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The Game is Rigged: Congress Invites No Consumer Privacy Advocates to its Consumer Privacy Hearing

September 20, 2018 In Design News,Digital Freedom
The Game is Rigged: Congress Invites No Consumer Privacy Advocates to its Consumer Privacy Hearing
The Senate Commerce Committee is getting ready to host a much-anticipated hearing on consumer privacy—and consumer privacy groups don’t get a seat at the table. Instead, the committee is seeking only the testimony of big tech and Internet access corporations: Amazon, Apple, AT&T, Charter Communications, Google, and Twitter. Some of these companies have spent heavily to oppose consumer privacy legislation and have never supported consumer privacy laws. They know policymakers are considering new privacy protections, and are likely to view this hearing as a chance to encourage Congress to adopt the weakest privacy protections possible—and eviscerate stronger state protections at the same time.
Given this track record, Internet users should wonder whether the upcoming Senate Commerce hearing is just a prelude to yet another privacy rollback. If so, policymakers can expect to hear the voices they excluded loud and clear in opposition. Since we can’t be there to say this ourselves, we’ll say it here: EFF will oppose any federal legislation that weakens today’s hard-fought privacy protections or destroys the states’ ability to protect their citizens’ personal information. EFF has had a long and continuous battle with some of the testifying companies, such as Google and AT&T, regarding your right to data privacy, and we’re not going to give up now.
New Copyright Powers, New “Terrorist Content” Regulations: A Grim Day For Digital Rights in Europe
Despite waves of calls and emails from European Internet users, the European Parliament voted to accept the principle of a universal pre-emptive copyright filter for content-sharing sites (Article 13), as well as the idea that news publishers should have the right to sue others for quoting news items online – or even using their titles as links to articles (Article 11). Out of all of the potential amendments offered that would fix or ameliorate the damage caused by these proposals, they voted for the worst on offer.
There are still opportunities, at the EU level, at the national level, and ultimately in Europe’s courts, to limit the damage. But make no mistake, this is a serious setback for the Internet and digital rights in Europe.
It’s not enough to hope that these laws will lose momentum or fall apart from their own internal incoherence, or that those who don’t understand the Internet will refrain from breaking it. Keep reading and supporting EFF, and join Europe’s powerful partnership of digital rights groups, from Brussels-based EDRi to your local national digital rights organization. Speak up for your digital business, open source project, for your hobby or fandom, and as a contributor to the global Internet commons.
If you’ve ever considered stepping up to play a bigger role in European politics or activism, whether at the national level, or in Brussels, now would be the time.
Don’t Give DHS and DOJ Free Rein to Shoot Down Private Drones
When government agencies hide their activities from the public, private drones can be a crucial tool for transparency and journalism. But now, some members of Congress want to give the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security—including Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)—the power to intercept and destroy private drones it considers a “threat,” with no safeguards ensuring that that power isn’t abused. 
The Department of Homeland Security routinely denies reporters access to detention centers. On the rare occasions DHS does allow entry, the visitors are not permitted to take photos or record video. Without other ways to report on these activities, drones have provided crucial documentation of the facilities being constructed to hold children.
We can’t hand the right to take over or shoot down private drones to the DHS and DOJ, offices that are already notorious for their hostility to public oversight. To make it worse, Congress is granting DHS and DOJ broad drone-destroying powers as part of a routine Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill, with no chance for meaningful debate on how best to limit the government’s authority to intercept or destroy drones.
We have until Wednesday to tell the House of Representatives not to give the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security the power to intercept and destroy private drones it considers a “threat,” including those being used to document ICE facilities.
EFF Updates
Facebook Warns Memphis Police: No More Fake “Bob Smith” Accounts
Facebook has a problem: an infestation of undercover cops. Despite the social platform’s explicit rules that the use of fake profiles by anyone—police included—is a violation of terms of service, the issue proliferates. While the scope is difficult to measure, EFF has identified scores of agencies who maintain policies that explicitly flaunt these rules.
This summer, the criminal justice news outlet The Appeal reported on a civil rights lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Tennessee against the Memphis Police Department. The lawsuit uncovered evidence that the police used what they referred to as a “Bob Smith” account to befriend and gather intelligence on activists. 
Following the report, EFF contacted Facebook, which deactivated that account. Facebook has since identified and deactivated six other fake accounts managed by Memphis police that were previously unknown.
Hopefully this issue is about to change, with a new warning Facebook has sent to the Memphis Police Department. The company has also updated its law enforcement guidelines to highlight the prohibition on fake accounts.
You Can Make the House of Representatives Restore Net Neutrality
For all intents and purposes, the fate of net neutrality this year sits completely within the hands of a majority of members of the House of Representatives. For one thing, the Senate has already voted to reverse the FCC. For another, 218 members of the House can agree to sign a discharge petition and force a vote to the floor, and nothing could stop it procedurally. This represents the last, best chance for a 2018 end to the FCC’s misguided journey into abandoning consumer protection authority over ISPs such as Comcast and AT&T.
But we need you to take the time to contact your elected officials and make your voice heard: Tell Congress to sign the discharge petition and support net neutrality. 
EFF’s Katitza Rodríguez Named One of the Most Influential Latinos in Tech
In well-deserved recognition of her digital rights and privacy work around the globe, EFF International Rights Director Katitza Rodríguez was named by CNET as one of the most influential Latinos in technology this year.
We’re delighted to see Katitza celebrated for her many years of advocacy on behalf of technology users in Latin America and internationally. While the technology industry has much work to do to increase diversity and inclusion among its ranks, CNET’s annual list of top Latino tech leaders underlines the importance of having female leaders and leaders of different nationalities and backgrounds in the field.
Sony Finally Admits It Doesn’t Own Bach and It Only Took Public Pressure
Here’s the thing about different people playing the same piece of music: sometimes, they’re going to sound similar. And when music is by a composer who died 268 years ago, putting his music in the public domain, a bunch of people might record it and some of them might put it online. In this situation, a combination of copyright bots and corporate intransigence led to a Kafkaesque attack on music.
How many more ways do we need to say that copyright bots and filters don’t work? That mandating them, as the European Union is poised to do, is dangerous and shortsighted? 
Microsoft Clears the Air About Fighting CLOUD Act Abuses
Five of the largest U.S. technology companies pledged support this year for a dangerous law that makes our emails, chat logs, online videos and photos vulnerable to warrantless collection by foreign governments.
Now, Microsoft has made a meaningful pivot, instead pledging support for its users and their privacy. EFF appreciates this commitment, and urges other companies to do the same.
Yes, You Can Name A Website “”
Jeremy Rubin just wanted to speak out about the rise of white supremacist groups in the U.S. and raise some money to fight against those groups. But the Internet domain name he registered in late 2017 for his campaign—“”—ran afoul of a U.S. Department of Commerce policy banning certain words from .US domain names. A government contractor took away Rubin’s domain name, effectively shuttering his website.
Last month, after EFF and the Cyberlaw Clinic at Harvard Law School intervened, Mr. Rubin got his site back. Eventually, the Commerce Department’s contractor Neustar agreed to stop banning “dirty words.” has proudly returned to the Internet.
27th Annual Pioneer Awards
Join us! We’re excited to announce the renaming of the Pioneer Award statuette in honor of our co-founder John Perry Barlow!
On September 27, we will celebrate the work of our 2018 honorees: Stephanie Lenz, Joe McNamee, and Sarah T. Roberts. The celebration will include drinks, bytes, and excellent company. 
EFF At All Things Open 2018
We’re excited to bring EFF to All Things Open, the annual gathering of free and open source software developers in Raleigh, NC. Be sure to stop by EFF’s booth to learn what we’re up to and how you can get involved. You can even become a member or pick up some unique EFF swag.
EFF at the Usenix LISA Conference 2018
Join us at LISA18, the 32nd annual LISA conference in Nashville, TN, USA! LISA is the premier conference for operations professionals, where sysadmins, systems engineers, IT operations professionals, SRE practitioners, developers, IT managers, and academic researchers share real-world knowledge about designing, building, securing, and maintaining the critical systems of our interconnected world.
Job Openings
Staff Attorney: Racial Justice Litigation Specialist
Government surveillance disproportionately affects vulnerable populations. EFF wants to add racial justice and civil rights expertise to our existing legal team, and we’re seeking an experienced racial justice litigator to join us and assist in working up and leading impact litigation at the intersection of civil rights, civil liberties, and technology. 
Help Desk Technician
Provide technical support to EFF’s staff by responding to a wide variety of help desk tickets, ranging from solving mysterious macOS backup errors to debugging monitors on the fritz, from troubleshooting non-native software on Linux to dealing with temperamental printers. 
Client Platform Engineer
The Client Platform Engineer will manage our mixed-environment fleet of laptops, tablets, and mobile phones. We’re looking for someone who picks the best modern tool available, but is also comfortable maintaining legacy systems and will make meaningful contributions to our tight-knit six-person team.
Controversial Counter-Drone Provision Flies Under the Radar 
The government wants the right to seize, shoot down, surveil, and hack drones. But EFF, ACLU, and our allies are fighting back. (National Journal)
Sen. Harris Tells Federal Agencies To Get Serious About Facial Recognition Risks
Sen. Kamala Harris is asking the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Federal Trade Commission, and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to address bias and other problems with facial recognition. (Techcrunch)
Hide and Seek: Tracking NSO Group’s Pegasus Spyware to Operations in 45 Countries
The market for commercial spyware is lucrative and expanding. Our friends at Citizen Lab just released a new report tracking NSO Group’s “Pegasus” spyware to operations in 45 countries, many with track records of human rights abuses. (Citizen Lab)
Trump’s Immigration Cops Just Gave America’s Hottest iPhone Hackers Their Biggest Payday Yet 
ICE should be getting a warrant before using tools like this to search electronic devices—including at the U.S. border. (Forbes)
Trump’s FCC chief takes aim at California’s net neutrality bill, reviving threadbare arguments
Writing in the LA Times, Michael Hiltzik notes that while “Gov. Brown hasn’t yet tipped whether he’ll sign” SB 822 to ensure net neutrality in California, FCC Chair Ajit Pai “challenged him to do so. Brown should take him up on the challenge.” (LA Times)
Supported by Donors
Our members make it possible for EFF to bring legal and technological expertise into crucial battles about online rights. Whether defending free speech online or challenging unconstitutional surveillance, your participation makes a difference. Every donation gives technology users who value freedom online a stronger voice and more formidable advocate.
If you aren’t already, please consider becoming an EFF member today.
Supported by DonorsOur members make it possible for EFF to bring legal and technological expertise into crucial battles about online rights. Whether defending free speech online or challenging unconstitutional surveillance, your participation makes a difference. Every donation gives technology users who value freedom online a stronger voice and more formidable advocate.If you aren’t already, please consider becoming an EFF member today.