Google's watching you watching porn

Friends, you're going to wish you were still making the scene with a magazine after reading this sentence: Google's web trackers are all up in your fap time and there's pretty much nothing (except maybe using a more secure browser like Firefox, read up on cyber security tips from the EFF, refusing to sign into a Google account and never going online without the protection of a VPN) that anyone can do about it. Read the rest

Interoperability: Fix the internet, not the tech companies

Everyone in the tech world claims to love interoperability—the technical ability to plug one product or service into another product or service—but interoperability covers a lot of territory, and depending on what's meant by interoperability, it can do a lot, a little, or nothing at all to protect users, innovation and fairness.

Let's start with a taxonomy of interoperability: Read the rest

Judge rules that EFF's DRM lawsuit can proceed!

In 2016, EFF sued the US Government on behalf of Andrew "bunnie" Huang and Matthew Green, both of whom wanted to engage in normal technological activities (auditing digital security, editing videos, etc) that put at risk from Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Read the rest

EFF publishes an indispensable, plain-language guide to "cell-site simulators": the surveillance devices that track you via your phone

In 2012, the Wall Street Journal first reported on a mysterious cellphone surveillance tool being used by law-enforcement; years later, we learned that the origin of this report was an obsessive jailhouse lawyer who didn't believe that the cops had caught him the way they said they had. Read the rest

EFF is hiring a Donor Operations Manager

Wanna work for the Electronic Frontier Foundation? We're looking for "a confident, experienced, and energetic manager to oversee our donation processing team of three" -- "The Donor Operations Manager will manage a team whose job is to guarantee success in all steps of a supporter’s donation process: easy gift transaction, quick and friendly response to any questions, prompt acknowledgement, shipment of requested premiums, and meticulous record-keeping." Read the rest

Felony Contempt of Business Model: Lexmark's anti-competitive legacy

In 2002, Lexmark was one of the leading printer companies in the world. A division of IBM—the original tech giant—Lexmark was also a pioneer in the now-familiar practice of locking customers in to expensive "consumables," like the carbon powder that laser-printers fuse to paper to produce printouts. Read the rest

Adversarial interoperability: reviving an elegant weapon from a more civilized age to slay today's monopolies

Today, Apple is one of the largest, most profitable companies on Earth, but in the early 2000s, the company was fighting for its life. Microsoft's Windows operating system was ascendant, and Microsoft leveraged its dominance to ensure that every Windows user relied on its Microsoft Office suite (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc). Apple users—a small minority of computer users—who wanted to exchange documents with the much larger world of Windows users were dependent on Microsoft's Office for the Macintosh operating system (which worked inconsistently with Windows Office documents, with unexpected behaviors like corrupting documents so they were no longer readable, or partially/incorrectly displaying parts of exchanged documents). Alternatively, Apple users could ask Windows users to export their Office documents to an "interoperable" file format like Rich Text Format (for text), or Comma-Separated Values (for spreadsheets). These, too, were inconsistent and error-prone, interpreted in different ways by different programs on both Mac and Windows systems. Read the rest

What the FTC should do AFTER it fines Facebook $3-5B

Facebook is about to pay the largest privacy-related fine in US history: $3-5B (the company made $3.3B in Q1/2019).

The FTC's fines are a nice start, but fines are just part of the cost of doing business. To change Facebook's conduct, the FTC should impose structural changes on the company, and EFF's Bennett Cyphers has some suggestions: ban third-party tracking; prohibit the combining of data from Whatsapp, Instagram and Facebook; and ban the company from targeting ads with information from data brokers.

That's for starters.

Stop Third-Party Tracking

Facebook uses “Like” buttons, invisible Pixel conversion trackers, and ad code in mobile apps to track its users nearly any time they use the Internet—even when they’re off Facebook products. This program allows Facebook to build nauseatingly detailed profiles of users’—and non-users’—personal activity. Facebook’s unique ability to match third-party website activity to real-world identities also gives it a competitive advantage in both the social media and third-party ad markets. The FTC should order Facebook to stop linking data it collects outside of Facebook with user profiles inside the social network.

Don’t Merge WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook Data

Facebook has announced plans to build a unified chat platform so that users can send messages between WhatsApp, Messenger, and Instagram accounts seamlessly. Letting users of different services talk to each other is reasonable, and Facebook’s commitment to end-to-end encryption for the unified service is great (if it’s for real). But in order to link the services together, Facebook will likely need to merge account data from its disparate properties.

Read the rest

Help wanted! EFF is hiring a new copyright/trademark litigator

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is hiring a new staff copyright/trademark litigator, and "experience with or strong interest in patent, unfair competition, administrative law, privacy and/or First Amendment litigation is preferred but not required." Read the rest

Nominations are open for EFF's Barlow/Pioneer Awards

Every year, the Electronic Frontier Foundation presents its Pioneer Awards (previously); now renamed the Barlow Award in honor of EFF co-founder John Perry Barlow, who died last year. Read the rest

Starz abuses the DMCA to remove EFF's tweet about Starz abusing the DMCA

Torrentfreak published an article disclosing the fact that screeners of American Gods had leaked online ahead of their air date (they did not make the screeners available, nor did they link to any of the places where the screeners could be downloaded from) and they tweeted about the story. Read the rest

EFF is hiring an international policy director!

[[Editor's note: I was the Electronic Frontier Foundation's first-ever European Director, which was a crazy and amazing job at a time when the organization was much smaller; now EFF is much bigger, and international issues are a much bigger deal for us, with bad policy ideas ricocheting around the globe and needing a coordinated response; the below is from my colleague Rainey Reitman, EFF's Chief Program Officer; you can find the formal listing here -Cory ]]

Read the rest

The Chinafication of the internet continues as the UK proposes blocking any service that hosts "illegal" or "harmful" material

Last year the US Congress passed SESTA/FOSTA, an "anti-sex-trafficking bill" that has resulted in the shuttering of all the services formerly used by sex workers to vet their johns, massively increasing the personal physical risk borne by sex-workers and reinvigorating the dying pimping industry, as sex workers seek out protectors. Read the rest

How EFF's Eva Galperin plans to destroy the stalkerware industry

Eva Galperin is one of my colleagues at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, running our Threat Lab project, where she has made it her personal mission to eradicate stalkerware: malicious software marketed to abusive spouses, overbearing parents, and creepy employers, which runs hidden on mobile devices and allows its owner to spy on everything his target is doing ("Full access to someone’s phone is essentially full access to someone’s mind" -Eva). Read the rest

Socal! I'll be in Burbank on April 7, San Diego on April 11 and UCLA on April 12

I've got a couple of hometown appearances coming up, including a rare west-side event: on Sunday, April 7 at 4PM, I'll be at Burbank's Dark Delicacies for a final signing in their old store before they occupy their new digs around the corner, and then I'm taking off my writer hat and putting on my activist hat to do two more events in the area. Read the rest

Why are creators paying for TikTok’s mistake?

TikTok is an app that makes it easy for people to make short lip-synching videos, which unsurprisingly makes it a goldmine of creativity and memes. TikTok recently got in hot water with the Federal Trade Commission because it failed to comply with Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). COPPA requires online services that are either “directed at” children under the age of 13 or have knowledge that they have users who are under 13 to arrange for parental permission before they start collecting personal information about those users. Read the rest

This Could Be It: Key Polish Political Party Comes Out Against Article 13

With only days to go before the final EU debate and vote on the new Copyright Directive (we're told the debate will be at 0900h CET on Tuesday, 27 March, and the vote will happen at 1200h CET), things could not be more urgent and fraught. That's why today's announcement by Poland's Platformy Obywatelska—the second-largest party in the European People's Party (EPP) bloc—is so important. Read the rest

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