Aggregated News

Battle Over Google Subpoena Threatens Critical Online Free Speech Protections - Sat, 31/01/2015 - 09:08
Federal Law Blocks Extraordinary and Burdensome Subpoena

San Francisco - A high-profile battle over whether Google must respond to an unusual and dangerous subpoena raises fundamental concerns about federal free speech law and the protections it affords hosts of online content, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) argued in an amicus brief filed today.

Attorney General Jim Hood of Mississippi issued the 79-page subpoena in October, seeking information about Google's policies and practices with respect to content it hosts, Internet searches, and more. The invasive request appeared to be based primarily on allegedly unlawful activities of third parties who use Google's services. Then in December, journalists reported that documents disclosed in the Sony hack outlined a Hollywood plot against Google, including plans to pressure Hood into aggressively investigating the search engine giant. In the face of these developments, and the Attorney General's unwillingness to narrow the request, Google sought protection from a Mississippi federal court.

"Despite the dramatic storyline, this all comes down to well-established law protecting hosts of Internet content from liability for much of what their users say and do on their platforms: Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act," said EFF Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry. "If CDA 230 was disregarded, and online service providers were required to respond in full to subpoenas like this one, they would inevitably face extraordinary legal costs. That would be enough for most businesses to get out of the interactive content business all together, as everything from comments on news stories to sharing of home videos could be a recipe for expensive litigation."

In the amicus brief filed today, EFF argues that Congress' express intent was to encourage the development of new communications technologies by holding online speakers responsible for what they say—instead of the soapboxes where they say it. It's a principle that has allowed the Internet and the myriad online communities it contains to thrive.

"CDA 230 is perhaps the most valuable law we have for protecting innovation and online speech," said EFF Frank Stanton Legal Fellow Jamie Williams. "The Mississippi subpoena is an obvious violation of federal statute, and the court should grant Google the protection that Congress intended."

The Center for Democracy and Technology, the Open Technology Institute, Public Knowledge, and R Street Institute joined EFF in the brief.

For the full amicus brief in Google v. Hood:

For more on CDA 230:


Corynne McSherry
   Intellectual Property Director
   Electronic Frontier Foundation

Jamie Williams
   Frank Stanton Legal Fellow
   Electronic Frontier Foundation

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EFF Files Supreme Court Amicus Brief Over Warrantless Searches of Hotel Records - Sat, 31/01/2015 - 04:54
Citizens Have a Right to Challenge Laws That Violate the Fourth Amendment

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in a challenge brought by hotel owners against a Los Angeles city ordinance that allows police to access guest registers without consent, warrant, or other legal process. Supporting the hotel owners, EFF argues that people must have the right to challenge surveillance laws like these on Fourth Amendment grounds, even before police have used the law to conduct a suspicionless search.

"In an era of pervasive surveillance, the ability to challenge overbroad laws that invade privacy is more important than ever," Senior Staff Attorney and Adams Chair for Internet Rights Lee Tien said.

Central to City of Los Angeles v. Patel is a city ordinance requiring hotel operators to retain certain guest registry information, which they must make available to police officers on demand. Hotel operators aren't allowed to challenge requests for guest information in court in advance and can be punished with a jail or fine if they refuse to comply.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit found that the ordinance violates the Fourth Amendment: individuals subject to an "administrative search"—a kind of warrantless, suspicionless search that may be performed for reasons unrelated to criminal investigations—must be allowed to object in court before they can be punished for resisting the requests. However, a dissenting opinion argued that not only does the Los Angeles ordinance satisfy the Fourth Amendment, but the Constitution does not allow the hotel owners to challenge the law until the government actually uses the law to conduct a warrantless search against them.

EFF's brief addresses the latter question, arguing that the Fourth Amendment must allow "facial" challenges to laws that authorize warrantless searches.

"There are many reasons why this is the right rule," EFF Legal Fellow Andrew Crocker said. "Facial challenges preserve individuals' constitutional rights and they guard against laws that would chill individuals' protected Fourth Amendment activity."

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Patel on March 3, 2015. A recording of the argument should be available shortly after that.

For EFF's brief:

For more information on the case:


Dave Maass
   Media Relations Coordinator
   Electronic Frontier Foundation

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January's Stupid Patent of the Month: A Method of Updating "Grass" in Video Games - Sat, 31/01/2015 - 02:52

Sports. It’s what’s on EFF’s patent team’s mind. No, not because this Sunday is the Super Bowl. No, not even because we filed an amicus brief today in a football-related right of publicity case.

It’s because of U.S. Patent 8,529,350—January’s Stupid Patent of the Month.

The patent—titled “Method and System for Increased Realism in Video Games”—is owned by Utah-based troll White Knuckle LLC. Like most trolls, White Knuckle doesn’t seem to sell or manufacture anything, but does happen to have this patent on remotely updating a sports video game based on real-world events—a player injury or a change in a stadium, such as new grass. And they used it this month to go after Electronic Arts, the largest sports video game manufacturer, for infringement. Specifically, White Knuckle calls out the last five years of NCAA Football games and the last five years of Tiger Woods PGA Tour games.

What does White Knuckle claim to have invented? The patent covers a computer “configured” to “provide a sports video game” with “parameters” that can be updated over the Internet. Of course, White Knuckle didn’t actually invent computers, sports video games, or the Internet. And it didn’t invent updating software from a server—that practice existed for many years before it filed a patent application (in 2002). No matter. It was enough for the Patent Office that White Knuckle suggested applying these already banal technologies to a specific context.

This is insane. You wouldn’t consider a “car that can drive in San Francisco” to be a different invention from “a car that can drive in Los Angeles.” It’s just a car. But the Patent Office lets applicants draw technologically irrelevant distinctions like this all the time. In essence, White Knuckle’s patent is just a claim to remotely updating software. There’s nothing technologically special about updating a video game (at least, no such problems are discussed and solved by this patent).

Some of White Knuckle’s patent claims are as specific as remotely updating the “grass” or the “ivy” at a stadium. Even leaving aside all the other problems with software patents, allowing absurd claims like this only encourages trolls to abuse the system. We’ll keep working for patent reform to stop the flood of software patents harming innovation.

Files:  white-knuckle-ea-comlaint.pdfRelated Issues: PatentsPatent Trolls
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Peer Pressure: Making Sure the Snoopers' Charter Doesn't Come Back - Fri, 30/01/2015 - 07:45

Late last week, a group of four peers on Britain's House of Lords attempted to insert the entirety of the “Snoopers' Charter”—the Internet surveillance bill that was savaged by a Parliamentary overview, and abandoned by the UK's current coalition government—into a new counter-terrorism bill.

Under an incredibly tight deadline, thousands of UK citizens coordinated to warn the House of Lords what these amendments represented, and why they should oppose such an underhanded move. Over twenty-eight thousand messages were sent via EFF's action center to the 150 peers who are on Twitter: and that's not counting the emails, letters and phone calls.

The Lords got the message. As Lord Blencathra, one of the Charter's most vocal critics, drily warned the unelected house: “The masses outside ... are concerned about the so-called Snoopers’ Charter coming back.” EFF even received a note from one hereditary peer, telling us ”enough with these emails(!)" even as they agreed that the amendments were “deeply undesirable.”

At least our concerned peer had enough online smarts to email his complaint to our address. If only the supporters of the amendments were as savvy. As the Open Rights Group notes, perhaps the most disturbing quotes in the debate came from the amendments' advocate Lord King, who freely confessed his ignorance:

I am not a tweeter. We have Facebook and Twitter. Somebody tried to explain WhatsApp to me; somebody else tried to explain Snapchat. I do not know about them, but it is absolutely clear that the terrorists and jihadists do. The understanding is that part of the reason for ISIL’s amazing advance across Syria and into Iraq was that their communications were so good and the way they kept together was entirely due to one or other of the last two systems that I mentioned, which they handled with great intelligence.

As worrying as such ignorance is, peers and politicians don't need to know everything about the Internet to make the right decisions. They just need to understand that those who do know technology are worried, and that the consequences for imposing the demands of the intelligence agencies on the online world are far worse than politician's special advisors are letting on.

The UK is about to enter a general election, where the members of Parliament who make up the next British government face re-election, and where the tallies of how many seats each party wins in the House of Commons determines who will form the next government. This is the first UK election where the date of the vote has been fixed in advance, rather than decided by the governing party of the day. That, and the unknown popularity of many minority parties, will make for an unpredictable few weeks, where parties will trim and finesse their policies based on the responses of the press and the people.

That a group of rogue lords attempted to slam the Snoopers' Charter prior to the election, even without the approval of the governing party, shows there's uncertainty about whether Internet surveillance is a vote-winner or loser. Most politicians innately believe that combating terrorism, whatever the cost, appeals to the public. But the strong backlash against the Snoopers' Charter, and the growing outcry over the UK's current Prime Minister's apparent intent to outlaw encryption, send another signal: that opposition parties can score points against the present administration by exposing how naive and confused their ideas about Internet privacy are.

The members of the unelected House of Lords can affect pride in their own ignorance, but politicians in an election where their every error will be exposed and magnified, cannot. Right now, some British MPs are walking into a highly competitive election supporting policies about surveillance and the destruction of encryption that they have not personally considered, and may lack public support, especially among vocal and influential voices online.

If you vote in the UK, now is the time to challenge politicians to oppose mass surveillance, support privacy by supporting encryption, and rein back the intelligence services. Ask the tough questions and demand politicians give details about their plans. If we get a real debate, those supporting oppressive and incoherent Internet laws and policies may find winning over the public tougher than they thought.

Related Issues: Surveillance and Human RightsNSA Spying
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EFF Wins Battle Over Secret Legal Opinions on Government Spying - Fri, 30/01/2015 - 07:08
Department of Justice to Release Analysis of Law Enforcement and Intelligence Agency Access to Census Records

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has won its four-year Freedom of Information Act lawsuit over secret legal interpretations of a controversial section of the Patriot Act, including legal analysis of law enforcement and intelligence agency access to census records.

The U.S. Department of Justice today filed a motion to dismiss its appeal of a ruling over legal opinions about Section 215 of the Patriot Act, the controversial provision of law relied on by the NSA to collect the call records of millions of Americans. As a result of the dismissal, the Justice Department will be forced to release a previously undisclosed opinion from the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) concerning access by law enforcement and intelligence agencies to census data under Section 215.

"The public trusts that information disclosed for the census won't wind up in the hands of law enforcement or intelligence agencies," Staff Attorney Mark Rumold said. "The public has a right to know what the Office of Legal Counsel's conclusions were on this topic, and we're happy to have vindicated that important right."

In October 2011—the 10th anniversary of the signing of USA Patriot Act—EFF sued the Justice Department to gain access to all "secret interpretations" of Section 215. At earlier stages in the litigation, the Justice Department had refused to publicly disclose even the number of documents that were at issue in the case, claiming the information was classified.

In June 2013, the lawsuit took a dramatic turn after The Guardian published an order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court authorizing the bulk collection of call records data of Verizon customers. That disclosure helped EFF secure the release of hundreds of pages of legal opinions, including multiple opinions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court excoriating the NSA for disregarding the court's orders.

However, the Justice Department continued to fight for secrecy for the legal opinion over access to census data under Section 215. Last August, a federal district court judge ordered the government to disclose the OLC opinion.

"The Justice Department has made a wise decision in dismissing the appeal," Rumold said. "We filed this suit nearly four years ago to inform the public about the way the government was using Section 215. We're well overdue to have a fully informed, public debate about this provision of law, and hopefully the disclosure of this opinion will help move the public debate forward."

Although the motion for dismissal was filed today, the government has not provided EFF with the opinion. After receiving the document, EFF will also make it available through its website.

For more information on the case visit:


Mark Rumold
   Staff Attorney
   Electronic Frontier Foundation

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Faire face au problème du harcèlement en ligne - Fri, 30/01/2015 - 05:20

Durant les 25 dernières années pendant lesquelles l’EFF a défendu les droits numériques, notre croyance en la promesse d’Internet n’a cessé de grandir. Le monde numérique libère les utilisateurs de beaucoup de limites dans la communication et la créativité qui peuvent exister dans le monde déconnecté. Mais il s’agit aussi d’un milieu qui reflète les problèmes de la société et y prennent de nouvelles dimensions. Le harcèlement est l’un de ces problèmes.

Le harcèlement en ligne est une question lié au droit numérique. Dans le pire des cas, il provoque des préjudices réels et durables à ses victimes, un fait qui doit être au centre de toute discussion sur le harcèlement. Malheureusement, ce n’est pas facile de faire établir des lois ou des règlements qui aborderont ces préjudices sans ouvrir la porte à la censure du gouvernement ou des entreprise et l’invasion de l’espace lié à la vie privée, y compris la vie privée et la liberté d'expression des victimes de ce harcèlement. Mais, comme nous le verrons ci-dessous, il existe des moyens pour élaborer des réponses efficaces, ancrées dans les idéaux de base sur lesquelles Internet a été construit, pour protéger les victimes de harcèlement et leurs droits.

Ce texte explique notre réflexion sur la lutte contre le harcèlement en ligne, et ce que nous pensons que le rôle de l’EFF peut être dans cet effort, étant donné la portée de notre travail. Ce n’est pas notre dernier mot, et ça ne doit pas l’être; ce n’est pas une question simple. Au lieu de cela, nous voulons décrire certaines des choses auxquelles nous pensons quand nous réfléchissons à ce problème et esquissons quelques éléments de réponses efficaces face à lui.

Le harcèlement est un problème sérieux

Soyons explicite sur ce que nous entendons par le mot «harcèlement ». Nous ne parlons pas de quelques tweets déviants ou le fait de donner lieu ou de prendre part à des débats en ligne, même si ces débats incluent de la vulgarité ou des obscénités. Des propos vulgaires ou agressifs ne conduisent pas toujours au harcèlement.

Le type de harcèlement sur lequel nous sommes inquiets est ce qui se passe quand les utilisateurs d'Internet attirent l'attention du mauvais groupe de personnes ou d’un individu et se retrouvent la cible de niveaux extrêmes d'hostilité ciblés, souvent accompagnés de l'exposition de leur vie privée. Certaines victimes sont bombardés par de la violence, des images personnalisées et de nombreux commentaires inquiétants. L’adresse de leur maison et de leur lieu de travail peuvent être rendues publique, accompagné de menaces de violence. Et ce type de harcèlement en ligne peut dégénérer en un harcèlement déconnecté, des agressions physiques, et plus encore.

Ces types de harcèlement peuvent être profondément dommageables pour les droits à la vie privée et à la liberté d’expression des victimes. Ils sont fréquemment utilisés pour intimider ceux qui ont moins de pouvoir politique ou sociale, et affecte de manière disproportionnée certains groupes, y compris les femmes et les minorités raciale et religieuse.1 Ce qui signifie que tout le monde ne peut apprécier le niveau auquel cela affecte de façon négative la vie des autres.

L’expression "Ne pas nourrir les trolls"- qui peut fonctionner dans certaines situations - est une réponse insuffisante à ce niveau de violence, surtout quand une situation s’aggrave, passant de quelques commentaires à une campagne de harcèlement. Certaines personnes ont même été chassées complètement du monde connecté par les effets cumulés des attaques personnelles incessantes ou par de graves menaces pour leur sécurité, ou la sécurité de leurs proches. Lorsque cela se produit, leurs voix ont effectivement été réduites au silence.

La triste ironie est que les harceleurs en ligne abusent de la force fondamentale de l'Internet comme moyen de communication puissant pour agrandir et coordonner leurs actions et en réduisant efficacement au silence et en intimidant les autres.

Mais cette même force offre aux communautés Internet une façon de se battre : lorsque que l’on constante un comportement de harcèlement, nous pouvons en parler pour le contester. En fait, une des méthodes les plus efficaces pour lutter contre le harcèlement en ligne est le contre-discours. Le contre-discours, c’est ce qui se passe lorsque des sympathisants d’un groupes ou des individus utilisent ce même pouvoir de communication du Net pour appeler, condamner, et s’organiser contre des comportements qui réduisent d’autres personnes au silence. C’est pourquoi, contrairement à certaines hypothèses erronées, la lutte pour la liberté d'expression et la lutte contre le harcèlement en ligne ne sont pas antinomiques, mais complémentaires.

Parce que la loi permet parfois à une personne d'être un imbécile (ou pire) ne signifie pas que d'autres dans la communauté sont tenus de se taire ou de rester les bras croisés et de laisser les gens être harcelés. Nous pouvons et nous devrions les défendre contre le harcèlement. Faire ainsi, ce n’est pas la censure - c’est une partie de la lutte pour un Internet comme support d’intégration et d’expression.

Les pièges du règlement juridique sur le harcèlement en ligne

Beaucoup de gens ont étudiés la loi relative à la lutte contre le harcèlement en ligne, et l’EFF est régulièrement appelé à évaluer les lois et les règlements proposés. Compte tenu de nos années d'expérience avec les lois mal écrites qui ne reflètent pas les réalités de l'environnement numérique, nous sommes très prudents dans l'approbation de ces mesures.

Certaines formes de discours abusif sont déjà couvertes par la législation existante. Aux États-Unis, par exemple, les menaces de violence visant à mettre la cible dans un état de peur ne sont pas protégées par la liberté d’expression et sont illégales en vertu des lois fédérales et étatiques. Les lois anti-harcèlement existent aussi dans de nombreuses juridictions. Les gens peuvent intenter une poursuite au civil basée sur des fausses déclarations qui portent atteinte à la réputation d'une personne. Et de nouvelles lois visant à comportement sur Internet ont déjà été adoptées aux États-Unis. Par exemple, 37 États ont des lois sur le harcèlement en ligne, et 41 des lois sur la traque en ligne.

Hors ligne et en ligne, nous voyons les mêmes problèmes : les lois visant à lutter contre le harcèlement sont rarement appliquées, ou sont appliquées de façon injuste et inefficace. Partout dans le monde, les personnes en charge de faire appliquer la loi ont souvent du mal à prendre au sérieux les plaintes concernant les menaces en ligne ou souvent ne comprennent tout simplement pas leur gravité. Comme le fait remarquer Danielle Citron, la police dit aux plaignants de simplement «rentrer à la maison et d’éteindre leur ordinateur» ou leurs répondent seulement que « Vous savez, les garçons, ce sont des garçons… ».

L'échec des résultats de l'application des lois existantes conduit à des appels à une nouvelle réglementation plus stricte, y compris des lois qui ciblent généralement la liberté d’expression. Mais des lois qui ne font pas une délimitation stricte entre le harcèlement et la liberté d’expression peuvent finir par restreindre cette dernière tout en omettant de limiter le comportement des harceleurs.

Des gens puissants, des entreprises, des gouvernements et certaines foules en ligne aiment trouver les meilleurs outils pour censurer et à les utiliser pour étouffer la critique et de la dissidence. Ils sont également tout à fait disposés à utiliser des outils développés dans un seul but à leurs propres fins. (Par exemple, nous avons une longue expérience avec le droit d'auteur et le droit des marques qui sont utilisées pour étouffer la critique et la parodie. Nous avons même fait un "mur de la honte" consacrée à ces dérives.)

La règlementation de l'anonymat en ligne est également très susceptible de causer des dommages collatéraux. Il est tentant de supposer que l'élimination de l'anonymat réduira le harcèlement. Notre expérience est différente : nous voyons un grand besoin d’une protection solide pour l'anonymat en ligne, de sorte que ceux qui sont harcelés, ainsi que pour ceux qui font face à la violence domestique/conjugale, les victimes de violations des droits de l'Homme, et d'autres conséquences pour s’être exprimé, peuvent néanmoins le faire avec moins de crainte d’être exposer. C’est pourquoi, lorsqu’il est appelé à une législation visant à lutter contre le harcèlement nécessitant l’obligation pour les sites de collecter toutes les adresses IP des visiteurs, notre première pensée est de craindre qu’une telle législation sera détournée pour cibler les victimes et non les auteurs de harcèlement. Grâce à des stratégies comme celles-ci, nous risquons non seulement ne pas résoudre le problème prochainement, mais à la longue, de blesser certaines des personnes que nous espérions pouvoir aider.

Ceci est une raison pour laquelle nous luttons pour la prudence et la transparence dans tous les domaines juridiques qui peuvent avoir une incidence sur la liberté d’expression. Lorsqu’il s’agit de harcèlement en ligne, qui si souvent conduit à réduire au silence les voix de personnes sans pouvoir, cette préoccupation est particulièrement importante.

Nous nous opposons à des lois qui tentent de lutter contre le harcèlement en ligne, mais en le faisant négligemment, avec peu d'égard pour les risques pour l'expression légitime. Par exemple, récemment, la Cour d'appel de New York a invalidé une loi de la cyber-intimidation qui a fait d’un crime le fait de « harceler, importuner, menacer ou toute autre façon d’infliger des dommages émotionnelle importante à une autre personne, » car cela allait « bien au-delà de la cyber-intimidation des enfants ». Après tout, la liberté d’expression pourrait très bien être « gênante », mais ce n’est guère une raison suffisante pour l'interdire.

Mais en plus de dénoncer de mauvaises propositions, nous pensons également à de meilleures solutions juridiques. Il pourrait certainement y avoir une meilleure application des lois existantes en matière de harcèlement – il s’agit d’une préoccupation qui s’étend au-delà du monde en ligne (comme indiqué ci-dessus.) Nous espérons que les tribunaux finiront par intégrer l’existence des nouveaux moyens par lesquels les individus peuvent être ciblés dans leurs décisions et précédents , et que les institutions en charge de l'application des lois feront systématiquement former leurs personnels sur le sujet du harcèlement en ligne.

Après des années d'expérience, nous sommes pessimistes en ce qui concerne les lois rédigées pour faire face aux nouvelles menaces de type "cyber", qui sont plus faites pour épater la galerie et permettre aux politiciens de dire qu'ils ont fait quelque chose. C’est pourquoi ces lois sont si souvent le pire des deux mondes : elles sont en grande partie ou totalement inefficaces à lutter contre le harcèlement, mais sont également si mal rédigées qu'elles menacent des comportements légalement protégés, en renforçant les problématiques qu’elles devraient condamnées, et en condamnant les points de vue qui sont à son encontre.

Comme Glenn Greenwald l’a écrit dans un récent article sur la façon dont les Arabes et les musulmans, en particulier, sont la cible d'une enquête judiciaire pour leur expression en ligne, «Comme la loi en général, la criminalisation de l’expression en ligne est seulement réservé à certains types de personnes (celles qui ont le moins de pouvoir) et certains types de point de vue (les plus marginalisés et l’opposition). » Bien que ce ne soit pas toujours vrai, cela l’est assez souvent que nous approchions les solutions juridiques avec une extrême prudence.

Les entreprises sont mauvaises en ce qui concerne la régulation de l’expression

Nous comprenons aussi pourquoi les gens se tournent vers les plateformes de réseaux sociaux populaires eux-mêmes afin d’obtenir des solutions, étant donné qu’une majorité du harcèlement se produit là-bas. Encore une fois, notre expérience nous laisse sceptiques quant au fait que la solution soit dans une gestion centralisée par les entreprises.

Actuellement, la plupart des fournisseurs hébergement en ligne, y compris les plates-formes comme Facebook et Twitter, interdisent le harcèlement dans leurs conditions d’utilisation, mais ne régulent pas de manière proactive le comportement des utilisateurs. Au lieu de cela, ils s’appuient sur un signalement communautaire, ou marquage, pour localiser et supprimer du contenu ou des comptes d'utilisateurs qui violent leurs conditions de service. Les rapports sont envoyés aux équipes de modération qui sont souvent peu soutenus, gérés à distance, et payés beaucoup moins que la plupart des autres travailleurs de la technologie. Les décisions concernant le contenu sont prises rapidement, et les suppressions erronées de contenu ou des comptes signalés sont assez fréquentes.

Aux États-Unis, les entreprises ont généralement le droit légal de choisir d'accueillir, d’héberger ou non, des textes en ligne selon leur propre discrétion. Nous avons passé beaucoup de temps à analyser sur le comment ils font ces choix et avons constaté que leurs pratiques sont au mieux inégales, et au pire biaisée. Les discours politiques et religieux sont régulièrement censurés, comme ce qui concerne la nudité. Au Vietnam, les mécanismes de signalement de Facebook ont été utilisés pour faire taire les dissidents. En Egypte, en s’appuyant sur les conditions d’utilisation du nom de l’entreprise, a conduit Facebook à fermer de nombreuses pages qui ont permis l’émergence du printemps 2011, dans le but apparent de protéger les utilisateurs d’un éventuel harcèlement. Et aux États-Unis, les conditions d’utilisation ont amenées la suspension des comptes de militants LGBT. De tels exemples abondent, nous rendant sceptiques sur le fait qu’un renforcement des contrôles par ces entreprises améliorerait l'état actuel des méthodes de signalement d'abus.

Les trolls et les regroupements en ligne, sont, par définition, des groupes tout désignés pour diriger efficacement un tir concentré contre d’autre. Cela signifie que les messages des victimes d’harcèlement sont éjectées de la discussion en ligne le poids de la foule les faisant ressembler à des messages radicaux et en dehors du flux de pensée commun. Pour trouver des exemples de cela, il suffit de regarder pour les gouvernements, tels que la Chine, Israël et Bahreïn qui emploient des commentateurs payés pour influencer l'opinion en ligne en leur faveur. Et bien sûr, il y a beaucoup de trolls prêts à le faire gratuitement.

Nous nous inquiétons également du fait que les modèles financiers du lot actuel de réseaux sociaux centralisés, monolithiques, et multinationales (mais cependant basé aux États-Unis) vont à l’encontre de la préservation de la liberté d'expression et de la sécurité et de la vie privée des personnes cible de harcèlement. Ces entreprises se concentrent sur leurs revenus et leur sécurité juridique. Beaucoup seraient prêtes à sacrifier la liberté d'expression si elle commençait à leur coûter trop cher.

Certains ont suggéré de réviser la section 230 du Communications Decency Act (CDA 230) pour obtenir de ces entreprises plus d’implication dans la protection des cibles de harcèlement. Le CDA 230 établit que les intermédiaires comme les fournisseurs d’accès, les forums Web et autres sites de médias sociaux sont protégés contre une série de lois qui pourraient autrement être utilisé pour les tenir juridiquement responsables de ce que leurs usagers disent et font. De telles propositions rendraient les intermédiaires au moins partiellement responsables des actions de leurs utilisateurs. Un tel changement serait une grave menace à la ligne directrice financière de ces entreprises.

Malheureusement, au lieu de renforcer l'engagement dans la lutte contre le harcèlement, le risque financier fera probablement des dégâts dans les communautés en ligne. Face au risque d'une telle responsabilité, de nombreuses entreprises choisiront d’exclure toutes formes de discours controversé de leurs plates-formes, y compris des expressions de colère légitime et de discours politique.

Si, par exemple, toute mention d'Israël et de la Palestine a déclenché une montée du harcèlement et des poursuites judiciaires, combien de temps faudra-t-il avant que les fournisseurs de services interdisent toute mention de cette situation politique? Lorsqu’un aimant au harcèlement comme le gamergate a lieu sur une plate-forme sociale, est-ce que les opérateurs de ces plates-formes chercheront à découvrir qui sont les auteurs de ces préjudices ou vont-ils tout simplement interdire tout le monde de se exprimer et de partager leur expérience?

Quelques points de départ pour de bonnes solutions   

Nous pensons que les meilleures solutions au harcèlement ne résident pas dans la création de nouvelles lois, ou dans l’attente que les conditions d’utilisation des services en lignes des entreprises aillent dans l'intérêt supérieur des personnes harcelées. Au lieu de cela, nous pensons que le meilleur plan d'action sera ancrée dans les idéaux de base qui sous-tendent l'Internet : la décentralisation, la créativité, les communautés et la responsabilisation des utilisateurs.

L’application de la loi et les lois

L’application de la loi doit reconnaître et devenir plus proche de la réalité du harcèlement en ligne, de sorte que l’on puisse identifier les menaces réelles sur la sécurité et protéger les personnes en danger, plutôt que de s’occuper des membres de la communauté qui critiquent les conditions d’utilisation ou d’enfants qui postent des paroles de rap sur Facebook. Les préceptes juridiques éprouvés par le temps (comme le droit de la diffamation) doivent être soigneusement appliquées au monde en ligne ; le fait que quelque chose soit dit en ligne ne doit pas être entrave à la responsabilité, ni une excuse pour abaisser le niveau de la criminalisation de la liberté de parole. Et les tribunaux doivent se familiariser avec le traitement des cas impliquant le comportement en ligne.

Responsabiliser les utilisateurs. Vraiment.

Les utilisateurs devraient être habilités à agir par eux-mêmes, plutôt que d'avoir à compter sur des équipes pour la protection. Des outils de défense contre le harcèlement doivent être sous le contrôle des utilisateurs, au lieu de dépendre d’un retrait agressif de contenu centralisé, dont on peut facilement détourner l'utilisation. Les plates-formes ont comme responsabilité de travailler sur ces fonctionnalités, mais nous pensons — comme toujours — que les meilleures solutions proviendront des utilisateurs eux-mêmes.

Comment la technologie pourrait aider à défendre les victimes de harcèlement ? L'innovation est difficile à prédire, mais voici quelques directions que pourrait cette responsabilisation des utilisateurs :

  • Rendre le filtrage des messages d’harcèlement contrôlés par l'utilisateur plus puissant. Il y a déjà beaucoup d'idées sur comment les sites pourraient permettre un blocage plus configurable. Si les plateformes ne sont pas disposés à fournir ces solutions, elles devraient ouvrir leurs plateformes afin que d'autres le fassent.
  • Mettre en place de meilleures façons pour les communautés de surveiller collectivement le harcèlement afin d’y répondre — plutôt que, comme c’est le cas aujourd'hui, d’imposer le fardeau aux utilisateurs de gérer eux-mêmes leur propres flux de réseau social.
  • Des outils automatisés permettent aux personnes de suivre et de limiter la disponibilité en ligne des renseignements personnels les concernant (y compris les sources de données publiques), permettant de mieux se défendre contre les menaces de doxxing.
  • Des outils permettent aux victimes de harcèlement de conserver des preuves recevables pour une plainte en justice. Les rapports d'abus sont actuellement conçus pour les processus internes des entreprises de l'Internet et non pour le système juridique.
  • Favoriser un meilleur usage des outils liés à la protection de l’anonymat et du pseudonymat. Lorsque les locuteurs choisissent d'être anonyme pour se protéger contre un harcèlement hors connexion, ils devraient pouvoir le faire facilement et ce sans connaissances techniques approfondies.

Toutes ces solutions techniques sont actuellement utilisées, mais la progression de leur usage est parfois limitée par des facteurs externes. Les principaux sites bloquent des outils comme Tor par crainte d’abus, verrouillant la possibilité de s’exprimer pour des personnes ne souhaitant pas partager leur localisation. Les plateformes de réseaux sociaux entravent l’élaboration de nouveaux outils en verrouillant les APIs et en limitant l'utilisation externe des contenus utilisateurs.

Elargir le cercle des créateurs d’outils

Les mainteneurs de réseaux sociaux ont besoin de mieux comprendre le comportement auxquels les individus d’harcèlement font face, et le monde des concepteurs d’outils en ligne doit refléter la diversité des usagers de l’Internet. Une des meilleures façons de le faire est de s’assurer que tout le monde ai la capacité et le droit d'innover – si bien que les entreprises centralisées devraient élargir également leurs horizons.

Embrasser les discours allant à contre-sens

Il n’y a rien d'incompatible à la fois d’aimer la liberté d'expression et de s’exprimer contre le harcèlement. Nous soutenons les personnes qui se dressent et s’expriment contre le harcèlement au sein de nos propres communautés, surtout celles qui ne peuvent le faire sans devenir la cible de harcèlement elles-mêmes. Proférer des menaces de violence et s’engager dans une violence populaire n’est pas un acte noble de la liberté d'expression. L’appel au rejet d’un tel comportement est la bonne chose à faire.

Voir plus loin

L’EFF continuera d'être un ardent défenseur de la liberté d'expression et de la vie privée en ligne, parce que nous croyons sincèrement que ces valeurs protègent tout le monde, y compris les plus vulnérables. Nous allons aussi rester critiques vis-à-vis des nouvelles réglementations, et le fait de remettre les rênes du maintien de l'ordre en ligne aux mains d’entreprises privées. Nous allons continuer à travailler pour soutenir le développement et la propagation de solutions technologiques qui peuvent aider les victimes de harcèlement, en faisant campagne pour l'autonomisation de l'utilisateur, l'innovation et les réseaux ouverts. Nous essaierons de vous aider directement avec des conseils pratiques via des ressources comme le guide Surveillance Self-Defense, ou encore la création de guides qui répondent aux préoccupations des groupes vulnérables. Nous savons que nous ne sommes pas les seuls concernés par ce sujet, et nous sommes heureux qu'il existe de nombreux autres groupes et individus compétents luttant contre le harcèlement en ligne.

Depuis que l’EFF a été fondée en 1990, des personnes du monde entier se sont réunies pour construire un étonnant ensemble d'outils qui permettent d'améliorer la communication entre les personnes et ce bien plus qu’à aucun autre moment dans l'Histoire. Les avantages de cette révolution numérique sont énormes et nous sommes encore en train d’en effleurer la surface. Nous commençons seulement à comprendre comment atténuer ses inconvénients. Si les objectifs de harceleurs en ligne sont de réduire au silence et d’isoler leurs cibles, nous pensons que la meilleure opposition est de défendre ces mêmes droits qui nous permettent d'innover, de travailler ensemble, et de s’élever contre ces abus en ligne.

  • 1. Selon des études menées par le Bureau de statistique juridique en 2006-2009, la prévalence du harcèlement criminel et du harcèlement connexe de toutes sortes (y compris le harcèlement en ligne) aux États-Unis varie selon le sexe, l'âge, le niveau de revenu, et la race - les femmes, les jeunes, les pauvres et les groupes minoritaires tels que les Amérindiens et les familles multi-raciales étant le plus souvent touchés. Une récente étude Pew de harcèlement en ligne a indiqué que les femmes âgées de 18 à 24 sont ciblées pour harcèlement en ligne et de harcèlement criminel à un taux plus élevé que les autres groupes. Le sondage Pew note aussi que, dans les États-Unis, les utilisateurs africains-américains et hispaniques Internet font état de harcèlement à des niveaux supérieurs (54% et 51%) par rapport aux utilisateurs blancs (34%).

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Section 215 of the Patriot Act Expires in June. Is Congress Ready? - Fri, 30/01/2015 - 05:03

You may have heard that the Patriot Act is set to expire soon. That’s not quite the case. The Patriot Act was a large bill, as were the reauthorizations that followed in 2005 and 2006. Not all of it sunsets. But three provisions do expire on June 1st: Section 215, the "Lone Wolf provision," and the "roving wiretap" provision.

All of these sections are concerning, but Section 215 takes the cake. It’s the authority that the NSA, with the FBI’s help, has interpreted to allow the U.S. government to vacuum up the call records of millions of innocent people. It’s also been the focus of most of the NSA reform efforts in Congress over the last year and a half. But if there were ever a time to reform the NSA, it’s now—because a vote for reauthorization, without comprehensive reform of NSA spying, will very clearly be a vote against the Constitution.

NSA Spying is Not a Partisan Issue, and it Must be Dealt With

There have been many legislative efforts to reform the NSA over the last year and a half. But none of them have been successful. Most recently, in December, the Senate failed to move the USA FREEDOM Act forward for a final vote.

What lawmakers said about USA FREEDOM, and what they are saying now, gives us some idea of where we’re headed over the next few months.

One of the most notable “no” votes on USA FREEDOM came from Sen. Rand Paul, who objected to the fact that the bill extended the sunset of Section 215 by two years. Sen. Paul has been a vocal critic of the Patriot Act and NSA spying, and has made it clear that he will vote against reauthorization. The question now is whether he and other Republican critics will be able to push for genuine reform—something essential in a Congress that is now majority Republican in both houses.

And that’s where things get troublesome. The cloture vote on USA FREEDOM was a preview for the kind of anti-reform rhetoric we can expect to hear over the next few months. Some civil liberties advocates thought the bill didn’t go far enough—but the lawmakers who voted against it mostly thought it went too far.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell proclaimed on the Senate floor that “now is not the time to be considering legislation that takes away the exact tools we need to combat ISIL.” Similarly, Sen. Marco Rubio—who is now on record as stating that he thinks Section 215 should never expirestated “the world is as dangerous as ever, and extremists are being cultivated and recruited right here at home. This legislation would significantly weaken and, in some cases, entirely do away with some of the most important counter-terrorism capabilities at our disposal, which is why I will not support it."

The rhetoric isn't confined to the Senate floor. After a man was arrested for allegedly plotting a D.C. shooting spree, Speaker of the House John Boehner claimed that “we would have never known about this had it not been for the FISA program and our ability to collect information on people who pose an imminent threat,” even though the criminal complaint against the arrestee states that it was a government informant that supplied information about his plans. 

Why The Focus on Section 215

Section 215 is an obvious target for reform. As the pro-NSA rhetoric reaches a fever pitch, it’s important to remember that we have little to no evidence that bulk collection of telephone call records under Section 215 has ever stopped a terrorist attack.

In fact, even the administration agrees—it’s not necessary. The White House admitted that the government can accomplish its goals without bulk telephone records collection. What’s more, the President’s Review Board said “the information contributed to terrorist investigations by the use of section 215 telephony meta-data was not essential to preventing attacks.” And the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board could not identify one time when bulk collection under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act “made a concrete difference in the outcome of a counterterrorism investigation.” Similarly, an in-depth analysis of 225 cases of people charged with terrorism found that “the contribution of NSA’s bulk surveillance programs to these cases was minimal.”

If that weren’t enough, Senators with access to classified information have also argued that the program is unnecessary. In an amicus brief in EFF’s case First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles v. NSA, Sens. Ron Wyden, Mark Udall, and Martin Heinrich stated that, while the administration has claimed that bulk collection is necessary to prevent terrorism, they “have reviewed the bulk-collection program extensively, and none of the claims appears to hold up to scrutiny.”

What’s more, claims that collection of call records is not “that big” of an invasion of privacy are simply untrue. As we point out in our amicus brief in Klayman v. Obama, “The call records collected by the government are not just metadata—they are intimate portraits of the lives of millions of Americans.”  In one short-term study of a small sample of call detail information, researchers at Stanford were able to identify one plausible inference of a subject obtaining an abortion; one subject with a heart condition; one with multiple sclerosis; and the owner of a specific brand of firearm.

In fact, former director of the NSA and CIA Michael Hayden recently admitted: “We kill people based on metadata.”  And former NSA General Counsel Stu Baker said: “metadata absolutely tells you everything about somebody’s life. If you have enough metadata, you don’t really need content.”

Of course, voting against reauthorization isn’t the ultimate goal when it comes to reforming NSA spying. Congress needs to address myriad problems—perhaps the reason Section 215 isn’t essential is because it is such a small part of the NSA’s huge repertoire.

What Real Reform Looks Like

Congress needs to pass comprehensive reform. EFF has continued to call for legislation that would:

  • End untargeted, bulk collection;
  • End illegal, warrantless "backdoor" searches of Americans' communications collected under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act;
  • Provide Americans a clear path to assert legal standing to sue the government for privacy abuses;
  • Reform the FISA Court by making significant opinions public and putting a special advocate for privacy in the court;
  • Shorten the FISA Amendments Act sunset;
  • Enhance the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board powers;
  • Ban the NSA from undermining commonly used encryption standards;
  • Strengthen privacy protections for innocent people inside and outside of the United States; and
  • Fix the broken “classified information” system.

A no vote on Section 215—or even the prospect of a no vote over the coming months—would force the NSA’s defenders to take reform seriously.

What’s Next?

Even though the Section 215 vote is many months away, it’s important to let Congress know what we’re expecting—a no vote on reauthorization, or any other legislation that allows suspicionless surveillance of millions of innocent people. In the meantime, as new legislation emerges, EFF will fight to ensure that all bad bills die, and push hard for any good bills to advance.

Related Issues: NSA SpyingPATRIOT ActRelated Cases: Smith v. ObamaKlayman v. ObamaFirst Unitarian Church of Los Angeles v. NSA
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Canadian Government Continues to Expand State Powers While Leaving Privacy by the Wayside - Fri, 30/01/2015 - 04:30

The Canadian government is scheduled to release new security legislation on Friday that would grant even more power to its police and domestic security agencies. This proposal comes in response to a string of "lone wolf" shootings of soldiers in Canada last October.

This isn’t the first overbroad anti-terror legislation we’ve seen proposed or enacted in Canada—and that’s what’s concerning. The country has been playing catch up post-9/11, hastily increasing state surveillance powers, particularly during this past year. Bills that grant a broad range of policing and intelligence powers to government agencies, as well as speech restrictions on ordinary citizens, have already been brought forward, but we have yet to see the implications of these laws as many of them are still navigating through the legislature or just coming into effect now.  Tamir Israel, staff lawyer at the Samuelson-Glushko Canadian Internet Policy & Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC), cautions the Canadian government in creating yet another set of new powers before the dust has even settled on the last set of expansions.

Top Canadian judges agree, saying there are laws in place, such as provisions in Canada’s Anti-Terrorism Act, that were crafted for this purpose. Retired Supreme Court of Canada Justice Frank Iacobucci, cautioned about:

the "spillover effects" that any rush to expand police powers would have on freedom of religion, association and expression; the possible "tainting" of Canada’s Muslim community, and the risk of "overreaching" by security intelligence agencies when sharing information in a global fight against terrorism.

To pile on more anti-terror legislation is simply reactionary and a recipe for disaster. Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, however, asserts that this proposal will contain the proper tools Canadian police and security agencies need in order to keep citizens safe as new threats arise.

Why the need for more legislation if the country’s state surveillance powers are already so robust? Documents released by The Intercept this week from the files leaked by Edward Snowden show that the Communications Security Establishment (CSE, formally known as Communications Security Establishment Canada or CSEC) is already using very invasive surveillance tools. The revelations that CSE tracked millions of downloads each day, all over the globe, as part of its foreign intelligence spying and Five Eyes information sharing initiative exposes an overreaching surveillance state with little to no oversight.

According to Israel, “It's irresponsible to address modern surveillance capacities and challenges in a one-sided manner, ratcheting up powers every time something happens while categorically ignoring the privacy side of the equation.” The shortcomings of Canada’s existing surveillance apparatus will remain unaddressed as the government trudges along with no consideration of the impact of these initiatives. Case in point, just this summer the Canadian government shut down a bill that aimed to “enhance transparency and oversight by establishing a non-partisan parliamentary oversight committee and requiring the CSE Commissioner’s annual report on CSE activities to include greater detail.” In addition, a number of inquiries have made dozens of recommendations deemed necessary to address increasingly gaping holes in Canada’s intelligence framework, yet the government has shown little interest in implementing these.

In light of what we’ve learned this week about the CSE tracking downloads and the country’s incessant attempts to increase state powers, it’s time for the Canadian government to see that this is a two-sided issue and considerations for privacy protections must not be overlooked.

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SAVE Act Passes in House, Comes One Step Closer to Unnecessarily Chilling Online Speech - Fri, 30/01/2015 - 04:23

For the second year in a row, the House of Representatives has passed the Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation Act (SAVE Act, HR 285), a bill aimed at curbing the serious problem of sex trafficking online. The bill, however, is the same as it was last year—and it’s similarly problematic. EFF and a coalition of free speech and privacy groups released a letter today condemning overly broad bills like this.

The SAVE Act would create new federal criminal liability for Internet intermediaries who publish or host third-party advertising content that relates to commercial sexual exploitation.

Websites are generally shielded from legal liability for user-generated content thanks to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA 230). This provision is the reason online intermediaries—from Yelp to Craigslist to Wikipedia to bloggers with comments sections—can exist, hosting and curating creative content without fear of being held responsible for the material itself.

There are two exceptions to CDA 230’s protections: federal criminal law and federal intellectual property law. The SAVE Act would strip Internet platforms of existing legal protection by fitting within Section 230’s federal criminal law exception. The bill’s use of the word “advertises” could broadly apply to not only those who place an advertisement, but also websites that display such ads. In other words, the bill would make it a felony to publish or host third-party advertising content with the knowledge—or with the reckless disregard of the likelihood—that the ad relates to sex trafficking.

By criminalizing the publication or hosting of advertising content in this way, the SAVE Act would incentivize online newspapers, social networks, and many other websites—most of which rely heavily on third-party ads for monetary support but cannot choose which ones show up on their pages—to engage in self-censorship. As we’ve seen too many times in the copyright context, websites often choose to take down content as soon as it’s flagged as potentially problematic—even if it’s protected speech—because the cost of review and the risk of litigation is too high. In the case of the SAVE Act, the risk of criminal prosecution for contributing to felony sex trafficking would be too onerous—a minimum of 10-15 years in prison—for many online platforms.

States have attempted to chip away at CDA 230 by passing anti-trafficking statutes with advertising liability, but courts time and again have ruled such efforts are flawed—not only on preemption grounds, but also because such laws violate the First Amendment.

Any attempt to address a social problem by creating broad criminal liability must be carefully crafted to avoid chilling constitutionally protected speech. The SAVE Act, despite its noble intent, does not achieve this.

The bill has passed the House of Representatives—we now call on the Senate to reject this misguided proposal.

Related Issues: Free SpeechSection 230 of the Communications Decency Act
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Facebook Caves to Turkish Government Censorship - Fri, 30/01/2015 - 04:16

Turkey has been a bastion of Internet censorship for so long that EFF could write a regular feature called This Week in Turkish Internet Censorship and never run out of content. Last year’s highlights included the Turkish government blocking Twitter and YouTube—bans that triggered widespread protest and were eventually lifted by order of the Constitutional Court, citing concerns over free expression. Now, less than a month into 2015, Turkish authorities are already using the threat of new bans to bully social media companies into blocking content for them.

What kind of content drives the Turkish government to make these threats? Political content. The ban on YouTube began mere hours after the posting of a top-secret government meeting on Syria allegedly depicting government officials discussing a possible false-flag operation on Turkey in an effort to drag Turkey into Syria’s war, as well as audio recordings that seemed to imply corruption among figures in President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s close circle. The more recent threats stem from a court-issued ban on publication of news related to an incident in which two Syria-bound trucks belonging to Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (M?T) were stopped by a prosecutor who sought to have police search the vehicles. Signed proceedings related to the search were recently leaked on Twitter, allegedly showing that arms belonging to M?T were found in the trucks. Both Facebook and Twitter took down the content for users in Turkey in response to government bullying, though neither company is legally required to comply with a court order from a country in which they have no offices.

As if that wasn’t enough, Turkish Prime Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, returned from Paris with a promise of government action against the kind of material that Charlie Hebdo was attacked for publishing, including images of the Prophet Mohammad. The government has made good on that promise by launching a criminal investigation into Cumhuriyet, one of Turkey’s largest daily newspapers, for printing a selection of controversial cartoons published by Charlie Hedbo. And on Sunday, a Turkish court ordered Facebook to block several pages deemed insulting to the Prophet Mohammad. According to the New York Times, a Facebook employee familiar with the matter confirmed that Facebook took down the pages, though there is no official statement from Facebook at this time.

EFF is deeply concerned about Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s continued attacks on free expression, following directly in the footsteps of his censorious predecessor, Recep Tayyip Erdo?an. We are equally disappointed in Twitter and Facebook for censoring content when they are not legally obliged to do so and demonstrating to the Turkish government that their bullying tactics are effective. If American social media companies continue to do the Turkish government’s bidding every time they threaten to block their service, they become complicit in Turkey’s long history of silencing dissent under the guise of “insult” or “national security.” We will be keeping a close eye on the situation as it develops.

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Die Herausforderung von Mobbing im Internet - Thu, 29/01/2015 - 09:32

In den fast 25 Jahren, in denen die EFF digitale Rechte verteidigt hat, ist unser Glaube an die Versprechen des Internets nur stärker geworden. Die digitale Welt befreit den Benutzer von vielen Grenzen bezüglich Kommunikation und Kreativität, die in der realen Welt existieren. Aber sie ist auch eine Umgebung, die die Probleme der breiten Gesellschaft widerspiegelt und ihnen neue Dimensionen bietet. Belästigungen sind eines davon.

Belästigung im Internet ist eine Angelegenheit digitaler Rechte. Damit sind im Folgenden Belästigungen in jeder Hinsicht gemeint, A.d.Ü. Im schlimmsten Fall bewirken sie ernsthafte und dauerhafte Schäden für die Betroffenen. Diese Tatsache sollte im Mittelpunkt jeder Diskussion über Belästigungen stehen. Leider ist es nicht einfach, Gesetze oder Richtlinien anzufertigen, die dies verhindern, ohne Zensur durch Regierungen und Unternehmen oder die Verletzung der Privatsphäre mit sich zu bringen – die Privatsphäre und Meinungsfreiheit der Opfer eingeschlossen. Wie wir jedoch weiter unten erläutern, gibt es Wege, effektive Antworten zu finden, die auf den selben Idealen fußen, auf die das Internet aufbaut – nämlich die Opfer von Angriffen und ihre Rechte zu schützen.

Dieser Artikel erklärt unsere Ansichten bezüglich der Bekämpfung von Belästigung und Mobbing im Internet, und was wir uns von der Rolle der EFF in dieser Sache erhoffen. Mit diesem Artikel ist das Problem nicht gelöst, und das sollte es auch nicht, da es sich um ein schwieriges Thema handelt. Stattdessen möchten wir einige Punkte hervorheben, die wir im Hinblick auf dieses Problem untersuchen. Zudem möchten wir kurz einige Bestandteile wirksamer Gegenwehr darstellen.

Mobbing ist ein ernstzunehmendes Problem

Lasst uns klarstellen, was wir mit „Belästigung“ meinen. Wir sprechen hier nicht über ein paar unfreundliche Tweets oder ein Hin und Her bei Diskussionen im Internet, selbst wenn dabei scharfe Worte oder Obszönitäten fallen. Eine anstößige Wortwahl entwickelt sich nicht immer zu einem Angriff.

Die Art von Belästigung, die uns Sorgen bereitet und als Cyber-Mobbing bekannt ist, tritt auf, wenn Internetnutzer die Aufmerksamkeit einer Gruppe oder einer Person erlangen und anschließend zielgerichtete Anfeindungen ertragen müssen, häufig begleitet von einer Bloßstellung des eigenen Privatlebens. Manche Opfer werden bombardiert mit brutalen, personalisierten Symbolen und unzähligen verstörenden Kommentaren. Womöglich werden ebenfalls die Adressen ihres Wohnorts oder Ihrer Arbeitsstelle veröffentlicht, zusammen mit Androhung von Gewalt. Solche Angriffe können zu Stalking im realen Leben, körperlichen Angriffen und mehr führen.

Diese Art von Belästigung kann die Meinungsfreiheit und das Recht auf Privatsphäre derer, die hiervon betroffen sind, tiefgreifend verletzen. Sie wird immer wieder benutzt, um solche mit wenig politischem oder sozialen Einfluss einzuschüchtern. Dies betrifft einige Gruppen unverhältnismäßig häufiger, unter anderem Frauen sowie ethnische und religiöse Minderheiten.1 Das legt nahe, dass nicht jeder den negativen Einfluss auf das Leben der Betroffenen versteht.

„Don’t feed the trolls” („Fütter nicht die Trolle”) – während dieser Satz in manchen Situationen stimmen mag, ist er eine unzureichende Antwort auf diese Stufe der Übergriffigkeit. Besonders, wenn eine Situation – angefangen von einigen Kommentaren bis hin zu einem ausdauernden Feldzug gegen einen Einzelnen – eskaliert. Manche Opfer flüchteten sich wegen immer wiederkehrender Angriffe auf die eigene Person oder Angehörige komplett aus der Online-Welt. Wenn es soweit kommt, wurden sie de facto mundtot gemacht.

Die traurige Ironie hierbei ist, dass die Menschen, von denen die Angriffe ausgehen, die grundlegende Stärke des Internets als starkes Kommunikationsmedium missbrauchen, um andere zum Schweigen zu bringen oder einzuschüchtern.

Aber genau diese Stärke bietet der Internetgemeinschaft die Möglichkeit zurückzuschlagen: Wenn wir Beleidigungen oder Mobbing beobachten, können wir den Mund aufmachen und dagegenhalten. Eine der effektivsten Methoden, Mobbing im Internet zu bekämpfen, ist Counter Speech (Widerrede): Das ist, wenn Anhänger angegriffener Zielgruppen oder Einzelpersonen die gleiche kommunikative Kraft einsetzen, um das Mobbing zu verurteilen und sich zu organisieren gegen jenes Verhalten, welches andere zum Schweigen bringt. Entgegen der Annahme, der Kampf um Meinungsfreiheit und die Bekämpfung von Mobbing wären ein Gegensatz, sind sie dies nicht – es sind sich ergänzende Elemente.

Die Tücken juristischer Regelungen von Cyber-Mobbing

Viele haben sich wegen Mobbing im Internetan die Justiz gewandt und auch die EFF wird regelmäßig danach gefragt, geplante Gesetze oder Regelungen zu beurteilen. Aufgrund unserer jahrelangen Erfahrung mit dürftig verfassten Gesetzen, die daran scheitern, die Realität der digitalen Welt widerzuspiegeln, sind wir sehr vorsichtig, bevor wir bestimmten Maßnahmen zustimmen.

Manche Formen von Beleidigungen sind bereits durch existierende Gesetze gedeckt. In den USA zum Beispiel ist die Androhung von Gewalt, die dazu führen soll, die Zielperson in Angst zu versetzen, nicht als freie Meinungsäußerung zu betrachten und deswegen illegal im Rahmen von Bundes- sowie Staatengesetzen. In vielen Rechtssystemen existieren bereits Anti-Mobbing-Gesetze. So kann man wegen falscher Anschuldigungen, die die Reputation einer Person verletzen könnten, Anzeige erstatten. Zusätzlich wurden in den USA auf Belästigungen im Internet passende Gesetze verabschiedet. So haben insgesamt 37 Staaten Gesetze für Internet-Mobbing, 41 haben Online-Stalking-Gesetze.

Aber es gibt online sowie offline das selbe Problem: Gesetze, die sich auf Mobbing oder Angriffe beziehen, werden selten vollstreckt, oder sie wurden bisher nicht effektiv angewendet. Auf der ganzen Welt gelingt es Polizeibeamten nicht, Beschwerden ernstzunehmen und die entsprechenden Auswirkungen zu verstehen. Wie Danielle Citron beschreibt, empfiehlt die Polizei den Klägern, sie sollten einfach „nach Hause gehen und den Computer ausschalten“ oder die Menschen „seien nun einmal so“.

Der Missstand der gegenwärtigen Situation resultiert in der Forderung nach strengeren Richtlinien, einschließlich Gesetzen, die weitestgehend die Redefreiheit betreffen. Aber Gesetze, die nicht haargenau zwischen Mobbing und freier Meinungsäußerung unterscheiden, könnten dazu führen, dass letztere eingeschränkt wird während die Angriffe weitergehen.

Mächtige Menschen, Unternehmen, Regierungen sowie Online-Mobs sind alle geschickt im Finden der besten Zensurmöglichkeiten, um Kritik und Widerspruch zu unterdrücken. Ebenfalls sind sie alle bereit, Instrumente zu ihrem eigenen Vorteil einzusetzen, die eigentlich einen anderen Sinn hatten. (Als Beispiel: Wir haben viel Erfahrung damit, wie Copyright- oder Markenrechte benutzt werden, um Kritik zu unterdrücken. Wir haben sogar eine „Hall of Shame“ bezüglich dieser Zweckentfremdungen.)

Regelungen zur Anonymität im Internet sind ebenfalls prädestiniert, Kollateralschäden zu verursachen. Es ist verlockend anzunehmen, dass das Beseitigen von Anonymität Belästigungen reduzieren würde. Unsere Erfahrung ist eine andere: Wir sehen großen Bedarf für den Schutz von Anonymität im Netz, damit die, die  belästigt werden – genau so wie die, die körperliche Gewalt erfahren oder ihre Menschenrechte bedroht sehen oder andere Konsequenzen ihrer Meinungsfreiheit zu spüren bekommen – frei sprechen können, ohne Angst davor haben zu müssen, erkannt zu werden. Wenn also besorgte Befürworter der Speicherung aller IP-Adressen durch diese Maßnahme Mobbing bekämpfen wollen, ist unser erster Gedanke, dass ein solches Gesetz missbraucht würde, um statt der Angreifer die Opfer ins Visier zu nehmen. Mit einer solchen Strategie würde man nicht nur das Problem nicht lösen, sondern auch noch die Menschen verletzen, denen wir hoffen helfen zu können.

Das ist einer der Gründe, warum wir zur Vorsicht mahnen und Eindeutigkeit fordern für alle juristischen Prozesse, die Auswirkungen auf die Meinungsfreiheit haben könnten.

Wenn es um Cyber-Mobbing geht, welches so oft darauf abzielt, die ohnehin machtlosen Menschen zum Schweigen zu bringen, ist diese Sorge besonders begründet. Wir lehnen Gesetze ab, die versuchen, Belästigungen unvorsichtig zu bekämpfen bzw. ohne die Risiken für die Meinungsfreiheit zu beachten.

Beispielsweise hat das Berufungsgericht in New York ein Gesetz gegen Cyber-Mobbing abgelehnt. Dieses machte Mobbing zu einer Straftat, wenn eine andere Person „belästigt, geärgert, bedroht“ wird oder andere Dinge passieren, die diese Person „signifikant emotional schädigen“, weil es weit über Mobbing unter Kindern hinaus reiche. Meinungsfreiheit kann natürlich „verärgern“, aber das ist kein Grund, sie zu verbieten.

Doch wir wollen nicht nur schlechte Vorschläge kritisieren, wir möchten hier über bessere, mögliche juristische Lösungen nachdenken. Es könnte sicherlich eine bessere Durchsetzung der bestehenden Gesetze in Bezug auf Mobbing geben; ein Gedanke, der sich nicht nur auf die Online-Welt bezieht, wie wir bereits zu Anfang beschrieben haben. Wir hoffen, dass die Gerichtshöfe irgendwann die bestehenden Gegebenheiten sehen, und dass Strafverfolgungsbehörden die ausführenden Organe zum Thema Cyber-Mobbing konsequent schulen.

Nach vielen Jahren Erfahrung sind wir allerdings pessimistisch gegenüber Gesetzen, die dafür gemacht sind, augenscheinlich neue „Cyber-Gefahren“ zu bekämpfen, dabei aber ausschließlich der Politik das Alibi verschaffen, sie hätte etwas unternommen. Das ist der Grund, weshalb diese Gesetze häufig das Gegenteil des Gewollten erzielen: Sie schaffen es in Wirklichkeit nicht, Mobbing zu bekämpfen, und sie sind so unzureichend formuliert, dass sie gesetzlich eigentlich geschütztes Verhalten bedrohen und letztendlich starken Interessen ermöglichen, einfach nur das zu bestrafen, was ihnen selbst nicht passt.

Wie Glenn Greenwald in einem kürzlich erschienenen Artikel schrieb, werden vor allem Araber und Muslime Ziel von strafrechtlichen Untersuchungen anhand ihrer Kommentare im Internet: „Wie auch generell im Rechtssystem ist das Kriminalisieren von Kommentaren im Internet reserviert für eine bestimmte Gruppen von Menschen (die, die die wenigste Macht besitzen) und bestimmte Ansichten (die, die am meisten marginalisiert und oppositionell sind)." Auch wenn dies nicht immer zutreffen mag, passiert es häufig genug, dass wir juristische Lösungen nur mit extremer Vorsicht behandeln.

Unternehmen sind kein Vorbild bei der Regulierung von Kommentaren

Es ist verständlich, warum Menschen bei den bekannten sozialen Netzwerken nach Lösungen suchen, denn vieles im Bereich von Mobbing passiert genau da. Jedoch sind wir skeptisch gegenüber unternehmensgesteuerten, zentralisierten „Lösungen“.

Derzeit verbieten die meisten Diensteanbieter – eingeschlossen Plattformen wie Facebook oder Twitter – Angriffe und Belästigungen in Ihren Nutzungsbedingungen, kontrollieren das Verhalten ihrer Nutzer jedoch nicht. Stattdessen verlassen sie sich auf Community Policing, also die Überwachung der Regeln durch die Nutzergemeinschaft. Meldungen wegen Belästigungen gehen an Moderationsteams, die häufig ausgelagert und schwach unterstützt sind, und deutlich schlechter bezahlt werden als die meisten anderen technischen Mitarbeiter. So passiert es, dass Entscheidungen über Inhalte schnell getroffen werden, und irrtümliche Sperrungen von Konten sind relativ häufig.

In den USA haben Unternehmen das Recht, selbst zu entscheiden, ob sie Kommentare im Internet zulassen oder nicht. Wir haben ausgesprochen viel Zeit darauf verwendet, zu sehen, wie diese Entscheidungen getroffen werden und haben herausgefunden, dass die Techniken im besten Fall unausgewogen und im schlechtesten Fall parteiisch sind. Politische und religiöse Kommentare werden oft zensiert, ebenso wie pornographische Inhalte. In Vietnam wurden Facebooks Meldemechanismen dazu verwendet, Dissidenten zum Schweigen zu bringen. In Ägypten führte die eingeführte Vorschrift, wonach Nutzer ihren echten Namen zur Anmeldung benutzen müssen, dazu, dass die Seite zum Arabischen Frühling aus dem Netz genommen wurde, obwohl diese Vorschrift angeblich dazu gedacht war, Nutzer vor Belästigung zu schützen. In den USA hat diese Vorschrift dazu geführt, dass LSBTTIQ-Aktivisten aus dem Netzwerk ausgeschlossen wurden. Durch Beispiele wie diese wurden wir skeptisch gegenüber der Annahme, dass ein härteres Durchgreifen der Unternehmen die aktuelle Lage von Meldemechanismen für Mobbing verbessern könnte.

Trolle und Online-Mobs sind Gruppen, die – fast schon per Definition – besonders erfahren darin sind, andere effizient anzugreifen. So können die Belästigten letztendlich auch diejenigen sein, die von einer Diskussion ausgeschlossen werden, indem der Mob es so aussehen lässt, als wenn sie diejenigen seien, die sich eigenwillig oder außerhalb der Masse bewegen. Um Beispiele hierfür zu finden, muss man sich nur Regierungen anschauen – solche wie China, Israel und Bahrain – die bezahlte Kommentatoren engagieren um die Meinung der Regierung online zu verbreiten. Und natürlich gibt es eine Menge Trolle, die das auch umsonst machen.

Wir sind ebenfalls darüber besorgt, dass die Geschäftsmodelle der aktuellen Masse von zentralisierten, monolithischen und multinationalen (in den USA beheimateten) sozialen Netzwerken potenziell gegen die Erhaltung von Meinungsfreiheit, Sicherheit und Privatsphäre arbeiten, wenn es um diejenigen geht, die von Mobbing und Angriffen betroffen sind. Der primäre Fokus von Unternehmen liegt auf Gewinnen und juristischer Sicherheit. Viele von ihnen hätten kein Problem damit, die freie Meinungsäußerung zu opfern wenn diese irgendwann zu teuer werden würde.

Einige Leute haben vorgeschlagen, Abschnitt 230 des Communication Decency Act (CDA 230) – des „Gesetzes über Anständigkeit der Kommunikation” – zu überarbeiten, um Unternehmen einen Anreiz zu geben, die Opfer von Mobbing zu schützen. Der CDA 230 sorgt dafür, dass Anbieter wie ISPs, Internetforen und soziale Netzwerke vor einer Reihe von Gesetzen geschützt sind, die sonst dazu verwendet werden könnten, sie für das, was andere sagen oder tun, verantwortlich zu machen. Die Änderungsvorschläge würden Anbieter zumindest teilweise für die Handlungen ihrer Nutzer verantwortlich machen. Eine solche Änderung würde eine ernsthafte Bedrohung für die finanzielle Situation der Unternehmen darstellen.

Aber statt das Engagement gegen Mobbing zu stärken, würde dieses finanzielle Risiko wahrscheinlich Internetgemeinschaften zu Grunde richten. Mit diesem Haftungsrisiko im Nacken würden sich viele Unternehmen eher dafür entscheiden, jegliche Form kontroverser Kommentare von ihren Plattformen auszuschließen – legitimes Luftmachen von Ärger und politisches Organisieren eingeschlossen.

Wenn zum Beispiel die Erwähnung von Israel und Palästina eine Flut von Beschimpfungen und daraus resultierend Rechtsansprüche auslöste, wie lange würde es dauern, bis Anbieter die Erwähnung dieser politischen Situation verbieten würden? Wenn ein Magnet für Mobbing wie „Gamergate” auf einer sozialen Plattform stattfindet – werden die Betreiber dieser Plattform versuchen, herauszufinden, wer die Rechtsverletzer sind? Oder werden sie einfach allen verbieten, darüber zu sprechen und  ihre Erfahrungen zu dokumentieren?

Ansätze für wirksame Lösungen?

Wir glauben, dass die besten Lösungen für Mobbing nicht in der Schaffung neuer Gesetze liegen oder erwartet werden kann, dass Konzerne nur im Interesse der Betroffenen Ihre Seiten kontrollieren. Stattdessen glauben wir, das wirksamste Vorgehen ist in den Idealen des Internet verwurzelt: Dezentralisierung, Kreativität, Gemeinschaft und Stärkung der Nutzer.

Strafverfolgungsbehörden und Gesetze

Die Strafverfolgung muss anerkennen, dass Cyber-Mobbing existiert und sie müssen klüger damit umgehen, sodass echte Gefahren und Bedrohungen der Sicherheit von Menschen, die wirklich in Gefahr sind, erkannt werden können – anstatt Nutzer zu verfolgen, die zum Beispiel Polizeiaktionen kritisieren oder Rap-Texte bei Facebook posten. Gesetzliche Vorschriften (wie das Verleumdungsgesetz), die sich bewährt haben, sollten mit Bedacht auf die Online-Welt übertragen werden; die Tatsache, dass etwas online gesagt wird, sollte weder eine vollständige Abschirmung vor Haftung sein, noch ein Vorwand, um die Messlatte für die Kriminalisierung von Kommentaren zu senken. Zudem müssen sich Gerichte mit der Bearbeitung von Fällen im Bereich von Online-Verhalten anfreunden.

Nutzer tatsächlich stärken

Benutzer sollten befähigt werden, für sich selbst zu handeln, anstatt sich auf die Durchsetzungsteams der Unternehmen verlassen zu müssen. Werkzeuge für die Verteidigung gegen Angriffe sollten unter der Kontrolle der Nutzer stehen, statt von aggressiven zentralisierten Systemen für die Beseitigung von Kommentaren abzuhängen, da letztere leicht missbraucht werden können. Plattformen tragen eine Verantwortung an solchen Funktionen zu arbeiten, aber wir erwarten – wie immer – dass die besten Lösungen von den Benutzern selbst kommen.

Wie können Technologien helfen, die Betroffenen zu verteidigen? Innovationen sind schwer vorherzusagen, aber hier sind einige Richtungen, in die die Stärkung der Nutzer gehen könnte:

  • Leistungsfähigere, nutzergesteuerte Filterung von belästigenden Nachrichten. Es gibt viele Ideen, wie Websites besser konfigurierbare Sperrungssysteme ermöglichen könnten. Wenn Plattformen nicht bereit sind, diese Lösungen anzubieten, sollten sie ihre Plattform öffnen, damit andere das übernehmen können.
  • Bessere Möglichkeiten für die Gemeinschaft, gemeinsam übergriffiges Verhalten zu überwachen und darauf zu reagieren, anstatt – wie jetzt – Einzelpersonen der Belastung auszusetzen, ihre Seiten selbst beobachten zu müssen.
  • Automatisierte Tools, die es erlauben, die Verfügbarkeit von persönlichen Informationen online (einschließlich öffentlicher Datenquellen) zu verfolgen und zu begrenzen, um es einfacher zu machen, sich selbst gegen Gefahren der ungewollten Veröffentlichung persönlicher Informationen zu verteidigen.
  • Werkzeuge, mit denen Opfer von Belästigungen Beweise sammeln können, die die Strafverfolgung versteht und verwenden kann. Anzeigen von Mobbing sind derzeit noch nur für den internen Gebrauch der Anbieter gedacht, nicht für die Strafverfolgung.
  • Bessere Benutzerfreundlichkeit für Anonymität und Pseudonymität schützende Programme. Wenn Nutzer anonym bleiben möchten um sich vor Mobbing im Internet zu schützen, sollten sie dies ohne tiefes technisches Know-How tun können.

An all diesen technischen Lösungen wird zur Zeit gearbeitet, aber ihre Fortschritte werden manchmal durch äußere Faktoren begrenzt. Größere Seiten blocken Programme wie Tor, da sie Angst vor Missbrauch haben und schließen dadurch Nutzer aus, die Angst vor der Offenlegung ihres Aufenthaltsortes haben. Soziale Netzwerke behindern die Entwicklung neuer Tools durch Sperren von Schnittstellen und die Beschränkung der Verwendung von Nutzerinhalten durch Dritte.

Den Ring der Entwickler vergrößern

Die Betreuer sozialer Medien müssen das Verhalten, das Opfer von Angriffen zu spüren bekommen, besser verstehen. Und die Entwickler von Werkzeugen gegen dieses Verhalten sollten sich besser auf die Vielfalt der Nutzer des Internets einstellen. Einer der besten Wege ist, sicherzustellen, dass jede Person im Internet die Möglichkeit und das Recht zur Innovation hat – obwohl auch einige Unternehmen ihren Horizont erweitern sollten.

Widerrede akzeptieren

Es gibt keinen Widerspruch darin, sowohl die freie Meinungsäußerung zu begrüßen als auch etwas gegen Beleidigungen unternehmen zu wollen. Wir unterstützen Menschen, die aufstehen und sich gegen Mobbing in unserer Gemeinschaft aussprechen. Insbesondere diejenigen, die das tun, ohne selbst von Angriffen betroffen zu sein. Gewalt anzudrohen und sich zum Zwecke des Mobbings zusammenzuschließen ist keine Form der Redefreiheit; gegen ein solches Verhalten aufzustehen ist der richtige Weg.

Blick in die Zukunft

Die EFF werden auch weiterhin überzeugte Verfechter für freie Meinungsäußerung und Privatsphäre im Internet sein, weil wir aufrichtig daran glauben, dass diese Werte alle schützen, auch die Schwächsten. Wir werden auch weiterhin kritisch gegenüber neuen Verordnungen bleiben, sowie bezüglich der Übergabe der Macht an private Unternehmen. Wir werden weiter daran arbeiten, die Entwicklung und Verbreitung von technologischen Lösungen zu unterstützen, die Opfern von Angriffen helfen, indem wir uns für die Stärkung von Nutzern, Innovation und offene Netzwerke einsetzen. Wir werden versuchen, unmittelbar mit praktikablen Ratschlägen in Sammlungen wie der Überwachungsselbstverteidigung zu helfen, einschließlich der Schaffung von Anlaufpunkten zur Unterstützung gefährdeter Gruppen. Wir wissen, dass wir nicht die einzigen sind, die sich um dieses Thema sorgen und wir freuen uns, dass es viele andere Gruppen und Personen gibt, die gegen Mobbing kämpfen.

Seit die EFF 1990 gegründet wurde, haben Menschen auf der ganzen Welt dafür gesorgt, eine erstaunliche Reihe von Tools zu erstellen, die mehr Kommunikation von mehr Menschen als zu je zuvor erlauben. Die Vorteile dieser digitalen Revolution sind enorm und wir sind gerade erst am Anfang. Wir sind aber ebenfalls erst am Anfang eines Verständnisses dafür, wie man die Schattenseiten dieser Revolution mildern kann. Wenn es das Ziel der Angreifer ist, andere zum Schweigen zu bringen und zu isolieren, glauben wir, der beste Widerstand ist es, jene Rechte zu verteidigen, die es uns erst ermöglicht haben, innovative Fortschritte zu machen, zusammenzuarbeiten und sich online gegen Übergriffe auszusprechen.

  • 1. Untersuchungen des Bureau of Justice Statistics zwischen 2006 und 2009 zufolge variiert die Verbreitung von Stalking und ähnlichen Belästigungen (einschließlich Belästigungen im Internet) in den Vereinigten Staaten je nach Geschlecht, Alter, Einkommen und  Herkunft – Frauen, junge Menschen, finanziell schlechter Gestellte und auch Minderheiten wie amerikanische Einheimische und multi-ethnische Familien sind häufiger betroffen. Die kürzlich durchgeführte „Pew”-Studie zu Cyber-Mobbing weist darauf hin, dass Frauen im Alter zwischen 18 bis 24 bezüglich Belästigungen und Stalking häufiger betroffen sind als andere Gruppen. Die Umfrage stellt ebenfalls fest, dass in den Vereinigten Staaten afroamerikanische und hispanische Internetnutzer häufiger Mobbing erleben (54% bzw. 51%) als Nutzer mit weißer Hautfarbe (34%).

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Digital Consumers Gain Ground at the United Nations - Thu, 29/01/2015 - 09:21

With your support, EFF has helped raise the bar in ongoing discussions about how to better protect users against the abuse of their rights through DRM. Our submission [PDF] to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) at an Expert Group Meeting on Consumer Protection last week, pointed out that the then-current draft text for a revised set of Guidelines for Consumer Protection completely omitted to deal with the problems that DRM causes consumers of digital products and services—for example how it misleads them into getting less than they paid for, prevents them from reusing or even repairing digital devices, chills innovation, and even endangers their security and their privacy.

Against tough opposition, but also with valued support from other civil society representatives and forward-thinking countries, our advocacy had a real impact, as reflected in the new draft of the Guidelines that were released for comment today. A new proposed paragraph of the Guidelines, although not following the language that we supported, attempts to cover some of the key issues:

Member States should promote the offer of digital content products in terms no less favorable than for other forms of content. Licences should allow consumers to time, space and format shift digital content products, taking into account applicable national laws and international treaties, in particular those that allow for “fair use” and “private use”.

This paragraph can be split into two separate provisions. The first raises an expectation that if you purchase a digital product such as an e-book, it shouldn't come with any fewer rights than a book in any other format; in other words, you should be able to lend it, resell it, read it aloud, quote from it, and adapt it as copyright law allows, without being impeded by DRM or by the small print of a hidden EULA. On the other hand, we are concerned that the current form of this recommendation is too weak. Rather than just addressing member states, it should also be directed to vendors themselves, who naturally play a very key part in determining the terms on which they offer their products. Other paragraphs of the Guidelines are directly addressed to businesses, so it would not be out of keeping for this provision to do so as well.

The second provision of the new paragraph makes a strong statement that reasonable uses of digital products such as time, space, and format shifting should be allowed—and we certainly agree with that. But again, the party being addressed by this recommendation is wrong; and in this case, the problem is exactly the opposite as for the preceding provision. It states that these acts should be allowed by licenses; meaning by a private agreement between the vendor and the user. Then confusingly, it references "applicable national laws and international treaties" that allow for "fair use and private use".

While the references to fair use and private use are welcome (and, if eventually approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations, would be unprecedented in a UN resolution of any kind), it is backwards to suggest that licensors of digital products should merely take these legal doctrines into account. Rather, the right to time, space, and format shift should come from the law, rather than the whim of the product vendor, and those rights should be made inalienable (as they are, for example, under the UK's amended copyright law). Thus, this provision should be principally addressed to member states.

Additionally, the enumeration of "time, space and format shifting" as the acts that should be allowed is constraining. What about product repair? What about remix? What about reverse engineering for security analysis, and many other uses? The proposed language that we supported was more flexible, simply stating that DRM should not preclude the use of products or services "in ways that would otherwise be reasonable, lawful and safe".

Another omission from the draft Guidelines is a requirement for vendors to disclose the effects that any DRM may have on the use of a digital product or its interoperability with other hardware and software. This shouldn't be a controversial inclusion—since it is taken almost directly from the European Consumer Rights Directive of 2011, which came into effect in Europe's 28 member states last year.

We will be sending a further submission to UNCTAD setting out these concerns. The next meeting of the Expert Group on Consumer Protection, which will consider these amendments, is to be held on March 25. We will report back about further developments then.

Related Issues: Fair Use and Intellectual Property: Defending the BalanceInternational
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Data Privacy Day: Mexico City's Privacy Authority Leads Latin America in Signing onto 13 Principles - Thu, 29/01/2015 - 04:41

Today, January 28th, marks International Data Privacy Day. Celebrated by privacy advocates and data protection authorities across many countries, it is an opportunity to raise public awareness about privacy threats and urge governments to protect citizens' rights. This year's celebration in Mexico City also marks the official endorsement by the Mexican Federal District data protection authority (InfoDF) of the International Principles for the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance, 13 guiding principles about limiting surveillance. This is timely, as the Mexican Federal Telecommunications Agency (IFT) is currently developing guidelines for cooperation between the government and the Internet Service Providers. This guidelines are one step towards the implementation of the data retention mandate law adopted last year.

Speaking at the event, Mucio Israel Hernández Guerrero, InfoDF's President Commissioner, explained that with the signing of the Principles, they intended to promote its implementation and carry out proactive work to enforce the protection of this fundamental right. InfoDF became the first privacy institution to sign these principles in Latin America.

Meanwhile, commissioner Elsa Bibiana Peralta explained that for InfoDF privacy is a fundamental right, and it shouldn't be a discussion if it needs to be protected or not. The celebration also gathered civil society representatives from Asociación Mundial de Radios Comunitarias en México (AMARC-México), Central Ciudadano y Consumidor, A.C., Latinoamericanistas, ContingenteMx, and EFF.

EFF's International Rights Director Katitza Rodriguez calls upon Mexican authorities to work on the implementation of the Prinicples, to educate the police and law enforcements on human rights issues, and to legally challenge any regulation of surveillance measure that are unnecessary, inadequate, and disproportionate.

Paola Ricaurte, Professor at Tecnologico de Monterrey, explained, "By signing the 13 principles, Mexico City stands at the forefront of the country with regard to respect for international principles for the protection of privacy and adopts an international human rights interpretive framework for communication surveillance."

Civil society groups present in the event called upon the data protection authorities to:

  • Adhere to the International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance as a guide for the effective implementation of the existing human rights treaties signed by the Mexican government and many other governments around the world;
  • Promote the implementation of international human rights standards, including the International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance in Mexico City;
  • Promote transparency about the use and scope of communications surveillance laws, regulations, activities, and guidelines, in accordance with the provisions of the 13 Principles. In particular, States should not interfere with service providers in their efforts to publish the procedures they apply when assessing and complying with State requests for communications surveillance. Moreover, States should provide individuals with sufficient information to enable them to fully comprehend the scope, nature, and application of surveillance laws.

Last year, InfoDF, filed an unconstitutionality lawsuit against the surveillance measures of the Ley Telecom that President Enrique Peña Nieto introduced, however, the Mexican Supreme Court of Justice ruled inadmissible the legal challenge. (For those who are not familiar, the Mexican government approved a law compelling telecom providers to retain, for two years, the details of who communicates with whom, for how long, and from where. It also allows authorities access to these details without a court order, exposing geolocation information to reveal the physical whereabouts of Mexicans). La Red en Defensa de los Derechos Digitales (R3D), alongside a large group of civil society organizations, filed an injunction against Articles 189 and 190 of Ley Telecom, which still is pending before the Federal Judiciary.

Members of civil society deprived of their privacy must fight back! Show policy makers how surveillance technology impacts privacy and freedom of expression. Help pressure governments in Mexico and throughout the world to pass meaningful privacy protections. And defend yourself by using encryption technology.

Related Issues: InternationalInternational Privacy StandardsSurveillance and Human RightsPrivacy
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Día de la Privacidad: Autoridad Del Distrito Federal de México Firma los 13 Principios - Thu, 29/01/2015 - 04:27
El 28 de enero se celebra el día Internacional de la protección de datos. La celebración tiene como propósito llamar la atención de la ciudadanía acerca de las mejores prácticas para defender nuestros derechos fundamentales frente a la vigilancia desmedida y descontrolada llevada a cabo por la policía y los agentes de inteligencia.

En el marco de esta celebración, el Instituto de Acceso a la Información Pública y Protección de Datos Personales del Distrito Federal (InfoDF) suscribió los Principios Internacionales sobre la Aplicación de los Derechos Humanos a la Vigilancia de las Comunicaciones, que servirán de guía para limitar la vigilancia en línea. En el evento participaron el Comisionado Presidente Mucio Hernández, la comisionada Elsa Bibiana Hernández, el comisionado Luis Fernando Sánchez Nava y diversas organizaciones de la sociedad civil, como la Asociación Mundial de Radios Comunitarias en México (AMARC-México), Central Ciudadano y Consumidor, A.C., Latinoamericanistas y ContingenteMx
"La adhesión a los 13 Principios Internacionales por parte de los órganos garantes de los datos personales en la ciudad de México es de gran relevancia en nuestro país, acotó la Profesora del Tecnológico de Monterrey, Paola Ricaurte. "La normativa vigente promueve la vigilancia masiva de las comunicaciones a través de medidas desproporcionadas e innecesarias. Ello ha significado un retroceso profundo en materia de derechos humanos. Las leyes secundarias en materia de telecomunicaciones aprobadas en julio de 2014 son incompatibles con las normas internacionales de derechos humanos que el Gobierno Mexicano ha firmado y además son violatorias de los 13 Principios", enfatizó Ricaurte. 

En el evento, Katitza Rodríguez, Directora Internacional de Derechos Humanos de la EFF, recalcó la necesidad de respetar y aplicar las normas existentes de derechos humanos en el ámbito de las vigilancia de las comunicaciones y usar los principios como guía para su efectiva implementación. "Es necesario educar a la policía y los fiscales que conducen o autorizan la vigilancia en la aplicación de los derechos humanos, Rodríguez resaltó.

El InfoDF mencionó que tiene la intención de promover la implementación de los Principios en la ciudad de México e insistió que los ciudadanos deben ejercer y solicitar mayor transparencia del Estado.  El comisionado presidente, Mucio Israel Hernández Guerrero, señaló que en el tema de la Protección de Datos Personales, el Estado no puede dar un paso atrás. Con esta firma, declaró, se pretende dar un paso adelante hacia la protección de la privacidad en la Ciudad de México. Mucio Hernández agradeció el acompañamiento de las organizaciones y refrendó el compromiso del INFODF para proteger los datos personales y promover los 13 Principios en la ciudad de México.

La discusión acerca de los 13 principios es sumamente pertinente, puesto que en estos días, el Instituto Federal de Telecomunicaciones (IFT) se encuentra discutiendo el Anteproyecto de lineamientos de colaboración en materia de Seguridad y Justicia en el que debe definirse de manera específica cómo se hacen operativas las disposiciones aprobadas en la Ley Telecom.  "Al suscribir los 13 principios, la Ciudad de México se coloca a la vanguardia en el país en lo concerniente a la promoción de los principios internacionales en materia de protección de la privacidad", indicó Paola Ricaurte, Profesora del Tecnológico de Monterrey en su exposición durante la ceremonia oficial. Las organizaciones de la sociedad civil presentes en la ceremonia, recomendamos a las instituciones gubernamentales garantes de la privacidad y los datos personales:
  • Adherirse a los Principios Internacionales sobre la Aplicación de los Derechos Humanos a la Vigilancia de las Comunicaciones como guía para la efectiva implementación de los Tratados de Derechos Humanos ya existentes suscritos por el Gobierno de México;
  • Impulsar la implementación de los estándares internacionales de derechos humanos en el contexto de la vigilancia, incluyendo los Principios Internacionales sobre la Aplicación de los Derechos Humanos a la Vigilancia de las Comunicaciones en la ciudad de México;
  • Impulsar la transparencia sobre el uso y el alcance de las leyes de vigilancia de las comunicaciones de acuerdo a lo establecido en los 13 Principios; En particular, los Estados no deberían interferir con los proveedores de servicios en sus esfuerzos para publicar los procedimientos aplicables a la evaluación y el cumplimiento de solicitudes de vigilancia requeridas por los Estados. Además el Estado debe proporcionar a las personas la información suficiente para que puedan comprender plenamente el alcance, naturaleza y aplicación de las leyes, reglamentos y lineamientos de vigilancia.
Related Issues: International Privacy StandardsMandatory Data RetentionSurveillance and Human Rights
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Enfrentando o Desafio do Assédio Online - Wed, 28/01/2015 - 11:46

Nos quase 25 anos que a EFF tem defendido os direitos digitais, nossa crença na promessa da internet apenas se fortaleceu. O mundo digital liberta os usuários de muitas limitações na comunicação e na criatividade que existem no mundo offline. Mas é também um mundo que reflete os problemas que existem em nossa sociedade, e os garante novas dimensões. O assédio é um destes problemas.

Assédio online é uma questão de direitos digitais. No pior caso, ele causa danos reais e duradouros aos seus alvos. Infelizmente não é fácil criar leis ou políticas que abordem estes problemas sem abrir as portas à censura governamental ou corporativa e à invasões de privacidade – incluindo a privacidade e a liberdade de expressão dos alvos do assédio.

Este post explica nossas ideias em relação ao assédio online, e o que nós esperamos que o papel da EFF possa ser nesta empreitada, dado nosso escopo de trabalho. Esta não é nossa última palavra, nem deveria ser; este não é um problema simples. Ao invés disso, queremos delinear algumas das coisas que consideramos quando olhamos para o problema e traçar alguns elementos de uma resposta eficaz para ele.

Assédio é um Problema Sério

Sejamos claros quanto ao que queremos dizer quando falamos em “assédio”. Nós não estamos nos referindo a alguns tweets sarcásticos ou aos tapas trocados durante uma discussão online acalorada, mesmo quando esta discussão inclui linguagem de baixo calão e obscenidades. Discurso feio ou ofensivo nem sempre escala ao nível de assédio.

O tipo de assédio que nos preocupa acontece quando uma pessoa atrai a atenção de um grupo ou de um indivíduo, e acaba enfrentando níveis extremos de hostilidade, frequentemente acompanhado da exposição de sua vida privada. Algumas vítimas são bombardeadas com montagens e inúmeros comentários perturbadores, e o endereço de suas casas e trabalhos podem ser publicados, junto com ameaças de violência. E tal assédio online também pode tornar-se perseguição offline, agressão física, e mais.

Este tipo de assédio pode causar danos profundos à liberdade de expressão e à privacidade dos alvos. É frequentemente utilizado para intimidar aqueles com menos poder político ou social, e afeta mais alguns grupos do que outros, de forma desproporcional, incluindo mulheres, minorias religiosas e minorias raciais.1 Isto significa que nem todos compreendem o quão negativo isto pode ser para a vida de outras pessoas.

“Não alimente os trolls” - apesar de funcionar em algumas situações - essa é uma resposta insuficiente a este tipo de abuso, especialmente quando a situação se agrava, indo de alguns comentários a uma campanha contínua. Algumas pessoas foram perseguidas de maneira completamente offline pelos efeitos cumulativos de um ataque pessoal impiedoso, ou por sérias ameaças à sua segurança ou à segurança das pessoas que amam. Quando isto acontece, suas vozes são efetivamente silenciadas.A triste ironia é que assediadores online fazem mau uso da força fundamental da Internet, e usam esse poderoso meio de comunicação para ampliar e coordenar suas ações e, efetivamente, silenciar e intimidar os outros.

Contudo, essa mesma força oferece também caminhos para a comunidade lutar: quando nós vemos o comportamento de um assediador, nós podemos nos manifestar e desafiá-lo. Na verdade, um dos mais eficientes meios de combater o assédio é o contra-discurso. O contra-discurso acontece quando apoiadores dos grupos ou indivíduos alvejados utilizam o mesmo poder comunicativo da internet para clamar, condenar e organizar-se contra o comportamento que silencia os outros. É por isso que, ao contrário de algumas suposições equivocadas, a luta pela liberdade de expressão e combate ao assédio online não são opostas, e sim complementares.

Só porque a lei, por vezes, permite que uma pessoa seja um idiota (ou pior) não significa que outros na comunidade tenham que ficar quietos e apenas assistir as pessoas serem assediadas. Nós podemos e devemos nos posicionar contra o assédio. Fazer isto não é censurar – é ser parte da luta por uma internet inclusiva e apoiadora da liberdade de expressão.

As Armadilhas da Regulamentação Legal do Assédio Online

Muitas pessoas tem procurado na lei meios de resolver o assédio online, e a EFF frequentemente é chamada para avaliar as leis ou regulamentos propostos. Dados os nossos anos de experiência com leis mal escritas, que falham em refletir a realidade de um ambiente digital, nós somos muito cautelosos ao aprovar tais medidas.

Algumas formas de discurso abusivo já são tratadas por leis existentes. Nos Estados Unidos, por exemplo, ameaças de violência feitas com a intenção de colocar o alvo em estado de medo não são discursos protegidos e são proibidos por leis estaduais e federais. Leis anti-assédio também existem em muitas jurisdições. As pessoas podem processar outras civilmente por calúnia e difamação, ou por acusações falsas que ferem sua reputação. Além disso, novas leis direcionadas ao comportamento na internet já foram aprovadas nos Estados Unidos. 37 estados já possuem leis sobre assédio online, por exemplo, e 41 possuem leis sobre perseguição online.
Mas tanto offline quanto online, nós vemos o mesmo problema: leis voltadas para combater o assédio raramente são cumpridas, ou são cumpridas injustamente e ineficientemente. Em todo o mundo, policiais não levam a sério reclamações sobre ameaças ou simplesmente não entendem sua gravidade. Como Danielle Citron disse, a polícia diz aos denunciantes para simplesmente “ir para casa e desligar o computador” ou que são só “garotos sendo garotos”.

A falha das leis atuais resulta em novos pedidos por regulamentações mais fortes, incluindo leis que visam o discurso de forma ampla. No entanto, leis que não delineiam cuidadosamente a linha entre o assédio e o discurso protegido podem acabar prejudicando esse discurso e falhar ao limitar o comportamento de assediadores.

Pessoas poderosas, corporações e governos são todos peritos em encontrar as melhores ferramentas para a censura e usá-las para abafar críticas e oposições. Eles também estão perfeitamente dispostos a pegar ferramentas desenvolvidas para uma finalidade e usá-las para seus próprios fins (nós, por exemplo, temos uma longa experiência com a lei de direitos autorais e de marca sendo usada para abafar críticas e paródias. Na verdade, temos um "hall da vergonha" inteiro dedicado a esses usos indevidos).

A regulamentação do anonimato online também é muito suscetível a danos colaterais. É tentador presumir que eliminar o anonimato irá reduzir o assédio, mas a nossa experiência é diferente: nós vemos a necessidade de uma forte proteção ao anonimato online, de modo que aqueles que estão sendo perseguidos, ou que enfrentam violência doméstica e violação de direitos humanos por se expressar, possam fazê-lo com menos medo de serem expostos. É por isso que, quando advogados preocupados requerem medidas legislativas destinadas a combater o assédio que exigem que os sites obrigatoriamente registrem todos os endereços IP dos visitantes, nossa primeira preocupação é que essa legislação possa ser usada indevidamente para alvejar as vítimas, não os perpetradores de assédio. Com estratégias como essas, além de corrermos o risco de não resolver o problema, corremos o risco de ao longo do caminho ferir algumas das próprias pessoas que esperávamos ajudar.

Essa é uma das razões pelas quais lutamos pela cautela e clareza em todas as áreas legais que podem potencialmente afetar o discurso protegido. Quando o assunto é assédio on-line, que frequentemente se trata de silenciar vozes de pessoas sem poder, essa preocupação é especialmente importante.

Nós nos opomos a leis que abordam o assédio online, mas fazem isso de qualquer jeito, sem se importar com os riscos que causam para o discurso legítimo. Por exemplo, recentemente a New York Court of Appeals rejeitou uma lei sobre cyberbullying que tornava crime “assediar, irritar, ameaçar... ou infligir dano emocional significante em qualquer pessoa de qualquer maneira”, porque a lei ia muito além de seu escopo, afinal, o discurso protegido pode muito bem ser “irritante”, mas isto está longe de ser um motivo para proibi-lo.
Além do policiamento de más propostas, nós também pensamos sobre as melhores soluções legais possíveis. Certamente poderia haver uma execução melhor das leis existentes em relação ao assédio – uma preocupação que vai muito além do mundo online (como mostrado acima). Nós esperamos que os tribunais eventualmente integrem às suas decisões e precedentes, novas formas através das quais os indivíduos podem se tornar alvos de assédio, e que as agências sistematicamente eduquem seus policiais sobre o assédio online.
No entanto, após anos de experiência, somos pessimistas, e acreditamos que as leis criadas para lidar com as aparentemente novas “cyber” ameaças, são fruto de um exibicionismo que permite que políticos digam que fizeram alguma coisa. É por isso que estas leis são frequentemente o pior de dois mundos: elas são muito ou completamente ineficientes ao lidar com o assédio, e são tão mal escritas que ainda ameaçam o comportamento legalmente protegido e possibilitam que interesses poderosos processem por capricho ou punam os pontos de vista que eles desaprovam.

Segundo observou Glenn Greenwald - em um artigo recente sobre como Árabes, e Mulçumanos em particular, são alvos de investigações criminais por seus discursos online - “De acordo com a lei geral, a criminalização do discurso online é reservada apenas para certos tipos de pessoas (aquelas com menos poder) e certos tipos de pontos de vista (os mais marginalizados e opositores)”. Mesmo que isso não seja sempre verdade, é verdade o suficiente para que nós abordemos soluções legais com extrema cautela.

Empresas São Ruins em Regulamentar o Discurso

Nós também entendemos porque algumas pessoas procuram as próprias plataformas de mídia social em busca de soluções, já que muito assédio ocorre nelas. No entanto, novamente nossa experiência nos deixa céticos em relação a soluções centralizadas e gerenciadas por empresas.

Atualmente, a maioria dos provedores de hospedagem online – incluindo plataformas como facebook e twitter – proíbem o assédio em seus termos de uso, mas não são proativos ao policiar o comportamento do usuário. Ao invés disso, eles contam com o policiamento da comunidade,  marcando ou localizando conteúdo ou contas de usuários que violem estes termos de uso. Os relatórios são enviados para equipes de moderação que, muitas vezes, são mal gerenciadas e recebem um salário consideravelmente menor do que outros funcionários técnicos. Decisões sobre o conteúdo são tomadas rapidamente e remoções errôneas de conteúdo são muito comuns.

Nos EUA, as empresas geralmente têm o direito legal de escolher hospedar ou não um discurso online, seguindo seu próprio critério. Nós passamos um tempo considerável estudando como elas tomam estas decisões e descobrimos que são irregulares, na melhor das hipóteses, e tendenciosas, na pior das hipóteses. Discursos políticos e religiosos são frequentemente censurados, assim como nudez. No Vietnã, os mecanismos de denúncia têm sido usados para silenciar os dissidentes. No Egito, a política de “nome real” da empresa, aparentemente voltada à proteção dos usuários, derrubou a página que ajudou a desencadear a revolta de 2011. E nos Estados Unidos, essa política levou a suspensão de contas de ativistas LGBTQ. Exemplos como estes são abundantes, o que nos torna céticos quanto a possibilidade de uma abordagem mais pesada por parte das empresas melhorar o atual estado dos mecanismos de denúncia.

Trolls e mobs (multidões) online, quase que por definição, são grupos hábeis e bastante eficientes em direcionar uma munição concentrada contra os outros. Isto significa que as vozes que estão enfrentando assédio podem ser aquelas expulsas das discussões online, uma vez que peso da multidão faz parecer que elas são radicais e fora do comum. Para encontrar exemplos disso, é preciso apenas olhar para governos – como a China, Israel e Bahrain – que empregam e pagam pessoas para comentarem e influenciarem a opinião online a seu favor. E claro, há muitos trolls dispostos a fazer isto de graça.

Nós também tememos que o atual modelo de negócios centralizado, monolítico e multinacional (apesar de baseado nos EUA) das redes sociais possam trabalhar tanto contra a preservação da liberdade de expressão quanto da privacidade dos alvos de assédio. O foco das empresas está no lucro e na segurança jurídica, e muitas estariam felizes em sacrificar a liberdade de expressão se ela se tornasse cara.

Alguns sugeriram a revisão da seção 230 do Comunications Decency Act (Ato de Decência da Comunicação, CDA 230) para fazer com que mais empresas se interessassem em proteger os alvos de assédio. O CDA 230 determina que intermediários como provedores de internet, fóruns online e sites de mídia social sejam protegidos contra uma série de leis que poderiam, do contrário, responsabilizá-los legalmente pelo que outros fazem ou dizem. Estas propostas fariam com que os intermediários fossem ao menos parcialmente responsáveis pelas ações de seus usuários, o que seria uma séria ameaça ao fundo financeiro das empresas.

Infelizmente, ao invés de fortalecer a luta contra o assédio, este risco financeiro provavelmente devastaria as comunidades online. Diante do risco de tal responsabilidade, muitas empresas escolheriam banir todas as formas de discurso controverso de suas plataformas, incluindo a revolta legítima e a organização política. Se, por exemplo, qualquer menção a Israel e a Palestina desencadeasse uma enxurrada de assédios e, em seguida, ações legais, quanto tempo demoraria até que os provedores de serviço banissem qualquer menção a esta situação política? Quando um ímã de assédio como o Gamergate se estabelece em uma plataforma social, os responsáveis por esta plataforma tentarão descobrir quem são os assediadores ou eles irão simplesmente proibir todos de comentar e documentar suas experiências?

Pontos de Partida para Boas Soluções

Nós achamos que as melhores soluções para a questão do assédio não são criar novas leis, ou esperar que corporações façam valer os interesses dos assediados. Ao invés disso, achamos que a melhor rota de ação está enraizada nos ideais que formam a base da internet: descentralização, criatividade, comunidade e empoderamento do usuário.

A Lei e o Cumprimento das Leis

Os órgãos que aplicam as leis precisam reconhecer e ficar mais espertos em relação a realidade do assédio online, para que possam identificar ameaças reais e proteger as pessoas em perigo – ao invés de ir atrás de membros de comunidades que criticam as ações da polícia ou crianças que postam letras de rap no Facebook. Preceitos legais testados pelo tempo (como a lei da difamação) devem ser cuidadosamente aplicados no mundo online; o fato de que algo é dito online não deve ser nem um escudo que proteja da responsabilidade, nem uma desculpa para baixar os padrões de criminalização do discurso. Além disso, os tribunais devem tornar-se confortáveis em lidar com casos envolvendo comportamento online.

Real Empoderamento dos Usários

Os usuários devem ter poder para agir por si mesmos, ao invés de ter que contar com as equipes de fiscalização das empresas para proteção. Ferramentas de proteção contra assédio deveriam estar nas mãos do usuário, ao invés de depender de uma remoção de conteúdo agressiva e centralizada, que pode ser mal utilizada. As plataformas têm a responsabilidade de trabalhar nestas funcionalidades, mas nós esperamos – como sempre – que as melhores soluções venham dos usuários.

Como a tecnologia pode ajudar a defender uma vítima de assédio? A inovação é difícil de prever, mas aqui estão alguns caminhos para o real empoderamento do usuário:

  • Filtro de mensagens mais poderoso e controlado pelo usuário. Já existem muitas ideias sobre como os sites podem permitir um bloqueio mais configurável. Se as plataformas não estão dispostas a desenvolver estas soluções, elas deveriam se abrir e permitir que outros possam.
  • Melhores mecanismos para que as comunidades possam monitorar coletivamente os comportamentos de assédio e responder a eles – ao invés de colocar o fardo sobre os indivíduos policiando seus próprios fluxos de mídia social.
  • Ferramentas automatizadas que permitam que as pessoas controlem e limitem a disponibilidade online de suas informações pessoais (incluindo fontes públicas de dados), para que assim possam se defender melhor contra as ameaças de doxxing (vazamento de informações pessoais). 
  • Ferramentas que permitam que alvos de assédio preservem evidências que possam ser usadas juridicamente. Relatórios sobre abuso são atualmente concebidos para o uso interno das empresas, não para o sistema legal.
  • Melhor usabilidade para ferramentas de proteção do anonimato e do uso de pseudônimos. Quando usuários optam pelo anonimato para se proteger do assédio offline, eles deveriam ser capazes de fazê-lo facilmente e sem precisar de conhecimentos técnicos profundos.

Todas estas soluções técnicas estão sendo trabalhadas agora, mas o seu progresso é por vezes limitado por fatores externos. Grandes sites bloqueiam ferramentas como o Tor por medo de abuso, impedindo o acesso de pessoas assustadas demais para compartilhar sua localização. Plataformas de mídia social também prejudicam o desenvolvimento de novas ferramentas ao bloquear APIs e restringir o uso por terceiros de conteúdo do usuário.

Aumentando o Número de Desenvolvedores de Ferramentas

Os mantedores de mídias sociais precisam entender melhor os comportamentos que os indivíduos assediados precisam enfrentar, e o mundo dos desenvolvedores de ferramentas deveria refletir melhor a diversidade dos usuários de internet. Uma das melhores maneiras de fazer isto é assegurar que todos que estão online tenham o poder e o direito de inovar - embora as companhias centralizadas devessem expandir seus horizontes também.

Abraçando o Contra Discurso

Não há nada de inconsistente em amar a liberdade de expressão e se colocar contra o assédio. Nós apoiamos pessoas que lutam contra o assédio na nossa própria comunidade, especialmente aqueles que podem fazê-lo sem se tornar alvo de assédio também. Fazer ameaças violentas ou tomar parte em mobilizações abusivas não é um ato nobre de liberdade de expressão, e denunciar tal comportamento é o certo a se fazer.

Olhando Para o Futuro

A EFF continuará sendo uma forte defensora da liberdade de expressão e da privacidade online, porque nós acreditamos sinceramente que estes valores protegem a todos, incluindo os mais vulneráveis. Nós também vamos permanecer críticos de novos regulamentos e das tentativas de entregar as rédeas do policiamento online para empresas privadas. Continuaremos trabalhando para apoiar o desenvolvimento e a propagação de soluções tecnológicas para ajudar os alvos de assédio, fazendo campanhas pelo empoderamento do usuário, inovações e redes abertas. Nós também vamos tentar ajudar de forma direta e com dicas práticas através de recursos como Surveillance Self-Defense, incluindo a criação de recursos que atendam aos interesses e necessidades dos grupos vulneráveis. Nós sabemos que não somos os únicos preocupados com estes tópicos, e estamos felizes por existirem muitos outros grupos experientes reforçando o combate ao assédio online.

Desde que a EFF foi fundada, em 1990, pessoas de todo o mundo se uniram para construir um conjunto incrível de ferramentas que permitem mais comunicação para mais pessoas do que em qualquer outro período da história. Os benefícios desta revolução online são enormes e estamos apenas engatinhando. Estamos também apenas começando a aprender como mitigar seus lados ruins. Se o objetivo dos assediadores online é silenciar e isolar seus alvos, nós achamos que a melhor forma de se opor a isso é defender os direitos que nos permitem inovar, trabalhar juntos e lutar  contra os abusos online.

  • 1. De acordo com estudos realizados pelo Bureau of Justice Statistics, entre 2006-2009, as ocorrências de perseguição e assédio de todos os tipos (incluindo o assédio on-line) nos Estados Unidos varia de acordo com sexo, idade, nível de renda e raça — sendo as mulheres, os jovens, os pobres e os grupos minoritários como os nativos americanos e as famílias multi-raciais os mais comumente afetadas. Um estudo recente do Pew Research Center sobre assédio on-line indicou que as mulheres com idades entre os 18-24 são alvo de perseguições e assédio em um nível maior que outros grupos. A pesquisa também observa que, nos Estados Unidos, os usuários afro-americanos e hispânicos fazem mais denuncias de assédio (54% e 51%) do que os usuários brancos (34%).

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Dear FCC: Enhanced 911 Location Services Could Endanger Americans' Privacy - Wed, 28/01/2015 - 06:45

The 911 system has a problem. As people switch from landlines to mobile phones, more and more 911 calls come from wireless devices. But under current FCC E911 (Enhanced 911) regulations, carriers are only required to provide 911 dispatchers with a mobile phone’s location to within 300 meters, and aren’t required to provide any sort of vertical location information (i.e. to pinpoint what floor of a skyscraper someone is on). This lack of accurate location information can make it difficult for first responders to find callers, especially when the person calling becomes disoriented or unable to speak.

Unfortunately, in an effort to solve this problem the FCC may be about to create a whole host of new ones, this time for people’s privacy. On Thursday, January 29th, the FCC will vote on new E911 rules which would require carriers to provide more accurate location information—within 50 meters horizontally, and three meters vertically—enough to pinpoint what floor of a building somebody is on. The four major carriers have proposed a roadmap [PDF] that outlines how they intend to meet these new rules when they are finalized, but this roadmap is almost completely devoid of any mention of privacy safeguards.

The Privacy Dangers

For example, the roadmap and the FCC rules aren’t clear about whether enhanced location reporting will always be on whenever the phone is on, or only available during 911 calls; or if it’s not always on, whether it will have to be triggered on the phone or could be triggered remotely. Without more specific guidelines, this could mean that carriers could use E911 regulations as an excuse to ubiquitously track the precise locations of all of their customers, both indoors and outdoors, all the time. Of course organizations like the NSA and DEA will likely demand access to that data, using the flimsy reasoning that such information is “only metadata.” There’s also the risk that state or local police might try to get this data without a warrant. While the U.S. Supreme Court made clear in U.S. v. Jones that Americans’ location history enjoys significant privacy protections, and in Riley v. California that our mobile phones are also entitled to strong privacy protections, it’s still not settled on the national level whether or not police need a warrant in order to demand location information from a mobile carrier.

And it’s not just law enforcement we should be worried about. As recent articles have explained, the world’s cell phone systems don’t exactly feature strong security. A malicious hacker or a foreign government can already extract your location from the current system without your carrier’s knowledge or consent. More accurate location information would doubtless pose an even more alluring target—and the roadmap doesn’t mention how this information will be secured.

The roadmap also poses privacy concerns for anyone using a stationary wireless device, be it a Wi-Fi router, a set-top cable box, or even a smart thermostat. That’s because carriers want to create something called the National Emergency Address Database (NEAD), which would match the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth MAC addresses of stationary devices to physical street addresses (and even apartment, suite, or floor numbers). This would enable the carriers to take advantage of the same sort of indoor location technology that companies like Google, Apple, and Skyhook already use, which use your phone’s Bluetooth and Wi-Fi antennas to scan for nearby fixed devices, and then match those MAC addresses to a database to determine your precise location.

While this sort of technology isn’t new, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t raise privacy concerns. In addition to these privacy concerns, the carriers propose going one step further by suggesting that users should be required to enter their physical address when they setup a new stationary wireless device (like a wireless router) in order to make NEAD’s coverage as comprehensive as possible. As you might expect, the roadmap doesn’t go into what sort of privacy safeguards might be built into NEAD or the smartphones that will use it, or who will have access to NEAD.

Easy Solutions

Obviously these issues pose a very real danger to Americans’ location privacy. That’s why EFF, along with numerous other privacy- and consumer-rights-focused organizations (including New America’s Open Technology Institute, the ACLU, CDT, Consumer Federation of America, Public Knowledge, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, and several others) have called on [PDF] the FCC commissioners to make clear to carriers that any technology they use to satisfy E911 regulations must meet the following criteria:

  • E911 functionality should be designed so that it can only be triggered on the phone itself (i.e. not remotely) and a prominent notification should be shown as long as it’s enabled.
  • Carriers should offer users the ability to opt-out of having their stationary wireless devices entered in NEAD.
  • The FCC should ensure that NEAD and E911 data is used only for E911 purposes, and is never used for commercial purposes or shared with other government agencies without a warrant.
  • The FCC should also help users take back their location privacy by ensuring that any technology added to a phone to satisfy enhanced location regulations should only be used for non-911 purposes with the express opt-in consent of the user, on an app-by-app basis. This means that if carriers want to expose the output from things like barometric sensors or the names of nearby Wi-Fi networks to third-party apps, users should have the ability to decide for themselves whether or not they want to share that data with a given app.

Better 911 location accuracy has the potential to make a huge positive impact in peoples’ lives. But if people are concerned that this benefit will come at the expense of their privacy, they’re more likely to take steps that will prevent these location services from working properly. In order to prevent this, we need the FCC to make sure that privacy is baked in to new E911 regulations from the start. Otherwise, these rules may force people to choose between privacy and response time in an emergency, and that’s a decision nobody should have to make.

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Got an Outrageous Public Records Story? Send Your Nominations for “The Foilies” - Wed, 28/01/2015 - 05:31

Fighting for government records is sometimes like:

… a game of Battleship, but where you have to go to court to force your opponent to tell you whether you even grazed his aircraft carrier.

… finding yourself at the doors of the Forty Thieves’ cave, except that you have to rap out “Open Sesame” in Morse code with your forehead just to get a peek at the treasure.

… ordering a book from an online store then having to wait 10-30 days just to hear back that the store can neither confirm nor deny whether your item is in stock.

… running the hurdles at the Olympics, but with Droid Kafka and his bureaucrobot army laying down new stretches of barricades every time you think you’re about to cross the finish line.

For every over-the-top simile we can think up to describe the struggle for transparency, we can name an even more ridiculous, real-world attempt by government officials to withhold records that rightly belong to the public. And yet, EFF and accountability advocates everywhere keep pushing back, because sometimes you win and it makes a difference in the world. 

This year, EFF is setting out to recognize the most outrageous responses to Freedom of Information Act and state open records act requests. We’re calling it The Foilies and we need journalists, citizen watchdogs, and transparency activists to submit nominations for these dubious honors.

You should feel free to name your own Foilies categories. For example, if the Department of Defense claimed a national security exemption in response to your FOIA request for lunch menus, you might suggest a category for “America’s Most Dangerous Cafeteria.” But we also have several categories already in mind, such as:

Absurdly Over-Redacted Documents

Egregious Copying Fees

Extraordinarily Long Wait for Records

Silly Legal Arguments in Public Records Lawsuits

Wrongest-Headed Anti-transparency Legislation

Gratuitous Glomars

EFF staff will select the cream of the crop (or maybe the bottom of the barrel) for the most compelling stories of FOIA and public records shenanigans, which we’ll roll out during Sunshine Week (March 15 – 21).

Who Can Nominate: Anyone, regardless of whether you were involved in filing or litigating the FOIA or public records request or not. If you’ve got the original documentation—great! If you only have a news story or blog post to refer to—equally great!

Deadline:  All nominations must be received by Feb. 20, 2015.

Eligibility: All nominees must have had some event happen in the public records battle during calendar year 2014.

How to Submit a Nomination: Send nominations to with “FOILIES 2015 NOMINATION” in the subject line. You can nominate multiple entries in a single email, just make sure to enumerate the nominations so we can easily separate them. 

Format: Each nomination should look like this:

Category: One line category title

Description: No more than 200 words succinctly explaining the public records issue and why it deserves a Foilie.  Please include this in the body of the email. (We’ll use this to winnow down the nominations and may cite the text during Sunshine Week.)

Links: Include any links to stories, records, or other information that will help us better understand the issue if we decide to read beyond the 200-word description.

Attachments: If you have the original FOIA/public records request and subsequent correspondence to support the nomination, please include it with the email (within reason: if it’s larger than 10mb, just include the most important parts).  We may seek this information out separately later.

Attribution: Let us know if we can attribute the nomination (including the description text) to you and, if so, how you would like to be named (name, Twitter handle, etc.).

Contact details: Include a way for us to reach you with further questions. This information will remain confidential.

We’re on a tight turn-around schedule.  Get your nomination to us by Feb. 20 and we’ll endeavor to have the results back to you within 30 days.

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Digital Rights Groups to Senator Ron Wyden: We're Counting on You to Oppose Fast Track for the TPP - Wed, 28/01/2015 - 03:42

Seven leading US digital rights and access to knowledge groups, and over 7,550 users, have called on Sen. Wyden today to oppose any new version of Fast Track (aka trade promotion authority) that does not fix the secretive, corporate-dominated process of trade negotiations. In particular, we urge him to stand strong against any proposed Fast Track bill that allows the White House to move forward with anti-user agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) in complete secrecy, while constraining Congress' Constitutional mandate to oversee US trade policy. We fear that that the passage of this bill will mean the public has even less opportunity to influence the outcome of these and other ongoing trade deals with extreme copyright and other digital policies.

This letter reiterates our message to him last fall, when we delivered the petition to Sen. Wyden's office in DC. The organizations that have signed on to this new letter are Creative Commons, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Internet Archive, Knowledge Ecology International, New Media Rights, OpenMedia International, and Public Knowledge.

Sen. Ron Wyden holds significant influence on how this version of Fast Track will look because he now sits as the Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee. His colleague, and Chair of the Committee, Sen. Orrin Hatch, introduced the bill that was defeated last year. Sen. Hatch is determined to pass a new version with superficial fixes that do nothing to address the secrecy or the private-industry-dominated process. That's why we have had a petition directed at Sen. Wyden, calling on him to resist these weak compromises. As a long-time defender of digital rights and an outspoken critic of TPP's secrecy, we need to let him know that we're counting on him to stand up for Internet users at this critical time.

The text of the letter (PDF) is below:

January 27, 2015

Dear Sen. Wyden,

Digital rights groups have a stake in the debate around the renewal of Fast Track (AKA trade promotion authority [TPA]), which hands Congress' Constitutionally-mandated power over trade policy to the President. We have serious concerns given that such authority may be used to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and other trade deals that carry provisions threatening Internet freedom and the digital rights of users without full Congressional input.

As a prominent leader in Congress who has long-defended the digital rights of Americans, we need you to stand up against weak compromises and amendments to TPA that do not fully address the glaring lack of transparency and democratic oversight in trade negotiations, and apply retroactively to current negotiations including TTIP and TPP. You once said, "It was our Founding Fathers’ intention to ensure that the laws and policies that govern the American people take into account the interests of all the American people, not just a privileged few."

We agree. Agreements like TPP have been negotiated in secret, with overwhelming influence from Hollywood and other powerful, entrenched industries. This has led to regulatory requirements that could not only pave the way for more extreme regulations, but also prevent the US from reforming and updating its laws to new digital realities in the coming decades.

EFF's petition is addressed to you and is signed by over 7,550 concerned users.[1] The letter calls on you ensure that TPA includes the following fixes to the secret trade negotiation process:

  • Easy, ongoing access to negotiating texts by all Congress members and their staff with proper security clearance and timely public release of concluded provisions following each round of negotiations;
  • Ongoing, upto-date publication of detailed summaries of the USTR's specific proposals being submitted in negotiations;
  • Regular publication of agendas and transcripts of meetings and of all communications between USTR officials and all stakeholders, including industry groups;
  • Mandatory negotiating objectives that balance users' rights with those of private industry, including requirements to enact safeguards for free speech, privacy, and access to knowledge;
  • Congressional certification that negotiating objectives have been met before negotiations are concluded with only the pacts that have been so certified qualifying for expedited consideration;
  • Congressional approval of trade agreement texts before they can be signed by a president so that Congress explicitly authorizes a president to enter into a pact only after ensuring that an agreement’s contents are acceptable.

Users urge you to stand strong and oppose any new version of trade authority that does not include these critical guarantees of transparency, inclusiveness and accountability. Additionally, the letter specifies that provisions in current trade negotiations must not be considered closed until these transparency and oversight mechanisms have been put in place.

We are counting on you, as a pioneer in the digital rights movement, to oppose any TPA bill that does not truly address these troubling procedural issues.

Please do not support TPA. The Internet is counting on you.


Creative Commons
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Internet Archive
Knowledge Ecology International
New Media Rights
OpenMedia International
Public Knowledge

[1] Signatures from 316 Oregonians, 6785 from other US states, 454 from outside of the US

If and when the bill is on the floor, our next step is to pressure Congress members to oppose it and encourage their colleagues to vote against fast track. Many lawmakers may support the policy in order to not appear to oppose free trade, but these new omnibus trade agreements are about much more than that. They contain provisions that will have huge implications for our digital rights in the generations to come. That's why we'll need to bombard them with messages letting them know about these threats, and to call on them to defend users against secret deals.

Last year, a massive coalition of civil society organizations and individuals banded together to fight back against this undemocratic process and we defeated it. We can do it again this year, but we're going to need all the help we can get.

Related Issues: Fair Use and Intellectual Property: Defending the Balance
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EFF’s Game Plan for Ending Global Mass Surveillance - Tue, 27/01/2015 - 11:23

We have a problem when it comes to stopping mass surveillance. 

The entity that’s conducting the most extreme and far-reaching surveillance against most of the world’s communications—the National Security Agency—is bound by United States law. 

That’s good news for Americans. U.S. law and the Constitution protect American citizens and legal residents from warrantless surveillance. That means we have a very strong legal case to challenge mass surveillance conducted domestically or that sweeps in Americans’ communications. 

Similarly, the United States Congress is elected by American voters. That means Congressional representatives are beholden to the American people for their jobs, so public pressure from constituents can help influence future laws that might check some of the NSA’s most egregious practices.

But what about everyone else? What about the 96% of the world’s population who are citizens of other countries, living outside U.S. borders. They don't get a vote in Congress. And current American legal protections generally only protect citizens, legal residents, or those physically located within the United States. So what can EFF do to protect the billions of people outside the United States who are victims of the NSA’s spying?

For years, we’ve been working on a strategy to end mass surveillance of digital communications of innocent people worldwide. Today we’re laying out the plan, so you can understand how all the pieces fit together—that is, how U.S. advocacy and policy efforts connect to the international fight and vice versa. Decide for yourself where you can get involved to make the biggest difference.

This plan isn’t for the next two weeks or three months. It’s a multi-year battle that may need to be revised many times as we better understand the tools and authorities of entities engaged in mass surveillance and as more disclosures by whistleblowers help shine light on surveillance abuses.

If you’d like an overview of how U.S. surveillance law works, check out our addendum.

Intro: Mass Surveillance by NSA, GCHQ and Others 

The National Security Agency is working to collect as much as possible about the digital lives of people worldwide. As the Washington Post reported, a former senior U.S. intelligence official characterized former NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander’s approach to surveillance as “Collect it all, tag it, store it… And whatever it is you want, you go searching for it.”

The NSA can’t do this alone. It relies on a network of international partners who help collect information worldwide, especially the intelligence agencies of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom (collectively known, along with the United States, as the “Five Eyes.”) In addition, the United States has relationships (including various levels of intelligence data sharing and assistance) with Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, Spain, South Korea, Sweden, and potentially a number of other countries worldwide. There are also other countries—like Russia, China, and others—engaging in surveillance of digital communications without sharing that data with the NSA. Some of those governments, including the U.S. government, are spending billions of dollars to develop spying capabilities that they use aggressively against innocent people around the world. Some of them may do so with even less oversight and even fewer legal restrictions.

Although whistleblowers and journalists have focused attention on the staggering powers and ambitions of the likes of the NSA and GCHQ, we should never assume that other governments lack the desire to join them. Agencies everywhere are hungry for our data and working to expand their reach. Read about international surveillance law reform and fighting back through user-side encryption.

We focus here on the NSA because we know the most about its activities and we have the most legal and political tools for holding it to account. Of course, we need to know much more about surveillance practices of other agencies in the U.S. and abroad and expand our work together with our partners around the world to confront surveillance as a worldwide epidemic. 

Mass surveillance is facilitated by technology companies, especially large ones. These companies often have insufficient or even sloppy security practices that make mass surveillance easier, and in some cases may be actively assisting the NSA in sweeping up data on hundreds of millions of people (for example, AT&T). In other cases, tech companies may be legally compelled to provide access to their servers to the NSA (or they may choose to fight that access). Read more about how tech companies can harden their systems against surveillance.

The NSA relies on several laws as well as a presidential order to justify its continued mass surveillance. Laws passed by Congress as well as orders from the U.S. President can curtail surveillance by the NSA, and the Supreme Court of the United States also has authority to put the brakes on surveillance.

The Game Plan

Given that the American legal system doesn’t adequately protect the rights of people overseas, what can we do in the immediate future to protect Internet users who may not be Americans?

Here’s the game plan for right now. Note that these are not consecutive steps; we’re working on them concurrently.

1.  Pressure technology companies to harden their systems against NSA surveillance

To date, there are unanswered questions about the degree to which U.S. technology companies are actively assisting the NSA.

In some cases, we know that tech companies are doing a lot to help the NSA get access to data. AT&T is a clear example of this. Thanks to whistleblower evidence, we know AT&T has a secret room at its Folsom Street facility in San Francisco where a fiber optic splitter creates a copy of the Internet traffic that passes through AT&T’s networks. That splitter routes data directly to the NSA. 

Some companies have taken things a step further and deliberately weakened or sabotaged their own products to "enable" NSA spying. We don't know who's done this or what they've done, but the NSA documents make clear that it's happening. It's the height of betrayal of the public, and it could conceivably be taking place with the help even of some companies that are loudly complaining about government spying.

So what do we know about major tech companies, like Google, Facebook, Yahoo, and Microsoft? Here we have mixed reports. Documents provided by Edward Snowden and published in the Guardian and the Washington Post name nine U.S. companies—Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, and Apple—as participants in the NSA’s PRISM program. The documents indicate that the NSA has access to servers at each of these companies, and implies that these companies are complicit in the surveillance of their users.

The companies, in turn, have strongly denied these allegations, and have even formed a lobby group calling on governments to "limit surveillance to specific, known users for lawful purposes, and should not undertake bulk data collection of Internet communications."

While a start, that’s a far cry from the role companies could be playing. Tech companies also have the ability to harden their systems to make mass surveillance more difficult, and to roll out features that allow users to easily encrypt their communications so that they are so completely secure that even their service providers can’t read them. Perhaps most importantly, technology companies must categorically resist attempts to insert backdoors into their hardware or software.

There's also an important legal issue that can't be ignored. Tech companies are in a unique position to know about surveillance requests that are kept secret from the press and the public. These companies may have the best chance to fight back on behalf of their users in court (as Yahoo has done).

What’s more, tech companies literally spend millions of dollars to lobby for laws in Washington and enjoy incredible access to and influence over U.S. lawmakers. Often, companies spend that money trying to derail potential regulation. Instead, these companies could be heavily prioritizing positive surveillance reform bills.

So how do we get tech companies to start fighting surveillance in court, hardening their systems against surveillance, pushing back against the administration, and lobbying for real reform? We’re focused on transparency—uncovering everything we can about the degree to which big tech companies are actively helping the government—and public pressure. That means highlighting ways that companies are fighting surveillance and calling out companies that fail to stand up for user privacy.   

It’s why we’re proud to support the Reset the Net campaign, designed to get companies big and small to take steps to protect user data. It's also why we're working to make what companies do and don't do in this area more visible. Campaigns like HTTPS Everywhere and our work on email transport encryption, as well as scorecards like Who Has Your Back are designed to poke and prod these companies to do more to protect all their users, and get them to publicly commit to steps that the public can objectively check.

We also need to cultivate a sense of responsibility on the part of all those who are building products to which the public entrusts its most sensitive and private data. The people who create our computing devices, network equipment, software environments, and so on, need to be very clear about their responsibility to the users who have chosen to trust them. They need to refuse to create backdoors and they need to fix any existing backdoors they become aware of. And they need to understand that they themselves, unfortunately, are going to be targets for governments that will try to penetrate, subvert, and coerce the technology world in order to expand their spying capabilities. They have a grave responsibility to users worldwide and we must use public pressure to ensure they live up to that responsibility.

2. Create a global movement that encourages user-side encryption

Getting tech giants to safeguard our digital lives and changing laws and policies might be slow going, but anybody could start using encryption in a matter of minutes. From encrypted chat to encrypted email, from secure web browsing to secure document transfers, encryption is a powerful way to make mass surveillance significantly more difficult.

However, encryption can be tricky, especially if you don’t have a team of engineers to walk you through it the way we do at EFF. With that in mind, we’ve created Surveillance Self Defense, an in-depth resource that explains encryption to folks who may want to safeguard their data but have little or no idea how to do it.

We’ve already translated the materials into Spanish and Arabic, and we’re working on even more translations.


We’ll continue to expand these materials and translate them into as many languages as possible, while also doing a public campaign to make sure as many people as possible read them.

Again, the more people worldwide understand the threat and the more they understand how to protect themselves—and just as importantly, what they should expect in the way of support from companies and governments—the more we can agitate for the changes we need online to fend off the dragnet collection of data.

3. Encourage the creation of secure communication tools that are easier to use

Many of the tools that are using security best practices are, frankly, hard to use for everyday people. The ones that are easiest to use often don’t adopt the security practices that make them resilient to surveillance.

We want to see this problem fixed so that people don’t have to trade usability for security. We’re rolling out a multi-stage Campaign for Secure and Usable Crypto, and we kicked it off with a Secure Messaging Scorecard. The Secure Messaging Scorecard is only looking at a few criteria for security, and the next phases of the project will home in on more challenging security and usability objectives.

The goal? Encouraging the development of new technologies that will be secure and easy for everyday people to use, while also pushing bigger companies to adopt security best practices.

4. Reform Executive Order 12333

Most people haven’t even heard of it, but Executive Order 12333 is the primary authority the NSA uses to engage in the surveillance of people outside the U.S. While Congress is considering much-needed reforms to the Patriot Act, there’s been almost no debate about Executive Order 12333.

This executive order was created by a stroke of the pen from President Ronald Reagan in 1981. President Obama could undo the worst parts of this executive order just as easily, by issuing a presidential order banning mass surveillance of people regardless of their nationality.

We’ve already launched the first phase of our campaign to reform Executive Order 12333. 

5. Develop guiding legal principles around surveillance and privacy with the help of scholars and legal experts worldwide

The campaign got started well before the Snowden leaks began. It began with a rigorous policy document called the International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance, which features 13 guiding principles about limiting surveillance. Written by academics and legal experts from across the globe, the principles have now been endorsed by over 417 NGOs and 350,000 individuals worldwide, and have been the basis for a pro-privacy resolution successfully passed by the United Nations.

The 13 Principles, as they're also known, are also meant to work both locally and globally. By giving politicians and activists the context for why mass surveillance is a violation of established international human rights law, they make it clear that legalizing mass surveillance—a path promoted by the Five Eyes countries—is the wrong way forward. The 13 Principles are our way of making sure that the global norm for human rights in the context of communication surveillance isn't the warped viewpoint of NSA and its four closest allies, but that of 50 years of human rights standards showing mass surveillance to be unnecessary and disproportionate.

6. Cultivate partners worldwide who can champion surveillance reform on the local level, and offer them support and promotion

Katitza Rodriguez, EFF’s International Rights Director, is rarely in our San Francisco office. That’s because the majority of her time is spent traveling from country to country, meeting with advocacy groups on the ground throughout Latin America and parts of Europe to fight for surveillance law reform. Katitza and the rest of EFF’s international team assist these groups in working to build country-specific plans to end mass surveillance at home and abroad.

The goal is to engage activists and lawyers worldwide who can use the 13 Principles and the legal analyses we’ve prepared to support them at the national level to fight against the on-going trend of increased surveillance powers. For example, we teamed up with activists in Australia, Mexico, and Paraguay to help fight data retention mandates in those countries, including speaking in the Paraguayan National Congress. 

EFF is especially focused on countries that are known to share intelligence data with the United States and on trying to understand the politics of surveillance behind those data sharing agreements and surveillance law proposals. 

We’ve been sharing with and learning from groups across the world a range of different tactics, strategies, and legal methods that can be helpful in uncovering and combating unchecked surveillance. Our partners are starting to develop their own national surveillance law strategies, working out a localized version of the Who Has Your Back campaign, evaluating strategic litigation, and educating the general public of the danger of mass surveillance. 

In certain locales, these battles are politically and socially difficult, in particular in places where a culture of fear has permeated the society. We’ve seen anti-surveillance advocates wrongly painted as allies of pedophiles or terrorists. In at least one of the countries we’re working in, anonymity is forbidden in its constitution. For some of our partners, promoting a rational debate about checking government power abuses can risk their very freedom, with activists facing jail time or even more serious consequences for speaking out.

Establishing a bottom-up counter-surveillance law movement—even if it's one based on common sense and the entire history of modern democracies—isn't easy. It’s a titanic task that needs the involvement of advocates around the world with different tactics and strategies that are complementary. This is why we’ve also been working to make connections between activists in different countries, with case studies like the Counter-Surveillance Success Stories, and highlighting individuals who are proud to stand up and say "I Fight Surveillance." We’re also teaming up with partners, such as Panoptykon Foundation, to share the strategies and tactics they used in Europe with local groups in Latin America and vice-versa. We're working closely with groups in the Middle East and North Africa, such as 7iber and SMEX, to track, report on, and coordinate responses to state surveillance in these regions.

All of this has helped inform the work we've done in venues like the United Nations, the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights, and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, where EFF and our allies are helping—with great success—the legal minds there wrap their heads around this new age of state violations of the right to privacy and free expression.

Meanwhile, back in Washington...

7. Stop NSA overreach through impact litigation and new U.S. laws

Executive Order 12333 may be the presidential command that sets the agenda for mass surveillance, but U.S. law also plays a huge role. The NSA claims (often wrongly) that certain U.S. laws allow surveillance of all Internet users, with almost zero oversight of its spying on non-U.S. persons. There's the FISA Amendments Act, which the NSA believes allows it to spy on groups of people instead of with directed warrants and scoop up all of the Internet traffic it can, and grants it carte blanche to target anyone overseas on the grounds that they are potentially relevant to America's "foreign interests." And then there's the Patriot Act, which has been loosely interpreted by the NSA to permit the dragnet surveillance of phone records.

EFF Legal Team

Fighting these laws is the bread and butter of our domestic legal team. Our lawsuits, like Jewel v. NSA, aim to demonstrate that warrantless surveillance is illegal and unconstitutional. Our grassroots advocacy is dedicated to showing American lawmakers exactly how U.S. law is broken, what must be done to fix it, and the powerful movement of people working for change.

You can read more details about American law in our addendum below, but here's the upshot: we have to fix the law if we're to stop these secret agencies spying on the world. And we have to make sure that no new tricks are being planned.

That means chipping away at the culture of secrecy that lies at the heart of this mess.

8. Bring transparency to surveillance laws and practices

One of the greatest challenges we face in attempting to end mass surveillance is that we don’t know what we don’t know. Thanks to whistleblower evidence, statements by certain public officials, and years of aggressive litigation under the Freedom of Information Act, we’ve confirmed that the NSA is engaged in mass surveillance of our communications and that it is primarily relying on three legal authorities to justify this surveillance.

But what if the NSA is relying on seven other legal authorities? What if there are other forms of surveillance we have not yet heard about? What if the NSA is partnering with other entities (different countries or different branches of the U.S. government) to collect data in ways we can’t imagine?

It’s extremely difficult to reform the world of surveillance when we don’t have a full picture of what the government is doing and how it’s legally justifying those actions.

With that in mind, we are working to fight for more transparency by:

  • Working to reform the broken classification system, which keeps the government’s actions hidden from public oversight.
  • Using Freedom of Information Act requests and lawsuits to gain access to government documents that detail surveillance practices (and their legal justifications).
  • Helping allies, like Germany and Brazil, to put pressure on the United States to justify its surveillance practices.
  • Educating people about the value of whistleblowers and the important role they play in combating secrecy. This includes advocacy for organizations and platforms like Wikileaks that defend and promote the work of whistleblowers. It also includes highlighting the important contributions provided by whistleblowers like Mark Klein, Bill Binney, Thomas Drake, Edward Snowden, and others.

Global Solutions for a Global Problem

Mass surveillance affects people worldwide, reaching everywhere that the Internet reaches (and many places that it doesn’t!). But laws and court systems are divvied up by jurisdictional lines that don’t make sense for the Internet today. This means we need a range of tactics that include impact litigation, technological solutions, and policy changes both in the United States and across the globe.

This game plan is designed to give you insight into how U.S. laws and policies affect people worldwide, and how we can work to protect people outside of America’s borders.

We're up against more than just a few elements in the American administration here. We're up against a growing despondency about digital privacy, and we're up against the desire of spooks, autocrats, and corporations jockeying for intelligence contracts in every nation, all of whom want to shore up these surveillance powers for themselves. But we work side-by-side with hundreds of other organizations around the world and thousands of supporters in nearly every country. We have the amazing power of technology to protect privacy, organize opposition, and speak up against such damning violations of human rights.

We’re continuing to refine our plan, but we wanted to help our friends understand our thinking so you can understand how each of our smaller campaigns fit into the ultimate objective: secure, private communications for people worldwide.

It's what we’re doing to fight surveillance. But what can you do?

You can join your local digital rights organization, of which there are now hundreds, in almost every nation (and if there isn't one in yours, ask us for advice on starting one). You can pressure companies to increase your protection against government espionage and support companies that make a stand. You can sign our petition about Executive Order 12333 and help spread the word to others. You can use encryption to protect yourself and raise the cost of mass surveillance, and you can teach your friends and colleagues to use it too. You can personally refuse to cooperate with surveillance and promote privacy protections inside institutions you're a part of. You can tell your friends and colleagues the real risks we are running and how we can turn this mess around.

And whether you're in the United States or not, you can support our plan by becoming a member of EFF.

Addendum: Laws & Presidential Orders We Need to Change

One of the best ways to end mass surveillance by the NSA is to change the United States law to make clear that warrantless surveillance is illegal. However, that’s a little challenging. The NSA is relying on a patchwork of different laws and executive orders to justify its surveillance powers. 

Here are a few we know we need to change. Note that there are other parts of U.S. law that may need revision (including provisions such as the Pen Register Trap and Trace and National Security Letters), but this is where we're focusing our energies currently as the primary known authorities used to justify mass surveillance:

Section 215 of the Patriot Act, Known as the "Business Records" Section

Read the law

What it does: The section of the law basically says that the government can compel the production of any "tangible things" that are “relevant" to an investigation.

Why you should care: The NSA relies on this authority to collect, in bulk, the phone records of millions of Americans. There are suggestions it's also being used to collect other types of records, like financial records or credit card records, in bulk as well.

How we can stop it: There are a few ways to fix Section 215. One way is to pass a reform bill, such as the USA FREEDOM Act, which would make clear that using Section 215 to conduct bulk collection is illegal. The USA FREEDOM Act failed to pass in the Senate in 2014, which means it would need to be reintroduced in 2015. 

However, there’s an even easier way to defeat this provision of the law. This controversial section of the Patriot Act expires every few years and must be reauthorized by Congress. It’s up for renewal in June 2015, which means Congress must successfully reauthorize the section or it will cease to be a law. We’re going to be mounting a huge campaign to call on Congress not to reauthorize the bill.

We also have three legal cases challenging surveillance conducted under Section 215: Jewel v NSA, Smith v Obama, and First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles v. NSA.

Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act

Read the law

What it does: This section of law is designed to allow the NSA to conduct warrantless surveillance within the U.S. when the intended target is overseas.

Why you should care: The NSA relies on this law to support PRISM, which compels Internet service providers like Google, Apple, and Facebook to produce its users communications. The NSA's upstream surveillance—which includes tapping into fiber optic cables of AT&T and other telecommunications providers—also relies on this provision. Through these two surveillance options, the NSA "targets" subjects for surveillance. But even when the NSA is "targeting" specific foreign intelligence subjects overseas, they’re "incidentally" collecting communications on millions of people, including both Americans and innocent people abroad.

How we can stop it: Currently, there aren’t any reform bills that show promise. We’re working on educating the public and Congress about the Section 702 and the FISA Amendments Act. In 2017, this authority will be up for reauthorization. We’ll be planning a big campaign to demolish this invasive and oft-abused surveillance authority.

Executive Order 12333

Read the executive order

What it does: Executive orders are legally binding orders given by the President of the United States which direct how government agencies should operate. Executive Order 12333 covers "most of what the NSA does" and is "the primary authority under which the country’s intelligence agencies conduct the majority of their operations."

Why you should care: Executive Order 12333 is the primary authority the NSA uses to conduct its surveillance operations—including mass surveillance programs—overseas. Reforming mass surveillance requires reforming the NSA's authority under EO 12333.

How we can stop it: Executive Order 12333 was created by a presidential order, and so a presidential order could undo all of this damage. That’s why we’re pressuring President Obama to issue a new executive order affirming the privacy rights of people worldwide and ending mass surveillance.

The Funding Hack

While passing a bill through Congress is extremely challenging, another (somewhat more controversial) method of ending this surveillance is through the budget system. Every year, Congress must approve the defense budget. This frequently becomes a contentious battle with numerous amendments introduced and debated. We may see an amendment that tackles some form of surveillance.

Related Issues: InternationalSurveillance and Human RightsNSA SpyingRelated Cases: Smith v. ObamaJewel v. NSAFirst Unitarian Church of Los Angeles v. NSA
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Categories: Aggregated News

In Response to EFF Lawsuit, Government Ordered to Release Secret Surveillance Court Documents Today - Tue, 27/01/2015 - 05:00

Update: The government released two new FISC opinions this evening, both of which concern the transition of NSA surveillance to the oversight of the FISC in 2007. Neither of the two documents, available here and here, is the Raw Take order or the 2008 FAA order. The government has one additional production deadline in this case on March 2, 2015.

Since 2011, EFF has fought to shed light on the government's secret reinterpretation of federal surveillance laws. Much of our fight has focused on the legal opinions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), the federal court that oversees many of the intelligence community’s domestic surveillance programs.

In September, in response to our Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, a federal district court in Washington, D.C. ordered the government to review and produce a series of opinions from the secret court. Today, the government is scheduled to produce some of those documents.

We’ve sued the government three separate times to force disclosure of significant opinions of the FISC. These lawsuits have produced numerous previously secret FISC decisions, including: opinions showing the government had repeatedly violated court-imposed restrictions on surveillance, unconstitutional surveillance conducted under the FISA Amendments Act, and the transition to FISC oversight over NSA surveillance authorities.

Our third lawsuit sought the disclosure of a number of still-secret and significant FISC opinions. While the government has not indicated which opinion it intends to produce today, two significant opinions remain secret.

First, the so-called "Raw Take" order from 2002. The existence of this opinion was first disclosed in a New York Times article based, in part, off the Snowden disclosures. As the Times described the opinion, it "appears to have been the first substantial demonstration of the court’s willingness after Sept. 11 to reinterpret the law to expand government powers." The order, apparently, "weakened restrictions on sharing private information about Americans, according to documents and interviews." Beyond what has been reported in the Times article, not much more is known about the opinion.

The second opinion that remains secret is a 2008 FISC opinion concerning the legality and constitutionality of surveillance under the FISA Amendments Act (FAA). This opinion, described as the "Rosetta Stone" of FAA surveillance by those familiar with it, purportedly represents the FISC’s full assessment of the range of legal issues presented by NSA surveillance under Section 702 of the FAA—a provision of law authorizing the government to conduct warrantless surveillance within the United States of overseas targets. Importantly, the opinion likely discusses the constitutionality of the NSA’s upstream surveillance operations—currently, the only federal court decision on this topic. Despite this opinion's centrality to understanding FAA surveillance, it has remained secret for nearly 7 years.

Of course, it’s possible the government won’t release anything today. In fact, in this lawsuit, the government has already claimed that a FISC opinion addressing criminal violations of federal surveillance laws by government officials must remain secret. We fully intend to fight for disclosure of that opinion in court. And, if the government decides to withhold either the Raw Take order or the 2008 FISC order, we promise to fight those withholdings as well. But our hope is that the government will save us all the time and expense of taxpayer dollars, and release the opinions without a lengthy court battle.

The public has a fundamental right to know, read, and understand the decisions of the federal courts. That’s true whether the opinions concern national security surveillance or more mundane issues. Secret courts, and secret court opinions, are inimical to our democratic system. Hopefully, today’s disclosures will move us one step closer to ending the government’s secret surveillance law practices.

Files:  may_2007_order.pdf august_2007_order.pdfRelated Issues: TransparencyRelated Cases: FISC Orders on Illegal Government Surveillance
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