Global Digital Download - North America News
The Global Digital Download is a weekly publication that aggregates resources on Internet freedom, highlighting trends in digital and social media that intersect with freedom of expression, policy, privacy, censorship and new technologies. The GDD includes information about relevant events, news, and research. To find past articles and research, search the archive database.
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Today, a group of 20 of the world’s preeminent experts in computer and network security released a report warning that an FBI proposal to modify Internet services to make them wiretap friendly would open major security holes, and that criminals would easily circumvent the wiretap capability that would have to be built in.
Last week, Representative Hank Johnson of Georgia introduced the Application, Privacy, and Security Act (APPS Act), a bipartisan bill that would require stronger transparency and security requirements for mobile application developers and distributors. The bill is co-sponsored by Representatives Steve Chabot of Ohio, John Conyers of Michigan, Eliot Engel of New York, and Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas. As mobile technologies become increasingly indispensible for Americans, ensuring that privacy policies are clear and accurate is an important goal.
The FBI has some strange ideas about how to “update” federal surveillance laws: They’re calling for legislation to penalize online services that provide users with too much security. I’m not kidding. The proposal was revealed in The Washington Post last week — and a couple days ago, a front-page story in The New York Times reported the Obama administration is preparing to back it. Why? Federal law enforcement agencies like the FBI have long feared their wiretap capabilities would begin “going dark” as criminals and terrorists — along with ordinary citizens — shift from telephone networks, which are required to be wiretap-ready under the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), to the dizzying array of online communications platforms available today.
Proposals to update the email privacy law, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), are moving quickly in Congress. ECPA is in dire need of an update as it was written in the mid-1980s long before the advent of ubiquitous webmail and cloud storage. In the past, ECPA was used by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to obtain emails and other private online messages older than 180 days without a probable cause warrant. If law enforcement sought those same messages in the physical world, a warrant would be required. This difference is not only wrong, but also inconsistent with the Fourth Amendment. Senators Patrick Leahy and Mike Lee plan to fix this.
The Obama administration, resolving years of internal debate, is on the verge of backing a Federal Bureau of Investigation plan for a sweeping overhaul of surveillance laws that would make it easier to wiretap people who communicate using the Internet rather than by traditional phone services, according to officials familiar with the deliberations. The F.B.I. director, Robert S. Mueller III, has argued that the bureau’s ability to carry out court-approved eavesdropping on suspects is “going dark” as communications technology evolves, and since 2010 has pushed for a legal mandate requiring companies like Facebook and Google to build into their instant-messaging and other such systems a capacity to comply with wiretap orders.
Last week, Justin Brookman, CDT’s Director of Consumer Privacy, testified before the Senate Commerce Committee at a hearing entitled, “A Status Update on the Development of Voluntary Do-Not-Track Standards.” Senator Jay Rockefeller, Chairman of the Committee, called the hearing to examine the steps industry stakeholders have taken to fulfill their public commitment to honor Do-Not-Track requests from consumers.
Washington DC was awash this weekend with some of the biggest names in journalism, technology, civil society and government — and not just for the star-studded White House Correspondents’ Dinner. On Friday, Google hosted its first Big Tent event in DC with co-sponsor Bloomberg to discuss the future of free speech in the digital age. Each panel was guided by hypothetical scenarios that mirrored real current events and raised interesting free speech questions around offence, takedown requests, self-censorship, government leaks, national security and surveillance.
Last week CISPA, the cybersecurity information-sharing bill, passed the House. Though fundamentally flawed, the bill is very different from when it passed the House a year ago, demonstrating the power of a growing Internet advocacy community that sometimes underestimates its own influence. Two game-changing achievements stand out.
Syria: Blue Coat Commends The Department Of Commerce’s Bureau Of Industry And Security For Penalizing Third Party Involved In the Illegal Transfer Of Blue Coat Products
Blue Coat Systems, Inc., a market leader in Web security and WAN optimization, today commended U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) for its enforcement action against Computerlinks FZCO in connection with the unlawful diversion of Blue Coat ProxySG appliances to Syria. BIS previously penalized Wassim Jawad and Infotech in 2011 for their involvement in this unlawful transfer.
This week a wide range of civil liberties groups and companies demanded the Senate Judiciary Committee update email privacy law, the Electronic Communications and Privacy Act (ECPA). The bill, S. 607, introduced by Senators Leahy and Lee, aims to ensure a warrant protection for all private online messages. ECPA, passed in 1986, purported to allow the Department of Justice (DOJ) access to private communications, including emails and private Facebook messages, with a only subpoena. EFF has long argued, and many courts have agreed, that a warrant is always required.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) demanded to know why the FBI wasn’t tracking the Boston bombing suspect’s web traffic during an appearance on Fox News this morning, possibly validating civil liberties activist fears that the attack would lead to calls for further digital surveillance: “If you Google terrorists you will find the older brother on the web, Youtube videos of him declaring war on us, saying we’re a Christian nation. We’re infidels. How could the FBI after the interview in 2011 not pick up that traffic where this guy is visiting radical web sites?“
Report: Obama Officials Authorized New 'Cybersecurity' Warrantless Surveillance Program, Fresh Immunity Given to ISPs
Yesterday, in a disturbing report published on CNET, new documents obtained by EPIC reveal that Obama administration officials have authorized a new government program involving the interception of communications on Internet service providers, including AT&T—one of the key players in the NSA warrantless wiretapping program. Under long-standing federal law, the government needs to use legal process to compel service providers to hand over customer communications, yet reportedly, the government is promising these companies they will not to prosecute them for violating US wiretapping laws if they hand over the information voluntarily.
The cofounder of the popular social news site Reddit has called on the leaders of Google, Facebook and Twitter to help defeat a controversial cybersecurity bill that would compromise the privacy of their users if passed by lawmakers. “I’m hoping that all of these tech companies take the stand that their privacy policies matter, their users’ privacy matters, and no legislation like CISPA should take that away,” Alexis Ohanian, former owner of Reddit (Wired’s parent company Conde Nast currently owns Reddit), said in a video posted yesterday.
Yesterday, the US House prepared for the debate on the privacy-invading "cybersecurity" bill called CISPA, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act. The rules committee hearing was the last stop before the bill is voted on by the full House. In the hearing, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) was questioned about the core problems in the bill, like the broad immunity and new corporate spying powers. In response, he characterized users who oppose CISPA as "14 year olds” tweeting in a basement.
The First Amendment protects anonymous speech, but the scope of that protection has been the subject of much debate. This Article adds to the discussion of anonymous speech by examining anti-mask statutes and cases as an analogue for the regulation of anonymous speech online. Anti-mask case law answers a number of questions left open by the Supreme Court. It shows that courts have used the First Amendment to protect anonymity beyond core political speech, when mask-wearing is expressive conduct or shows a nexus with free expression. This Article explores what the anti-mask cases teach us about anonymity online, including proposed real-name policies. It closes by returning to the real world of real masks, addressing the significance of physical anonymity in an age of remote biometric identification and drone use.
In the near future, an Ontario trial court will hear a defamation case that could have a major impact on free expression and what is considered defamatory under Canadian law. Baglow v. Smith arose out of a dispute between two ideologically opposed bloggers. John Baglow, who blogs as Dr. Dawg, repeatedly argued that the detention of Canadian terror suspect Omar Khadr at Guantanamo Bay violated international law. In 2010, blogger Roger Smith responded by referring to Baglow online as "one of the Taliban's more vocal supporters." Baglow sued Smith for defamation.
Today, thirty-four civil liberties organizations sent a joint letter to Congressional Representatives urging them to continue to oppose the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA). CISPA is a misguided "cybersecurity" bill that would provide a gaping new exception to privacy law. The House of Representatives is likely to vote on it on Wednesday or Thursday of this week. This means that there's little time remaining to speak out against this bill.
Wednesday, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence marked up the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), the misguided “cybersecurity” bill that would create a gaping exception to existing privacy law while doing little to address palpable and pressing online security issues. The markup was held entirely behind closed doors—even though the issues being considered will have serious effects on the liberty of Internet users—and was passed out of the committee.
In the last three months alone, the House has released three different cybersecurity bills and has held over seven hearings on the issue. In addition, the House Judiciary Committee floated changes to the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA)—the draconian anti-hacking statute that came to public prominence after the death of activist and Internet pioneer Aaron Swartz. Politicians tout this legislation as necessary to protect against foreign threats every single time they introduce a bill with “cyber” somewhere in the text.
As internet access spreads around the world and more countries consider ways to regulate users' online activities, the United States has a responsibility to set an example by enacting legislation that combats online security threats while protecting individual privacy. Unfortunately, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), which is scheduled to undergo markup this week by the House Intelligence Committee, fails to strike this balance, and threatens to set a negative example for other countries looking to adopt similar laws.
Choose an acronym — SOPA, ACTA, TPP. Whether a legislative proposal or a trade agreement, Internet rights groups are framing the issues in much the same way: a global threat to free speech and privacy. They’ve cast content providers as repeat players in a battle over the future of intellectual property. The current manifestation is the Trans-Pacific Partnership, negotiations with 11 Pacific Rim nations meant to revolutionize digital trade and set the tone for future agreements.
Scary hacks and data breaches in 2012 hit companies as diverse as NBC, LinkedIn and Global Payments. Lawmakers began tussling over how to help protect companies from these attacks, and as a result, lobbying action on cybersecurity nearly doubled last year. A total of 1,968 lobbying reports mentioned the word "cybersecurity" (or variations of the term) several times in 2012, according to a report compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics for CNNMoney. That's up from just 990 reports in 2011.
A Congressional debate over the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, or CISPA, set for next week will take place out of public view. CISPA, which was reintroduced to the House of Representatives earlier this year, is set to undergo a markup session next week. During the session, members of the House Intelligence Committee will debate the bill and offer amendments before voting whether or not to move it to a full vote in the House — but it will be closed to the public and to press.
20-year-old artist Jennifer Pawluck was arrested Wednesday morning at 10:30am after posting a picture of anti-police street art on her Instagram feed a few days before. “Many of my friends do not like the police,” Pawluck told the Huffington Post Québec in French. “I thought it would be funny to put the picture on Instagram. I do not even know who he is, Ian Lafrenière.”
The President Barack Obama administration is informing a federal judge that if it’s forced to disclose a secret court opinion about the government illegally spying on Americans, the likely result could be “exceptionally grave and serious damage to the national security.”
CDT joined with a diverse coalition of advocates from across the political spectrum to send a letter to Congress opposing a troubling draft bill that would dangerously expand the federal computer crime statute, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA).
The House Judiciary committee is reportedly circulating a discussion draft that would amend the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) in precisely the wrong direction. In the wake of the tragic death of activist Aaron Swartz, US Internet freedom advocates have devoted much time and energy to pushing sensible reforms to narrow the scope of the CFAA, under which Swartz was being aggressively prosecuted at the time of his death. This draft flies in the face of those efforts, as it would dramatically enhance the already heavy penalties for violations of what Internet scholar Tim Wu recently called “the Worst Law in Technology," while appearing to expressly overturn existing case law to say that violating terms of service or other agreements can indeed be prosecuted as a felony.
Earlier this month, a Georgia Superior Court issued a breathtaking restraining order against Matthew Chan, the operator of a copyright troll criticism message board, holding him responsible for the posts of his users. As part of the Court’s reasoning, Judge Frank Jordan wrote: "As the owner and operator of the site, Respondent has the ability to remove posts in his capacity as the moderator. However, Respondent chose not to remove posts that were personally directed at [Petitioner Linda] Ellis and would cause a reasonable person to fear for her safety."
Despite the pervasiveness of law enforcement surveillance of digital communication, the FBI still has a difficult time monitoring Gmail, Google Voice, and Dropbox in real time. But that may change soon, because the bureau says it has made gaining more powers to wiretap all forms of Internet conversation and cloud storage a “top priority” this year. Last week, during a talk for the American Bar Association in Washington, D.C., FBI general counsel Andrew Weissmann discussed some of the pressing surveillance and national security issues facing the bureau.
A hearing earlier this week at the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Homeland Security reflected a growing consensus on the need for government officials to obtain a warrant before accessing private email. The Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), which has not had an update since it passed in 1986, specifies that government officials do not need a warrant to access stored email that is over 180 days old.1 The Department of Justice has also historically argued ECPA grants law enforcement the authority to access opened email without a warrant.
Under CISPA, companies can collect your information in order to "protect the rights and property" of the company, and then share that information with third parties, including the government, so long as it is for "cybersecurity purposes." Companies aren't required to strip out personally identifiable information from the data they give to the government, and the government can then use the information for purposes wholly unrelated to cybersecurity – such as "national security," a term the bill leaves undefined.
Senator Mark Leno today announced the introduction of groundbreaking new legislation that protects email privacy. Senate Bill 467, sponsored by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), requires state law enforcement agencies to obtain a warrant before asking service providers to hand over a private citizen's emails.
Twitter Co-Founder Jack Dorsey Joins A Growing List Of Internet Giants Whose Careers Could Have Been Ruined By The CFAA
Since the untimely death of activist Aaron Swartz in January, EFF has been pushing for Congress to reform the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), the law that hands out wildly disproportionate penalties for computer crimes, chills innovation, and potentially turns every computer user into a criminal. And new examples of the CFAA’s dangerous reach continue to make headlines.
Given the increasing penetration of technology into the lives of billions of people around the world, context for how we think about intersection of diplomacy and civil society is shifting. No one has been more central to that discussion than Alec J. Ross, the senior advisor for innovation to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who in many ways defined the practice of "digital diplomacy" in the 21st century. Almost three years ago, I talked with Ross about his role and goals, like supporting "Internet freedom" through funding technology.
Last week, Edith Ramirez, the newly named chair of the Federal Trade Commission, participated in her first public appearance as chairwoman at the International Association of Privacy Professionals conference. Her comments there bode well for the future of domestic privacy protection, especially when paired with the FTC’s recent settlement with HTC concerning the mobile device maker’s unfair and deceptive trade practices.
Three members of Congress, including Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), introduced new legislation on Wednesday to reform the Electronic Communications Protection Act (ECPA) and improve privacy protections for electronic messages. The new bill, co-sponsored by Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) and Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.), is called the Online Communications and Geolocation Protection Act. As drafted, the bill would extend Fourth Amendment protections to email and cellphone geolocation data, requiring authorities to get a warrant in situations where one is currently not required. Lofgren had introduced a similar bill last year and previously promised to reintroduce it as part of her "Internet freedom" agenda.
Why is CDT opposed to a House bill intended to promote sharing of information about cyberthreats? And why do we prefer a Senate proposal on information sharing? The reasons for our opposition to the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) are well-illustrated by this opening sentence from an article yesterday in Government Computer News: Continuous monitoring is the order of the day for federal IT systems, and automated tools are generating more data about the status and behavior of agency networks. The next challenge, analysts, vendors and government officials say, is making use of all that data.
It’s been a long time coming, but the copyright surveillance machine known as the Copyright Alert System (CAS) — aka “Six Strikes” — has finally launched. CAS is an agreement between major media corporations and large Internet Service Providers to monitor peer-to-peer networks for copyright infringement and target subscribers who are alleged to infringe — via everything from “educational” alerts to throttling Internet speeds. Unfortunately, the Center for Copyright Information, which is running this “educational” program, is hardly a neutral information source. So, as the participants finally begin to reveal some details, we’re here to provide an alternative.
Before his planned retirement from Congress at the end of next year, Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, the West Virginia Democrat, intends to give American consumers more meaningful control over personal data collected about them online. To that end, Mr. Rockefeller on Thursday introduced a bill called the “Do-Not-Track Online Act of 2013.” The bill would require the Federal Trade Commission to establish standardized mechanisms for people to use their Internet browsers to tell Web sites, advertising networks, data brokers and other online entities whether or not they were willing to submit to data-mining.
Apart from a few companies like Google, which revealed that Chinese hackers had tried to read its users’ e-mail messages, American companies have been disturbingly silent about cyberattacks on their computer systems — apparently in fear that this disclosure will unnerve customers and shareholders and invite lawsuits and unwanted scrutiny from the government.
One of the Internet’s founding fathers is set this week to revive a heated cybersecurity debate over whether to preserve anonymity and the use of pseudonyms in online chat forums and social networks like Twitter. Vint Cerf, Google’s chief Internet evangelist, is expected to make the case for keeping people’s identity anonymous — particularly on certain Web services — when he delivers the keynote address at the RSA cybersecurity conference here on Wednesday.
The nation’s major internet service providers on Monday said they are beginning to roll out an initiative to disrupt internet access for online copyright scofflaws. The so-called “Copyright Alert System” is backed by the President Barack Obama administration and was pushed heavily by record labels and Hollywood studios. The plan, more than four years in the making, includes participation by AT&T, Cablevision Systems, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Verizon. Others could soon join. After four offenses, the historic plan calls for these residential internet providers to initiate so-called “mitigation measures” (.pdf) that might include reducing internet speeds and redirecting a subscriber’s service to an “educational” landing page about infringement.
Start asking security experts which powerful Washington institutions have been penetrated by Chinese cyberspies, and this is the usual answer: almost all of them. The list of those hacked in recent years includes law firms, think tanks, news organizations, human rights groups, contractors, congressional offices, embassies and federal agencies. The information compromised by such intrusions, security experts say, would be enough to map how power is exercised in Washington to a remarkably nuanced degree. The only question, they say, is whether the Chinese have the analytical resources to sort through the massive troves of data they steal every day.
One day last October, more than 100 congressional staffers crammed into a room on the second floor of the Rayburn House Office Building to listen to four lawyers discuss smartphone and tablet patent litigation. The chief of staff for the House Judiciary Committee came a few minutes late and couldn’t get a seat. This is a typical scene these days at the periodic lunchtime lectures put on by the Congressional Internet Caucus, a bipartisan collection of 125 House and Senate members who are, in the words of their mission statement, “working to promote the promise and potential of the Internet.” Third on the list of the caucus’s goals: “Promoting the education of Members of Congress and their staff.”
It's official: The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act was reintroduced in the House of Representatives yesterday. CISPA is the contentious bill civil liberties advocates fought last year, which would provide a poorly-defined "cybersecurity" exception to existing privacy law. CISPA offers broad immunities to companies who choose to share data with government agencies (including the private communications of users) in the name of cybersecurity. It also creates avenues for companies to share data with any federal agencies, including military intelligence agencies like the National Security Agency (NSA).
The FTC’s announcement late last week of a settlement with a mobile app developer and the Commission’s simultaneous release of a mobile privacy report highlighted the agency’s focus on protecting consumer privacy in the popular mobile space. Moreover, the Commission’s actions provided a pointed reminder to app developers that they must consider privacy at the earliest stages and in all phases of creating their innovative products.
Not every media company is as tempting a target for hackers as The New York Times, The Washington Post, or The Wall Street Journal. Not every company can afford high-priced computer security consultants, either. Is there anything that everyday reporters and their editors can learn about protecting themselves, based on the revelatory details the Times and other targets made public last week? As we wrote at the time, the cyber-attacks on the Times, the Post, and the Journal came as no surprise to foreign reporters working in China or elsewhere who repeatedly face fake emails, custom malware, and hacking attacks on their webmail. But the level of access that the hackers obtained at the Times' main offices, and the publication of details by their technical advisers, can be instructive.
Reporters Without Borders strongly condemns the Chinese government's readiness to violate the confidentiality of sources, which has jeopardized the safety of New York Times journalists and their sources in China. The newspaper has been subjected to growing harassment in recent months. An article about outgoing Premier Wen Jiabao's fortune was censored. The authorities refused to issue or renew visas and accreditation for its journalists. And now it turns out that it has been the target of cyber-attacks for months.
Union County, N.J., prosecutors demanded Tina Renna give them “the names of 16 government officials who she accused online of misusing county generators after Hurricane Sandy,” Lilly Chapa reports. Renna claimed privilege, and Superior Court Judge Karen Cassidy has ordered a hearing “to further discuss whether Renna is a journalist as defined under the state shield law,” Chapa writes.Renna’s blog The County Watchers chronicles county employees who make six-figure incomes, challenges the county’s finances and posts videos from meetings. Prosecutors, Chapa writes, “have argued that Renna cannot be defined as a journalist because she was involved in politics in the past and the blog is biased and often critical of the Union County government.”
With every coming round of negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)—a trade agreement that carries intellectual property provisions that could have hugely harmful consequences for the Internet and our digital rights—the Office of the US Trade Representative has continually whittled away at any remaining opportunity for the public to have input into the drafting process. The TPP has been under negotiation for three years and the opaqueness has only worsened.
Last year, we saw more battles in Congress over Internet freedom than we have in many years as user protests stopped two dangerous bills, the censorship-oriented SOPA, and the privacy-invasive Cybersecurity Act of 2012. But Congress ended the year by ramming through a domestic spying bill and weakening the Video Privacy Protection Act. In 2013, Congress will tackle several bills—both good and bad—that could shape Internet privacy for the next decade. Some were introduced last year, and some will be completely new.
In a dramatic announcement late Wednesday, the New York Times reported that hackers from China had been routing through the paper’s network for at least four months, stealing the passwords of reporters in an apparent attempt to identify sources and gather other intelligence about stories related to the family of China’s prime minister. The hackers breached the network sometime around Sept. 13 and stole the corporate passwords for every Times employee, using them to gain access to the personal computers of 53 employees, according to the report.
Chinese hackers believed to have government links have been conducting wide-ranging electronic surveillance of media companies including The Wall Street Journal, apparently to spy on reporters covering China and other issues, people familiar with the incidents said. Journal publisher Dow Jones & Co. said Thursday that the paper's computer systems had been infiltrated by Chinese hackers, apparently to monitor its China coverage. New York Times Co. disclosed Wednesday night that its flagship newspaper also had been the victim of cyberspying. Chinese hackers for years have targeted major U.S. media companies with hacking that has penetrated inside newsgathering systems, several people familiar with the response to the cyberattacks said. Tapping reporters' computers could allow Beijing to identify sources on articles and information about pending stories. Chinese authorities in the past have penalized Chinese nationals who have passed information to foreign reporters.
United States law-enforcement agencies by and large do not establish probable cause or obtain a search warrant from an impartial judge before they seek information about a Twitter user, the company said Monday in its second transparency report. The company said it received a little over 1,000 requests for information between July and December 2012. Most came from the United States, and in nearly seven out of 10 instances, the company complied with the data request.
There are two Bills that are floating through the corridors of power on the Hill that could potentially change the course of civil and political rights within the United States and the world. One was introduced through the House of Representatives and the other through the Senate. The two Bills touch on a common thread that are premised on "national security" however there are interesting challenges that will surface should the Bills be passed that affect global public interest that require further examination, introspection and discussion.
With the recent re-nomination of David Medine as chairman, the long-dormant US Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) may finally come to life. The renewal of the Board and its mandate comes not a moment too soon. A strong, independent oversight body is necessary to protect digital rights as Congress is likely to consider cybercrime and cybersecurity issues, such as a proposed amendment to the highly controversial federal Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA), which would require all communications providers to install backdoors in their products and services.
Yahoo demands probable-cause, court-issued warrants to divulge the content of messages inside its popular consumer e-mail brands — Yahoo and Ymail, the web giant said Friday. The Sunnyvale, California-based internet concern’s exclusive comments came two days after Google revealed to Wired that it demands probable-cause warrants to turn over consumer content stored in its popular Gmail and cloud-storage Google Drive services — despite the Electronic Communications Privacy Act not always requiring warrants.
This morning, Google released their semi-annual transparency report, and once again, it revealed a troubling trend: Internet surveillance around the world continues to rise, with the United States leading the way in demands for user data. Google received over 21,000 requests for data on over 33,000 users in the last six months from governments around the world, a 70% increase since Google started releasing numbers in 2010. The United States accounted for almost 40% the total requests (8,438) and the number of users (14,791).
AT&T took some heat last fall for imposing limits (some of which have since been removed) on which subscribers can use FaceTime, Apple’s video calling service, over its cellular network. This week, the FCC Open Internet Advisory Committee published a report on the subject that I helped to author. Its technical analysis is well worth a look. The OIAC report recognizes that mobile networks have limited bandwidth and that a high-bandwidth application like FaceTime can cause substantial performance problems on the network. But does that mean that network management techniques need to target particular applications? One view represented in the report, as well as in CDT’s most recent blog post on the subject, is that it would be much better for application developers and consumers if network management were to be application-agnostic.
Today, CDT and a range of other groups and individuals are marking the one-year anniversary of the historic SOPA and PIPA protests by celebrating Internet Freedom Day. On January 18th, 2012, CDT joined thousands of innovators, technologists, advocates, and individuals from across the political spectrum in an online blackout and protest demonstrating broad opposition to the two bills, which had the potential to wreak havoc on the Internet. The bills failed in the face of that unprecedented online revolt, which marked a watershed moment for the politics of Internet policy.
One year ago today, Internet users of all ages, races, and political stripes participated in the largest protest in Internet history, flooding Congress with millions of emails and phone calls to demand they drop the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA)—a dangerous bill that would have allowed corporations and the govenrment to censor larger parts of the Web.
Outpourings of grief and calls for change continue to flood the Internet after the suicide of Aaron Swartz, only 26 years old. Aaron was one of our community's best and brightest, and he acheived great things in his short life. He was a coder, a political activist, an entrepreneur, a contributor to major technological developments (like RSS), and an all-around Internet freedom rock star. As Wired noted, the world will miss out on decades of magnificent things Aaron would have accomplished had his time not been cut short.
You might call Hillary Clinton the ur-diplomat of the digital age. Under her guidance, the U.S. State Department embraced new technology in a way no secretary of state has done since the fax machine. For better or worse, Clinton added a new dimension to the way Washington engages with the rest of the world.With rumors that John Kerry may be tapped to take Clinton's place when she departs the agency this month comes rising speculation over how the current chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee might handle State's technological mandate.
There are three things that matter in consumer data collection: location, location, location. E-ZPasses clock the routes we drive. Metro passes register the subway stations we enter. A.T.M.’s record where and when we get cash. Not to mention the credit and debit card transactions that map our trajectories in comprehensive detail — the stores, restaurants and gas stations we frequent; the hotels and health clubs we patronize. Each of these represents a kind of knowing trade, a conscious consumer submission to surveillance for the sake of convenience.
Navigating the Internet requires using addresses and corresponding names that identify the location of individual computers. The Domain Name System (DNS) is the distributed set of databases residing in computers around the world that contain address numbers mapped to corresponding domain names, making it possible to send and receive messages and to access information from computers anywhere on the Internet. Many of the technical, operational, and management decisions regarding the DNS can have significant impacts on Internet-related policy issues such as intellectual property, privacy, Internet freedom, e-commerce, and cybersecurity.
California and Illinois on Tuesday joined four others in becoming the union’s only states barring employers from demanding that employees fork over their social-media passwords. Congress unsurprisingly couldn’t muster the wherewithal to approve the Password Protection Act of 2012, so a handful of states have taken it upon themselves. The new laws come amid reports nationwide that employers were demanding access to their employees’ or potential employees’ personal, non-public data on Facebook, Twitter and other social-media accounts.
The Senate on Friday reauthorized for five years broad electronic eavesdropping powers that legalized and expanded the President George W. Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program. The FISA Amendments Act, (.pdf) which was expiring Monday at midnight, allows the government to electronically eavesdrop on Americans’ phone calls and e-mails without a probable-cause warrant so long as one of the parties to the communication is believed outside the United States. The communications may be intercepted “to acquire foreign intelligence information.”
As the year draws to a close, EFF is looking back at the major trends influencing digital rights in 2012 and discussing where we are in the fight for free expression, innovation, fair use, and privacy. Click here to read other blog posts in this series. After years of complaining that our email privacy laws were hopelessly outdated, 2012 saw a promising beacon of light peek out from the most unlikeliest of places: a sex scandal.
The Senate late Thursday forwarded legislation to President Barack Obama granting the public the right to automatically display on their Facebook feeds what they’re watching on Netflix. While lawmakers were caving to special interests, however, they cut from the legislative package language requiring the authorities to get a warrant to read your e-mail or other data stored in the cloud.
As Digital Rights Advocates Mobilize Around The TPP Negotiations, Process Becomes Even Less Transparent
The 15th round of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement negotiations in New Zealand concluded this week, locking out civil society participation in an unprecedented way. The TPP is a trade agreement between eleven Pacific nations and it covers a wide range of regulatory issues including transnational investment, services, tobacco, and textiles. The chapter that EFF and other digital rights groups around the world find alarming covers intellectual property. EFF is also looking into issues of free flow of information and cross-over issues that may appear in the ecommerce and service chapters.
The Internet, long viewed as a tool to expand freedom, is an equally effective tool for repression. That is just as true in the United States as anywhere else. Security guru Bruce Schneier noted in a recent blog post, citing Evgeny Morozov's book, "The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom," that, "Repressive regimes all over the world are using the Internet to more efficiently implement surveillance, censorship, and propaganda. And they're getting really good at it."
There’s a lot of sky-is-falling doomsday predictions about the World Conference on International Telecommunications, which opens Monday in Dubai with some 190-plus nations discussing the global internet’s future. That’s because much of the accompanying proposals from the global community have been kept under lock and key, although some of the positions of nations have been leaked and published online.
Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) accused the Obama administration on Wednesday of hypocrisy for advocating for Internet freedom on a global level but supporting Internet regulation domestically. U.S. delegates are currently attending a conference in Dubai to update a global telecommunications treaty. The Obama administration and lawmakers in both parties oppose efforts that would expand the treaty to allow for international regulation of the Internet.
The U.S. and other governments are meeting yet again to hash out the secret Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), this time in New Zealand. International trade agreements may seem far removed from our daily lives. Why should people in the U.S. take action against TPP? Although we don't know what's in the draft treaty, and the U.S. Trade Representative refuses to publish it, the leaked drafts we've seen are alarming. TPP is likely to export some of the worst features of U.S. copyright law: a broad ban on breaking digital locks on creative work, even for legal uses, a copyright term of life plus seventy years (the current international norm is life-plus-fifty), ruinous statutory damages with no proof of actual harm, and government seizures of computers and equipment involved in alleged infringement.
If you left a letter on your desk for 180 days, you wouldn’t imagine that the police could then swoop in and read it without your permission, or a judge’s. But that’s just what law enforcement officers can do with your e-mail. Using only a subpoena, government agents can demand that service providers turn over electronic communications they have stored, as long as those communications are more than six months old. Protections are even weaker for opened e-mail or documents stored in the “cloud.” The advertisements that the Postal Service piles into your mailbox every day are legally sacrosanct; the medical notifications your health-insurance company sends to your Gmail account are not.
A flurry of activity in US Congress and the Oval Office could alter the privacy rights and cybersecurity of users in the US and abroad for decades to come. It also presents an opportunity to limit the military’s growing reach over cyberspace.
Secret, undemocratic trade agreements that put shackles on our free speech online are nothing new. Civil society organisations have been fighting the passage of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) for the past six years. But some bad ideas never die. The same year that ACTA was defeated in the European Union, a new agreement was forged behind closed doors: the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
Currently, the Department of Justice argues it can read your private electronic messages, like emails and private Facebook messages, older than 180 days without a warrant due to an archaic distinction in the outdated Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA). Senator Leahy wants to change this and has scheduled a markup hearing next week.
A teen convicted of molestation can't be kept off social media, according to a court ruling, in a case that raises questions about the Internet's role in crime and punishment. Some argue social media is a First Amendment right, and it should be treated like other forms of freedom of speech, which can't be taken away.
A bastion of openness and counterculture, Silicon Valley imagines itself as the un-Chick-fil-A. But its hyper-tolerant facade often masks deeply conservative, outdated norms that digital culture discreetly imposes on billions of technology users worldwide. What is the vehicle for this new prudishness? Dour, one-dimensional algorithms, the mathematical constructs that automatically determine the limits of what is culturally acceptable.
Longtime opponents to Internet censorship were glad to see the Obama Administration enforce new human rights rules involving Iran last week. The State Department announced sanctions against four individuals and five entities, including Iran's communications and technology minister Reza for actions that censored access to the Internet and other actions that blocked freedom of expression. The sanctions mean these individuals and entities will have their U.S. assets frozen and U.S. entities can't do business with them. Designated individuals and members of designated entities cannot travel to the U.S.
The "six strikes" anti-piracy program is on its way, for real. Jill Lesser, head of the Center for Copyright Information—the enforcement agency in charge of the system—confirmed that the system is coming this year in a September interview with Ars. Speaking at a New York Internet conference, representatives of two of the biggest ISPs, Verizon and Time Warner, have finally described how their systems will work.
Is MetroPCS the publisher of your tweets? Is Verizon’s FiOS Internet service a newspaper? They seem to think so. In their pending challenge to the FCC’s Open Internet Rules, Verizon and MetroPCS argued that the Rules violate their purported First Amendment right to exercise “editorial discretion” over their customers’ Internet access. Yesterday, CDT and other friends of the court (not to mention friends of the Internet) filed briefs rebutting this dangerous assertion.
Washington, DC: Today, former officials with decades of expertise in communications networks, including former FCC Chairman Reed Hundt, joined by the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA), filed a friend of the court brief with the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in connection with Verizon's pending challenge to the FCC's Open Internet Rules. The brief responds specifically to sweeping claims made by Verizon in its opening brief (filed July 2, 2012) that Congress and the Federal Communications Commission are barred by the First Amendment from imposing any restrictions on Verizon's provision of broadband Internet access to Americans.
The unfolding scandal that led to the resignation of Gen. David Petraeus, the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, started with some purportedly harassing emails sent from pseudonymous email accounts to Jill Kelley. After the FBI kicked its investigation into high gear, it identified the sender as Paula Broadwell and, ultimately, read massive amounts of private email messages that uncovered an affair between Broadwell and Petraeus (and now, the investigation has expanded to include Gen. John Allen's emails with Kelley). We've received a lot of questions about how this works—what legal process the FBI needs to conduct its email investigation. The short answer? It's complicated.
The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution is supposed to protect us against unreasonable government intrusions on our privacy. It protects our "persons, houses, papers and effects." Pretty much everyone, including officials at the US Justice Department, agree that "papers" includes the digital content of our laptops, tablets and mobile phones.
The Homeland Security Department has commissioned Accenture to test technology that mines open social networks for indications of pandemics, according to the vendor. The $3 million, yearlong “biosurveillance” program will try to instantaneously spot public health trends among the massive amount of data that citizens share online daily, company officials said in announcing the deal Thursday.
There will be some new faces next year. But with the Administration and both houses of Congress remaining in the same hands, the election's main outcome for tech policy is that there won't be any immediate U-turns or game-changers in the ongoing debates over important issues like cybersecurity, privacy, and Internet neutrality.
Now that the election is over, Congress can get back to work doing the people’s business. And if that work is going to affect online expression, innovation, and/or privacy, it should start with a simple proposition: bring in the nerds (aka experts) and Internet users who care deeply about protecting their digital rights.
Mikko Hypponen contacted us Monday morning to say he created the tweet below to highlight Twitter's new DMCA policy; it did not represent an actual withdrawn tweet. The story has been updated accordingly. See further explanation below] Twitter has made a significant shift in how it responds to copyright complaints. In the past, such complaints caused tweets to vanish without a trace but now people can see the place where a tweet once stood — and the reaction to its disappearance.
AT&T’s internet traffic in San Francisco runs through fiber-optic cables at an AT&T facility located at 611 Folsom Street in San Francisco. Using a device called a “splitter” a complete copy of the internet traffic that AT&T receives – email, web browsing requests, and other electronic communications sent to or from the customers of AT&T’s WorldNet Internet service from people who use another internet service provider – is diverted onto a separate fiber-optic cable which is connected to a room, known as the SG-3 room, which is controlled by the NSA. The other copy of the traffic continues onto the internet to its destination.
China is the world's biggest market but for western media firms trying to expand it can be a bruising experience, with even the biggest names such as Rupert Murdoch and Google having come a cropper. So it was perhaps inevitable when the New York Times (NYT) decided to launch a Chinese language website in June that it would at some point fall foul of the censors. But it did so in spectacular fashion on Friday when the government blocked access to the site, accusing it of trying to "smear" the country's name. Its crime was to publish an article claiming that the family of the Chinese premier, Wen Jiabao, had accumulated massive wealth – a handsome $2.7bn (£1.67bn) – during his time in power.
Google Breaks Its Own Record In Lobbying Spending Privacy Issues Top List Of Concerns For Tech Companies
When it comes to big tech spenders in Washington, no one tops Google. This third quarter, the Internet giant shelled out $4.18 million to influence political decision-makers in a 76 percent increase over last year during the same period. So far in 2012, Google has spent $13.13 million to influence political decision-makers, already topping the 2011 total of $9.68 million. Facebook also continues to spend more. Though steadily increasing, the social network's outlay pales in comparison to Google. The leading social network spent $980,000 in the third quarter, marking a two percent increase over the previous quarter for a 2012 total of $2.59 million.
Brian Fitzpatrick is a veteran Google Chicago engineer who majored in Latin but has become an expert in government censorship of the Internet. Two years ago his team of five engineers, all working in Chicago, began tallying and helping publish the number and types of government requests Google receives to remove content from its products or turn over information about users.
We reach certain points in time, what the critical media scholar Robert McChesney calls "critical junctures," or that the sociologist and media historian Paul Starr calls "constitutive moments." Now is one such moment, and choices and decisions made now could tilt the evolution of the network media ecology in Canada toward a more closed, surveilled and centralized regime instead of an open one that strives to put as much of the internet's capabilities into as many people's hands as possible. The latter approach maximizes the diversity of voices and is essential to any free press -- digital, networked, or otherwise -- and to the role of communications media in a democracy.
The Supreme Court closed a 6-year-old chapter Tuesday in the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s bid to hold the nation’s telecoms liable for allegedly providing the National Security Agency with backdoors to eavesdrop, without warrants, on Americans’ electronic communications in violation of federal law.
The nation’s major internet service providers by year’s end will institute a so-called six-strikes plan, the “Copyright Alert System” initiative backed by the Obama administration and pushed by Hollywood and the major record labels to disrupt and possibly terminate internet access for online copyright scofflaws.
The presidential debate on Oct. 3 didn't get around to digital technology and the role of government, but the candidates were sure to have prepped for the topic. These draft remarks were discovered, left behind on Mitt Romney's lectern: Last year I got a question at a town-hall meeting in New Hampshire about the role of government in regulating the Internet. I said, "Almost none—Keep it free." I said there's no reason for the government to look for a solution when there's not a problem.
SOPA and PIPA were a major threat to the Internet. Only those in the entertainment industry denied the claim as they pushed for stricter control of the Internet. The two bills eventually spurred the single largest Internet protest as countless Web sites, including Wikipedia, went dark. The bills were soundly defeated, but do they ever have a chance of coming back? MPAA CEO Chris Dodd was a speaker at San Francisco’s Commonwealth Club on Tuesday night where he spoke at length about SOPA, PIPA, and what Hollywood’s doing to help combat piracy. He also spoke at length with Wired after the talk to further clarify what he thought about the Internet movement against the two anti-piracy bills from earlier this year, and other subjects.
For nearly two years now, industry and advocates have been discussing how to implement "Do Not Track" — a setting in browsers that would allow companies to serve ads while limiting the collection of personal information about users. This week, dozens of ad industry representatives, browser makers, and consumer advocates are gathering in Amsterdam during a World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) meeting to fine tune the details of how such a setting will work. However, in recent days, we have suddenly seen an all-out blitz of attacks on Do Not Track, both in Washington and Silicon Valley decrying Do Not Track as a disaster that would destroy the advertising-supported web.
Today is Banned Websites Awareness Day – a designated day within Banned Books Week – which is sponsored by our friends at the American Association of School Librarians and designed to raise awareness of the overly restrictive blocking of legitimate, educational websites and academically useful social networking tools in schools and school libraries. At the ACLU LGBT Project, this is a subject near and dear to our hearts, and today we’re releasing a new report about our work to fight back against banned websites.
After successfully battling the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act (PIPA), and the not-too-subtle Protecting Children From Internet Pornographers Act (PCIP), internet users and their allies deserve some protection from overzealous, undercooked legislation affecting their rights online. Fortunately, some in Congress hear their pleas and are proactively moving to update laws and regulations with smart, forward-looking legislation.
The American Civil Liberties Union released a tranche of law enforcement records on the use of two increasingly popular surveillance methods that don’t require a warrant: pen registers and trap and trace devices. The names are a bit misleading. In the past, these were, in fact, devices — little boxes that law enforcement affixed to phone lines to covertly record incoming and outgoing phone numbers. But now the interception capabilities are built in the phone companies’ hardware.
The FBI is renewing its request for new Internet surveillance laws, saying technological advances hinder surveillance and warning that companies should be required to build in back doors for police. "We must ensure that our ability to obtain communications pursuant to court order is not eroded," FBI director Robert Mueller told a U.S. Senate committee this week. Currently, he said, many communications providers "are not required to build or maintain intercept capabilities."
The chief executive of Twitter, Dick Costolo, has said the company will continue to fight legal challenges brought against its users by officials who want access to their archived tweets. Costolo said Twitter found itself in an invidious position in the case of Malcolm Harris, an Occupy Wall Street protester whose tweets were sought by prosecutors in New York.
Another lobbying group hit Washington, D.C. on Wednesday. But think again before you start screaming that it’s just another lobby representing the 1%. The Internet Association, backed by behemoths Amazon, Google, Facebook and others — 14 groups in all — is focused on internet freedom — something that’s easy in principle and hard when it comes to details.
The US Senate today strongly indicated how unwilling it is to allow for United Nations (UN) control of the Internet. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted as one on a resolution in opposition to the idea. If this excercise sounds familiar, it should be. In early August the House, the lower chamber of the US Congress, voted and passed a resolution that, to quote the National Journal, “aimed at preventing any efforts to hand the United Nations more power to oversee the Internet.”
The event brought together a diverse range of stakeholders from academia, government, the private sector and civil society. The aim of this conference was to help develop a richer understanding of stewardship of cyberspace. We wished to identify where accountability gaps exist, or where policy adjustments might be advocated, on the basis of real case studies and empirical evidence. The event was sponsored by Google, Microsoft, Afilias, and Internet Society, as well as supported by The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Government of Canada, and the SecDev Group.
Campaign strategists and pundits are always trying to predict the newest or most important political demographic groups. For a long time, it was seniors. That was followed by the dawn of the "soccer mom" and lately there has been a lot of talk about "NASCAR dads." But the strongest untapped political factor these days is rarely mentioned, despite representing a force central to the lives of nearly every American -- the Internet.
Smartphones can be a cop's best friend. They are packed with private information like emails, text messages, photos, and calling history. Unsurprisingly, law enforcement agencies now routinely seize and search phones. This occurs at traffic stops, during raids of a target's home or office, and during interrogations and stops at the U.S. border. These searches are frequently conducted without any court order.
Twitter has relented in its fight with New York prosecutors to hand over three months worth of messages from an Occupy Wall Street protester ahead of the activist's criminal trial. Twitter had argued that the posts belong to Malcolm Harris and as such it would be violating fourth amendment privacy rights if it were to disclose the communications. But having lost a legal appeal against a subpoena, Twitter faced the prospect of steep fines if it did not comply with the judges order to turn over the tweets to the Manhattan district attorney's office.
The House on Wednesday reauthorized for five years broad electronic eavesdropping powers that legalized and expanded the George W. Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program. The FISA Amendments Act, (.pdf) which is expiring at year’s end, allows the government to electronically eavesdrop on Americans’ phone calls and e-mails without a probable-cause warrant so long as one of the parties to the communication is believed outside the United States. The communications may be intercepted “to acquire foreign intelligence information.”
The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement ("TPP") is a free trade agreement currently being negotiated by nine countries: The United States, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. Although the TPP covers a wide range of issues, this site focuses on the TPP's intellectual property (IP) chapter. The TPP suffers from a serious lack of transparency, threatens to impose more stringent copyright without public input, and pressures foreign governments to adopt unbalanced laws.
As expected, Democrats this week released language for their 2012 party platform that expresses support for the concept of "Internet freedom." Yet while the party reached out to its tech constituency, it also sought to make clear to its deep-pocketed constituents in Southern California that "freedom" doesn't mean a free-for-all when it comes to respecting intellectual property rights online.
Alexander Macgillivray, Twitter’s chief lawyer, says that fighting for free speech is more than a good idea. He thinks it is a competitive advantage for his company. That conviction explains why he spends so much of Twitter’s time and money going toe to toe with officers and apparatchiks both here and abroad. Last week, his legal team was fighting a court order to extract an Occupy Wall Street protester’s Twitter posts.
It took just 20 minutes to build, but Chris Soghoian’s hastily constructed website capable of generating fake airline boarding passes led to a rebuke from a congressman, a raid by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), an investigation by the Transport Security Administration (TSA), worldwide media coverage—and ultimate vindication. With a series of similar exploits that have exposed security flaws and privacy violations, he has demonstrated his ability to hack the media with just as much facility as he manipulates computers.
There was a fight earlier this year about Internet freedom and privacy as Congress attempted to create legislation (SOPA, PIPA, CISPA, ACTA) that would give government more control over the Internet. When Internet companies and the public expressed disdain for such a measure, legislators backed down.
Twitter is supporting Occupy Wall Street protester Malcolm Harris in an appeal that argues he has standing to challenge subpoenas issued by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office. Twitter legal counsel Ben Lee announced the appeal in a tweet, IDG News Service reports. “Twitter users own their tweets,” he wrote in another tweet. “They have a right to fight invalid government requests, and we continue to stand with them in that fight.”
GOP adopts Internet freedom plank: Part of the platform the Republican party adopted Tuesday night included language to protect Internet freedom, something that lawmakers and interest groups on both sides of the aisle have been calling for in recent months.
A group of House Democrats is calling for the Democratic Party to stake out a position on Internet freedom in its party platform. In a letter sent Wednesday to Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.) and Executive Director Patrick Gaspard, the House lawmakers urged the DNC to state its commitment to Internet freedom principles in the party's platform for its upcoming convention in Charlotte, N.C. The letter was signed by Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) and Jared Polis (D-Colo.), who also proposed draft language for the platform.
Sometime in the next few weeks, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews is expected to be appointed to the Manitoba Court of Appeal. The Toews appointment is among the worst kept secrets in Ottawa, with the move causing a domino effect that will lead to a new minister and an opportunity for a fresh start on Internet surveillance legislation, one of the government's biggest political blunders to date.
California’s Senate on Tuesday unanimously approved legislation to bar colleges and universities from requiring students to provide administrators with access to their social media usernames and passwords. Governor Jerry Brown now must sign or veto the bill by Sept. 30. California is not the first state to pass legislation protecting social media privacy for students.
Every day, Syrians are risking their lives to broadcast pictures and videos of the uprising -- but because of U.S. sanctions on Syria, they don't have access to essential technologies that would protect them from being spied on and tracked down by the Syrian government - often with the use of computer viruses. By easing current sanctions, the U.S. can help Syrian activists share information more safely.
Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society—with contributions from the Science, Technology, and Public Policy Program's Explorations in Cyber International Relations project—has developed a Cybersecurity Wiki that is designed to be a curated, comprehensive, evolving, and interactive collection of resources for researchers (not just legal researchers), technologists, policymakers, judges, students, and others interested in cybersecurity issues, broadly conceived. The general aim of the wiki is to collect in one place—and organize intelligently—important documents related to cybersecurity.
A new documentary by Fault Lines on Al Jazeera English called “Controlling the Web” succinctly explains the connection between key issues in the struggle for digital liberties in the United States, including copyright, surveillance and cybersecurity. The documentary opens in early 2012 with the fight against two bills in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) respectively. The battle, which pitted free expression and privacy activists against proponents of tougher copyright law, featured the largest online protest in U.S. history.
On August 10, 2012, Access submitted a public comment on the development of the joint strategic plan on intellectual property enforcement (IPEC). Some of the chief recommendations include ensuring independent and fact-based policy making, transparency and multistakeholderism, respecting the rule of law and to work with industry to adjust business models, making content more accessible and at reasonable prices, rather than focusing strictly on costly enforcement that would be to the detriment of human rights and the open internet.
It sounds like something from the film Minority Report: a CCTV surveillance system that recognises people from their face or walk and analyses whether they might be about to commit a terrorist or criminal act. But Trapwire is real and, according to documents released online by WikiLeaks last week, is being used in a number of countries to try to monitor people and threats.
A city couple is suing the bloggers behind two Hoboken-centric websites and others, seeking more than $2 million in damage for dozens of blog posts and other online comments that the couple call "false and defamatory." Local activist Lane Bajardi and his wife, Kimberly Cardinal Bajardi, filed the suit in Hudson County Superior Court last month, claiming that various posts on the Grafix Avenger blog and elsewhere paint Lane Bajardi as an anti-semitic political operative and FBI informant who engages in tax evasion
Facebook has agreed to tighten its privacy policies after it settled a long-running dispute with the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The social network was accused by the regulator last year of introducing "unfair and deceptive" changes to its privacy policies in 2009, including settings that made users' confidential profile information public without their consent. Facebook also shared personal information including status updates, geographic location and marital status with advertisers and third-party applications without telling users, the FTC said.
The federal government may spy on Americans’ communications without warrants and without fear of being sued, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday in a decision reversing the first and only case that successfully challenged President George W. Bush’s once-secret Terrorist Surveillance Program. “This case effectively brings to an end the plaintiffs’ ongoing attempts to hold the executive branch responsible for intercepting telephone conversations without judicial authorization,” a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals wrote.
Twitter officials have complied with a court order to turn over account information to help New York police investigators identify who threatened to carry out an attack like the Colorado movie theater shooting at a Broadway theater where Mike Tyson is appearing in a one-man show, the police said Tuesday. The compliance came three days after the social media company, based in California, denied an emergency request from the Police Department to provide the account holder’s registration information and computer network address.
Various cybersecurity acts threaten constitutional freedoms. On March 27, HR 4263: SECURE IT Act of 2012 was introduced. Now in committee, no further action was taken. On April 26, the House passed HR 3523: Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) of 2011. On June 27, S. 3342: SECURE IT Act was introduced. Now in committee, no further action was taken. On July 19, S. 3414: Cybersecurity Act of 2012 was introduced in the Senate. On August 2, a Senate cloture vote failed. Voting 52 - 46, the bill fell eight votes short. Prior and current cybersecurity bills represent draconian threats to Internet and constitutional freedoms. Unless stopped, they'll be lost en route to destroying other legal protections.
Despite warnings that hackers could shut down critical infrastructure with the click of a mouse, the Senate voted down landmark legislation on Thursday to protect the nation's vital computer networks from the rising threat of a cyberattack. The bill fell eight votes shy of the 60 votes needed to move past a Republican filibuster. Its defeat, coming just days before the Senate recess and months before the election, means that key national security legislation will likely not be addressed until next year.
YouTube is partnering with the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) to launch an investigative news channel called I Files, according to NDTV. This latest venture, launched Thursday, Aug. 2, comes just as a recent Pew Report shows that YouTube, known for its cute animal and music videos, has emerged as a major news source.
The Senate is poised to take up comprehensive cybersecurity legislation as soon as this week, after years of discussion among lawmakers and a compromise that critics allege undercuts the effort to prevent a crippling cyberattack against the nation.
The article about law enforcement’s extensive surveillance of cellphone use ought to concern all Americans about the threat to our Fourth Amendment rights. According to information supplied by carriers, the police made more than 1.3 million requests, an astounding number, last year for text messages, cellphone location and other data.
Senate Homeland Security Committee leaders Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) introduced a revised version of their cybersecurity bill on Thursday. The revised bill proposes to establish a multi-agency council, called the National Cybersecurity Council, that would assess the risks and vulnerabilities found in computer systems of critical infrastructure. The council would be chaired by the Homeland Security Secretary and include members from the Pentagon, Department of Commerce, Justice Department, intelligence community and federal regulatory agencies that oversee critical infrastructure for specific sectors.
The Senate Finance Committee is set to take up legislation Wednesday that includes language targeting Russian efforts to censor the Internet. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., chairman of the Finance International Trade Subcommittee, has included language in a bill to grant Russia permanent normal trade relations with the United that would require the U.S. Trade Representative to conduct an annual report to identify any actions Russia has taken to restrict access to U.S. digital goods and services, such as barring access to a U.S. website like YouTube.
In the first public accounting of its kind, cellphone carriers reported that they responded to a startling 1.3 million demands for subscriber information last year from law enforcement agencies seeking text messages, caller locations and other information in the course of investigations. The cellphone carriers’ reports, which come in response to a Congressional inquiry, document an explosion in cellphone surveillance in the last five years, with the companies turning over records thousands of times a day in response to police emergencies, court orders, law enforcement subpoenas and other requests.
The U.S. Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced today that it has awarded the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions contract to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). The IANA functions are key technical services critical to the continued operations of the Internet's underlying address book, the Domain Name System (DNS).
Public Safety Canada has been in close consultation with telecommunication companies over the logistics of Ottawa's so-called Internet "snoop and spy" legislation – talks that dealt with who will shoulder the costs of pricey "intercept capabilities," and whether it will even be feasible to monitor user behaviour in an increasingly complex "cloud-computing" environment.
The nation’s major mobile carriers have amassed a treasure trove of sensitive data on their customers that they share with police and advertisers — but keep hidden from the consumers themselves. The major carriers, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon, store who you texted, the content of texts and locational tracking information such as cell-site data, which identifies the cell tower to which a customer was connected at the beginning of a call and at the end of the call. But, according to a survey by Pro Publica, the major carriers won’t disclose the data to their customers, for a host of reasons — nonsensical ones at best. But they will gladly hand it over to the authorities, even without warrants.
DO machines speak? If so, do they have a constitutional right to free speech? This may sound like a fanciful question, a matter of philosophy or science fiction. But it’s become a real issue with important consequences. In today’s world, we have delegated many of our daily decisions to computers. On the drive to work, a GPS device suggests the best route; at your desk, Microsoft Word guesses at your misspellings, and Facebook recommends new friends. In the past few years, the suggestion has been made that when computers make such choices they are “speaking,” and enjoy the protections of the First Amendment.
The American government’s appetite for Google’s data is growing. In the second half of 2011, Google received 6,321 requests that it hand over its users’ private data to U.S. government agencies including law enforcement, and complied at least partially with those requests in 93% of cases, according to the latest update to the company’s bi-annual Transparency Report that it planned to release Sunday night. That’s up from 5,950 requests in the first half of 2011, and marks a 37% increase in the number of requests over the second half of 2010, when Google received only 4,601 government requests and complied to some degree with 94% of them.
Executives were urged to join the fight to keep the Internet free from centralized control, ahead of a conference later this year where U.S. government officials fear countries will vote to give the United Nations more power over the Web. "Get your company involved. Work to get likeminded countries involved. What is at stake here is just that important," Assistant Secretary of Commerce Lawrence Strickling told the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's telecom committee on Friday. U.S. officials have expressed concerns that U.N. involvement could empower efforts by developing nations to tax large technology companies such as Google Inc and Facebook Inc.
The FBI, DEA, and Royal Canadian Mounted Police say IPv6 may erode their ability to trace Internet addresses -- and warn new laws may be necessary if industry doesn't do more.
We Can’t Wait: President Obama Signs Executive Order to Make Broadband Construction Faster and Cheaper
Tomorrow, the President will sign an Executive Order to make broadband construction along Federal roadways and properties up to 90 percent cheaper and more efficient. Currently, the procedures for approving broadband infrastructure projects on properties controlled or managed by the Federal Government—including large tracts of land, roadways, and more than 10,000 buildings across the Nation—vary depending on which agency manages the property. The new Executive Order will ensure that agencies charged with managing Federal properties and roads take specific steps to adopt a uniform approach for allowing broadband carriers to build networks on and through those assets and speed the delivery of connectivity to communities, businesses, and schools.
House oversight committee chairman and firebrand Obama administration critic Darrell Issa is touting his first draft of a Digital Bill of Rights for internet denizens, and he's asking for the public's input. Issa, who spent the better part of the winter rallying opposition against the Stop Online Piracy Act, is also fresh off launching his latest legislative crowdsourcing project, the OpenGov Foundation earlier this week at the Personal Democracy Forum. Now, he's inviting citizens "to help get this right" by inviting edits to the Digital Citizen's Bill of Rights.
State Department counter-propaganda has been met with accusations of hypocrisy in the wake of persecution of Anonymous.
More than twenty-five years after its adoption, the Access to Information Act has become increasingly a cause for concern among public servants, experts, scientists and the media. This article reviews the evolution of the access-to-information regime since the 1980s, the issues that have arisen, the political significance of information in democracy, and the enduring tension between its democratic purpose and strategic value. The article also examines the issues of centralization, control and secrecy within the state apparatus despite continuing calls for transparency. Under Conservative governments since 2006, there has been increased control and conflict over disclosure of information, which have spread to a larger part of the state apparatus. Among those involved in conflicts over information with the Prime Minister's Office are members and officers of Parliament and parliamentary committees.
Over the past four years, digital media have been transforming both the premises and the practices of U.S. government funding in media development. While Congress is cutting back on foreign aid budgets, resources to launch new digital media programs continue to grow. Media development professionals agree that some aspect of digital technology is now embedded in virtually every government-funded media project. Many highly technical programs, such as those addressing Internet security and circumvention, have proliferated. At the same time, traditional media development programs, including some that stress creation of quality content, face new challenges.
LinkedIn Corp is working with the FBI as the social network for job seekers and professionals investigates the theft of 6.4 million member passwords, the company said on Thursday. The company does not know of any accounts that were taken over as a result of the security violations, according to LinkedIn spokesman Hani Durzy.
US officials, lawmakers and technology leaders voiced firm opposition Thursday to efforts to bring the Internet under UN control, saying it could hurt free expression and commerce. At a congressional hearing, the comments were united in opposition to place the Internet under the jurisdiction of the International Telecommunications Union, a United Nations agency which governs telecom systems.
U.S. officials and high-tech business giants have launched an assault against what they view as a massive threat to the Internet and to Silicon Valley’s bottom lines: foreign governments. In a congressional hearing Thursday, they will warn lawmakers of a growing movement led by China, Russia and some Arab states to hand more control of the Web to the United Nations and place rules on the Internet that the U.S. companies say would empower governments to clamp down on civil rights and free speech.
Mike Rogers and Rebecca MacKinnon debate over protecting civil liberties online.
A March 2012 study from the Pew Internet and American Life Project found that two-thirds of Americans view a personalized search as a “bad thing,” with 73 percent of those surveyed saying that they were “not OK” with personalized searches on privacy grounds. Another recent poll of California voters recently reached similar results, as “78 percent of voters—including 71 percent of voters age 18-29—said the collection of personal information online is an invasion of privacy.”
Sometimes it's called "information security." Other times, it's called "Internet management," or a "hate-free Internet." Whatever the code-name for it, too many foreign governments, including Syria, Iran and China, restrict Internet as a tool for suppressing free speech, free assembly and a free press. Though the United States has invested tens of millions of dollars in defending Internet freedom around the world in recent years -- including by equipping censored populations with technologies to evade digital repression -- we can and must do more to ensure Internet freedom remains a fundamental tenet of U.S. foreign policy.
Imagine a network of private highways that reserved a special lane for Fords to zip through, unencumbered by all the other brands of cars trundling along the clogged, shared lanes. Think of the prices Ford could charge. Think of what would happen to innovation when building the best car mattered less than cutting a deal with the highway’s owners. A few years ago, Tim Wu, a professor at Columbia Law School and a leading thinker about the evolution of the “information economy,” warned members of the House judiciary committee that this could be the fate of the Internet. Companies offering broadband access, he said, should not be allowed to discriminate among services online. If they did, the best service would not always win the day.
Why, despite wide-spread use of mobile tech for social change around the world, has the U.S. social sector been so slow to adopt mobile technologies? What do funders need to understand to support grantees' efforts to harness the power of the mobile phone? What strategies can help service organizations realize the potential of mobiles? Since phones are ubiquitous for most demographics but particularly so for young people and communities of color who use phones more intensively, this is becoming a critical question for the social sector in the US.
Central to the Internet’s value as a platform for innovation, democracy, access to information and scientific progress are the technical standards on which it is built and the open manner in which it is governed. Yet, there are governments that seek to alter the fundamental way the Internet functions. Several governments recently called for new treaty provisions to assert centralized control over the Internet’s operations instead of relying on the voluntary, consensus-based processes that gave us the Internet we enjoy today.
The U.S. House of Representatives approved the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, or CISPA, rejecting increasingly vocal arguments from critics that it would do more to endanger Americans' privacy than aid cybersecurity. By a vote of 248 to 168, a bipartisan majority approved CIPSA, which would permit Internet companies to hand over confidential customer records and communications to the National Security Agency and other portions of the U.S. government.
Under pressure to stop the Syrian government's deadly crackdown, President Barack Obama on Monday levied new sanctions on people and entities in Syria and Iran that use technology to target their citizens and perpetrate human rights abuses.
Internet users and activists have been raising alarm bells over “cybersecurity” legislation pending in Congress. That’s because some lawmakers declared this week to be “cyber week,” promising votes on four different security-related bills. The most prominent and most controversial of these proposed law is the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, or CISPA.
President Obama is on the right track with Monday's executive order, but the United States needs to get tougher on the global digital arms race.
A senior State Department official has stressed the Obama administration's opposition to a controversial cybersecurity bill ahead of a vote in the House of Representatives later this week. The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (Cispa) is intended to facilitate sharing of information on online threats across different federal agencies and private companies. It has been criticised by both activists and politicians of both Democrats and Republicans for vague wording and insufficient safeguards.
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