Tag Archives: Electronic Frontier Foundation

Corporate Tech Giants Invited, But Consumer Advocacy Groups Shut Out of Senate Hearing on Data Privacy

“The absence of consumer representatives all but ensures a narrow discussion, focused on policy alternatives favored by business groups.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-19-2018

More than two dozen consumer groups are urging the Senate Commerce Committee to reconsider its witness list—which only includes industry representatives—for an upcoming hearing on data privacy policy. (Photo: Blogtrepreneur/flickr/cc)

While representatives for Apple, AT&T, Amazon, Charter Communications, Google, and Twitter are all slated to testify at a Sept. 26 Senate hearing about safeguarding consumer data privacy, the nation’s leading consumer advocacy groups weren’t invited—and they’re not happy about it.

In a letter (pdf) to the leaders of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation on Wednesday, 28 groups expressed their “surprise and concern that not a single consumer representative was invited to testify” and called on committee Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) and Ranking Member Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) to reconsider the witness list. Continue reading

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‘Insidious’ and ‘Dangerous’: Digital Privacy Groups Issue Urgent Warning Over CLOUD Act

Critics say the bill, which could be pushed through Congress this week, would enable U.S. authorities to skirt Fourth Amendment rights to collect Americans’ data and use it against them

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 3-19-2018

Critics warns that proposed federal legislation “would let police access our data without having to comply with the Fourth Amendment.” (Photo: Fight for the Future/Twitter)

Civil libertarians and digital rights advocates are alarmed about an “insidious” and “dangerous” piece of federal legislation that the ACLU warns “threatens activists abroad, individuals here in the U.S., and would empower Attorney General Sessions in new disturbing ways.”

The Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data or CLOUD Act (S. 2383 and H.R. 4943), as David Ruiz at Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) explains, would establish a “new backdoor for cross-border data [that] mirrors another backdoor under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, an invasive NSA surveillance authority for foreign intelligence gathering” recently reauthorized by Congress. Continue reading

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Victory for Civil Liberties as GOP Push to Expand NSA Spying Declared Dead—For Now

“Just like that, in less than 12 hours, last-ditch efforts to cram an NSA surveillance expansion bill were delayed—and possibly derailed. Your voices are heard. Keep it up.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 12-20-2017

“Like with the tax bill and healthcare, House Republicans are now trying to pass an awful NSA surveillance expansion bill within hours of releasing the text and with zero debate,” Freedom of the Press Foundation executive director Trevor Timm warned in a tweet on Tuesday. (Photo: Joe Brusky/Flickr/cc)

Civil libertarians and internet freedom groups declared tentative victory on Wednesday after House Republicans announced that they have—at least for now—abandoned efforts to sneak through a measure that would have reauthorized Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and vastly expanded NSA spying powers.

A number of prominent groups and public figures—including Fight for the Future, the Freedom of the Press Foundation (FPF), and Edward Snowden—have been working to call attention to the legislation in recent days amid the flurry of tax and budget developments. Continue reading

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Starting Today, Feds Can Hack Millions of Devices with One Warrant

By Shaun Bradley. Published 11-30-2016 by The Anti-Media

On Thursday, December 1, a vital Supreme Court order is set to go into effect that dramatically expands the surveillance power of federal agents. The impending alteration to Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure softens the legal requirements for obtaining search and seizure warrants that grant the government remote access to individual’s computers and phones.

In the past, law enforcement was required to obtain a warrant from a judge within the jurisdiction where the proposed search was going take place. Under this new system, however, if an individual is using technology to conceal their location, the warrant is considered valid regardless of jurisdiction. A single authorization will have the potential to validate millions of searches on private devices. Any journalist, activist, or whistleblower who values privacy and uses tools like Freenet or the Tor network will fall directly into the crosshairs. Continue reading

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‘Quite Disturbing’: Leaked Docs Reveal How Easily FBI Can Spy on Journalists

‘The other major question here is: why are these rules secret in the first place?’

By Deirdre Fulton, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-1-2016

Leaked document shows the FBI does not have to jump through a lot of hoops to get access to journalists' call data. (Photo: Roger H. Goun/flickr/cc)

Leaked document shows the FBI does not have to jump through a lot of hoops to get access to journalists’ call data. (Photo: Roger H. Goun/flickr/cc)

Newly leaked documents published by The Intercept expose just how easy it is for the FBI to spy on journalists using so-called National Security Letters (NSLs).

The classified rules, which had previously been released only in heavily redacted form, “show that the FBI imposes few constraints on itself when it bypasses the requirement to go to court and obtain subpoenas or search warrants before accessing journalists’ information,” The Intercept‘s Cora Currier wrote on Thursday. Continue reading

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Disregarding Privacy, Court Rules Common Cell Surveillance Method is Legal

The court rejected an argument that collecting phone location data without a warrant violates the Fourth Amendment

By Nadia Prupis, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-14-2016

The panel referred to a 1979 ruling in which the U.S. Supreme Court held that the numbers dialed on a landline are not protected by the Fourth Amendment because the caller willingly gives that data to phone companies. (Photo: Graeme Peterson/flickr/cc)

The panel referred to a 1979 ruling in which the U.S. Supreme Court held that the numbers dialed on a landline are not protected by the Fourth Amendment because the caller willingly gives that data to phone companies. (Photo: Graeme Peterson/flickr/cc)

In a show of “complete disregard” for privacy, a federal appellate court on Wednesday ruled that the warrantless collection of cell phone location data is constitutional.

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in United States v. Carpenter that law enforcement can legally request cell site location information (CSLI) without a warrant on the grounds that routing data, which is not as accurate as GPS coordinates, is not protected under the Fourth Amendment.

But as Jennifer Lynch, senior staff attorney with the digital rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation, wrote in a blog post responding to the ruling, “The opinion shows a complete disregard for the sensitive and revealing nature of [CSLI] and a misguided response to the differences between the analog technologies addressed in old cases and the data-rich technologies of today.” Continue reading

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Sorry, Public, You’re Entirely Blocked From Hearing on Surveillance Program

Groups demand House committee lift ‘excessive secrecy’ for hearing on surveillance law

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-28-2016

(Photo: EFF Photos/flickr/cc)

(Photo: EFF Photos/flickr/cc)

Are our elected officials “once again cutting out the public from an important debate over mass surveillance?” as Mark Jaycox and Dave Maass of Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) write?

It appears to be the case, as EFF and two dozen other civil liberties organizations say, because the House Judiciary Committee’s upcoming hearing on Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) is to be held in a classified format. Continue reading

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‘Codifying’ Government Surveillance, Senate Passes CISA

“If President Obama does not veto this bill, he’ll be showing that his administration never truly cared about the open Internet,” rights group says

Written by Nadia Prupis. Published 10-27-2015 by Common Dreams.

The U.S. Senate approved CISA on Tuesday. (Screenshot)

The U.S. Senate approved CISA on Tuesday. (Screenshot)

Update:
The U.S. Senate on Tuesday passed the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) without any of the proposed amendments that would have strengthened user protections. The bill passed 74-21 (see the roll call here).

Rights groups immediately called for President Barack Obama to veto the bill and vowed to keep pressure up.

“Every senator supporting #CISA today voted against a world with freedom, democracy, and basic human rights,” tweeted digital rights organization Fight for the Future. “If President Obama does not veto this bill, he’ll be showing that his administration never truly cared about the open Internet.”

“This vote will go down as the moment Congress codified the US government’s unconstitutional spying. A sad day for the Internet,” the group added.

In their response to CISA’s passage in the Senate, the Electronic Frontier Foundation marked its disappointment and said: “The bill is fundamentally flawed due to its broad immunity clauses, vague definitions, and aggressive spying authorities.”

With the bill now moving to conference committee, but EFF expressed no confidence that the bill would be improved.

“The passage of CISA reflects the misunderstanding many lawmakers have about technology and security,” EFF continued. “Computer security engineers were against it.  Academics were against it. Technology companies, including some of Silicon Valley’s biggest like Twitter and Salesforce, were against it. Civil society organizations were against it. And constituents sent over 1 million faxes opposing CISA to Senators.”

EFF vowed that the fight against the bill would continue through the conference committee process, where it will urge lawmakers to add pro-privacy provisions. “We will never stop fighting for lawmakers to either understand technology or understand when they need to listen to the people who do,” the group said.

The official Senate roll call to the vote follows:

Alphabetical by Senator Name

Alexander (R-TN), Yea
Ayotte (R-NH), Yea
Baldwin (D-WI), Nay
Barrasso (R-WY), Yea
Bennet (D-CO), Yea
Blumenthal (D-CT), Yea
Blunt (R-MO), Yea
Booker (D-NJ), Nay
Boozman (R-AR), Yea
Boxer (D-CA), Yea
Brown (D-OH), Nay
Burr (R-NC), Yea
Cantwell (D-WA), Yea
Capito (R-WV), Yea
Cardin (D-MD), Nay
Carper (D-DE), Yea
Casey (D-PA), Yea
Cassidy (R-LA), Yea
Coats (R-IN), Yea
Cochran (R-MS), Yea
Collins (R-ME), Yea
Coons (D-DE), Nay
Corker (R-TN), Yea
Cornyn (R-TX), Yea
Cotton (R-AR), Yea
Crapo (R-ID), Nay
Cruz (R-TX), Not Voting
Daines (R-MT), Nay
Donnelly (D-IN), Yea
Durbin (D-IL), Yea
Enzi (R-WY), Yea
Ernst (R-IA), Yea
Feinstein (D-CA), Yea
Fischer (R-NE), Yea
Flake (R-AZ), Yea
Franken (D-MN), Nay
Gardner (R-CO), Yea
Gillibrand (D-NY), Yea
Graham (R-SC), Not Voting
Grassley (R-IA), Yea
Hatch (R-UT), Yea
Heinrich (D-NM), Yea
Heitkamp (D-ND), Yea
Heller (R-NV), Nay
Hirono (D-HI), Yea
Hoeven (R-ND), Yea
Inhofe (R-OK), Yea
Isakson (R-GA), Yea
Johnson (R-WI), Yea
Kaine (D-VA), Yea
King (I-ME), Yea
Kirk (R-IL), Yea
Klobuchar (D-MN), Yea
Lankford (R-OK), Yea
Leahy (D-VT), Nay
Lee (R-UT), Nay
Manchin (D-WV), Yea
Markey (D-MA), Nay
McCain (R-AZ), Yea
McCaskill (D-MO), Yea
McConnell (R-KY), Yea
Menendez (D-NJ), Nay
Merkley (D-OR), Nay
Mikulski (D-MD), Yea
Moran (R-KS), Yea
Murkowski (R-AK), Yea
Murphy (D-CT), Yea
Murray (D-WA), Yea
Nelson (D-FL), Yea
Paul (R-KY), Not Voting
Perdue (R-GA), Yea
Peters (D-MI), Yea
Portman (R-OH), Yea
Reed (D-RI), Yea
Reid (D-NV), Yea
Risch (R-ID), Nay
Roberts (R-KS), Yea
Rounds (R-SD), Yea
Rubio (R-FL), Not Voting
Sanders (I-VT), Nay
Sasse (R-NE), Yea
Schatz (D-HI), Yea
Schumer (D-NY), Yea
Scott (R-SC), Yea
Sessions (R-AL), Yea
Shaheen (D-NH), Yea
Shelby (R-AL), Yea
Stabenow (D-MI), Yea
Sullivan (R-AK), Nay
Tester (D-MT), Nay
Thune (R-SD), Yea
Tillis (R-NC), Yea
Toomey (R-PA), Yea
Udall (D-NM), Nay
Vitter (R-LA), Not Voting
Warner (D-VA), Yea
Warren (D-MA), Nay
Whitehouse (D-RI), Yea
Wicker (R-MS), Yea
Wyden (D-OR), Nay

Earlier:

As the U.S. Senate gears up for a vote on the controversial Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) on Tuesday, privacy advocates are galvanizing an 11th-hour push against the bill they say does nothing more than expand government spying powers.

A slew of digital rights groups including Fight for the Future and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, along with whistleblower Edward Snowden and outspoken CISA opponent Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), joined forces Monday night for an Ask Me Anything (AMA) session on Reddit, which has also come out against the bill. The session was the latest action by civil society groups, activists, and tech companies calling on Congress to reject CISA for its anti-privacy provisions.

“CISA isn’t a cybersecurity bill,” Snowden wrote during the Q&A. “It’s not going to stop any attacks. It’s not going to make us any safer. It’s a surveillance bill.”

Supporters of CISA—including Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.)—say the bill would make it easier for tech companies to share data in cases of security breaches and other digital attacks. But critics say there aren’t enough safeguards in place to protect user privacy and the bill only works to serve intelligence agencies in domestic surveillance operations.

“What it allows is for the companies you interact with every day—visibly, like Facebook, or invisibly, like AT&T—to indiscriminately share private records about your interactions and activities with the government,” Snowden wrote on Monday. “CISA allows private companies to immediately share a perfect record of your private activities the instant you click a link, log in, make a purchase, and so on—and the government with reward for doing it by granting them a special form of legal immunity for their cooperation.”

Fight for the Future campaign director Evan Greer said the Senate’s vote on Tuesday “will go down in history as the moment that lawmakers decided not only what sort of Internet our children and our children’s children will have, but what sort of world they will live in.”

The campaigns, which are being waged under the hashtag #StopCISA, urge senators to oppose the bill and protect civil liberties.

Greer added, “Every Senator who votes for CISA will be voting for a world without freedom of expression, a world without true democracy, a world without basic human rights. And they will be voting for their own removal from office, because the Internet will not forget which side of history they stood on.”

Follow the #StopCISA hashtag Twitter feed for more.

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