Don’t Break Encryption – EFFector 32.16
In our 760th issue:
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Client-side scanning might seem like a way to screen out harmful content without breaking end-to-end encryption. But unfortunately, it’s not that simple. It’s impossible to build client-side scanning without creating a censorship mechanism. As part of a messaging app, software would scan your message and check it against a database of “hashes,” or unique digital fingerprints, usually of images or videos to filter out harmful content. While it may technically maintain some properties of end-to-end encryption, client-side scanning would render the user privacy and security guarantees of encryption hollow. As a consequence, even a well-intentioned effort to build such a system will break key promises of a messenger’s encryption itself and open the door to broader abuses. Encryption is one of the best tools for people to assure their privacy from government and corporate actors.
Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg was called back to Capitol Hill to speak about the company’s impact on the financial and housing sectors—particularly in light of its proposal to launch a cryptocurrency wallet, Calibra, and its involvement in the creation of the Libra cryptocurrency. We’ve criticized Facebook on many fronts for years, and we share the wide ranging concerns of lawmakers who want to ensure their constituents’ privacy and rights are protected from Facebook’s abuses as it looks to expand its reach.
The House of Representatives has voted in favor of the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act (CASE Act) by 410-6 (with 16 members not voting). The CASE Act creates a new body in the Copyright Office which will receive copyright complaints, notify the person being sued, and then decide if money is owed and how much. This new Copyright Claims Board will be able to fine people up to $30,000 per proceeding. Worse, if you get one of these notices (maybe an email, maybe a letter—the law actually does not specify) and accidentally ignore it, you’re on the hook for the money with a very limited ability to appeal.
With the ongoing protests in Hong Kong, mainland China has been undertaking pervasive attempts to disrupt and discredit the movement globally. This has including attempts to extend its so-called “Great Firewall”—a system of surveillance and blocking technology that prevents Chinese citizens from viewing websites outside the country—beyond its own borders.
By every measurement, fiber connections to homes and businesses are, by far, the superior choice for the 21st century. It is not even close. Transitioning the “last mile” into fiber will require a massive effort from industry and government—an effort the rest of the world has already started.
As part of Open Access week, EFF is conjuring a hypothetical: What if “Sesame Street” were open access? What if the show’s public funding had come with a requirement that it be made available to the public?
An academic publisher should widely disseminate the knowledge produced by scholars, not hold it for ransom. But ransoming scientific research back to the academic community is essentially the business model of the world’s largest publisher of scientific journals: Elsevier.
A series of newly unsealed rulings from the federal district and appellate courts tasked with overseeing foreign surveillance show that the FBI has been unable to comply with even modest oversight rules Congress placed on “backdoor searches” of Americans by the FBI. Instead, the Bureau routinely abuses its ability to search through this NSA-collected information for purposes unrelated to Section 702’s intended national security purposes.
Internet Lab, the Brazilian independent research center, has published their fourth annual report of “Quem Defende Seus Dados?” (“Who defends your data?”), comparing policies of their local Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and how they treat users’ data after receiving government requests. Vivo (Telefónica) still takes the lead, but Tim is not far behind. Claro/NET (América Móvil), SKY (DirectTV/AT&T), and Oi also show progress compared to 2018’s report.
The EFF-Austin, a local organization in the Electronic Frontier Alliance, (not EFF) will host this event: Local startup Civitech is creating software with the aim of making it easier for people to register to vote and get their friends and neighbors registered to vote. Their CEO Jeremy Smith has spoken at the EFF-Austin monthly meetup, and EFF-Austin board member and president Kevin Welch is a current employee. They are hosting monthly happy hours with the goal of outreach to other activist organizations in town. We are encouraging EFF-Austin members and followers to join us for November’s happy hour – if you have opinions and ideas about how technology can be leveraged to increase civic participation, this would be a great event to come out to and have conversations with the technologists working in this space. 11/6, 5:00pm. Austin, Texas.
Join us on November 7th in Oakland for our fall Speakeasy meet-up at Original Pattern Brewing! Raise a glass with EFF and discover our latest work defending your freedom online. This event is a free, all-ages, casual gathering to give you a chance to mingle with local EFF supporters and meet the people behind the world’s leading digital civil liberties organization. If you have a topic that you are interested in knowing more about, let us know! EFF staff will be in attendance to discuss our work and we would love to hear from you! This event is our chance to thank you, the EFF members who make this work possible. Send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested in attending, and we’ll send you the registration details. 11/7, 6:00pm. Oakland, California.
The Tech Learning Collective, a local organization in the Electronic Frontier Alliance, (not EFF) will host this event: This beginner-friendly introduction to digital safety will cut through the fear, uncertainty, and doubt generated by the frenetic news cycle and the latest Internet privacy listicle, and offer an opportunity to ask the Tech Learning Collective’s cybersecurity trainers your most pressing online privacy and digital security questions. 11/9, 3:30-5:30pm. New York, New York.
Join EFF’s Manager of Policy and Activism, Katharine Trendacosta at the 22nd ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing for the closing keynote, “Beyond Code: Why You Can’t Just ‘Nerd Harder.'” 11/13, 4:30pm. Austin, Texas
The Portland’s Techno-Activism 3rd Mondays, a local organization in the Electronic Frontier Alliance, (not EFF) will host this event: Cyrus Farivar has written a great book, called Habeas Data, that examines 10 pivotal legal cases that have shaped our current rights related to privacy and also explores surveillance tools in use today. He brings those cases to life and will show us how the litigation and related tools affect our lives in 2019. Join us for a fascinating trip through legal and privacy history and into the present day to learn how law enforcement agencies and companies can collect and use our private details, often without our knowledge. 1/18, 6:30pm. Portland, Oregon.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is seeking applicants for the full-time position of Help Desk Lead to join our Technical Operations team. The Help Desk Lead guides the Help Desk side of the Technical Operations team, setting strategies and keeping initiatives on track, in close coordination with the Techops Director. This person triages incoming support tickets and responds personally as appropriate. Our ideal applicant is someone who has strong technical skills, is a resourceful and creative problem solver, and will make a meaningful contribution to our seven-person team.
The Organizer will support the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s local advocacy efforts, and engage in outreach to community groups, with a focus on technical communities and hackerspaces. Working closely with the Activism team, the Organizer will spend part of their time traveling throughout the US to speak at events and facilitate workshops, and part of their time at our home office in San Francisco working to grow our national network by developing remote relationships with organizers and coordinating outreach to new groups.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is seeking a full-time Community Manager to work with our Organizing team. This team supports the Electronic Frontier Alliance (EFA), a grassroots network of community and campus organizations across the United States working to educate their neighbors about the importance of digital rights and security The Community Manager role is a full-time position based in EFF’s San Francisco office.
We’re looking for a Development Director to lead the organization’s fundraising programs and join EFF’s senior leadership. The Development Director will take charge of EFF’s eleven-person Development Team in their efforts to raise over $13 million each year. The Development Director will lead, support and build the capacity of our growing development team, manage all aspects of our development strategy, and have a strong focus on building our individual major donor and grant fundraising capacity.
As part of the New York Times’ Privacy Project, Clare Garvie of the Georgetown Center on Privacy and Technology explains the harms of face recognition.
A new report from Defending Rights & Dissent discusses political espionage conducted by the FBI in recent years and connect that to the Bureau’s longer history of surveillance against activists.
In this op-ed, EFF’s Activism Director Elliot Harmon writes about how changing section 230 of the Communications Decency Act would hinder free speech online and help only the largest tech companies.
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