In our 655th issue:
On Tuesday, February 11th, EFF will join thousands of other websites in demanding an end to mass surveillance through an Internet-wide digital protest. Visitors will be prompted to contact members of Congress or sign a global petition opposing mass surveillance with a banner that can be inserted into any site.
This is a critical moment in the NSA surveillance fight. Worldwide outrage at NSA spying helped pressure the Obama administration into making a few key concessions toward reform. But Obama’s reform plan falls woefully short. That’s why we’re turning the heat up on Congress to finish the job.
Help us end NSA mass spying. Use your website to join the protest (get code for your website), and help us spread the word on February 11th through social media with the hashtag #StoptheNSA.
The chances that “fast track” legislation for the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) will pass through Congress are diminishing. The TPP is a super secretive, multi-national trade agreement that aims to export some of the most toxic iterations of intellectual property and copyright law across the globe. Senate majority leader Harry Reid announced last week that he was “against fast track” and Democrats like Senator Ron Wyden have likewise asserted that they are uncomfortable signing on to a bill that would put the TPP on a fast track. This is a major step in the right direction, but the fight against TPP closed-door trade negotiations isn’t over.
HTTPS Everywhere is now available for Android for the Mozilla Firefox browser. With HTTPS Everywhere installed, Firefox for Android will encrypt connections from your mobile browser that would otherwise be insecure, giving Firefox a huge security advantage over every other mobile browser on the market. HTTPS encryption allows users to safely instant message, send emails, share data, and browse the web by protecting against connections to unfamilar WiFi networks or malicious attacks. Switch all of your insecure HTTP connections to secure HTTPS connections today.
The newly staffed Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board clearly stated that domestic spying under Section 215 of the Patriot Act should end because it’s illegal and ineffective. The report also recommends serious reforms for the FISA Court as well as certain measures that would drastically increase transparency in NSA programs. Both of President Obama’s independent advisory committees have now come out strongly against NSA mass domestic spying.
After a federal court rejected the bulk of FCC’s network neutrality rules last month, many people have been rightly concerned about the future of the Internet. Now ISPs have no regulatory barrier to blocking, slowing, or altering content that travels over their networks. Network neutrality is a principle that EFF strongly supports, but whether or not FCC’s track record leaves us much hope that the agency can get the job done right is another matter entirely.
Egypt’s military “interim government” has been putting activists and journalists in jail left and right, chilling freedom of speech and almost all forms of political organizing or expressions of opposition. Popular blogger and acitivist Alaa Abd El Fattah is among those wrongfully detained for no crime. Alaa had long advocated for Internet freedom in the Middle East and now dozens of organizations around the world are calling for his release.
The patent troll problem doesn’t seem to be going away. Patent trolls are continuing to send threats to small businesses and individuals, and often people come to EFF for direction. The problem is that we don’t know enough patent attorneys willing to offer their services to help people fight patent trolls in the courts. Please share our call to add more patent specialists to our list of cooperating attorneys.
EFF is currently representing clients in two lawsuits against the NSA. Our newest case, First Unitarian Church v. NSA, seeks to protect the freedom of association–an essential aspect of the First Amendment–of 22 diverse groups that have all been had their constitutional rights violated by NSA mass spying. Bulk-collection doesn’t only violate the Four Amendment, but is ruinous to our freedom of speech rights as well.
When the news broke that the computer security company RSA had reportedly collaborated with the NSA to insert a backdoored random number generator into some security products to ease government surveillance efforts, security experts around the world were livid. Many people have left their coveted speaking gigs at the RSA conference to speak at an alternative event called TrustyCon instead.
In a House Intelligence Committee hearing, Rep. Mike Rogers and FBI Director James Comey discussed whether journalists’ stories based on stolen, classified materials is a crime and if reporters are protected by the First Amendment. Rep. Rogers continued to call journalists who have worked with Snowden “accomplices,” a troubling suggestion for the future of journalists reporting on government misbehavior in the United States.
Popular video game maker Riot Games published a short blog post declaring that they have no intention of using their existing software patents for harm and urged users to visit EFF’s Defend Innovation project to fight against innovation-squashing patent trolls.
Cory Doctorow unpacks the history of digital rights management and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, explaining how DRM is designed to work against the interest of consumers and how vulnerabilities in bits of DRM code leave users and the technologies that we depend upon far less secure.
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: April Glaser, Activist
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