequately protected from government overreach.

As the Associated Press reports Wednesday, efforts are now underway “in at least 14 states are a direct message to the federal government: If you don’t take action to strengthen privacy, we will.”

According to AP:

Republican and Democratic lawmakers have joined in proposing the measures, reflecting the unusual mix of political partnerships that have arisen since the NSA revelations that began in May. Establishment leadership has generally favored the programs, while conservative limited government advocates and liberal privacy supporters have opposed them.

Supporters say the measures are needed because technology has grown to the point that police can digitally track someone’s every move.

Devices such as license plate readers and cellphone trackers “can tell whether you stayed in a motel that specializes in hourly rates, or you stopped at tavern that has nude dancers,” said David Fidanque, director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon.

“It’s one thing to know you haven’t violated the law, but it’s another thing to know you haven’t had every one of your moves tracked,” he said.

Next week, on February 11, privacy advocates and online freedom groups are mobilizing against NSA and other government surveillance in a day of action they’ve dubbed ‘The Day We Fight Back.’

According to Katitza Rodriguez at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, one of the groups organizing the action, those participating will be demanding “an end to mass surveillance in every country, by every state, regardless of boundaries or politics.”

Galvanized by what they see as 13 Principles of internet and communication freedoms, activists will use the day to call attention to those goals, lobby on their behalf with their representatives, and declare an end to the encroaching, unaccountable, and unregulated surveillance apparatus.

“The Principles spellout just why mass surveillance is a violation of human rights,” explained Rodriguez, and they “give sympathetic lawmakers and judges a list of fixes they could apply to the lawless Internet spooks. On the day we fight back, we want the world to sign onto those principles. We want politicians to pledge to uphold them. We want the world to see we care.”

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Some of the biggest names in cryptography condemn NSA spying in open letter

FILE - This Thursday, June 6, 2013, file photo, shows a sign outside the National Security Administration (NSA) campus in Fort Meade, Md. The National Security Agency has implanted software in nearly 100,000 computers around the world — but not in the United States — that allows the U.S. to conduct surveillance on those machines, The New York Times reported Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014. ((AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Some of the biggest names in cryptography and computer science just released an open letter condemning the surveillance practices of the U.S government. “Media reports since last June have revealed that the US government conducts domestic and international surveillance on a massive scale, that it engages in deliberate and covert weakening of Internet security standards, and that it pressures US technology companies to deploy backdoors and other data-collection features,” said a statement posted to masssurveillance.info. “As leading members of the US cryptography and information-security research communities, we deplore these practices and urge that they be changed.”

In a speech last week, President Obama addressed concerns related to NSA’s 215 domestic phone records collection program, but he did not remark on reports that the U.S. government had weakened encryption as part of its practices.

Read More Here

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WashingtonsBlog

Open Letter from Top U.S. Computer Security Experts Slams NSA Spying As Destroying Security

The NSA Is Making Us All Less Safe

An open letter today from a large group of professors – top US computer security and cryptography researchers – slams the damage to ecurity caused by NSA spying:

Inserting backdoors, sabotaging standards, and tapping commercial data-center links provide bad actors, foreign and domestic, opportunities to exploit the resulting vulnerabilities.

The value of society-wide surveillance in preventing terrorism is unclear, but the threat that such surveillance poses to privacy, democracy, and the US technology sector is readily apparent. Because transparency and public consent are at the core of our democracy, we call upon the US government to subject all mass-surveillance activities to public scrutiny and to resist the deployment of mass-surveillance programs in advance of sound technical and social controls. In finding a way forward, the five principles promulgated at http://reformgovernmentsurveillance.com/ [a site launched by Google, Apple, Microsoft, Twitter, Facebook, AOL, Yahoo and LinkedIn] provide a good starting point.

The choice is not whether to allow the NSA to spy. The choice is between a communications infrastructure that is vulnerable to attack at its core and one that, by default, is intrinsically secure for its users. Every country, including our own, must give intelligence and law-enforcement authorities the means to pursue terrorists and criminals, but we can do so without fundamentally undermining the security that enables commerce, entertainment, personal communication, and other aspects of 21st-century life. We urge the US government to reject society-wide surveillance and the subversion of security technology, to adopt state-of-the-art, privacy-preserving technology, and to ensure that new policies, guided by enunciated principles, support human rights, trustworthy commerce, and technical innovation.

The Washington Post notes that these are some of the top names in computer cryptography and security, including heavyweights in the government.

Many other top security experts agree:

  • IT and security professionals say spying could mess up the safety of our internet and computer systems
  • The Electronic Frontier Foundation notes:

“By weakening encryption, the NSA allows others to more easily break it. By installing backdoors and other vulnerabilities in systems, the NSA exposes them to other malicious hackers—whether they are foreign governments or criminals. As security expert Bruce Schneier explained, ‘It’s sheer folly to believe that only the NSA can exploit the vulnerabilities they create.’”

Read More Here

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Cartoon depicting violation of first amendment rights online
Image Source  :  techfreep.com

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August 9, 2013

Judge Grants Preliminary Injunction to Protect Free Speech after EFF Challenge

Court Blocks Enforcement of Dangerous New Jersey Law

Newark, NJ – A New Jersey federal district court judge granted motions for a preliminary injunction today, blocking the enforcement of a dangerous state law that would put online service providers at risk by, among other things, creating liability based on “indirect” publication of content by speech platforms.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) argued for the injunction in court on behalf of the Internet Archive, as the statute conflicts directly with federal law and threatens service providers who enable third party speech online.

“The Constitution does not permit states to pass overbroad and vague statutes that threaten protected speech. The New Jersey statute created that threat and the court was right to block it,” said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Matt Zimmerman. “Similarly, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act prohibits the state from threatening to throw online providers in jail for what their users do and the statute violated that rule as well. We are grateful that the court recognized the importance of these bedrock principles to online libraries and other platforms that make the Internet the vital and robust tool it is today.”

The New Jersey law at issue is an almost carbon-copy of a Washington state law successfully blocked by EFF and the Internet Archive last year. While aimed at combatting online ads for underage sex workers, it instead imposes stiff criminal penalties on ISPs, Internet cafes, and libraries that “indirectly” cause the publication or display of content that might contain even an “implicit” offer of a commercial sex act if the content includes an image of a minor. The penalties – up to 20 years in prison and steep fines – would put enormous pressure on service providers to block access to broad swaths of otherwise protected material in order to avoid the vague threat of prosecution.

“Within the past month, we’ve seen a coalition of state attorneys general ask Congress to gut CDA 230 to make way for harmful laws like New Jersey’s,” said Zimmerman. “This misguided proposal puts speech platforms at risk, which in turn threatens online speech itself. Law enforcement can and must pursue criminals vigorously, but attacking the platforms where people exercise their right to free speech is the wrong strategy.”

Backpage.com separately filed suit against this law, represented by the law firm of Davis Wright Tremaine, who also joined today’s argument.

For more on this case:
https://www.eff.org/cases/internet-archive-v-hoffman

Contact:

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

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 16, 2013
5:55 PM

CONTACT: Electronic Frontier Foundation

Rebecca Jeschke

Media Relations Director

Electronic Frontier Foundation

press@eff.org

Dave Maass

Media Relations Coordinator

Electronic Frontier Foundation

press@eff.org

Unitarian Church, Gun Groups Join EFF to Sue NSA Over Illegal Surveillance

Broad Coalition of Organizations Team Up for Freedom of Association Lawsuit

SAN FRANCISCO – July 16 – Nineteen organizations including Unitarian church groups, gun ownership advocates, and a broad coalition of membership and political advocacy organizations filed suit against the National Security Agency (NSA) today for violating their First Amendment right of association by illegally collecting their call records. The coalition is represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a group with years of experience fighting illegal government surveillance in the courts.

“The First Amendment protects the freedom to associate and express political views as a group, but the NSA’s mass, untargeted collection of Americans’ phone records violates that right by giving the government a dramatically detailed picture into our associational ties,” said EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn. “Who we call, how often we call them, and how long we speak shows the government what groups we belong to or associate with, which political issues concern us, and our religious affiliation. Exposing this information – especially in a massive, untargeted way over a long period of time – violates the Constitution and the basic First Amendment tests that have been in place for over 50 years.”

At the heart of First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles v. NSA is the bulk telephone records collection program that was confirmed by last month’s publication of an order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC). The Director of National Intelligence (DNI) further confirmed that this formerly secret document was legitimate, and part of a broader program to collect all major telecommunications customers’ call histories. The order demands wholesale collection of every call made, the location of the phone, the time of the call, the duration of the call, and other “identifying information” for every phone and call for all customers of Verizon for a period of three months. Government officials further confirmed that this was just one of series of orders issued on a rolling basis since at least 2006.

“People who hold controversial views – whether it’s about gun ownership policies, drug legalization, or immigration – often must express views as a group in order to act and advocate effectively,” said Cohn. “But fear of individual exposure when participating in political debates over high-stakes issues can dissuade people from taking part. That’s why the Supreme Court ruled in 1958 that membership lists of groups have strong First Amendment protection. Telephone records, especially complete records collected over many years, are even more invasive than membership lists, since they show casual or repeated inquiries as well as full membership.”

“The First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles has a proud history of working for justice and protecting people in jeopardy for expressing their political views,” said Rev. Rick Hoyt. “In the 1950s, we resisted the McCarthy hysteria and supported blacklisted Hollywood writers and actors, and we fought California’s ‘loyalty oaths’ all the way to the Supreme Court. And in the 1980s, we gave sanctuary to refugees from civil wars in Central America. The principles of our faith often require our church to take bold stands on controversial issues. We joined this lawsuit to stop the illegal surveillance of our members and the people we serve. Our church members and our neighbors who come to us for help should not fear that their participation in the church might have consequences for themselves or their families. This spying makes people afraid to belong to our church community.”

In addition to the First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles, the full list of plaintiffs in this case includes the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, Calguns Foundation, Greenpeace, Human Rights Watch, People for the American Way, and TechFreedom.

EFF also represents the plaintiffs in Jewel v. NSA, a class action case filed on behalf of individuals in 2008 aimed at ending the NSA’s dragnet surveillance of millions of ordinary Americans. Last week, a federal court judge rejected the U.S. government’s latest attempt to dismiss the case, allowing the allegations at the heart of the suit to move forward under the supervision of a public federal court.

For the full complaint in First Unitarian v. NSA: https://www.eff.org/node/75009

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EFF is the leading civil liberties group defending your rights in the digital world. EFF fights for freedom primarily in the courts, bringing and defending lawsuits even when that means taking on the US government or large corporations.
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June 10, 2013 | By Rainey Reitman

Today, a bipartisan coalition of 86 civil liberties organizations and Internet companies – including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, reddit, Mozilla, FreedomWorks, and the American Civil Liberties Union – are demanding swift action from Congress in light of the recent revelations about unchecked domestic surveillance.

In an open letter to lawmakers sent today, the groups call for a congressional investigatory committee, similar to the Church Committee of the 1970s. The letter also demands legal reforms to rein in domestic spying and demands that public officials responsible for this illegal surveillance are held accountable for their actions.

The letter denounces the NSA’s spying program as illegal, noting:

This type of blanket data collection by the government strikes at bedrock American values of freedom and privacy. This dragnet surveillance violates the First and Fourth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, which protect citizens’ right to speak and associate anonymously and guard against unreasonable searches and seizures…

The letter was accompanied by the launch of StopWatching.us, a global petition calling on Congress to provide a public accounting of the United States’ domestic spying capabilites and to bring an end to illegal surveillance.

The groups call for a number of specific legal reforms, including reform to the controversial Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, the “business records” section which, through secret court orders, was misused to force Verizon to provide the NSA with detailed phone records of millions of customers. The groups also call on Congress to reform the FISA Amendment Act, the unconstitutional law that allows, nearly without restriction, the government to conduct mass surveillance on American and international communications. The letter and petition also demand that Congress amend the state secrets privilege, the legal tool that has expanded over the last 10 years to prevent the government from being held accountable for domestic surveillance.

As Mark Rumold, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation who focuses on government transparency and national security, says, “Now is the time for Congress to act. We don’t need a narrow fix to one part of the PATRIOT Act; we need a full public accounting of how the United States is turning sophisticated spying technology on its own citizens, we need accountability from public officials, and we need an overhaul of the laws to ensure these abuses can never happen again.”

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is urging concerned netizens to join this campaign by signing their names to StopWatching.us.

Full text of the open letter:

Dear Members of Congress,

We write to express our concern about recent reports published in the Guardian and the Washington Post, and acknowledged by the Obama Administration, which reveal secret spying by the National Security Agency (NSA) on phone records and Internet activity of people in the United States.

The Washington Post and the Guardian recently published reports based on information provided by a career intelligence officer showing how the NSA and the FBI are gaining broad access to data collected by nine of the leading U.S. Internet companies and sharing this information with foreign governments. As reported, the U.S. government is extracting audio, video, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs that enable analysts to track a person’s movements and contacts over time. As a result, the contents of communications of people both abroad and in the U.S. can be swept in without any suspicion of crime or association with a terrorist organization.

Leaked reports also published by the Guardian and confirmed by the Administration reveal that the NSA is also abusing a controversial section of the PATRIOT Act to collect the call records of millions of Verizon customers. The data collected by the NSA includes every call made, the time of the call, the duration of the call, and other “identifying information” for millions of Verizon customers, including entirely domestic calls, regardless of whether those customers have ever been suspected of a crime. The Wall Street Journal has reported that other major carriers, including AT&T and Sprint, are subject to similar secret orders.

This type of blanket data collection by the government strikes at bedrock American values of freedom and privacy. This dragnet surveillance violates the First and Fourth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, which protect citizens’ right to speak and associate anonymously and guard against unreasonable searches and seizures and protect their right to privacy.

We are calling on Congress to take immediate action to halt this surveillance and provide a full public accounting of the NSA’s and the FBI’s data collection programs. We call on Congress to immediately and publicly:

1. Enact reform this Congress to Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, the state secrets privilege, and the FISA Amendments Act to make clear that blanket surveillance of the Internet activity and phone records of any person residing in the U.S. is prohibited by law and that violations can be reviewed in adversarial proceedings before a public court;

2. Create a special committee to investigate, report, and reveal to the public the extent of this domestic spying. This committee should create specific recommendations for legal and regulatory reform to end unconstitutional surveillance;

3. Hold accountable those public officials who are found to be responsible for this unconstitutional surveillance.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Access

Advocacy for Principled Action in Government

American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression

American Civil Liberties Union

American Civil Liberties Union of California

American Library Association

Amicus

Association of Research Libraries

Bill of Rights Defense Committee

BoingBoing

Breadpig

Calyx Institute

Canvas

Center for Democracy and Technology

Center for Digital Democracy

Center for Financial Privacy and Human Rights

Center for Media and Democracy

Center for Media Justice

Competitive Enterprise Institute

Consumer Action

Consumer Watchdog

CorpWatch

CREDO Mobile

Cyber Privacy Project

Daily Kos

Defending Dissent Foundation

Demand Progress

Detroit Digital Justice Coalition

Digital Fourth

Downsize DC

DuckDuckGo

Electronic Frontier Foundation

Entertainment Consumers Association

Fight for the Future

Floor64

Foundation for Innovation and Internet Freedom

4Chan

Free Press

Free Software Foundation

Freedom of the Press Foundation

FreedomWorks

Friends of Privacy USA

Get FISA Right

Government Accountability Project

Greenpeace USA

Institute of Popular Education of Southern California (IDEPSCA)

Internet Archive

isen.com, LLC

Knowledge Ecology International (KEI)

Law Life Culture

Liberty Coalition

May First/People Link

Media Alliance

Media Mobilizing Project, Philadelphia

Mozilla

Namecheap

National Coalition Against Censorship

New Sanctuary Coalition of NYC

Open Technology Institute

OpenMedia.org

Participatory Politics Foundation

Patient Privacy Rights

People for the American Way

Personal Democracy Media

PolitiHacks

Privacy and Access Council of Canada

Public Interest Advocacy Centre (Ottawa, Canada)

Public Knowledge

Privacy Activism

Privacy Camp

Privacy Rights Clearinghouse

Privacy Times

reddit

Represent.us

Rights Working Group

Rocky Mountain Civil Liberties Association

RootsAction.org

Samuelson-Glushko Canadian Internet Policy & Public Interest Clinic

Sunlight Foundation

Taxpayers Protection Alliance

TechFreedom

The AIDS Policy Project, Philadelphia

TURN-The Utility Reform Network

Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center

William C. Velasquez Institute (WCVI)

World Wide Web Foundation

National Security Letters Are Unconstitutional, Federal Judge Rules

EFF’s NSL legal team.
From left: Mark Rumold, Kurt Opsahl,
Cindy Cohn, Matt Zimmerman
and Nate Cardozo.

Activist Post

A federal district court judge in San Francisco has ruled that National Security Letter (NSL) provisions in federal law violate the Constitution. The decision came in a lawsuit challenging a NSL on behalf of an unnamed telecommunications company represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

In the ruling publicly released today, Judge Susan Illston ordered that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) stop issuing NSLs and cease enforcing the gag provision in this or any other case. The landmark ruling is stayed for 90 days to allow the government to appeal.

“We are very pleased that the court recognized the fatal constitutional shortcomings of the NSL statute,” said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Matt Zimmerman. “The government’s gags have truncated the public debate on these controversial surveillance tools. Our client looks forward to the day when it can publicly discuss its experience.”

The controversial NSL provisions EFF challenged on behalf of the unnamed client allow the FBI to issue administrative letters — on its own authority and without court approval — to telecommunications companies demanding information about their customers.

The controversial provisions also permit the FBI to permanently gag service providers from revealing anything about the NSLs, including the fact that a demand was made, which prevents providers from notifying either their customers or the public. The limited judicial review provisions essentially write the courts out of the process.

Maira Sutton
EFF

Major announcements from the US and Canada today give a clear indication that the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is coming back with a vengeance. ACTA is an agreement negotiated and signed by 11 countries, carrying intellectual property (IP) provisions that would negatively impact digital rights and innovation by ratcheting up IP enforcement measures beyond existing international standards. It will not take effect until six countries ratify the agreement, and Japan is so far the only country to have done so.

Read Full Article Here

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View EFF’s updated Map of Domestic Drone Authorizations in a larger window. (Clicking this link will serve content from Google.)

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Defending your rights in the digital world

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