aggregator

Facebook Shuts Off Access To User Data For Hundreds of Thousands of Apps

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Śr, 2018-08-01 02:03
In a blog post, Facebook said that it's shutting off access to its application programming interface for hundreds of thousands of inactive apps. This interface is what lets app developers access user data. The Verge reports: The company had set an August 1st deadline back in May, during its F8 developer conference, for developers and businesses to re-submit apps to an internal review, a process that involves signing new contracts around user data collection and verifying one's authenticity. The goal is to ensure third-party software on Facebook was in line with the company's data privacy rules and new restrictions put in place in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which a third-party developer siphoned user data and sold it to another firm in violation of Facebook's terms of service. Now, after it identified numerous apps that were either inactive or from developers who had not submitted the software for review, Facebook is cutting off those apps' access to its Platform API.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

DHS Forms New Cyber Hub To Protect Critical US Infrastructure

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Wt, 2018-07-31 22:04
The Department of Homeland Security announced on Tuesday the creation of a new center aimed at guarding the nation's banks, energy companies and other industries from major cyberattacks that could cripple critical infrastructure. From a report: The launch of the National Risk Management Center was unveiled by DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen at a government-hosted cyber summit in New York City, at which Vice President Mike Pence and several other cabinet secretaries are expected to speak. In prepared remarks, Ms. Nielsen said that cyber threats now posed a greater threat to the country than physical attacks. DHS was founded 15 years ago to prevent another Sept. 11, 2001, Ms. Nielsen said, but "today I believe the next major attack is more likely to reach us online than on an airplane." The center's creation was motivated by a growing recognition in government that sophisticated cyberattacks, particularly those deployed by foreign adversaries, can not only harm a company or industry but can cause systemic failure across society, Chris Krebs, DHS's top cyber official, said in an interview.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

How an Ex-Cop Rigged McDonald's Monopoly Game and Stole Millions

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Wt, 2018-07-31 20:40
An anonymous reader shares a report: In August 22, 2001, Jerome Jacobson, director of security for a subcontracting company called Simon Marketing, was arrested along with eight co-conspirators for orchestrating a massive scheme to defraud McDonald's Monopoly promotion out of more than $24 million. Jeff Maysh of The Daily Beast tells the inside story in 8,800 words. Between 1989 and 2001, "Uncle Jerry" used his position as the head of the McDonald's Monopoly account to steal winning "pieces" worth between $10,000 and $1 million. He proceeded to gift the pieces to family members and a growing network of associates -- which included "mobsters, psychics, strip club owners, convicts, drug traffickers, and even a family of Mormons" -- in exchange for a cut of the laundered winnings. A former police officer known for his attention to detail, Jacobson was personally responsible for overseeing the printing of paper game pieces, cutting out the winning tickets, and transporting them to McDonald's packaging factories throughout the country. Read the full story here.

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Concert Ticket Retailer AXS Collects Personally Identifiable Data Through Its App, Which is Mandatory To Download, and Sells It To 3rd Party Without Anonymizing

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Wt, 2018-07-31 17:57
AXS, a digital marketplace operated by Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), is the second largest presenter of live events in the world after Live Nation Entertainment (i.e. Ticketmaster). Paris Martineau of The Outline reports that the company forces customers to download a predatory app which goes on to snatch up a range of personally identifiable data and sells it to a range of companies, including Facebook and Google, without ever anonymizing or aggregating them. From the report: The company requires users to download an app to use any ticket for a concert, game, or show bought through AXS, and it doesn't come cheap. AXS uses a system called Flash Seats, which relies on a dynamically generated barcode system (read: screenshotting doesn't work) to fight off ticket scalping and reselling. [...] Here's a brief overview of all of the information that can be collected from just the mobile app alone, nearly all of which is shared with third parties without being anonymized or aggregated: first and last name, precise location (as determined by GPS, WiFi, and other means), how often the app is used, what content is viewed using the app, which ads are clicked, what purchases are made (and not made), a user's personal advertising identifier, IP address, operating system, device make and model, billing address, credit card number, security code, mailing address, phone number, and email address, among many others. [...] AXS also shares the personal data collected on its customers with event promoters and other clients, none of whom are bound even by this (extremely lax) privacy policy.

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Senate Democrat Floats First Serious Proposals For Regulating Big Tech

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Wt, 2018-07-31 05:30
On Monday, Senator Mark Warner published 20 proposals on how to regulate big tech platforms. What's interesting is that none of the proposals call for breaking up the pseudo-monopolies. Instead, they aim to start a substantive debate by laying out different paths to address problems posed by the platforms. Gizmodo reports: What may be more important than the individual proposals themselves is that the document is at least trying to organize a holistic way of thinking about the issues now on the table. It breaks down the areas that need addressing into the promotion of disinformation, privacy and consumer protection, and ensuring competition in the marketplace. Just to highlight a few of the good issues on the table, the white paper blessedly brings the conversation back to privacy and data ownership -- something that seems to have been lost as the conversation has turned to content moderation. The easiest recommendation is to implement what it calls "GDPR-like" data protection legislation that would give Americans similar data rights as EU citizens gained in May. The jury is still out on the long-term consequences of those reforms, but they require greater transparency and consent for a company's terms of service, along with many more tools for keeping track of what information a company collects on you. On the competition side of things, the proposal suggests a data-transparency bill that would give users a more granular idea of how their data is being used and how much its worth to an individual platform. One concern it addresses is that platforms expand how they monetize a person's data while the user is often unaware of how much they're actually giving up, value-wise, when they agree to hand over their data in exchange for a particular service. Another benefit would be that regulators would have a better idea of what they're evaluating in antitrust enforcement cases. The proposals relating to disinformation are a little more worrisome. A requirement that platforms "clearly and conspicuously label bots" wouldn't be so bad, but it's a daunting task and opens up the potential for false positives. Likewise, demanding networks identify a user's true identity is unrealistic, and the option of anonymity online should be protected. Axios was first to publish the list of 20 proposals compiled by Warner's staff. Is there a proposal that resonates with you? If not, how would you regulate the Big Tech platforms?

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

20 States Take Aim At 3D Gun Company, Sue To Get Files Off the Internet

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pn, 2018-07-30 23:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Twenty states announced Monday that they plan to ask a federal judge in Seattle to immediately issue a temporary restraining order against Defense Distributed, a Texas-based group that has already begun making 3D-printer gun files available on its DEFCAD website after a recent legal settlement with the US State Department. "After almost 18 months I was skeptical that there was anything else that this administration would do that would truly shock me, but they have," Washington Attorney General Bill Ferguson told reporters assembled in Olympia and by phone. "Frankly, it is terrifying... We think that it is important to put a stop to this right away and make it as difficult as humanly possible to access this information." The new lawsuit, which Ferguson explained will be filed "within hours," comes just one day after Defense Distributed voluntarily agreed to block IP addresses from Pennsylvania after that state's attorney general filed a similar motion in federal court there. "Pennsylvania is still suing and we are still responding," Defense Distributed's founder, Cody Wilson, told Ars. Preemptively on Sunday, Defense Distributed sued the attorney general of New Jersey and the city attorney of Los Angeles to stop those lawsuits, largely on First Amendment grounds. In this new 20-state initiative, the Washington attorney general argued that the State Department settlement violated the Administrative Procedure Act and also infringed upon states' Tenth Amendment right to regulate firearms within their own states. Ferguson pointed out, for example, people convicted of domestic abuse are flagged when they attempt to legally buy a gun. Allowing anyone to download and manufacture their own gun circumvents that process, he said. But Wilson told Ars it may be too late, as the files went up last Friday evening -- days before he said he would resume publishing them on August 1.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Cops Accuse 20-Year-Old College Student of Stealing More Than $5 Million in Bitcoin by Hijacking Phone Numbers

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pn, 2018-07-30 20:10
California authorities say a 20-year-old college student hijacked more than 40 phone numbers to steal $5 million in Bitcoin, including some from cryptocurrency investors at a blockchain conference Consensus. Motherboard, which broke the story citing court documents: This is the first reported case of an alleged hacker who was using SIM swapping (also known as SIM hijacking or Port Out Scam) specifically to target people in the blockchain and cryptocurrency worlds. Joel Ortiz was arrested at the Los Angeles International Airport on his way to Europe, according to sources close to the investigation, who said Ortiz was flashing a Gucci bag as part of a recent spending spree they believe was financed by the alleged crimes. He is facing 28 charges: 13 counts of identity theft, 13 counts of hacking, and two counts of grand theft, according to the complaint filed against him on the day before his arrest.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Several Small Countries and Territories Have Passed Laws, or Have Legislation in the Works, To Make Themselves More Welcoming To Cryptocurrency Companies

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pn, 2018-07-30 17:21
The race is on to become the go-to destination for cryptocurrency companies that are looking for shelter from regulatory uncertainty in the United States and Asia, the New York Times reports. From the report: In Malta, the government passed three laws on July 4 so companies can easily issue new cryptocurrencies and trade existing ones. In Bermuda this year, the legislature passed a law that lets start-ups doing initial coin offerings apply to the minister of finance for speedy approval. "We are 65,000 people, and 20 square miles, but we have a very advanced economy," the premier of Bermuda, E. David Burt, said in an interview at a cryptocurrency conference in May in New York, where he was trying to pitch companies on the island's charms. "We want to position Bermuda as the incubator for this industry." The competition for cryptocurrency companies is part of a broader rush by governments to figure out how to approach a new industry that took on outsize prominence over the last year. Becoming a crypto center has many potential upsides, including jobs and tax revenue. But the drive to be a crypto nexus also comes with significant risk. Hackings and scams have followed the industry everywhere it has gone. They have been aided by the underlying technology introduced by Bitcoin, known as the blockchain, which was built to make it possible to send money without requiring approval from government agencies or existing financial institutions.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

DARPA Has an Ambitious $1.5 Billion Plan To Reinvent Electronics

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pn, 2018-07-30 16:00
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which funds a range of blue-sky research efforts relevant to the US military, last year launched a $1.5 billion, five-year program known as the Electronics Resurgence Initiative (ERI) to support work on advances in chip technology. It has now unveiled the first set of research teams selected to explore unproven but potentially powerful approaches that could revolutionize US chip development and manufacturing. From a report: The ERI's budget represents around a fourfold increase in DARPA's typical annual spending on hardware. Initial projects reflect the initiative's three broad areas of focus: chip design, architecture, and materials and integration. One project aims to radically reduce the time it takes to create a new chip design, from years or months to just a day, by automating the process with machine learning and other tools so that even relatively inexperienced users can create high-quality designs. "No one yet knows how to get a new chip design completed in 24 hours safely without human intervention," says Andrew Kahng of the University of California, San Diego, who's leading one of the teams involved. "This is a fundamentally new approach we're developing." William Chappell, the head of the DARPA office that manages the ERI program, said, "We're trying to engineer the craft brewing revolution in electronics." The agency hopes that the automated design tools will inspire smaller companies without the resources of giant chip makers, just as specialized brewers in the US have innovated alongside the beer industry's giants.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

European Court Ruling Raises Hurdles For CRISPR Crops

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pn, 2018-07-30 15:13
Okian Warrior shares a report from Science Magazine: Hopes for an easier regulatory road for genetic engineering in European agriculture were dashed by the Court of Justice of the European Union. In a closely watched decision, the court ruled that plants created with new gene-editing techniques that don't involve transferring genes between organisms -- such as CRISPR -- must go through the same lengthy approval process as traditional transgenic plants. Many researchers had argued that regulators should take a lighter touch when evaluating products created with the new technologies, but environmental groups and their allies successfully argued that they should be subject to the same EU rules that apply to other genetically modified organisms. The case focused on crops that have been made resistant to herbicides without transferring genes from other species. The French government had passed a law exempting these new gene-edited crops from regulation under the European Union's directive on genetically modified organisms (GMOs), which requires an assessment of risks to health and the environment, as well as labeling, tracking, and monitoring of the products. Confederation Paysanne, a French union in Bagnolet representing small farms, and eight other groups, sued and charged that the plants modified with gene-editing techniques should be regulated under the GMO directive, because they could cause significant harm. The court decided that gene-editing techniques are covered by the GMO directive because they "alter the genetic material of an organism in a way that does not occur naturally." (The court exempted conventional mutagenesis -- the unnatural use of chemicals or radiation to create mutations for plant breeding -- because it has "a long safety record.") It also said the new gene-editing techniques have risks that could be similar to those of transgenic engineering.

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