When the Government Comes Knocking, Who Has Your Back?
Hat tip to Josh Stearns for making us aware of this 2012 report.
Via the Electronic Frontier Foundation:
When you use the Internet, you entrust your online conversations, thoughts, experiences, locations, photos, and more to companies like Google, AT&T and Facebook. But what happens when the government demands that these companies to hand over your private information? Will the company stand with you? Will it tell you that the government is looking for your data so that you can take steps to protect yourself?
The Electronic Frontier Foundation examined the policies of 18 major Internet companies — including email providers, ISPs, cloud storage providers, and social networking sites — to assess whether they publicly commit to standing with users when the government seeks access to user data. We looked at their terms of service, privacy policies, and published law enforcement guides, if any. We also examined their track record of fighting for user privacy in the courts and whether they’re members of the Digital Due Process coalition, which works to improve outdated communications law. Finally, we contacted each of the companies with our conclusions and gave them an opportunity to respond and provide us evidence of improved policies and practices. These categories are not the only ways that a company can stand up for users, of course, but they are important and publicly verifiable.
While some Internet companies have stepped up for users in particular situations, it’s time for all companies that hold private user data to make public commitments to defend their users against government overreach. The purpose of this report is to incentivize companies to be transparent about what data flows to the government and encourage them to take a stand for user privacy when it is possible to do so.
Read through for the report’s findings.
As House Passes CISPA, The Fight Is Just Beginning
“In an earlier-than-expected vote Thursday evening, the House of Representatives voted 248 to 168 in favor of the bill , which was originally designed to allow more sharing of cybersecurity threat information with government agencies..
But even before it passed, the House voted to amend the bill to actually allow even more types of private sector information to be shared with government agencies, not merely in matters of cybersecurity or national security, but in the investigation of vaguely defined cybersecurity “crimes,” “protection of individuals the danger of death or serious bodily harm,” and cases where that involve the protection of minors from exploitation.
The White House came out Wednesday with a strongly-worded statement slamming CISPA and pushing its regulatory approach in a threat to veto CISPA, writing that “cybersecurity and privacy are not mutually exclusive”
The EFF’s Timm says he sees the House’s early vote on CISPA as an attempt by its author, representative Mike Rogers, to squeeze the bill through before its opposition grew any stronger.”~ Read More: Forbes
#CISPA vote coming THIS week: How to fight back now #StopCISPA
“The time to fight back against the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) is now. Here’s everything you need to know to get started.
The window to stop the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) is closing fast. Starting as early as Monday, the House of Representatives will begin debate on the cyber-security bill, which many rights advocates believe remains one of the most dangerous piece of legislation on the current congressional agenda. Reports indicate that lawmakers will vote on the bill Wednesday, April 25, or Thursday, April 26. That leaves precious little time to convince Members of the House to vote “nay” on CISPA. Here is a quick guide to get your up to speed on the issues surrounding CISPA, and ways you can help fight back…
So, these are the primary complaints. But if you want to truly educate yourself on this bill, I suggest checking out all of these links:
• Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) CISPA resource page
• Chart comparing CISPA to other cybersecurity legislation (pdf)
• Electronic Frontier Foundation’s infographic on CISPA
• Groups opposing CISPA
• Groups supporting CISPA
How to fight back:
The best case scenario is that CISPA is voted down in the House. And the best way for that to happen is for your representative to know that you oppose the bill. Here are a few ways to do so:
• Find out who your representative is here.
• Find email for your representatives here.
• Find phone numbers for your representative here.
• Send a automatically-generated tweet to your representative just by typing in your ZIP code here.
• Tweet Rep. Rogers and the House Intelligence Committee: @HouseIntelComm and @RepMikeRogers.
• Email Rep. Rogers directly.
• Join Fight for the Future’s anti-CISPA Twitter campaign here.
• Sign a petition against CISPA: here, here, and here.”~Thank you Andrew Couts
Read the rest of Andrew’s Article here: DigitalTrends
The UK government's war on internet freedom
“Censorship and surveillance proposals would put the UK’s approach to internet freedom on par with authoritarian regimes.”
“Another bill, known as the Online Safety Act, would force ISPs and mobile network providers to automatically block porn by default. As the Daily Tech reported, “In order to gain access to pornographic material, a user that is over 18 years of age must call their provider and ask for it directly…
The Prime Minister is also reportedly considering rules requiring websites playing music videos to install age verification systems, because some music videos produced by popular artists like Rihanna, Beyoncé and Madonna are allegedly “highly suggestive”.”
Definitely worth a read.
More here: AlJazeeraEnglish
Fight the Blacklist: A Toolkit for Anti- #SOPA Activism #EFF via: This is no longer a lie.
Fight the Blacklist: A Toolkit for Anti-SOPA Activism
Congress is debating dangerous legislation that would give the Department of Justice unprecedented power to “blacklist” websites without a trial and give Hollywood copyright holders a fast-track way to shut down a website’s financial services for alleged copyright infringement, endangering sites like Vimeo and Etsy. It’s nothing short of a bill to create a censorship regime in the U.S., and it’s moving fast.
We need your help to stop this legislation before it can undermine Internet security and censor the web. Ready to join EFF, Demand Progress, Fight for the Future, Free Software Foundation, Creative Commons, CDT, the Participatory Politics Foundation, and Public Knowledge in the fight? Here are 12 things you can do right now to help us stop the blacklist bills.
- Call your Senators and Representative and tell them to oppose Protect-IP and SOPA, respectively. Click here for some suggested talking points. Then tell your friends about the call on social media sites.
- Contact Congress through EFF’s action center. Customize your letter to explain who you are and why you are worried about this bill. If you’re outside the United States, try this petition from Fight for the Future instead.
- If you work for a tech company, approach the leadership at your company and explain to them your concerns. Urge them to join you in speaking out. These companies (PDF) already took a stand.
- Write a blog post about the blacklist bills. Whether it’s a candid explanation of why you oppose the legislation, a discussion of the effect on human rights, or a call to filmmakers to protest the blacklist, there are plenty of things to say about this scary legislation. Help us get the word out by writing articles on your own blog, your school blog, or on blogs that take guest contributors.
- Are you an artist? Showcase the dangers of censorship through art and music, and use your art as a way of reaching people who might otherwise not know about this issue. You can make stickers, posters or patches, create a YouTube video, or hold an open-mic night around censorship.
- Do you administer a website? Then put a banner on your site protesting censorship or link to EFF’s action center.
- Coordinate a teach-in or debate at your local college or community center. Invite local experts in copyright and free speech to come discuss the issue.
- If you’re in high school, talk to your civics and media studies teachers about a class discussion on the implications of this bill. Point them to our free Teaching Copyright materials.
- If you’re in college, speak out through like-minded organizations working for digital freedom, such as Students for Free Culture or Electronic Frontier on Campus. If there isn’t a chapter at your school, start one. Then use that platform to coordinate with other students to speak out against this bill.
- If you’re in college, set up a meeting with your college newspaper editorial board and explain the bill to them and why they should speak out about it. Work with them to write articles on the topics. Check out these examples from the University of Buffalo, University of Massachusetts, and University of Minnesota. See more examples at the Center for Democracy and Technology’s Chorus of Opposition page.
- Write a letter to the editor of your local paper. Remember, these are often really short. Find out the requirements for your local paper and follow them carefully.
- Become a member of EFF. We’re leading the fight to defend civil liberties online, so that future generations will enjoy an Internet free of censorship. By standing together, we can make it happen.
An Alternative to #SOPA #PIPA: An #Open Process Befitting an Open Internet
“The truly frightening legislative proposals known as SOPA and PIPA continue to loom in Congress, promising to put a big lump of coal in the stocking of every Internet user. So we were glad to learn that a bipartisan group of congressional represenatives has come together to formulate a real alternative, called the OPEN Act, as well as a real process for including the Internet users and innovators it may affect.
You may remember that the stated goal of the Internet Blacklist Legislation was to target foreign websites who traffic in counterfeit and other IP-infringing goods. SOPA and PIPA went far beyond that goal with extreme remedies, like allowing the Attorney General to get a court order requiring service providers to “disappear” certain sites and the ability to shut down all services - such as inclusion in search, ad revenue, and payments services - to the point that a site would essentially no longer exist. Other provisions would allow private actors to force payment processors to cut off the economic lifeblood of any site where even a single page linked to infringement, even if the site’s owners comply with the DMCA safe harbors. Adding insult to injury, the bills were written without any real input from the tech community, despite many in Congress’ apparent complete lack of understanding about how the Internet actually works.
Enter the OPEN Act, draft legislation that addresses many of the most glaring flaws in both SOPA and PIPA. We’re still reviewing the legislation, but here’s some good news: the proponents of the bill (Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore. and Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif.) aren’t afraid (and, in fact, are anxious) to hear from the many folks who care about the future of the Internet. So, they have opened up the entire law-writing process. Right now, you can go to KeepTheWebOpen.com and read the draft bill for yourself (which we encourage you to do) and make comments and suggestions to improve the draft language. We’re glad to see that all of those who will feel the effects of the legislation - the tech community, individuals who depend on the Internet everyday, content creators, and, yes, even Hollywood - can have their voices heard. Once the OPEN Act’s proponents collect comments, they will review and incorporate, and then introduce the bill in Congress.”~Read More: EFF
Fight for your right to rip DVDs legally
“Since the passage of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) in 1998, the Copyright Office has held several triennial proceedings on bypassing digital locks. Gradually, the Office has loosened up; the last time around, it approved jailbreaking smartphones and granted a broad video exemption to educators and mashup-makers.
But a widespread exemption for cracking the CSS encryption on DVDs has always been a bridge too far. In the first proceedings, the Register of Copyright was convinced by movie industry arguments that users inconvenienced by the ability to stick a copy of a film on their iPhone had other ways to access the material (like VHS tapes). At later hearings, the movie industry argued (and actually demonstrated) how to make copies of movies by pointing a camcorder at a TV screen. Welcome to the technological society!
Another DMCA exemption process is now underway at the Copyright Office, and Public Knowledge has decided to make another run at the DVD issue. The basis of its argument? The prevalence of piracy. Since one can already get digital copies of just about every film off the Internet, there can be little harm in allowing citizens to back up their DVD collections or “space shift” them to computers and smartphones (just as they have long been able to do with compact discs).
“Ultimately, this exemption will have no impact on unauthorized reproductions of motion pictures,” the Public Knowledge filing (PDF) concludes. “The Register is in the enviable position of balancing a clear benefit to the public against no cognizable harm to rightsholders because the harm they fear already exists.”~Read More: arstechnica
Also worth a look (relevant): EFF: Why Apple (and Sony, Amazon, Microsoft etc.) Should Support Jailbreaking
Northern Exposure: Unmasking Online Spying in #Canada #EFF
“The Canadian national anthem proudly honors “The True North strong and free!” Yet Canadians face an imminent round of frightening online spy proposals that threaten long held civil liberties and privacy rights. Public Safety Minister Vic Toews has insisted that he won’t budge in his support of online spying legislation despite heavy criticism from privacy watchdogs.
We last discussed the former online spying bills (C-50, C-51 and C-52) Canada’s majority Government sought to advance in October. Collectively called the “lawful access” bills, these measures are essentially a backdoor for law enforcement to easily access personal information. While Public Safety Canada has defended the bills, stating they would enable authorities to protect Canadians from “criminal and terrorist activities” without “infringing on the rights of law abiding Canadians,” the outcry over this legislative mandate has been considerable.
Academics, civil society, all opposing political parties, Internet service providers, and even public officials have continually criticized these bills for risking Canadian’s online security and privacy. As last drafted, the bills represent a dramatic and dangerous attempt to leverage online service providers as agents of state surveillance. They include new police powers that would allow Canadian authorities easy access to Canadians’ online activities, including the power to force ISPs to hand over private customer data without a warrant. Adding insult to injury, the legislation will also pave the way to gag orders that would prevent online service providers from notifying subscribers that their private data has been disclosed–a move that would make it impossible for users to seek legal recourse for privacy violations.
The dangers of these measures should not be underestimated. Openmedia.ca, CIPPIC, and other civil society groups have firmly denounced these spy bills and worked tirelessly to raise awareness about their true impact and intent. The wildly successful Stop Online Spying campaign, which began in June, now has over 75,000 signatures (please sign now if you haven’t already).”~Read More: EFF
Tell corporations it's not okay to censor the internet!
As written, they would betray more than a decade of US policy and advocacy of Internet freedom by establishing a censorship system using the same domain blacklisting technologies pioneered by China and Iran.