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  1. #31
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    Electronic Frontier Foundation
    Issue 718
    May 2017



    What You Need to Know About 'About' Searches

    In most issues of EFFector, we give an overview of all the work we’re doing at EFF. Today, we’re doing a deep dive into a single issue: the NSA's recent announcement that it will no longer conduct "about" searches as part of its Upstream surveillance.

    You may have seen the NSA in the news lately announcing that it will no longer use one of its most controversial surveillance techniques.

    This is a win for privacy protections, for groups like EFF fighting unlawful surveillance in the courts, and for anyone who pushed for surveillance reform by signing a petition, contacting their lawmakers, or otherwise voicing their concerns about warrantless spying. But it’s only a first step.

    So what exactly did the NSA say it would stop doing?

    Late in the day on a Friday in April, The New York Times reported—and the agency quickly confirmed—that the NSA will no longer conduct “about” searches of the full content of Internet communications.

    “About” searches are searches of online communications—including to and from innocent Americans—that the NSA runs after it intercepts and copies communications directly from the high-capacity cables that carry Internet traffic as a part of its Upstream program. The U.S. government has claimed these warrantless searches of Americans’ email are allowed under Section 702, enacted as part of the FISA Amendments Act, which is set to expire at the end of the year.

    While the NSA will continue to look through the “to” and “from” fields of communication to see if they contain any identifiers that the agency has determined are connected to foreign intelligence targets, they will no longer look through the body of those communications to see if they mention—or are “about”—these identifiers. Not only did the NSA stop these searches, the agency said it would delete the “vast majority” of the information it collected under Section 702 “to further protect the privacy of U.S. person communications.”

    The NSA has long defended these “about” searches as both necessary for national security and impossible to avoid due to the technical limitations of the Upstream program. In the NSA’s own announcement, it acknowledged that losing “about” searches would cost it “some other important data.”

    The NSA’s willingness to give up what it has described as a crucial tool as well as go back and delete communications it has already collected was a welcome but somewhat shocking development.

    But, as the NSA admitted, this decision was a result of “inadvertent compliance incidents,” or violations of court-imposed restrictions. In other words, the court tasked with overseeing the NSA’s surveillance programs told the NSA it shouldn’t be doing these privacy-invasive searches of Americans’ communications.

    And that’s an argument we’re familiar with. For nearly a decade, EFF has argued in court that “about” searches and other searches and seizures of Americans’ communications without a warrant are unconstitutional. In a case currently in federal court—Jewel v. NSA—EFF is suing the NSA over “about” searches and other privacy-invasive aspects of Upstream surveillance under Section 702.

    Despite prolonged stalling from the U.S. government, we’re in the process of finally getting some answers about how the NSA’s surveillance actually works. At the end of this week, we’ll be back in court to figure out just what information the government has to hand over as part of our lawsuit.

    In addition to continuing to fight in the courts, EFF is calling on lawmakers to stand up for the privacy of their constituents as Congress considers reauthorizing Section 702 before it expires at the end of this year. These changes should include codifying the NSA’s announced end of “about” searches.

    The breadth of these “about” searches was one of the reasons the NSA swept up so many innocent Americans’ communications, so the announced end of “about” searches is good news for anyone who wants government surveillance to follow the law. But there’s much more to be done to rein in unconstitutional spying.

    Tell your representatives in Congress to protect their constituents’ privacy and let warrantless Upstream surveillance lapse when Section 702 sunsets at the end of the year. And stay up to date on EFF’s fight in court to end the government’s unlawful invasion of your privacy.

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    Global Ransomware Attacks Might Be Linked to North Korea, Researchers Say


    Two cybersecurity firms say North Korea may be linked to the recent ransomware attack that has infected hundreds of thousands of computers around the world, according to Reuters.

    FBI Director James Comey Ousted by Trump

    President Donald Trump has fired FBI Director James Comey as the agency investigates whether Trump's advisers colluded with Russian officials during the 2016 campaign.

    Pentagon Turns to AI to Fight ISIS

    The Pentagon is turning to machine learning and videos filmed by drones in its efforts to fight ISIS, Defense One reports.






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  2. #32
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    Electronic Frontier Foundation
    Issue 720
    June 2017


    We're Suing the FBI for Records About Best Buy Geek Squad Informant

    A federal case in California has revealed that the FBI has been working for several years to cultivate informants in Best Buy’s national repair facility in Brooks, Kentucky, including reportedly paying eight Geek Squad employees as informants. According to court records, the scheme would work as follows: customers with computer problems would take their devices to the Geek Squad for repair. Once Geek Squad employees had the devices, they would surreptitiously search the unallocated storage space on the devices for evidence of suspected child porn images and then report any hits to the FBI for criminal prosecution

    We think the FBI’s use of Best Buy Geek Squad employees to search people’s computers without a warrant threatens to circumvent people’s constitutional rights. That’s why we filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the FBI seeking records about the extent to which it directs and trains Best Buy employees to conduct warrantless searches of people’s devices.

    EFF has long been concerned about law enforcement using private actors, such as Best Buy employees, to conduct warrantless searches that the Fourth Amendment plainly bars police from doing themselves. The key question is at what point does a private person’s search turn into a government search that implicates the Fourth Amendment.

    Despite Transparency Promises, Intel Agencies Won't Give Congress Info on Spying Law Impact

    Lawmakers should know how the laws they pass impact their constituents. That’s especially true when the law would reauthorize a vast Internet and telephone spying program that collects information about millions of law-abiding Americans.

    But that’s exactly what the Intelligence Community wants Congress to do when it considers reauthorizing a sweeping electronic surveillance authority under the expiring Section 702, as enacted by the FISA Amendments Act, before the end of the year.

    Intelligence officials have been promising Congress they would provide lawmakers with an estimate of the number of American communications that are collected under Section 702. That estimate is a critical piece of information for lawmakers to have as they consider whether and how to reauthorize and reform the warrantless Internet surveillance of millions of innocent Americans in the coming months.

    But during a hearing on Section 702 in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, despite previous assurances, said he won’t be providing that estimate out of national security and, ironically, privacy concerns.

    Questions on Printer Dot Tracking after Arrest of NSA Leaker

    EFF's work on a secret tracking code embedded in many printed documents is back in the news, as journalists and experts have recently focused on the fact that a scanned document published by The Intercept contained tiny yellow dots. Those dots allow the document's origin and date of printing to be ascertained, which could have played a role in the arrest of Reality Leigh Winner, accused of leaking the document.

    EFF has previously researched this tracking technology at some length; our work on it has helped bring it to public attention, including in a somewhat hilarious video.

    While this tracking technology is pervasive in color laser printers--thanks to secret agreements between governments and the printer industry--it's quite possible that printer dots did not play any role in this investigation at all. However the government identified its suspect in this case, it's worth remembering that forensic techniques are very powerful and can often reveal the origins of documents in unexpected ways.

    EFF Updates

    A Day of Action to Save Net Neutrality

    Net neutrality is under assault once again, with the Federal Communications Commission looking to reverse the legal underpinnings of its 2015 rules that keep ISPs from blocking or slowing customers' access to certain websites and services. It’s our Internet, and we will defend it. If you remember the censor bar of the online protests opposing SOPA in 2012 or the spinning wheel of Internet Slowdown Day in 2014, you know that the Internet can rise up and force regulators to listen in times of great need. Now is such a time. Mark your calendars for a day of digital protest on July 12.

    EFF Asks Court to Dismiss Terrorism Claims Against Twitter

    Holding Twitter responsible for users' discussions of terrorist activities would threaten the First Amendment as well as legal protections for Internet platforms, EFF recently told a federal court. In a brief filed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, we argued that Twitter should not be held legally responsible for providing material support to terrorists by providing accounts to users who discussed and promoted terrorism. Finding Twitter responsible would impede on the First Amendment right of Internet users to access unpopular speech, the First Amendment right of Twitter to publish unpopular speech, and Section 230, as enacted by the Communications Decency Act, which protects Internet platforms from being held responsible for their users' actions.

    Federal Circuit Hits Stupid Patent Owner With Fee Award

    Patent litigation abuse thrives when patent trolls can force defendants into making a hard choice: pay the troll (even though the claim is absurd) or potentially pay even more to your lawyers to fight the case in court. This week, the Federal Circuit issued an encouraging ruling that will make it harder to use this gambit. Overturning a contrary decision by the patent-friendly Eastern District of Texas, the appellate court required a notorious patent troll that appears to be practicing this model to pay the defendant’s attorney’s fees. This case should make it at least a little bit easier easier for defendants to choose not to pay the troll.

    Comcast Continues to Fight Net Neutrality Protections

    If you've been following the network neutrality debate at all, you've probably seen Comcast's campaign to rewrite its long history of opposing net neutrality protections. But the company's own statements to Congress, the FCC, and to the courts make Comcast's true goal abundantly clear: free rein to use its market power to become an Internet gatekeeper. Despite their recent public statements in support of the idea of net neutrality, Comcast has repeatedly pushed back on rules that would protect Internet users' ability to do what they want online.

    Supreme Court Takes Up Cell Phone Tracking Case

    The Supreme Court has said it will take up a cell phone tracking case, giving the court the chance to apply Fourth Amendment privacy protections to cell phone location data. The case, United States v. Carpenter, involves long-term, retrospective tracking of a person’s movements using information generated by his cell phone and gives the court an opportunity to continue its recent pattern of applying Fourth Amendment protections to sensitive digital data. It may also limit or even reevaluate the so-called “Third Party Doctrine,” which the government relies on to justify warrantless tracking and surveillance in a variety of contexts. EFF filed an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to take Carpenter and a related case, so we’re hopeful the Court will rule in favor of strong constitutional protections.

    The State Department's Plan to Search Visa Applicants' Social Media Accounts

    EFF, the Brennan Center for Justice and others are joining forces to oppose yet another federal program to scrutinize the social media accounts of foreign visitors to the United States. Specifically, in an attempt to uncover would-be terrorists, the U.S. State Department has empowered consular officials to ask visa applicants who raise preliminary suspicions to disclose the existence of the social media accounts, and the identifiers or handles associated with those accounts, that the applicants have used over the past five years. These proposals threaten the digital privacy and freedom of expression of innocent foreign travelers, and the many U.S. citizens who communicate with them.

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  3. #33
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    EFF
    Issue #720
    June 2017
    Continued:


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    First Amendment Group Criticizes Trump for Twitter Blocking.
    The Knight First Amendment Institute has written to President Donald Trump, warning him that his blocking of Twitter users on his @realDonaldTrump account could violate the Constitution's free speech protections.

    U.S. Lawmakers Look at WannaCry Attacks.
    A House committee will hold a hearing this week on the global WannaCry ransomware attacks last month.

    'The Long, Lonely Road of Chelsea Manning'.
    Following her recent commutation, The New York Times Magazine profiles Chelsea Manning, including her decision to disclose classified information in 2010 and the resulting time she spent in prison.



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  4. #34
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    Electronic Frontier Foundation
    Issue 721
    July 2017


    Tell Congress: End Warrantless Spying, Don't Make it Permanent

    Lawmakers are getting serious about renewing the U.S. government’s Internet spying powers, so we need to get serious about stopping their bad proposals.

    Sen. Tom Cotton has introduced legislation that would not just reauthorize, but make permanent the expiring measure that the government says justifies the warrantless surveillance of innocent Americans’ online communications. That measure is Section 702, as enacted by the FISA Amendments Act. Cotton's bill (S. 1297) is supported by several Republicans in the Senate, including Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr and Sens. John Cornyn, John McCain, and Lindsey Graham.

    Section 702 surveillance violates the privacy rights of millions of people. This warrantless spying should not be allowed to continue at all, let alone be made permanent as is. Luckily, there’s already opposition to the proposal. Sen. Dianne Feinstein--whose defense of warrantless surveillance has historically been sympathetic to the intelligence community--has said she can not support a bill that makes Section 702 permanent.

    Now we need other members of Congress to take the same stand. We cannot let lawmakers ignore our privacy concerns and their own responsibility to review surveillance law, and our lawmakers need to hear that. Sign our petition today and tell Congress to oppose S. 1297 and the permanent reauthorization of Section 702 spying.

    Stand Up for Net Neutrality on July 12

    With net neutrality rules on the line, we need to give the world an idea of what the Internet will look like if the FCC goes forward with its plan to dismantle open Internet protections.

    Less than two years after the FCC finally adopted a legally viable Open Internet Order, and less than one year after the courts finally upheld real net neutrality protections, the new FCC Chair, Ajit Pai, has put those protections on the chopping block. If he succeeds, broadband service providers will be free to create Internet fast lanes for those who can afford them--meaning slow lanes for anyone who can’t pay to play, like startups offering innovative services, not to mention libraries, schools, and nonprofits. They will also be free to steer you to the content they choose--often without you knowing it.

    We can't let that happen. On July 12, EFF is joining a huge coalition of nonprofits and companies in a day of action to stand up for net neutrality. One simple way that organizations, companies, and even individuals can participate is to install our widget. If you’ve installed the widget on your website, then on July 12, visitors will be greeted with an alarming preview of the Internet without net neutrality protections. This widget will send a clear message to your site’s visitors: giving up protections for net neutrality will give ISPs a frightening amount of control over your Internet experience.

    The Supreme Court Decision Saving Small Businesses from Bad Patents

    Three years ago, the Supreme Court ruled that an abstract idea does not become eligible for a patent simply by being implemented on a generic computer. Since then, the ruling--Alice v. CLS Bank--has provided a lifeline for real businesses threatened or sued with bogus patents.

    On the third anniversary of Alice, EFF is launching a new series called Saved by Alice where we’ll collect these stories of times when Alice came to the rescue. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing stories of business owners large and small. These stories all have one thing in common: someone with a patent on an abstract idea sued a small business, and that business could have lost everything. But Alice saved the day.

    But now Alice is under attack. A few loud voices in the patent lobby want to amend the law to bring back these stupid patents. It’s time to tell the stories of the individuals and businesses that have been sued or threatened with patents that shouldn’t have been issued in the first place.

    EFF Updates

    Zillow Threatens Architecture Humor Blog

    Real estate site Zillow sent an aggressive cease and desist letter to architecture humor blogger Kate Wagner, demanding that Wagner remove from her website, McMansion Hell, any image originally sourced from Zillow’s site. EFF responded on Wagner's behalf with a letter explaining why none of Zillow’s contentions had merit. Faced with real opposition, Zillow quickly withdrew its threat and said it won't be seeking to take down any of the posts on McMansion Hell. We hope that other companies seeking to shut down humor, criticism, and parody online see this as a cautionary tale and avoid sending threats in the first place.

    Antitrust Laws Won't Cut it for Net Neutrality Protections

    U.S. antitrust law is not up to the challenge of protecting the open Internet and is not an adequate substitute for the FCC's net neutrality rules. Antitrust law is an economic doctrine that gives little if any weight to freedom of expression and other noneconomic values secured by net neutrality. If a practice is not clearly harmful to competition--a definition that is narrower than most people think--it does not matter how much that practice represses speech, distorts access to knowledge, or intrudes on privacy. Nor does antitrust law address the "gatekeeper" problem posed by an ISP's control over your conduit to information. Opponents of net neutrality may say otherwise, but antitrust lawyers can't protect the open Internet. We need Title II, and those who care about net neutrality need to defend it.

    When Secret Investigations Aren't So Secret

    The government should not be allowed to impose gag orders on information that is already publicly known. EFF led a group of civil society organizations in filing a brief in an alarming case pending in federal court that centered around an investigation of private Facebook content earlier this year. Facebook has described the investigation as "known to the public," and the timing and venue match the January 20th, 2017 Presidential Inauguration protests (known as “J20”). Our brief demands that the court apply a stringent constitutional test before enforcing gag orders accompanying a number of secret search warrants. It also argues that the First Amendment rarely, if ever, allows gag orders in such cases, where the government seeks to limit public scrutiny of high-profile and potentially politicized investigations.

    Canada's Supreme Court Allows Global Censorship

    A country has the right to prevent the world’s Internet users from accessing information, according to Canada's highest court. In a decision late last month that has troubling implications for free expression online, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld a company’s effort to force Google to de-list entire domains and websites from its search index, effectively making them invisible to everyone using Google’s search engine. The court ignored concerns expressed by EFF and others that forcing Google to globally de-list would expand the power of any court in the world to edit the entire Internet, whether or not the targeted material or site is lawful in another country. Instead, it ruled that because Google was subject to the jurisdiction of Canadian courts by virtue of its operations in Canada, courts in Canada had the authority to order Google to delete search results worldwide.



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    EFF Issue #721 Pg.2

    Copyright Offices Leaves Fundamental Flaws in DMCA 1201 Untouched

    The U.S. Copyright Office is passing up the chance to reverse course on an especially restrictive offshoot of copyright law. The Office just released a long-awaited report about Section 1201, the law that blocks everything from video remix, to security research, to repair of electronic devices. The law broadly bans the circumvention of digital restrictions on copyrighted works without adequately preserving the rights you have to use copyrighted works, leading to massive unintended consequences. It takes power from end-users and gives it to manufacturers and publishers to control the use of your computing devices and even hide spyware and security vulnerabilities from you. Despite years of evidence that the social costs of the law far outweigh any benefits, the Copyright Office is mostly happy with the law as it is and commends the 'control' it offers to rightsholders. The Office does recommend that Congress enact some narrow reforms aimed at protecting security research, repair activities, and access for people with disabilities. We’re disappointed the Office didn’t take a stronger stance to rein in a law that has gone far beyond copyright's traditional sweep to the detriment of research, innovation, and speech.

    Small ISPs Rally Behind Net Neutrality Rules

    As FCC Chairman Ajit Pai tries to dismantle net neutrality protections, often citing alleged harm the rules have caused to ISPs, dozens of small ISPs are coming to the rules' defense. In a recent letter, more than 40 ISPs told the FCC that they have had no problem with the Open Internet Order and that it hasn't hurt their ability to develop and expand their networks. What is more, they want the FCC to do its job and address the problem Congress created when it repealed the broadband privacy rules in March. These ISPs are taking a stand for network neutrality because they know Chairman Pai's plan will hurt them as well as their subscribers.

    Still Standing with Diego

    A few weeks ago, we joined the global open access community in celebrating that Diego Gomez had finally been cleared of criminal charges for sharing scientific research over the Internet without permission. Unfortunately, the fight is not over yet. The ruling has been appealed to the Tribunal de Bogota, a Colombian appellate court. The Karisma Foundation, a Colombian NGO that has been coordinating Diego’s legal defense, has now launched a campaign to raise money for this expensive next step of Diego’s defense. EFF is proud to stand with Karisma and Diego.

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    Girl Scouts Roll Out Cybersecurity Badges

    The Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. are introducing 18 new badges aimed at teaching the organization's young women about cybersecurity threats.

    Orange is the New Hack

    Variety takes a look at how a post-production sound company's data security gaps led to the leak of Netflix hit "Orange is the New Black."

    U.S. Voter Data Exposed by Data-Mining Firm

    Cybersecurity analysts say a Republican data-mining firm inadvertently made public information about nearly 200 million U.S. voters



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  6. #36
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    Electronic Frontier Foundation
    Issue 722nd
    Aug 2017


    Who Has Your Back?

    While many technology companies continue to step up their privacy game by adopting best practices to protect sensitive customer information when the government demands user data, telecommunications companies are failing to prioritize user privacy when the government comes knocking. Even tech giants such as Apple, Facebook, and Google can do more to fully stand behind their users.

    EFF's seventh annual “Who Has Your Back” report digs into the ways many technology companies are getting the message about user privacy in this era of unprecedented digital surveillance.

    We evaluated the public policies at 26 companies and awarded stars in five categories, with nine companies earning a perfect five-star score this year: Adobe, Credo, Dropbox, Lyft, Pinterest, Sonic, Uber, Wickr, and Wordpress. Each has a track record of defending user privacy against government overreach and improved on their practices to meet the more stringent standards in this year's Who Has Your Back.

    AT&T, Comcast, T-Mobile, and Verizon scored the lowest, each earning just one star. While they have adopted a number of industry best practices, like publishing transparency reports and requiring a warrant for content, they still need to commit to informing users before disclosing their data to the government and creating a public policy of requesting judicial review of all National Security Letters.

    Tell Congress: We Want Trade Transparency Reform Now!

    The failed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was a lesson in what happens when trade agreements are negotiated in secret. Powerful corporations can lobby for dangerous, restrictive measures, and the public can't effectively bring balance to the process. Now, some members of Congress are seeking to make sure that future trade agreements, such as the renegotiated version of NAFTA, are no longer written behind closed doors. We urge you to write your representative and ask them to demand transparency in trade.

    Passage of this bill may be the best opportunity that we'll have to avoid a repetition of the closed, secretive process that led to the TPP. With the renegotiation of NAFTA commencing with the first official round of meetings in Washington, D.C. next month, it's urgent that these transparency reforms be adopted soon. You can help by telling your representative in Congress to support the bill in committee.

    EFF Updates

    Deciphering China's VPN Ban

    Apple removed several Virtual Private Network (VPN) applications that allowed users to circumvent China's extensive Internet censorship apparatus from its Chinese mainland app store. In effect, the company has once again aided the Chinese government in its censorship campaign against its own citizens.

    By locking down their devices, Apple can be forced to strip a feature—access to the full, global Internet—from its own products. When the manufacturer controls what kind of software you can have on your devices, it creates a single chokepoint for free expression and privacy.

    Internet Censorship Bill Would Spell Disaster for Speech and Innovation

    There's a new bill in Congress that would threaten your right to free expression online.

    Don't let its name fool you: the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA, S. 1693) wouldn't help punish sex traffickers. What the bill would do is expose any person, organization, platform, or business that hosts third-party content on the Internet to the risk of overwhelming criminal and civil liability if sex traffickers use their services. For small Internet businesses, that could be fatal: with the possibility of devastating litigation costs hanging over their heads, we think that many entrepreneurs and investors will be deterred from building new businesses online.

    Bassel Khartabil, In Memoriam


    Bassel Khartabil—the Syrian open source developer, blogger, entrepreneur, hackerspace founder, and free culture advocate—has been executed by the Syrian authorities. Noura Ghazi Safadi, his wife, received confirmation of her husband's death by the Assad-led Syrian government this month.

    We at EFF are heartbroken at the news of Bassel's unjust and unlawful killing. The single consolation is that Bassel, before and after his detention, inspired so many to join the cause he cared so much about.

    Stupid Patent of the Month: HP Patents Reminder Messages

    The Patent Office recently issued a patent to HP on reminder messages. It's yet another example of the Patent Office failing to consider real products when assessing prior art before issuing a patent. Set yourself a reminder message: this stupid patent on reminder messages will expire on December 16, 2035.

    Throttling on Mobile Networks May Be a Sign of Things to Come

    Major mobile carriers are slowing down video streams, a net neutrality violation that heralds things to come if they get their way and roll back legal protections against data discrimination.

    Right now, these throttling technologies seem to be used to slow down video data generally, rather than to favor the ISP's content over competitors, but that reality may not be far off.

    Without net neutrality protections, little will stop carriers from using that same throttling infrastructure to discriminate against competitors, speech they dislike, or your favorite app.

    The Pregnancy Panopticon

    There are a staggering number of applications for Android and iOS which claim to help people keep track of their monthly cycle, know when they may be fertile, or track the status of their pregnancy. These apps entice the user to input the most intimate details of their lives.

    EFF and Gizmodo reporter Kashmir Hill have taken a look at some of the privacy and security properties of nearly twenty different fertility and pregnancy tracking applications.

    After uncovering several privacy issues and security flaws, we conclude that while these applications may be useful and engaging, women should carefully consider the privacy and security tradeoffs before deciding to use any of these applications.

    Librarians Call on W3C to Rethink its Support for DRM


    The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) has called on the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to reconsider its decision to incorporate digital locks (sometimes referred to as digital rights management or simply DRM) into official HTML standards.

    The IFLA expressed concern that making it easier to impose tech-based protections against infringement without accommodating "legitimate uses of work" puts librarians and other professionals in legal danger when they come across DRM in the course of their work.

    EFF is in the process of appealing W3C's controversial decision, and we're urging the standards body to adopt a covenant protecting security researchers from anti-circumvention laws.

    Border Agents May Not Search Travelers’ Cloud Content

    Border agents may not use travelers' laptops, phones, and other digital devices to access and search cloud content "regardless of whether those servers are located abroad or domestically," according to a new document by U.S. Customs and Border Protection published by NBC on July 12.

    Much more must be done to protect travelers' digital privacy at the U.S. border. An excellent first step would be to enact Sen. Wyden's (D-OR) bipartisan bill to require border agents to get a warrant before searching the digital devices of U.S. persons.

    Australian PM Calls for End-to-End Encryption Ban

    When Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull stated that "[t]he laws of mathematics are very commendable but the only law that applies in Australia is the law of Australia," he was rightly mocked for this nonsense claim.

    A ban on end-to-end encrypted messaging in Australia would have no effect on law breakers, who would simply switch to apps that use strong end-to-end encryption. It would instead hurt ordinary citizens who rely on encryption to make sure that their conversations are private.

    If enough countries go down the same misguided path, the future could be a new international agreement banning strong encryption. Indeed, the Prime Minister's statement is explicit that this is what he would like to see.

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    Electronic Frontier Foundation
    Issue 723.
    8/25/2017.


    Open Access Can’t Wait. Pass FASTR Now.

    When you pay for federally funded research, you should be allowed to read it. That’s the idea behind the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (S.1701, H.R.3427), which was recently reintroduced in both houses of Congress.

    Under FASTR, every federal agency that spends more than $100 million on grants for research would be required to adopt an open access policy. The bill gives each agency flexibility to implement an open access policy suited to the work it funds, so long as research is available to the public after an "embargo period" of a year or less.

    Part of what's important about open access is that it democratizes knowledge: when research is available to the public, you don't need expensive journal subscriptions or paid access to academic databases in order to read it.

    FASTR is a huge step in the right direction and can be used as a foundation for stronger open access in the future.
    .
    Fighting Neo-Nazis and the Future of Free Expression.

    On the Internet, any tactic used now to silence neo-Nazis will soon be used against others, including people whose opinions we agree with.

    For any content hosts that do reject content as part of the enforcement of their terms of service, or are pressured by states to secretly censor, we have long recommended that they implement procedural protections to mitigate mistakes—specifically, the Manila Principles on Intermediary Liability.

    In GoDaddy and Google's eagerness to distance themselves from American neo-Nazis, no process was followed. Policies give guidance as to what we might expect, and an opportunity to see justice is done. We should think carefully before throwing them away.

    EFF Updates.

    DOJ Backs Down From Overbroad J20 Warrant. But Problems Still Remain..

    The government has backed down significantly in its fight with DreamHost about information related to the J20 protests. Late on Tuesday, DOJ filed a reply in its much publicized attempt to get the hosting provider to turn over a large amount of data about a website it was hosting, disruptj20.org—a site that was dedicated to organizing and planning protests in Washington, D.C. on the day of President Trump's inauguration.

    In the brief, DOJ substantially reduces the amount of information it is seeking, including some of the most obvious examples of overreach.

    2017 Pioneer Award Winners Named.

    EFF announced recently that whistleblower and activist Chelsea Manning, Techdirt editor and open internet advocate Mike Masnick, and IFEX executive director and global freedom of expression defender Annie Game are the distinguished winners of the 2017 Pioneer Awards, which recognize leaders who are extending freedom and innovation on the electronic frontier.

    The award ceremony will be held on September 14 in San Francisco. The keynote speaker is Emmy-nominated comedy writer Ashley Nicole Black, a correspondent on Full Frontal with Samantha Bee who uses her unique comedic style to take on government surveillance, encryption, and freedom of information.

    Thai Activist Jailed for the Crime of Sharing an Article on Facebook.

    Thai activist Jatuphat "Pai" Boonpattaraksa was sentenced recently to two and a half years in prison—for the crime of sharing a BBC article on Facebook. The Thai-language article profiled Thailand's new king and, while thousands of users shared it, only Jutaphat was found to violate Thailand's strict lese majeste laws against insulting, defaming, or threatening the monarchy.

    Jatupat's case is only the latest in the Thai government's increasingly repressive and arbitrary attempts to chill expression online and censor content critical of the state.

    Congress is at Home, So Pay Your Members a Visit.

    Members of Congress go back to their home districts in August. Constituents can request meetings with them during this time by contacting their local congressional offices. If you do so with a few local allies, you'll likely be able to meet with staffers and perhaps even your member of Congress directly.

    With so many issues vital to digital rights looming in the congressional calendar, this August is a critical time for Internet users to pressure Congress to do the right thing on mass surveillance, net neutrality, and rules that insulate platforms for liability based on content written by users.

    How Captive Portals Interfere With Wireless Security and Privacy..

    If you have ever wanted to use the wireless Internet at a coffee shop or library, you have probably had to click through a Terms of Service screen with an "I agree" button to do it. These kinds of screens are called captive portals, and they interfere with wireless security without providing many user benefits.

    HTTPS sites trigger false-positive "untrusted connection" warnings that train users to ignore them completely, and the presence of a log-in window may lead users to inaccurately believe that wireless networks with captive portals are safer than those without.

    For most networks, captive portals don't provide access benefits, they only make users less safe.

    EFF’s 2016 Annual Report..

    At EFF, we keep very busy. Our past is invariably tangled with the present—long-running court cases that stretch on for years, and hard-won battles that it turns out we have to re-visit. Our 2016 Annual Report includes reflections from several EFF staff members on the work we do, and why we do it. In looking back, we look forward with fresh resolve. We hope you will, too.

    EFF Wins Court Ruling Upholding Invalidation of Bad Patent That Threatened Podcasters.
    EFF won a court ruling this month affirming that an infamous podcasting patent used by a patent troll to threaten podcasters big and small was properly held invalid by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

    A unanimous decision by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit will, for now, keep podcasting safe from this patent.

    miniLinks.

    YouTube's Crackdown on Extremist Content and ISIS is Also Hurting Researchers and Journalists..

    Content censorship on YouTube interferes with the work of professionals trying to document abuses. (Business Insider)

    Building America's Trust Act Would Amp Up Privacy Concerns at the Border..

    A bill calling for increased use of surveillance technology at U.S. borders elicits concern from privacy advocates. (ArsTechnica)

    Palestinian Leader Curbs Social Media Expression in Decree.
    .
    The Palestinian president imperils free speech in a cryptic mandate. (AP News)



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    Electronic Frontier Foundation
    Issue 724.
    9/15/2017.



    Defend Our Online Communities: Stop SESTA

    A new bill is working its way through Congress that could be disastrous for free speech online. EFF is proud to be part of the coalition fighting back.

    The Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA) would weaken 47 U.S.C. 230 (commonly known as "CDA 230" or simply "Section 230"), which protects Internet intermediaries—individuals, companies, and organizations that provide a platform for others to share speech and content over the Internet. This includes social networks like Facebook, video platforms like YouTube, news sites, blogs, and other websites that allow comments.

    SESTA would shift more blame for users' speech to the web platforms themselves, which would likely spur web communities to become much more restrictive in how they patrol and monitor users' contributions.

    EFF, ACLU Sue Over Warrantless Phone, Laptop Searches at U.S. Border

    EFF and the American Civil Liberties Union sued the Department of Homeland Security this week on behalf of 11 travelers whose smartphones and laptops were searched without warrants at the U.S. border.

    The lawsuit challenges the government's fast-growing practice of searching travelers' electronic devices without a warrant, and seeks to establish that the government must have a warrant based on probable cause to suspect a violation of immigration or customs laws before conducting such searches.

    EFF Updates

    We're Asking the Copyright Office to Protect Your Right to Remix, Study, and Tinker

    EFF has filed new petitions with the Copyright Office to give those in the United States protection against legal threats when you take control of your devices and media. We're also seeking broader, better protection for security researchers and video creators against threats from Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

    DMCA 1201, an unconstitutional law, bans "circumvention" of access controls on copyrighted works—including software—and bans making or distributing tools that circumvent such digital locks. In effect, it lets hardware and software makers, along with major entertainment companies, control how your digital devices are allowed to function and how you can use digital media. It also creates legal risks for security researchers, repair shops, artists, and technology users.

    With iOS 11, More Options to Disable Touch ID Means Better Security

    Prior to the public release, some vigilant Twitter users using the iOS 11 public beta discovered a new way to quickly disable Touch ID by just tapping the power button five times, an improvement on previously known and relatively clunky methods for disabling Touch ID.

    This is good news for users, particularly those who may be in unpredictable situations with physical security concerns that change over time. We call on other manufacturers to follow Apple's lead and implement this kind of design in their own devices.

    Judge Cracks Down on LinkedIn’s Shameful Abuse of Computer Break-In Law

    A judge recently issued an early ruling against LinkedIn's abuse of the notorious Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) to block a competing service from perfectly legal uses of publicly available data on its website. LinkedIn's behavior is just the sort of bad development we expected after the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit delivered two dangerously expansive interpretations of the CFAA's ban on "unauthorized access."

    We're asking the Supreme Court to step in and provide a clear, unequivocal ruling that using a computer in a way that violates corporate policies, preferences, and expectations cannot be grounds for a CFAA violation.

    India’s Supreme Court Upholds Right to Privacy as a Fundamental Right

    A recent judgment by the Supreme Court of India endorsed the right to privacy as a fundamental right. Arising from a challenge to India's biometric identity scheme Aadhaar, the judgment clarifies that privacy is intrinsic to human dignity and liberty.

    The judgment calls for the government to create a data protection regime that balances safeguarding the privacy of the individual and the legitimate concerns of the state.

    Will TPP-11 Nations Escape the Copyright Trap?

    Latest reports confirm that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is being revived. The agreement had been shelved following the withdrawal of the U.S. from the negotiation process, but those eager to keep the pact alive have rallied support to move forward with the agreement.

    A recent statement by New Zealand's Prime Minister suggests that countries favor an approach that seeks to replicate TPP provisions with minimal number of changes. Avoiding renegotiation or opening up of TPP will lead to enactment of its flawed and untested provisions—including the copyright term extension—with far-reaching ramifications on innovation, creativity and culture.

    miniLinks

    AI Will Soon Identify Protesters With Their Faces Partly Concealed (Motherboard)

    Researchers are quickly figuring out how to identify obscured faces, and governments are quickly figuring out how to exploit that.

    Virginia Bars Voting Machines Considered Top Hacking Target (Politico)

    In an effort to prevent election tampering, Virginia will not use touchscreen voting machines for November’s gubernatorial vote.




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    Electronic Frontier Foundation
    Issue 725.
    10/6/2017.



    No Airport Biometric Surveillance


    Facial recognition, fingerprinting, and retina scans—the government could extract all of these and more from travelers at checkpoints throughout domestic airports.

    The TSA Modernization Act (S. 1872) would authorize the U.S. Transportation Security Administration and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to deploy "biometric technology to identify passengers" throughout our nation's airports, including at "checkpoints, screening lanes, [and] bag drop and boarding areas."

    Today, CBP is subjecting travelers on certain outgoing international flights to facial recognition screening. The bill would expand biometric screening to domestic flights as well, and would increase the frequency that a traveler is subjected to biometric screening (not just once per trip).

    EFF opposes S. 1872 as well as similarly invasive data collection bills S. 1757 and H.R. 3548., both of which target U.S. borders.

    Phish for the Future

    "Phish for the Future", an advanced persistent spearphishing campaign targeting digital civil liberties activists at Free Press and Fight for the Future, appears to have been aimed at stealing credentials for various business services including Google, Dropbox, and LinkedIn. We were unable to determine what the secondary goal of the campaign was after the credentials were stolen. The attackers were remarkably persistent, switching up their attacks after each failed attempt and becoming increasingly creative with their targeting over time.

    Although this phishing campaign does not appear to have been carried out by a nation-state actor and does not involve malware, it serves as an important reminder that civil society is under attack.

    It is our recommended best practice to secure all accounts with two-factor authentication so that trusted compromised accounts can't be used in the service of more effective spearphishing attacks.

    EFF Updates

    No Justification for Spanish Internet Censorship During Catalonian Referendum

    The Spanish government censored the Internet with ruthless efficiency before and during the referendum vote on Catalonian independence on October 1.

    Examples of overreach include a censorship order blocking current and future referendum-related content publicized on any social network by a member of the Catalonian Government, as well as a court order requiring Google to remove a voting app from the Google Play app store. On the day of the referendum itself, the Internet was shut down at polling places.

    The Spanish government's censorship of online speech during the Catalonian referendum period is wildly disproportionate and overbroad.

    Will the Equifax Data Breach Finally Spur the Courts to Recognize Data Harms?

    This summer 143 million Americans had their most sensitive information breached from Equifax's database. Misuse of this data can lead to financial devastation or, if a criminal uses stolen information to commit fraud, can lead to the breach victim being arrested and prosecuted.

    Courts, too narrowly focused on financial losses directly traceable to a breach, too often dismiss lawsuits based on a cramped view of what constitutes "harm." So far, the federal bills being floated in response to the Equifax breach and earlier breaches do not remove the obstacles to victims bringing legal claims.

    Google Will Survive SESTA. Your Startup May Not.

    In response to the suggestion that members of Congress should consider how SESTA might affect small Internet startups, not just giant companies like Google and Facebook, Sen. Richard Blumenthal's (D-CT) response was "I believe that those outliers—and they are outliers—will be successfully prosecuted, civilly and criminally under this law."

    In that unusual moment of candor, Sen. Blumenthal seemed to lay bare his opinions about Internet startups—he thinks of them as unimportant outliers and would prefer that the new law put them out of business.

    Internet startups would take the much greater hit from SESTA than large Internet firms would, but ultimately, those most impacted would be users themselves.

    Apple Does Right By Users and Advertisers Are Displeased

    With the new Safari 11 update, Apple addresses how your browsing habits are tracked and shared with parties other than the sites you visit. In response, Apple is getting criticized by the advertising industry for "destroying the Internet's economic model."

    Safari has been blocking third-party cookies by default since releasing Safari 5.1 in 2010. The new Safari update, with Intelligent Tracking Prevention, closes loopholes around third-party cookie-blocking by using machine learning to distinguish the sites a user has a relationship with from those they don't, and treating the cookies differently based on that.

    Azure Confidential Computing Heralds the Next Generation of Encryption in the Cloud

    The new gold standard for cloud application encryption will soon be the cloud provider never having access to the user's data—not even while performing computations on it.

    Microsoft has become the first major cloud provider to offer developers the ability to build their applications on top of Intel's Software Guard Extensions (SGX) technology, making Azure "the first SGX-capable servers in the public cloud." Azure customers in Microsoft's Early Access program can now begin to develop applications with the "confidential computing" technology.

    The underlying technology is not yet perfect, but it's efficient enough for practical usage, stops whole classes of attacks, and is available today. Secure enclaves have the potential to be a new frontier in offering users privacy in the cloud.

    miniLinks

    First Open-Access Data From Large Collider Confirm Subatomic Particle Patterns

    For the first time, independent physics researchers have uncovered a new method to explain particle behavior using publicly-available data. (Phys.org)

    Challenge to Data Transfer Tool Used by Facebook Will Go to Europe’s Top Court


    Due to concerns over the U.S. government's mass surveillance programs, the European Court of Justice is now tasked with determining if EU citizens' privacy rights are sufficiently protected during Facebook data transfers. (TechCrunch)



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