UPDATES MINILINKS ANNOUNCEMENTS
EFF is representing an American in federal court in Washington, D.C. suing the Ethiopian government for infecting his computer with spyware that recorded all of his online activities and wiretapped communications. A forensic investigation revealed traces of a program called FinSpy, a suite of surveillance software marketed exclusively to governments. It appears that this spyware is part of a systematic effort on the part of the Ethiopian government to spy on individuals who are perceived to be political opponents and members of the Ethiopian diaspora community around the world.
Tuesday, February 11th was The Day We Fought Back. Over 6,000 websites and dozens of advocacy organizations stood with us in a global day of action. The results were staggering: over 89,000 Americans called their members of Congress and told them to rein in the NSA. Far more sent emails. Around the world, over 250,000 put their name to a set of founding principles against suspicionless surveillance. The protests engaged a diverse array of organizations, ranging from tech companies to international human rights groups. The battle against NSA spying isn’t over, but on The Day We Fought Back we began to win.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced how it plans to move forward after a federal court rejected the bulk of the commission’s network neutrality rules. But enforcing network neutrality is complicated, and it’s important to understand the myriad of connections that keep Internet traffic flowing. EFF investigated the “peering” relationships between ISPs and backbone web companies and found a disturbing history of network discrimination. It’s time to shed light on secret peering agreements that may threaten the future of a neutral, open Internet. What’s more, a Comcast-Time Warner merger could give the ISP tremendous leverage in peering disputes.
During Black History Month, we should remember the history of surveillance of the African-American community and let their stories serve as cautionary tales for the expanding surveillance state. Spying is nothing new, and in the 1960s, FBI’s infamous COINTELPRO program focused on Black Americans fighting against segregation and structural racism. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Black Panther Party were subjected to surveillance as well as tactics intended to intimidate and shame them, cause divisions among activists, and even manufacture violence against them. As revelations of government surveillance continue, we must not forget the speech-stifling history of U.S. government spying that has targeted communities of color.
The White House has taken several steps towards curtailing the patent troll problem. The Patent Office put out a toolkit to help those facing a troll threat, as well as a training program for patent examiners and judges to help them understand functional claiming – which is the practice of patenting what something does, rather than what it is. Additionally, the Patent Office has proposed a new rule to make patents more transparent and has taken new executive actions to address the need for pro bono and pro se legal assistance, better training for patent examiners, and easier mechanisms for discovering prior art.
As protests against the Venezuelan government have escalated, President Murado has responded with sweeping media censorship, shutting down entire regional ISPs and causing massive Internet blackouts. Certain websites, including Twitter, have also been blocked. What’s more, the Venezuelan government has created The Strategic Center for Security and Protection of the Country, which would allow unfettered censorship of information deemed to be a threat to national security.
EFF has submitted a letter to the Oakland city council urging a no vote on the Domain Awareness Center, a surveillance system that would aggregate data from dozens of sources around the city to create an invasive treasure trove of surveillance data for law enforcement access. The Domain Awareness Center has the potential to facilitate serious civil liberties abuses and privacy violations. EFF joins ACLU of Northern California, the Oakland Privacy Working Group, and hundreds of concerned residents in opposing the project.
Just days after the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency issued plans to create a national database of license plate recognition data, the DHS ordered the initiative to be canceled. The rapid about-face came in the wake of a flood of concerns about how a database of this size and scope would provide a broad window into individuals’ movements and personal associations.
Australia does not currently have a fair use doctrine in its copyright law, but this could soon change. The Australian Law Reform Commission recently issued a set of recommendations that, if adopted, would dramatically update the country’s copyright policy to broaden fair use exceptions. This is a critical moment for Australia to further foster innovation and creativity instead of catering to old and stifling business models.
Newly released Snowden documents reveal tactics that the U.S. and British governments had considered to heighten surveillance of the Wikileaks website, its publishers, and users.
People around the world have taken to the streets to protest the super-secret Trans Pacific Partnership.
Current and former officials from the the Federal Communications Commission say that the agency has decided to wade in to the cybersecurity fray.
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.
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