Between 15th-19th of September, in the week leading up the first year anniversary of the 13 Necessary and Proportionate Principles, EDRi, the EFF and the coalition behind the Principles will be conducting a Week of Action explaining some of the key guiding principles for surveillance law reform.
Today, across the United States, Internet users are gathering for an emergency vigil calling on the FCC to protect the open Internet. According to news reports, the FCC is leaning towards a proposal that would protect the relationship between ISPs and big web companies, but not the relationship between ISPs and users. This “hybrid” approachwould leave the door open for all kinds of discriminatory practices against end-users and is less likely to hold up in court than the clean proposal we’ve been supporting. Even rules that sound good aren’t going to help anyone if they wind up being struck down. And it doesn’t even make sense to differentiate between users who are “subscribers” and users who run websites; all users send and receive information online and any “subscriber” could start a website tomorrow. At best, such a distinction is factually incoherent, and at worst it could become a self-fulfilling prophecy, legally assigning “subscriber” and “provider” roles to people and companies on the Internet.
If you own a phone or a tablet, you should be able to run whatever software you want on it. It seems like a simple truth, but there are a surprising number of hurdles in the way. Most pressingly, if the manufacturer of that phone or tablet wants to, they can misuse the law to limit your control over the device long after your purchase. This week, EFF has filed a petition with the Librarian of Congress and the Copyright Office to extend and expand the exemption that allows you to "jailbreak" your phone from those restrictions, without running afoul of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
That's important because jailbreaking (or "rooting," on Android devices) has real-world implications for users' ability to use their phones and tablets effectively and securely. It may be a necessary step before installing security updates after a device has stopped being supported by the manufacturer. In other cases, it may help users install accessibility software that allows them to use a device despite disabilities.
US federal court says six weeks of continually video recording the frontyard of someone's home without a search warrant violates the Fourth Amendment. In United States v. Vargas local police in rural Washington suspected Vargas of drug trafficking. In April 2013, police installed a camera on top of a utility pole overlooking his home. Even though police did not have a warrant, they nonetheless pointed the camera at his front door and driveway and began watching every day. A month later, police observed Vargas shoot some beer bottles with a gun and because Vargas was an undocumented immigrant, they had probable cause to believe he was illegally possessing a firearm. They used the video surveillance to obtain a warrant to search his home, which uncovered drugs and guns, leading to a federal indictment against Vargas.
EFF announces that it will argue on Friday before a federal court that the National Security Agency (NSA) is violating the Fourth Amendment by copying and searching data that it collects by tapping into the Internet backbone. Jewel v. NSA was filed in 2008 on behalf of Carolyn Jewel and other AT&T customers. EFF has amassed a mountain of evidence to support the case, including documents provided by former AT&T technician Mark Klein, which show that the company has routed copies of Internet traffic to a secret room in San Francisco controlled by the NSA. Other whistleblowers—including Thomas Drake, Bill Binney and Edward Snowden—have revealed more detail about how this technique feeds data into the NSA's massive databases of communications.