In our 730th issue:
Your data moves across international borders, and it should be protected at home and abroad. But a new bill in Congress would weaken existing protections, endangering the privacy of your emails, chat messages, and online photos. As Congress debates whether to attach this bill to another must-pass spending bill, we need your help. Tell your representative to reject the CLOUD Act.
The CLOUD Act (S. 2383 and H.R. 4943) would grant foreign and American police unreasonable access to data during cross-border investigations. The CLOUD Act could let police outside the United States grab data stored in the United States, and wiretap phone calls passing through the United States, while ignoring U.S. privacy laws. Foreign police could request data on non-U.S. persons not living in the United States, sending those requests directly to U.S. companies. During this data collection, the targets of these foreign police inevitably will be communicating with Americans. If you happen to be communicating with one of these foreign targets, then foreign police can often share your communications with the U.S. government. Then the U.S. government can use these communications against you, without a warrant, and without notifying them.
Tell your representative today to protect privacy by rejecting the CLOUD Act and any attempts to attach it to must-pass spending legislation.
The Internet we know today is possible because of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Section 230 protects online platforms from liability for some types of speech by their users. Without Section 230, social media would not exist in its current form, and neither would the plethora of nonprofit and community-based online groups that serve as essential outlets for free expression and knowledge sharing.
If Congress undermined Section 230’s essential protections by passing The Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA, H.R. 1865), many online platforms would be forced to place substantial restrictions on their users’ speech, censoring a lot of people in the process.
The version of FOSTA that’s passed the House, and is expected to come up for a Senate vote in the next few days, is a Frankenstein combination of an earlier version of FOSTA and a bill called the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA). While the name might sound appealing, FOSTA is not needed to fight online sex trafficking. Existing Criminal law already allows federal prosecutors to go after online platforms that knowingly play a role in sex trafficking.
It would scare online platforms into censoring their users. Websites run by nonprofits or community groups, which have limited resources to police user content, would face the most risk. Some of the discussions most likely to be censored could be those by and about victims of sex trafficking.
Censorship is not the solution. If you care about preserving the Internet as a place where everyone can gather, learn, and share ideas, it’s time to call your senators.
Where awards season ends and Sunshine Week begins, you’ll find The Foilies. For the fourth year in a row, EFF is celebrating Sunshine Week by singling out the government officials who stood in the way of transparency, refused to hand over public records, and made ridiculous redactions. No spoilers: to find out who won FOIA Fee of the Year and other awards, you’ll need to either click through or pick up a hard copy. (Yes! A hard copy!) Thanks to a partnership with the Association of Alternative Newsmedia, The Foilies run in alt weeklies in select cities throughout the country.
People in marginalized communities who are targets of persecution and violence are using social media to tell their stories, but finding their voices silenced online.
Flawed rules and ambiguous „community standards“ have shut down online conversations about racism and harassment of people of color and resulted in the removal of reports about the Syrian war and human rights abuses.
In response, EFF and Visualizing Impact launched Offline/Online, an awareness project that highlights the online censorship of communities across the globe that are struggling or in crisis.
Offline/Online visuals are designed to be posted and shared by activists and concerned citizens, raising awareness about the impact of censorship on marginalized communities.
On March 6, domain name registrar Namecheap relaunched „Move your Domain Day.“ Modeled after the companies 2012 promotion supporting a boycott of their competitor GoDaddy’s highly unpopular support of SOPA and PIPA. The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) (originally known as the E-PARASITE Act) and its Senate counterpart the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) (originally the Combating Online Infringement and Copyright Act (COICA)) were a series of bills promoted by Hollywood in the US Congress that would have a created a „blacklist“ of censored websites. This year’s „Move Your Domain“ promotion resulted in the transfer of 20,590 domains. $1.50 from each „Move Your Domain Day“ registration was donated to EFF ultimately raising $30,885 toward helping us ensure that internet users around the world have an advocate.
Lawmakers in more than 15 states are considering model legislation that would force device manufacturers to install „obscenity filters“ on cell phones, tablets, computers, and any other internet-connected device. In addition to violating consumers First Amendment rights, and requiring consumers to submit written and documented requests to have filters removed, the bill would burden users with a $20 fee per device to access legal content. Between smartphones, tablets, computers, TV’s, gaming consoles, routers and other Internet-enabled devices, consumers could end up paying hundreds of dollars to unlock all the devices in their homes.
What happens when a security researcher discovers the vulnerability in a states election center and reports the discovery ethically? This is precisely what happened in Georgia, where some of the states election functions were farmed out to Kennesaw State University. The researcher was cleared after an FBI investigation showed no laws had been broken in the process. But, Georgia lawmakers are now trying to rectify the issue with State Bill 315. You might expect S.B. 315 to require stronger protections for state voting data, but in fact, the law would instead criminalize independent computer research. Electronic Frontiers Georgia, a member of the Electronic Frontiers Alliance, is at the center of the resistance to this proposed legislation.
Cities should do everything in their power to protect vulnerable members of their community from surveillance technology that tramples on civil liberties.
Any net neutrality legislation that allows paid prioritization necessarily allows throttling.
The argument that nominally private social media accounts allow a government agency or official the unfettered right to shut out constituents is incorrect and must be challenged.
We’ve asked the Copyright Office to extend the jailbreaking exemption to cover smart speakers like this, giving you the right to load software of your choosing on them—and stop them from laughing creepily behind your back.
Washington passed the first state law requiring ISPs to abide by net neutrality principles.
Oregon should be following in Washington’s footsteps soon.
Our members make it possible for EFF to bring legal and technological expertise into crucial battles about online rights. Whether defending free speech online or challenging unconstitutional surveillance, your participation makes a difference. Every donation gives technology users who value freedom online a stronger voice and more formidable advocate.
If you aren’t already, please consider becoming an EFF member today.
Editor: Dave Maass, Investigative Researcher
EFFector is a publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
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Do you want to learn how Bitcoin and Ethereum work, how cryptography plays a key role in securing funds, or how a network of untrusted computers guessing random numbers quadrillions of times per second adds security to the blockchain?
Join Scott Bigelow, Back-end Developer at Augur, for an introduction to the blockchain and some common blockchain-based applications.
No previous working knowledge of cryptography or other supporting technologies is necessary, as this will be a ground-up introduction.
Electronic Rights Rainier will host a roundtable discussion on privacy and security while crossing the border with your devices—including technical measures you can take, experiences with border security, and recent newsworthy events that may affect your decisions on what to take with you on your trip and what information you are willing to disclose.
If you’re a student who is passionate about emerging Internet and technology policy issues, come work with EFF this summer as a Google Public Policy Fellow!
Legal interns assist in all aspects of litigation, including legal research, factual investigation, and drafting of memoranda and briefs, while also helping with policy research, client counseling, and the development of public education materials.
EFF is seeking an intellectual property staff attorney to join our legal team in San Francisco. Responsibilities include litigation, public speaking, media outreach, and legislative and regulatory advocacy, all in connection with a variety of intellectual property and cutting-edge technology matters. Founded in 1990, EFF champions user privacy, free expression, and innovation through impact litigation, policy analysis, grassroots activism, and technology development. We work to ensure that rights and freedoms are enhanced and protected as our use of technology grows.