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University of Michigan Study Advocates Ban of Facial Recognition in Schools

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Wt, 2020-08-11 23:26
University of Michigan researchers recently published a study showing facial recognition technology in schools has limited efficacy and presents a number of serious problems. From a report: The research was led by Shobita Parthasarathy, director of the university's Science, Technology, and Public Policy (STPP) program, and finds the technology isn't just ill-suited to security purposes, it can actively promote racial discrimination, normalize surveillance, and erode privacy while marginalizing gender nonconforming students. The study follows the New York legislature's passage of a moratorium on the use of facial recognition and other forms of biometric identification in schools until 2022. The bill, a response to the Lockport City School District launching a facial recognition system, was among the first in the nation to explicitly regulate or ban use of the technology in schools. That development came after companies including Amazon, IBM, and Microsoft halted or ended the sale of facial recognition products in response to the first wave of Black Lives Matter protests in the U.S.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Qualcomm Wins US Antitrust Lawsuit Appeal Over Chip Licensing

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Wt, 2020-08-11 20:04
A U.S. appeals court on Tuesday reversed a lower court ruling against chip supplier Qualcomm in an antitrust lawsuit brought by the Federal Trade Commission. From a report: The United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals also vacated an injunction that would have required Qualcomm to change its intellectual property licensing practices. The decision amounted to a near complete victory for the San Diego company, the largest supplier of chips for mobile phones and also a key generator of wireless communications intellectual property and industry standards. Qualcomm was fighting a May 2019 decision by U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California. That judge sided with antitrust regulators, writing that Qualcomm's practice of requiring phone makers to sign a patent license agreement before selling them chips "strangled competition" and harmed consumers.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Zoom Sued By Consumer Group For Misrepresenting Its Encryption Protections

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Wt, 2020-08-11 19:25
A consumer advocacy group is suing Zoom and seeking millions of dollars in damages, accusing the company of misleading its users about the strength of its encryption protections. From a report: The nonprofit group Consumer Watchdog is also accusing the videoconferencing company of deceiving users about the extent of its links with China and the fact that some calls between people in North America were routed through servers in China. That raises the danger Beijing could steal or demand access to the contents of those calls, according to a copy of the lawsuit, which was shared exclusively with The Cybersecurity 202. Those phony claims "lull[ed] consumers and businesses into a false sense of security" and helped Zoom to soar in popularity during the early months of the pandemic, according the lawsuit, which was filed late yesterday in Washington D.C. Superior Court. The consumer group fears that if Zoom isn't punished, other companies will be incentivized to make false claims about their security and privacy protections to attract users and stand out against competitors.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Belarus Has Shut Down the Internet Amid a Controversial Election

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Wt, 2020-08-11 15:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Wired: Internet connectivity and cellular service in Belarus have been down since Sunday evening, after sporadic outages early that morning and throughout the day. The connectivity blackout, which also includes landline phones, appears to be a government-imposed outage that comes amid widespread protests and increasing social unrest over Belarus' presidential election Sunday. The ongoing shutdown has further roiled the country of about 9.5 million people, where official election results this morning indicated that five-term president Aleksandr Lukashenko had won a sixth term with about 80 percent of the vote. Around the country, protests against Lukashenko's administration, including criticisms of his foreign policy and handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, grew in the days leading up to the election and exploded on Sunday night. The government has responded to the protests by mobilizing police and military forces, particularly in Minsk, the capital. Meanwhile, opposition candidates and protesters say the election was rigged and believe the results to be illegitimate. On Monday, Lukashenko said in an interview that the internet outages were coming from abroad, and were not the result of a Belarusian government initiative. Belarus' Community Emergency Response Team, or CERT, in a statement on Sunday blamed large distributed denial-of-service attacks, particularly against the country's State Security Committee and Ministry of Internal Affairs, for causing "problems with equipment." The Belarusian government-owned ISP RUE Beltelecom said in a statement Monday that it is working to resolve the outages and restore service after "multiple cyberattacks of varying intensity." Outside observers have met those claims with skepticism. "The truth of what's going on in Belarus isn't really knowable right now, but there's no indication of a DDoS attack. It can't be ruled out, but there's no external sign of it that we see," says Alp Toker, director of the nonpartisan connectivity tracking group NetBlocks. After midnight Sunday, NetBlocks observed an outage that went largely unnoticed by the Belarus population, given the hour, but the country's internet infrastructure became increasingly wobbly afterward. "Then just as polls are opening in the morning, there are more disruptions, and those really continue and progress," says Toker. "Then the major outage that NetBlocks detected started right as the polls were closing and is ongoing." The disruption extended even to virtual private networks -- a common workaround for internet outages or censorship -- most of which remain unreachable. "Belarus hasn't had a lot of investment in circumvention technologies, because people there haven't needed to," Toker says. Meanwhile, there are a few anecdotal indications that the outages were planned, and even possibly that the government warned some businesses and institutions ahead of time. A prescient report on Saturday from the Russian newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets included an interview with a salesperson who warned journalists attempting to buy SIM cards that the government had indicated widespread connectivity outages might be coming as soon as that night.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

EPA To Rescind Methane Regulations For Oil and Gas

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Wt, 2020-08-11 02:02
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Hill: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will sign and issue new rules this week that will get rid of certain methane gas emission requirements for oil and gas producers, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday. Unidentified administration officials told the newspaper that the new rules will include getting rid of requirements for producers to have systems and processes to find methane leaks. They will also end EPA oversight of smog and emissions from pipelines and storage sites and lessen monitoring and reporting requirements for certain pollutants, the Journal reported. The new rules have most of the major elements of proposals from 2018 and 2019, according to the newspaper. In 2019, the agency proposed eliminating requirements for oil and gas companies to install technology for monitoring methane emissions from pipelines, wells and facilities. In 2018, it proposed reducing the frequency of monitoring methane emissions of oil and gas wells to every two years and compressor stations that help transport natural gas to just once a year. However, the Journal reported Monday that the administration would forgo the measures that would have reduced the inspection frequency due to difficulty in justifying them legally.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

California Judge Orders Uber and Lyft To Classify Drivers As Employees

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Wt, 2020-08-11 00:40
A California judge ruled that Uber and Lyft must classify their drivers as employees in a stunning preliminary injunction issued Monday afternoon. The Verge reports: The injunction is stayed for 10 days, however, giving Uber and Lyft an opportunity to appeal the decision. Uber said it planned to file an immediate emergency appeal to block the ruling from going into effect. [...] Drivers' groups hailed the ruling as forward progress in their fight to upend Uber and Lyft. "Today's ruling affirms what California drivers have long known to be true: workers like me have rights and Uber and Lyft must respect those rights," Mike Robinson, a Lyft driver and member of the Mobile Workers Alliance, a group of Southern California drivers, said in a statement. But Uber maintains this ruling will result in fewer jobs during a global pandemic that is putting strain on the state's economic conditions. "The vast majority of drivers want to work independently, and we've already made significant changes to our app to ensure that remains the case under California law," an Uber spokesperson said. "When over 3 million Californians are without a job, our elected leaders should be focused on creating work, not trying to shut down an entire industry during an economic depression." A Lyft spokesperson agreed. "Drivers do not want to be employees, full stop," the spokesperson said. "We'll immediately appeal this ruling and continue to fight for their independence. Ultimately, we believe this issue will be decided by California voters and that they will side with drivers." Earlier today in an op-ed via The New York Times, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said lawmakers should require gig economy companies to create benefits funds, which would "give workers cash that they can use for the benefits they want, like health insurance or paid time off."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Leaked Documents Reveal What TikTok Shares With Authorities In the US

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Wt, 2020-08-11 00:02
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Intercept: Documents published in the BlueLeaks trove, which was hacked by someone claiming a connection to Anonymous and published by the transparency collective Distributed Denial of Secrets, show the information that TikTok shared with U.S. law enforcement in dozens of cases. Experts familiar with law enforcement requests say that what TikTok collects and hands over is not significantly more than what companies like Amazon, Facebook, or Google regularly provide, but that's because U.S. tech companies collect and hand over a lot of information. The documents also reveal that two representatives with bytedance.com email addresses registered on the website of the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center, a fusion center that covers the Silicon Valley area. And they show that the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Homeland Security actively monitored TikTok for signs of unrest during the George Floyd protests. The number of requests for subscriber information that TikTok says it receives from law enforcement is significantly lower than what U.S. tech giants reportedly field, likely because police are more accustomed to using data from U.S. companies and apps in investigations. TikTok enumerates its requests from law enforcement in a biannual transparency report, the most recent of which says that for the last half of 2019, the company received 100 requests covering 107 accounts. It handed over information in 82 percent of cases. Facebook, by contrast, says it received a whopping 51,121 requests over the same period, and handed over at least some data in 88 percent of cases. A 2018 document found in BlueLeaks titled "Law Enforcement Technology Investigations Resource Guide" gives police details on how to obtain records from Musical.ly, which was acquired by ByteDance and merged into TikTok that year. "In the releases shown in BlueLeaks, TikTok handed over multiple IP addresses, information about the devices used to register for accounts, cellphone numbers, and unique IDs tied to platforms including Instagram, Facebook, or Google if the user logged in using a social media account," the report adds. "It is unclear whether these data releases were in response to warrants, subpoenas, or other requests, and the company would not give details, citing user privacy. The accounts for which TikTok handed over data in the BlueLeaks dump range from influencers with tens of thousands of followers to people who primarily post for friends."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Law Enforcement Use of Face Recognition Systems Threatens Civil Liberties, Disproportionately Affects People of Color: EFF Report

Electronic Frontier Foundation - Cz, 2018-02-15 17:45

San Francisco, California—Face recognition—fast becoming law enforcement’s surveillance tool of choice—is being implemented with little oversight or privacy protections, leading to faulty systems that will disproportionately impact people of color and may implicate innocent people for crimes they didn’t commit, says an Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) report released today.

Face recognition is rapidly creeping into modern life, and face recognition systems will one day be capable of capturing the faces of people, often without their knowledge, walking down the street, entering stores, standing in line at the airport, attending sporting events, driving their cars, and utilizing public spaces. Researchers at the Georgetown Law School estimated that one in every two American adults—117 million people—are already in law enforcement face recognition systems.

This kind of surveillance will have a chilling effect on Americans’ willingness to exercise their rights to speak out and be politically engaged, the report says. Law enforcement has already used face recognition at political protests, and may soon use face recognition with body-worn cameras, to identify people in the dark, and to project what someone might look like from a police sketch or even a small sample of DNA.

Face recognition employs computer algorithms to pick out details about a person’s face from a photo or video to form a template. As the report explains, police use face recognition to identify unknown suspects by comparing their photos to images stored in databases and to scan public spaces to try to find specific pre-identified targets.

But no face recognition system is 100 percent accurate, and false positives—when a person’s face is incorrectly matched to a template image—are common. Research shows that face recognition misidentifies African Americans and ethnic minorities, young people, and women at higher rates than whites, older people, and men, respectively. And because of well-documented racially biased police practices, all criminal databases—including mugshot databases—include a disproportionate number of African-Americans, Latinos, and immigrants.

For both reasons, inaccuracies in face recognition systems will disproportionately affect people of color.

“The FBI, which has access to at least 400 million images and is the central source for facial recognition identification for federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, has failed to address the problem of false positives and inaccurate results,” said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Jennifer Lynch, author of the report. “It has conducted few tests to ensure accuracy and has done nothing to ensure its external partners—federal and state agencies—are not using face recognition in ways that allow innocent people to be identified as criminal suspects.”

Lawmakers, regulators, and policy makers should take steps now to limit face recognition collection and subject it to independent oversight, the report says. Legislation is needed to place meaningful checks on government use of face recognition, including rules limiting retention and sharing, requiring notification when face prints are collected, ensuring robust security procedures to prevent data breaches, and establishing legal processes governing when law enforcement may collect face images from the public without their knowledge, the report concludes.

“People should not have to worry that they may be falsely accused of a crime because an algorithm mistakenly matched their photo to a suspect. They shouldn’t have to worry that their data will end up in the hands of identity thieves because face recognition databases were breached. They shouldn’t have to fear that their every move will be tracked if face recognition is linked to the networks of surveillance cameras that blanket many cities,” said Lynch. “Without meaningful legal protections, this is where we may be headed.”

For the report:

Online version: https://www.eff.org/wp/law-enforcement-use-face-recognition

PDF version: https://www.eff.org/files/2018/02/15/face-off-report-1b.pdf

One pager on facial recognition: https://www.eff.org/document/facial-recognition-one-pager

Contact: Jennifer Lynch

Catalog of Missing Devices Illustrates Gadgets that Could and Should Exist

Electronic Frontier Foundation - Pt, 2018-02-02 01:43

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has launched its “Catalog of Missing Devices”—a project that illustrates the gadgets that could and should exist, if not for bad copyright laws that prevent innovators from creating the cool new tools that could enrich our lives.

“The law that is supposed to restrict copying has instead been misused to crack down on competition, strangling a future’s worth of gadgets in their cradles,” said EFF Special Advisor Cory Doctorow. “But it’s hard to notice what isn’t there. We’re aiming to fix that with this Catalog of Missing Devices. It’s a collection of tools, services, and products that could have been, and should have been, but never were.”

The damage comes from Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA 1201), which covers digital rights management software (DRM). DRM was designed to block software counterfeiting and other illegal copying, and Section 1201 bans DRM circumvention. However, businesses quickly learned that by employing DRM they could thwart honest competitors from creating inter-operative tools.

Right now, that means you could be breaking the law just by doing something as simple as repairing your car on your own, without the vehicle-maker’s pricey tool. Other examples include rightsholders forcing you to buy additional copies of movies you want to watch on your phone—instead of allowing you to rip the DVD you already own and are entitled to watch—or manufacturers blocking your printer from using anything but their official ink cartridges.

But that’s just the beginning of what consumers are missing. The Catalog of Missing Devices imagines things like music software that tailors your listening to what you are reading on your audiobook, or a gadget that lets parents reprogram talking toys to replace canned, meaningless messaging.

“Computers aren’t just on our desktops or in our pockets—they are everywhere, and so is the software that runs them,” said EFF Legal Director Corynne McSherry. “We need to fix the laws that choke off competition and innovation with no corresponding benefit.”

The Catalog of Missing Devices is part of EFF’s Apollo 1201 project, dedicated to eradicating all DRM from the world. A key step is eliminating laws like DMCA 1201, as well as the international versions of this legislation that the U.S. has convinced its trading partners to adopt.

For the Catalog of Missing Devices:
https://www.eff.org/missing-devices

Contact: Cory DoctorowCorynne McSherry

EFF and ACLU Ask Court to Allow Legal Challenge to Proceed Against Warrantless Searches of Travelers’ Smartphones, Laptops

Electronic Frontier Foundation - Pt, 2018-01-26 23:38

Boston, Massachusetts—The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) urged a federal judge today to reject the Department of Homeland Security’s attempt to dismiss an important lawsuit challenging DHS’s policy of searching and confiscating, without suspicion or warrant, travelers’ electronic devices at U.S. borders.

EFF and ACLU represent 11 travelers—10 U.S. citizens and one lawful permanent resident—whose smartphones and laptops were searched without warrants at the U.S. border in a groundbreaking lawsuit filed in September. The case, Alasaad v. Nielsen, asks the court to rule that the government must have a warrant based on probable cause before conducting searches of electronic devices, which contain highly detailed personal information about people’s lives. The case also argues that the government must have probable cause to confiscate a traveler’s device.

The plaintiffs in the case include a military veteran, journalists, students, an artist, a NASA engineer, and a business owner. The government seeks dismissal, saying the plaintiffs don’t have the right to bring the lawsuit and the Fourth Amendment doesn’t apply to border searches. Both claims are wrong, the EFF and ACLU explain in a brief filed today in federal court in Boston.

First, the plaintiffs have “standing” to seek a court order to end unconstitutional border device searches because they face a substantial risk of having their devices searched again. This means they are the right parties to bring this case and should be able to proceed to the merits. Four plaintiffs already have had their devices searched multiple times.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) policy allows border agents to search and confiscate anyone’s smartphone for any reason or for no reason at all. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) policy allows border device searches without a warrant or probable cause, and usually without even reasonable suspicion. Last year, CBP conducted more than 30,000 border device searches, more than triple the number just two years earlier.

“Our clients are travelers from all walks of life. The government policies that invaded their privacy in the past are enforced every day at airports and border crossings around the country,” said EFF Staff Attorney Sophia Cope. “Because the plaintiffs face being searched in the future, they have the right to proceed with said Cope.

Second, the plaintiffs argue that the Fourth Amendment requires border officers to get a warrant before searching a traveler’s electronic device. This follows from the Supreme Court’s 2014 decision in Riley v. California requiring that police officers get a warrant before searching an arrestee’s cell phone. The court explained that cell phones contain the “privacies of life”—a uniquely large and varied amount of highly sensitive information, including emails, photos, and medical records. This is equally true for international travelers, the vast majority of whom are not suspected of any crime. Warrantless border device searches also violate the First Amendment, because they chill freedom of speech and association by allowing the government to view people’s contacts, communications, and reading material.

“Searches of electronic devices at the border are increasing rapidly, causing greater numbers of people to have their constitutional rights violated,” said ACLU attorney Esha Bhandari. “Device searches can give border officers unfettered access to vast amounts of private information about our lives, and they are unconstitutional absent a warrant.”

Below is a full list of the plaintiffs along with links to their individual stories, which are also collected here:

  • Ghassan and Nadia Alasaad are a married couple who live in Massachusetts, where he is a limousine driver and she is a nursing student.
  • Suhaib Allababidi, who lives in Texas, owns and operates a business that sells security technology, including to federal government clients.
  • Sidd Bikkannavar is an optical engineer for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California.
  • Diane Maye is a college professor and former captain in the U. S. Air Force living in Florida.
  • Zainab Merchant, from Florida, is a writer and a graduate student in international security and journalism at Harvard.

For the brief:
https://www.eff.org/document/alasaad-v-nielsen-opposition-motion-dismiss

For more EFF information on this case:
https://www.eff.org/cases/alasaad-v-duke 

For more ACLU information on this case:
https://www.aclu.org/news/aclu-eff-sue-over-warrantless-phone-and-laptop-searches-us-border

For more on privacy at the border:
https://www.eff.org/wp/digital-privacy-us-border-2017

Contact: Sophia CopeAdam SchwartzJosh Bell

EFF Asks Ninth Circuit Appeals Court To Strengthen Privacy Protections Of Smart Phones At The Border

Electronic Frontier Foundation - So, 2018-01-20 01:20

San Diego, California—The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) urged the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to further limit the government’s ability to conduct highly intrusive searches of electronic devices at the border by requiring federal agents to obtain a warrant if they want to access the contents of travelers’ phones.

“The Ninth Circuit four years ago issued an important ruling requiring officials to show they have reasonable suspicion of criminal activity to forensically search digital devices. While that was an improvement over the government’s prior practice of conducting suspicionless searches, the court didn’t go far enough,” said EFF Staff Attorney Sophia Cope. “We are now asking the Ninth Circuit to bar warrantless device searches at the border.”

“Our electronic devices contain texts, emails, photos, contact lists, work documents, and other communications that reveal intimate details of our private lives. Our privacy interests in this material is tremendous. Requiring a warrant is a critical step in making sure our Fourth Amendment protections survive into the digital age,” said Cope.

The Ninth Circuit is being asked to throw out evidence obtained through a warrantless forensic search of the defendant’s cell phone at the U.S.-Mexico border in southern California. The case, U.S. v. Cano, is a drug prosecution and the first before the Ninth Circuit since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that because devices hold “the privacies of life,” police need a warrant to search the phones of people who are arrested.

In an amicus brief filed today in U.S. v. Cano, EFF urged the court to recognize that people traveling through our international borders deserve the same privacy protections that the Supreme Court has extended to arrestees. The Ninth Circuit’s rulings apply to states in the west and southwest, several of whom share borders with Mexico and Canada,

Warrantless border searches of luggage have been allowed under an exception to the Fourth Amendment for routine immigration and customs enforcement. But since digital devices provide so much more highly personal, private information than what is traditionally carried in a suitcase, agents should be required to show a judge that they have probable cause to believe that the device contains evidence of a violation of the immigration or customs laws, EFF said in the brief.

Digital device searches at the border have more than tripled since the inauguration of President Trump. This increase, along with the increasing number of people who carry these devices while traveling, has highlighted the need for stronger privacy rights while crossing the U.S. border. Last year, EFF and ACLU filed a lawsuit in Boston against the federal government on behalf of 11 travelers whose smartphones and other electronic devices were searched without a warrant at the U.S. border.

“Digital devices differ wildly from luggage and other physical items a person carries across the border,” said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Adam Schwartz. “Now is the time to apply the full force of constitutional privacy protections to digital devices.”

For the brief:
https://www.eff.org/document/eff-amicus-brief-us-v-cano

For more on privacy at the border:
https://www.eff.org/wp/digital-privacy-us-border-2017

Contact: Sophia CopeAdam Schwartz

EFF to Court: Linking Is Not Copyright Infringement

Electronic Frontier Foundation - Cz, 2018-01-18 19:58

Los Angeles, California—Playboy Entertainment's lawsuit accusing acclaimed website Boing Boing of copyright infringement—for doing nothing more than reporting on a historical collection of Playboy centerfolds—is groundless and should be thrown out, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) told a federal court today.

As EFF and co-counsel Durie Tangri LLP explain in a request to dismiss the lawsuit filed on behalf of Boing Boing owner Happy Mutants LLC, Playboy’s copyright claim seeks to punish Boing Boing for commenting on and linking to an archive of Playboy “playmate” centerfold images that a third party posted. The blog contained links to an imgur.com page and YouTube video—neither of which were created by Boing Boing. But courts have long recognized that simply linking to content on the web isn’t unlawful.

“Boing Boing didn’t upload, publish, host, or store any images that Playboy owns, didn’t control the images, and didn’t contribute to the infringement of any Playboy copyrights,” said EFF Legal Director Corynne McSherry. “It’s frankly mystifying that an entertainment company that has often fought to defend free speech rights  is trying to punish Boing Boing for doing what has made it a leading online source of news and commentary: unique and groundbreaking reporting on art, science, and popular culture.”

“Boing Boing’s reporting and commenting on the Playboy photos is protected by copyright’s fair use doctrine,” said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Daniel Nazer. “We’re asking the court to dismiss this deeply flawed lawsuit. Journalists, scientists, researchers, and everyday people on the web have the right to link to material, even copyrighted material, without having to worry about getting sued.”

For the brief:
https://www.eff.org/document/playboy-v-happy-mutants-eff-mtd

For more on fair use:
https://www.eff.org/issues/intellectual-property

Contact: Corynne McSherryDaniel Nazer

EFF and Lookout Uncover New Malware Espionage Campaign Infecting Thousands Around the World

Electronic Frontier Foundation - Cz, 2018-01-18 18:15

San Francisco – The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and mobile security company Lookout have uncovered a new malware espionage campaign infecting thousands of people in more than 20 countries. Hundreds of gigabytes of data has been stolen, primarily through mobile devices compromised by fake secure messaging clients.

The trojanized apps, including Signal and WhatsApp, function like the legitimate apps and send and receive messages normally. However, the fake apps also allow the attackers to take photos, retrieve location information, capture audio, and more.

The threat, called Dark Caracal by EFF and Lookout researchers, may be a nation-state actor and appears to employ shared infrastructure which has been linked to other nation-state actors. In a new report, EFF and Lookout trace Dark Caracal to a building belonging to the Lebanese General Security Directorate in Beirut.

“People in the U.S., Canada, Germany, Lebanon, and France have been hit by Dark Caracal. Targets include military personnel, activists, journalists, and lawyers, and the types of stolen data range from call records and audio recordings to documents and photos,” said EFF Director of Cybersecurity Eva Galperin. “This is a very large, global campaign, focused on mobile devices. Mobile is the future of spying, because phones are full of so much data about a person’s day-to-day life.”

“Dark Caracal is part of a trend we’ve seen mounting over the past year whereby traditional APT actors are moving toward using mobile as a primary target platform,” said Mike Murray, Vice President of Security Intelligence at Lookout. “The Android threat we identified, as used by Dark Caracal, is one of the first globally active mobile APTs we have spoken publicly about.”

Dark Caracal has been operating since at least 2012. However, one reason it has been hard to track is the diversity of seemingly unrelated espionage campaigns originating from the same domain names. The researchers believe that Dark Caracal is only one of a number of different global attackers using this infrastructure. Over the years, Dark Caracal’s work has been repeatedly misattributed to other cybercrime groups. In fact, EFF’s Operation Manul report from 2016 misidentified espionage from these servers as coming from the Indian security company Appin.

“One of the interesting things about this ongoing attack is that it doesn’t require a sophisticated or expensive exploit. Instead, all Dark Caracal needed was application permissions that users themselves granted when they downloaded the apps, not realizing that they contained malware,” said EFF Staff Technologist Cooper Quintin. “This research shows it’s not difficult to create a strategy allowing people and governments to spy on targets around the world.”

For the full report:
https://www.lookout.com/info/ds-dark-caracal-ty

For more on Dark Caracal:
https://blog.lookout.com/dark-caracal-mobile-APT

For more on how to avoid downloading malware:
https://ssd.eff.org/en/module/how-avoid-phishing-attacks

Contact: Eva GalperinCooper Quintin

EFF Asks Copyright Office to Improve Exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act

Electronic Frontier Foundation - Wt, 2017-12-19 00:57

Washington, D.C.—The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) asked the Librarian of Congress today to limit the legal barriers people face when they want to repair and modify software-enabled products, so that they—not manufacturers— control the appliances, computers, toys, vehicles, and other products they own.

In comments filed in Washington D.C. today, EFF continued its years-long fight to enable owners and creators to repair, modify, and enhance products, or use snippets of films or songs, free of onerous threats that doing so somehow infringes companies' copyrights. Software-enabled devices and Internet-connected products and appliances are ubiquitous in modern life, and people aren't infringing anyone's copyright when, for example, they choose to permanently disable the embedded, on-all-the-time camera or microphone in their kids' toys, or send their car to their favorite mechanic, rather than high-priced dealerships, to be repaired.

“It’s absurd that a law intended to protect copyrighted works is misused instead to prevent people from taking apart or modifying the things they own, inhibit scientists and researches from investigating safety features or security enhancements, and block artists and educators from using snippets of film in noncommercial ways," said EFF Legal Director Corynne McSherry. "The exemption process is one highly flawed way of alleviating that burden."

“We rely on the devices in our lives to learn and communicate, to keep us safe and get things done,” said EFF Staff Attorney Kit Walsh. “These devices should work for us and embody our preferences, not the commercial desires of their manufacturers. We, the users of these devices, should be able to decide how they affect our  lives and how we can improve and adapt them. That’s how we ensure that technology enhances our freedoms rather than undermining them.”

This year EFF petitioned the Librarian to exempt from Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) all modifications and repairs of software-enabled devices that don’t infringe copyrights. It’s also seeking exemptions that will allow people to tinker with smart speakers and digital home assistants such as Amazon Echo and Google Home. EFF is also seeking one clear, easier-to-use exemption for video excerpts that would allow educators, libraries, documentary filmmakers, remix artists, and others to use video snippets without fear of legal repercussions by copyright owners. The Librarian implements the exemption recommendations of the Copyright Office.

“Our approach is simple: we are seeking to expand the types of activities that should be exempt from Section 1201 of the DMCA to encompass repairs, modifications, enhancements, and innovations that don’t infringe copyright,” said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Mitch Stoltz. “We shouldn’t have to seek exemptions for things copyright law already allows. Instead, there should be a general rule that allows people to circumvent digital locks to do any non-infringing activity.”

For EFF’s comments:
https://www.eff.org/document/eff-1201-exemption-comments-2017-computer-program-repairs
https://www.eff.org/document/eff-1201-exemption-comments-2017-jailbreaking-0
https://www.eff.org/document/eff-1201-exemption-comments-2017-video-0
https://www.eff.org/document/huang-1201-exemption-comments-2017
https://www.eff.org/document/green-1201-exemption-comments-2017

For more on the Section 1201 exemption process:
https://www.eff.org/cases/2018-dmca-rulemaking

For more on the unintended consequences of Section 1201 of the DMCA:
https://www.eff.org/issues/dmca
https://www.eff.org/issues/dmca-rulemaking

 

Contact: Corynne McSherryKit WalshMitch Stoltz

EFF Demands Information About Secretive Government Tattoo Recognition Technology

Electronic Frontier Foundation - Cz, 2017-11-30 20:05

Washington, D.C. - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed suit against the Department of Justice, the Department of Commerce, and the Department of Homeland Security today, demanding records about the agencies’ work on the federal Tattoo Recognition Technology program.

This secretive program involves a coalition of government, academia, and private industry working to develop a series of algorithms that would rapidly detect tattoos, identify people via their tattoos, and match people with others who have similar body art—as well as flagging tattoos believed to be connected to religious and ethnic symbols. This type of surveillance raises profound religious, speech, and privacy concerns. Moreover, the limited information that EFF has been able to obtain about the program has already revealed a range of potentially unethical behavior, including conducting research on prisoners without approval, adequate oversight, or safeguards.

EFF filed a series of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for more information about the Tattoo Recognition Technology program, which is a National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) project sponsored by the FBI, beginning in January of 2016. Although the agencies released some records, they withheld others, and heavily redacted some of the documents they released. As a result, EFF is going to court today against DHS, DOJ, and NIST's parent agency, the Commerce Department, to make sure this important information is released to the public.

“These new automated tattoo recognition tools raise serious constitutional concerns,” said EFF Stanton Fellow Camille Fischer. “Tattoos have served as an expression of the self for thousands of years, and can represent our innermost thoughts, closely held beliefs, and significant moments. If law enforcement is creating a detailed database of tattoos, we have to make sure that everyone’s rights to freedom of expression are protected.”

One big danger of this surveillance is that it can create First Amendment freedom of association concerns when people are matched with others who have similar tattoos—sometimes incorrectly. For example, someone who wears a Star of David tattoo could be confused with a member of a Chicago street gang whose members also wear six-pointed-star tattoos. Recently, an immigrant was fast-tracked for deportation because immigration officials claimed he had a gang tattoo. The immigrant argued that the tattoo signified his place of birth.

“Federal researchers say they want to ‘crack the code’ of tattoos and speech, creating a powerful program that will encourage police to make assumptions about tattoo-wearers,” said EFF Staff Attorney Aaron Mackey. “But the reality is that body art is much more complex than that. The government must disclose more about this program so we can ensure that it doesn’t violate our rights.”

For the full lawsuit:
https://www.eff.org/document/tattoo-complaint

For more on tattoo recognition technology:
https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2016/06/tattoo-recognition-research-threatens-free-speech-and-privacy
https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2016/05/5-ways-law-enforcement-will-use-tattoo-recognition-technology

Contact: Camille FischerAaron MackeyDave Maass