Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Issue #745.Jan, 2019.

Top Features
Copyright Week 2019

Each day this week, EFF and allied groups are hosting discussions about principles that should guide copyright policy. On Monday, we looked at how copyright can be a tool of censorship. Case in point: the makers of a much-criticized movie about a Nazi-era romance, Where Hands Touch, chose to react to video criticism by filing unjustified takedown notices under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, or DMCA.

On Tuesday, we looked at how the DMCA is being used to undermine ownership of technological devices—preventing users from jailbreaking a phone, or re-programming a scooter. On Wednesday, we examined some good news: the growth of the public domain, which on January 1st expanded for the first time in 20 years.

2018 In Review

In 2018, digital privacy and free speech were front-and-center in the public conversation. We continued our tradition of writing year-end blog posts about the most important developments in this space. The past year saw advances for state-level net neutrality, with four states, including California, passing net neutrality laws. The Carpenter v. United States case was one of our big legal wins of the year, as the U.S. Supreme Court cited EFF’s amicus brief in deciding that cell phone location information is protected by the Fourth Amendment.

Other posts cover the dawn of the GDPR (Europe’s new digital privacy law), how we’re grappling with monopoly power in the online world, and EFF’s new logo.

EFF Updates

The Internet is Facing a Catastrophe For Free Expression and Competition: You Could Tip The Balance

The new EU Copyright Directive is progressing at an alarming rate. This week, the EU is asking its member-states to approve new negotiating positions for the final language. If you live in Europe, let your ministers know that you’re concerned that Articles 13 and 11 will lead to online censorship. So far, we’ve set up action pages for Sweden, Germany, Luxembourg, Poland, Belgium, and the Czech Republic—and we'll keep adding more over the coming days.

Bird Rides Inc. Demands Takedown of News Report on Lawful Re-use of Scooters

Every now and then we have to remind someone that it's not illegal for people to report facts that they dislike. Electric scooter rental company Bird Rides, Inc. sent a "Notice of Claimed Infringement" over an article on Boing Boing about lawfully modifying scooters. Bird cites the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and implies that even writing about the issue could be illegal. It’s not.
(Don't) Return to Sender: How to Protect Yourself From Email Tracking

Email senders can monitor who opens which emails, when, and what device they use to do it. There are a lot of different ways to track email, and different techniques range from marginally acceptable to atrocious. Here are some friendly suggestions to help make tracking less pervasive, less creepy, and less leaky.
Apple Says Patent Troll Case Should Be Dismissed Because [REDACTED] but the Public Should Know Why

Uniloc is one of the most active patent trolls in the world, having filed more than 170 lawsuits last year alone. But its most recent court records are so heavily redacted, it’s impossible for members of the public to know what’s going on. This month, EFF filed a motion to intervene in Uniloc v. Apple, seeking to unseal a series of documents related to whether Uniloc should be allowed to bring the case at all.
You Should Have the Right to Sue Companies That Violate Your Privacy

There’s a lot to like about the new California Consumer Privacy Act, but we need to work to amend its critical flaw—a lack of a private right of action. Consumer enforcement is part of EFF’s “bottom-up” approach to public policy.
Give Up the Ghost: A Backdoor by Another Name

Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the UK’s counterpart to the National Security Agency (NSA), has proposed a method of eavesdropping in which a company would be required to convert a 1-on-1 conversation into a group chat—with the government as the third member of the chat. The so-called “ghost” proposal is just another word for an encryption backdoor.

Job Openings

Our Cellphones Aren’t Safe

Cellular communication infrastructure is woefully insecure, and we are doing nothing to fix it. EFF Senior Staff Technologist Cooper Quintin explains some of the resultant dangers in an op-ed. (New York Times)

100 Days for Alaa

Alaa Abd El Fattah has been imprisoned for five years—for organizing a protest. When he’s released in March, he will face an additional five-year “parole” that will require him to spend each night in a police station. Organizations are re-focusing attention on Alaa and his case as his release date approaches. (100 Days for Alaa)
January 1, 2019 is (finally) Public Domain Day

Works from 1923 are open to all! Newly joining the public domain are films such as The Ten Commandments, and comedies featuring Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Harold Lloyd. It’s the first time the public domain has grown in 20 years. (Center for the Study of the Public Domain)

San Bernardino County Sheriff's electronic surveillance use continues to surge

San Bernardino County’s already high electronic surveillance rate continues to surge. EFF has filed a lawsuit demanding records over this department’s extraordinary use of surveillance. (Palm Springs Desert Sun)

In 2019, your tattoo could get you arrested

The National Institute of Standards and Technology has completed testing on a tattoo-matching system that could be used to finger criminal suspects, and found that its algorithm is only 67.9 percent accurate—and that’s before factoring in the possibility of “false positives.” (Washington Examiner)

About EFF

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading organization protecting civil liberties in the digital world. Founded in 1990, we defend free speech online, fight illegal surveillance, promote the rights of digital innovators, and work to ensure that the rights and freedoms we enjoy are enhanced, rather than eroded, as our use of technology grows. EFF is a member-supported organization. Find out more at https://eff.org.

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