hypnosec writes "The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has started accepting donations in the form of Bitcoins again after a two year hiatus, stating that the legal uncertainty hovering over the digital currency has all but disappeared. On their blog the EFF noted that a report from U.S. Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), in addition to their own findings, 'have confirmed that, as a user of Bitcoin or any virtual currency, EFF itself is likely not subject to regulation.'"
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An anonymous reader writes "Remember how the Australian Government tried to enact a big bad Internet filter on the population? Well, that effort failed, but now there's a new initiative in place. At least one government agency, the country's financial regulator, has quietly started issuing legal notices to ISPs requesting them to block certain types of websites deemed illegal. There's no oversight or appeals process, and already a false positive event has resulted in some 1,200 innocent websites being blocked from Australians viewing them. Sounds ideal, right?"
jrepin writes "Digital restrictions management (DRM) creates damaged goods that users cannot control or use freely. It requires users to give-up control of their computers and restricts access to digital data and media. Device manufacturers and corporate copyrights holders have already been massively infecting their products with user-hostile DRM. Tablets, mobile phones and other minicomputers are sold with numerous restrictions embedded that cripple users freedom. The proposal at table in W3C to put DRM into HTML goes even further. Fight it: use today's today is international Day Against DRM, so spread the word and make yourself heard!" The EFF suggests making every day a day against DRM.
Jakob Perry organized the first LinuxFest Northwest when he was still a student. He got off to a good start: now LFNW has been running for 14 years, and has retained its flavor as a low-key, friendly conference. Exhibitors from Linux distributions from tiny (CrunchBang) to huge (Red Hat) were on hand for 2013, and enough speakers and topics to fill about 80 different sessions over the two days of the conference. Not all of it's about Linux per se, either: the EFF and FSF were represented, along with a BSD table, and a local astronomy group with a great name. At this year's event I ran into the first Firefox OS phone that I've had a chance to play with in person. Firefox OS integrates Linux by way of the Android kernel, but is otherwise its own beast. Ubuntu and Mozilla contributor Benjamin Kerensa was on hand to talk about what makes it tick, and to give a demo of the all-HTML5 interface.
tdog17 writes "Verizon and MySpace scored a zero out of a possible six stars in a test of how far 18 technology service providers will go to protect user data from government data demands. Twitter and Internet service provider Sonic.net scored a perfect six in the third annual Electronic Frontier Foundation 'Who Has Your Back?' report. Apple, AT&T and Yahoo ranked near the bottom, each scoring just one star. 'While we are pleased by the strides these companies have made over the past couple years, there’s plenty of room for improvement. Amazon holds huge quantities of information as part of its cloud computing services and retail operations, yet does not promise to inform users when their data is sought by the government, produce annual transparency reports, or publish a law enforcement guide. Facebook has yet to publish a transparency report. Yahoo! has a public record of standing up for user privacy in courts, but it hasn't earned recognition in any of our other categories. Apple and AT&T are members of the Digital Due Process coalition, but don’t observe any of the other best practices we’re measuring. ... We remain disappointed by the overall poor showing of ISPs like AT&T and Verizon in our best practice categories.'"
sl4shd0rk writes "Remember SOPA? If not, perhaps the name Lamar Smith will ring a bell. The U.S. House Committee on Science, Space and Technology chose Smith to Chair as an overseer for the National Science Foundation's funding process. Smith is preparing a bill (PDF) which will require that every grant must benefit 'national defense,' be of 'utmost importance to society,' and not be 'duplicative of other research.' Duplicating research seems reasonable until you consider that this could also mean the NSF will not provide funding for research once someone has already provided results — manufactured or otherwise. A strange target since there is a process in place which makes an effort to limit duplicate funding already. The first and second requirements, even when read in context, still miss the point of basic research. If we were absolutely without-a-doubt-certain of the results, there would be little point in doing the research in the first place."
kxra writes "The Free Culture Foundation has posted a thorough response to the most common and misinformed defenses of the W3C's Extended Media Extensions (EME) proposal to inject DRM into HTML5. They join the EFF and FSF in a call to send a strong message to the W3C that DRM in HTML5 undermines the W3C's self-stated mission to make the benefits of the Web 'available to all people, whatever their hardware, software, network infrastructure, native language, culture, geographical location, or physical or mental ability.' The FCF counters the three most common myths by unpacking some quotes which explain that 1.) DRM is not about protecting copyright. That is a straw man. DRM is about limiting the functionality of devices and selling features back in the form of services. 2.) DRM in HTML5 doesn't obsolete proprietary, platform-specific browser plug-ins; it encourages them. 3.) the Web doesn't need big media; big media needs the Web." Also: the FSF has announced that a coalition of 27 web freedom organizations have sent a joint letter to the W3C opposing DRM support in HTML5.
An anonymous reader writes with a story at the Daily Dot: "Despite the protests of Internet privacy advocates, the controversial Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) passed the House of Representatives Thursday. The vote was 288-127. ... CISPA saw a handful of minor amendments soon before passage. A representative for the EFF told the Daily Dot that while they were still analyzing the specifics, none of the actual changes to the bill addressed their core criticisms. ... But also as was the case the year before, on Tuesday the Obama administration issued a promise to veto the bill if it reaches the president’s desk without significant changes." Techdirt has a short report on the vote, too — and probably more cutting commentary soon to follow.
gale the simple writes "Mike Rodgers made a minor splash Tuesday when he decided to liken CISPA opponents to 14-year-old basement dwellers. The EFF, naturally, picked up on this generalization and asked everyone to let the representative know that it is not just the 14-year-olds that care about privacy."
An anonymous reader sent in word that the Obama administration is threatening to veto CISPA in its current form because "The Administration, however, remains concerned that the bill does not require private entities to take reasonable steps to remove irrelevant personal information (PDF) when sending cybersecurity data to the government or other private sector entities. Citizens have a right to know that corporations will be held accountable — and not granted immunity — for failing to safeguard personal information adequately. The Administration is committed to working with all stakeholders to find a workable solution to this challenge." Ars has a few more details, the EFF urges U.S. citizens to oppose the bill, and one of the sponsors tweeted that those opposed to the bill are basement dwelling fourteen-year-olds. Note that the Administration still wants there to be some kind of comprehensive data sharing law in the name of cybersecurity, so this may very well rear its head again in the coming months.
Peter Eckersley writes "At the EFF we were recently contacted by the organisers of the Melbourne Free University (MFU), an Australian community education group, whose website had been unreachable from a number of Australian ISPs since the 4th of April. It turns out that the IP address of MFU's virtual host has been black-holed by several Australian networks; there is suggestive but not conclusive evidence that this is a result of some sort of government request or order. It is possible that MFU and 1200 other sites that use that IP address are the victims of a block that was put in place for some other reason. Further technical analysis and commentary is in our blog post."
netbuzz writes "The police in Washington state arrested a suspected drug dealer, rummaged through the text messages on his phone, responded to one message while pretending to be the suspect, arranged a meeting, and then arrested the recipient of the text — all without a warrant. The state argues – and an appeals court majority agreed – that both suspects had neither a legal expectation of privacy nor Fourth Amendment protection because both considerations evaporate the moment that any text message arrives on any phone. The Electronic Frontier Foundation is urging the state's Supreme Court to overturn that decision and recognize that 'text messages are the 21st Century phone call.'"
mk1004 writes "From Bloomberg and the Washington Post come reports that Google is petitioning a federal court to resist compliance with a national security letter from the FBI. This comes two weeks after the U.S. District Judge in San Francisco ruled that NSLs are unconstitutional because they 'violate the First Amendment and separation of powers principles.' Google filed a petition to 'set aside the legal process,' citing a provision that allows judges to modify or deny NSLs that are 'unreasonable, oppressive, or otherwise unlawful.' EFF attorney Matt Zimmerman was quoted as saying, 'the people who are in the best position to challenge the practice are people like Google. So far no one has really stood up for their users.'"
Trailrunner7 writes "California, which set the standard for data breach notifications nationwide, is again seeking to set a precedent by becoming the first state in the nation to require companies upon request disclose to California consumers the data they've collected and to whom it was shared during the past year. ... The 'Right to Know Act of 2013,' AB 1291 was amended this week to boost its chances of success after being introduced in February by state Assembly member Bonnie Lowenthal. ... It applies to companies that are both on- and off- line Privacy advocacy groups such as the EFF wrote Tuesday that the bill could set a precedent for other states, much as California's 2002 Breach Notification Act requiring California data breach victims be notified was later replicated by almost all U.S. states." That's not all: you'd be able to request a copy of all the data they've stored about you too.
Via the EFF comes news that, during a case involving the use of a Stingray device, the DOJ revealed that it was standard practice to use the devices without explicitly requesting permission in warrants. "When Rigmaiden filed a motion to suppress the Stingray evidence as a warrantless search in violation of the Fourth Amendment, the government responded that this order was a search warrant that authorized the government to use the Stingray. Together with the ACLU of Northern California and the ACLU, we filed an amicus brief in support of Rigmaiden, noting that this 'order' wasn't a search warrant because it was directed towards Verizon, made no mention of an IMSI catcher or Stingray and didn't authorize the government — rather than Verizon — to do anything. Plus to the extent it captured loads of information from other people not suspected of criminal activity it was a 'general warrant,' the precise evil the Fourth Amendment was designed to prevent. ... The emails make clear that U.S. Attorneys in the Northern California were using Stingrays but not informing magistrates of what exactly they were doing. And once the judges got wind of what was actually going on, they were none too pleased:"
An anonymous reader writes "Last week, in a blow to the content industry, the Ninth Circuit granted Veoh a pyrrhic victory against Universal Music Group and clarified the scope of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's safe harbor provisions for online service providers. By adopting a position taken by the Second Circuit in Viacom v. YouTube, the decision harmonized the law in two intellectually influential jurisdictions and set the standard in New York and California, national hubs for content creation and technological innovation. Going forward, tech startups will have more room to innovate while facing decreased risk of crippling financial liability. An article by two IP lawyers published today in TechCrunch simplifies and explains the scope of safe harbor protection in light of these rulings.
jrepin writes "There's a new front in the battle against digital restrictions management (DRM)technologies. These technologies, which supposedly exist to enforce copyright, have never done anything to get creative people paid. Instead, by design or by accident, their real effect is to interfere with innovation, fair use, competition, interoperability, and our right to own things. That's why we were appalled to learn that there is a proposal currently before the World Wide Web Consortium's HTML5 Working Group to build DRM into the next generation of core Web standards. The proposal is called Encrypted Media Extensions, or EME. Its adoption would be a calamitous development, and must be stopped."
New submitter KernelMuncher writes "Curricula and research projects related to drones are cropping up at both large universities and community colleges across the country. In a list of 81 publicly-funded entities that have applied for a certificate of authorization to fly drones from the Federal Aviation Administration, more than a third are colleges... Schools — and their students — are jockeying for a position on the ground floor of a nascent industry that looks poised to generate jobs and research funding in the coming years. 'We get a lot of inquiries from students saying, "I want to be a drone pilot,"' says Ken Polovitz, the assistant dean in the University of North Dakota's John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences."
A U.S. District Court Judge in California today ruled that so-called National Security Letters, used by government agencies to force business and organizations to turn over information on citizens, are unconstitutional. Judge Susan Illston ordered the government to stop using them, but gave the government a 90-day window to appeal the decision, during which the NSLs may still be sent out. The letters were challenged by the Electronic Frontier Foundation on behalf of a telecom who was ordered to provide data. "The telecom took the extraordinary and rare step of challenging the underlying authority of the National Security Letter, as well as the legitimacy of the gag order that came with it. Both challenges are allowed under a federal law that governs NSLs, a power greatly expanded under the Patriot Act that allows the government to get detailed information on Americans’ finances and communications without oversight from a judge. The FBI has issued hundreds of thousands of NSLs and been reprimanded for abusing them — though almost none of the requests have been challenged by the recipients. After the telecom challenged the NSL, the Justice Department took its own extraordinary measure and sued the company, arguing in court documents that the company was violating the law by challenging its authority. The move stunned the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is representing the anonymous telecom. ... After heated negotiations with EFF, the Justice Department agreed to stay the civil suit and let the telecom’s challenge play out in court. The Justice Department subsequently filed a motion to compel in the challenge case, but has never dropped the civil suit."