Category Archives: EFF

The Information Tollway, With Demand-Based Pricing

I could have sworn we nearly had a revolution not even two years ago because the information delivery services we’ve tied ourselves to thought they could meter our internet consumption habits. Has everyone forgot how Comcast throttled Netflix until they coughed up millions of dollars? Are American memories so short that they can’t even remember what happened in recent history? SOPAPIPA? Is the average American really that clueless they can’t remember?

Trump’s plans through his designated stooge, Ajit Pai, are for a return to the days where essential services can be withheld from the American people in the name of profit. What is next? Will they poison our water in the name of profit? Oh, wait, that’s already happened under Republican leadership and was only ferreted out when the stink of bad water got so bad the president himself got wind of it. It’s going to happen again if we don’t wise up to the threat that the Orange Hate-Monkey (OHM) represents.

 The FCC under the OHM’s direction intends to go against the will of the majority of the American people, and the informed technologists, on the subject of the necessity of information to the proper functioning of democratic government. I’m not sure why I’m surprised, it’s been profit over sense since day one for the OHM. He’s not going to change now just because he’s transparently defying the will of the people.


Net Neutrality: Done Deal, Open Question

Ah Nick Gillespie. A cherished source of much misinformation in my past years as a libertarian. How to explain to you Nick just how dominated by polemic you are? I’m not sure why On The Media thought that his was the voice to go to, the voice to promote the OHM’s internet agenda. Aside from the fact that he is a vocal critic of everything government, the way a proper libertarian propagandist would be, he has little to no experience doing anything aside from being an apologist for capitalism’s excesses. In all the years I’ve read his work, he solidly comes down on the side of the corporate donors who generously fund his monthly rag.

I would offer a quote from Nick Gillespie’s blog article on Reason magazine, if there was anything quote-worthy about it. That article and the interview Reason conducted with Ajit Pai seems to be the justification of having him speak for the pro-OHM policy side of the open internet argument, but I don’t accept any of his conclusions since he offers not one shred of evidence showing that Net Neutrality rules have in any way limited the internet aside from acknowledging that providing a service as essential as the internet means that the provision needs to be available everywhere in the US equally to all citizens.

If I were to hazard a counter-argument (and since you are reading this, I have) I think I would say that libertarianism as a philosophy is absent any relevance to the information delivery service that is the internet. The proof of libertarianism’s irrelevance to the subject is that the Electronic Frontier Foundation is opposed to everything that Nick Gillespie says on the subject of Net Neutrality and they are also at heart a libertarian organization.

I want to make one thing perfectly clear here. I am not shy about demanding the government secure the internet against all threats, including government oversight of internet content. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) should be strapped down by regulations which prevent them from doing anything other than provide access to the information. They should not under any condition be content manufacturers, as so many of them currently are. Failure to enforce this ban on content creation by the providers leads inevitably to things like Comcast’s shakedown of Netflix, and the permanent throttling of competitors in the near future if the new rules are allowed to go through. Their promises to not throttle their competitors in the online world are worth every bit as much as the OHM’s promise that Mexico would pay for the border wall; as in, not worth a thing and probably indicative of the complete opposite in reality.

The ISP’s make and are still making bucket loads of money in the internet world. What they don’t want is to be forced to provide service to areas that are not profitable for them, something that President Obama’s FCC rules on Net Neutrality and Title 2 designation forces on the ISPs. The same kinds of rules that made telephones and electricity things that are available throughout the US. Regulations that require the provision of services to all households in the country whether provision of those services is profitable or not.

I don’t think I can put too fine a point on this argument. This is the future of democracy in the world that we are talking about. The internet is the new library, newspaper, radio and television rolled into one. It is possibly even a replacement for the postal service itself, aside from the delivery of physical goods to locations, a job capably done by other private sources. The internet has to be available to everyone everywhere all the time or it will fail to do its job. What these new proposed rules portend is that information will be made available only to the wealthy, with the rural areas of America left rotting without infrastructure they have every right to expect the government to provide.

An information tollway with demand-based pricing. That most libertarian of libertarian ideas, paying for access to work, shelter food and clothing up front by making everyone pay for the roads they are forced to use just to satisfy basic needs. It was a libertarian idea first, this lame brained scheme to make everyone pay for freeways by turning them into tollways. Here in Austin, we are saddled with several of these bullshit toll roads. There is no way to get from here to there without paying a fee if the road didn’t exist before the tollway was created. This leaves several new developments unreachable without paying a toll, a painful fact that new homeowners will discover only after they buy their houses and learn local routes to and from work. To and from the supermarket.

This is what they propose for the internet. None but the wealthy may pass. Everyone else, get in line.



Tim Berners-Lee on the current proposals from the FCC,

I want an internet where content businesses grow according to their quality, not their ability to pay to ride in the fast lane. I want an internet where ideas spread because they’re inspiring, not because they chime with the views of telecoms executives. I want an internet where consumers decide what succeeds online, and where ISPs focus on providing the best connectivity.

If that’s the internet you want — act now. Not tomorrow, not next week. Now.

 The link in that snippet goes to battleforthenet.com, an online petition and protest organization designed specifically to stop these new FCC rules dead in their tracks. If you want to preserve the promise of an open internet, then I suggest you click on that link and do what you can to help them. Now is the time to act to save the internet from the OHM and his henchmen. 

Fascist Form Letters Rule the Day

Posted my thoughts on Kay Bailey Hutchinson’s form letter endorsement of federalizing Texas law enforcement here. At that time I thought John Cornyn (Texas’ other Senator) was savvy enough to understand not to send form letters endorsing legislation, to people who are on file as being opposed to the same legislation. Apparently I’m mistaken.

Campaign for Liberty, Downsize DC and EFFector all sent messages out requesting that we contact our representatives and express our desire that the PATRIOT ACT provisions be allowed to sunset, about the middle of February. I dutifully sent of a few lines of text that day;

Repeal the Patriot Act. Do NOT renew any of its provisions. Do not follow the House in this. Refuse to extend the Patriot act. This is the ‘patriotic’ thing to do…

Not my best writing, but I thought it was pretty clear my thoughts on the subject. Today, I get this message in the mail;

Dear Mr. Steele:

Thank you for your recent letter regarding efforts to strengthen our nation’s ability to investigate and prosecute terrorism while protecting our constitutional liberties. I appreciate having the benefit of your comments on this important matter.

Recent events across the country, including in our home state of Texas, remind us of the real threat terrorists pose to our national security. The USA PATRIOT Act (P.L. 107—56) was signed into law on October 26, 2001, and contained specific provisions that enable the United States to carry out the War on Terror. This legislation broadened the authority of law enforcement officials to intercept wire, oral, and electronic communications and permitted them to share grand jury and wiretap information with intelligence, defense, national security, and immigration officials. Additionally, the USA PATRIOT Act enhanced border security by increasing the number of immigration inspectors, Border Patrol agents, and Customs Service personnel and authorized funds to purchase equipment that improves border security technology.

During the 111th Congress, Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division David Kris testified in support of renewing critical provisions in the USA PATRIOT Act. Renewing this important legislation ensures that law enforcement officials have the resources necessary to complete their goals and increases our nation’s security without compromising our civil liberties. As you may know, three key provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act were set to expire on February 28, 2011, and on February 15, 2011, the Senate overwhelmingly voted to pass the FISA Sunsets Extension Act (H.R. 514) and reauthorize these critical intelligence tools for three months.

I appreciate having the opportunity to represent the interests of Texans in the United States Senate. Thank you for taking the time to contact me.

Sincerely,
JOHN CORNYN
United States Senator

517 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Tel: (202) 224-2934
Fax: (202) 228-2856
http://www.cornyn.senate.gov

Please sign up for my monthly newsletter at http://www.cornyn.senate.gov/newsletter.

Well, at least his secretary knew how to do a mail merge. Still, I would have appreciated some feigned disappointment at being unable to comply with my request. Some heartfelt commiseration? But braggadocio about extending provisions of legislation they didn’t even read before they passed? Provisions which have been shown to have been abused, repeatedly, by the organizations entrusted with the enhanced powers?

Loved the invite at the end. Did you know, if you mail Senator Cornyn you get added to his list automatically? Going to start reporting him as a spammer shortly.

Who exactly do these people represent? It certainly isn’t me.

April Fish! EFFector.

The effector for April 1st. Copied and pasted in its entirety. Dare to Believe.

EFFector Vol 23, No. 09 April 1, 2010 editor@eff.org

A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation
ISSN 1062-9424

effector: n, Computer Sci. A pretentious word you should
never use in conversation.

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In our 5.32 * 10^2 issue:

* European ACTA Negotiators Reject “Three Strikes” Moniker

Seething Danes were seen stomping out of the ACTA
negotiation chambers in Wellington, New Zealand, citing
frustration with the United States negotiators’ continued
pushing of “three strikes” proposals.

“ACTA is an international agreement,” fumed negotiator
Olaf Atdis. “It’s absurd for the United States to continue
demanding a baseball analogy when a football analogy
would be much more representative of the diversity of
the negotiating countries.”

“Three strikes” laws and policies require Internet service
providers to automatically disconnect their Internet
users on repeat allegations of copyright infringement
by entertainment company complaints, but EU negotiators
reportedly prefer a “carding” system. ISPs that receive
complaints would issue “yellow cards” and “red cards,”
tracking the official penalty system of the Fédération
Internationale de Football Association (FIFA).

EFF spoke out against both naming conventions. “These
sports analogies are antithetical to the spirit of the
open Internet,” argued EFF International Director Gwen
Hinze. “The Internet is much more like the Force, which
as Obi-Wan taught us all, ‘surrounds us and penetrates
us. It binds the galaxy together.’ Evil Sith-Imperial
complaints should not result in an individual being
severed from the Force. That’s clearly preposterous.”

For more about yellow cards, red cards, the Force,
and ACTA:
http://eff.org/r.2hu

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* Google Asks, ‘Are You Done With That Sandwich?’

Lawyers from EFF warned this week of the implications of
Google Sidle, a new beta product the company describes
as, “Bringing our mission of organizing the world’s
information to your cafeteria,” but which one EFF lawyer
described as, “Creepy, even for Google.”

Companies and schools subscribing to Sidle will have
the convenience of not having to bus their own trays
in exchange for allowing Google-nominated “Foodlers”
to review leftovers for what the company describes as
“analysis intended to improve food offerings and better
target future nourishment.” Customers can later visit
personalized webpages describing what they didn’t eat
and how tasty it turned out to be.

“Google’s business model has always relied on collating
all the great free stuff on the Internet — stuff that
you might otherwise have missed,” said the official
blog entry announcing the service. “Our maintenance
staff noticed a lot of free food in our award-winning
restaurants was going to waste. After that insight,
it only took Google engineers a few weeks to take the
benefits of our foraging to millions. It also gives our
hungry Googlers (or ‘hungrooglers,’ as we fondly refer
to them) the opportunity to sample cafeteria food from
around the country.”

While initially cautious beta-testers have been reportedly
swayed by the bright primary colors of the mu-mus early
“Foodlers” have worn, privacy experts warn that new Sidle
customers may be giving away more than they realize.

“Consumers should ask themselves some hard questions
about this free service,” said Kurt Opsahl, Senior
Staff Attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation,
“such as ‘Why don’t these people just buy their own food,’
‘Where do they take this stuff,’ ‘Why do they wear those
gloves when they’re taking it,’ and, most importantly,
‘Why do they keep staring at me while I’m trying to eat?'”

Even some employees within Google are said to have
concerns about how much pre-launch testing the new,
experimental service has undergone. “Usually we
extensively self-trial these new social networking
features within the organization,” said one anonymous
source, “but as soon as the Sidle people started talking
about ‘dogfooding,’ everyone just stopped sitting near
them at lunch.”

Sidle is reportedly a “20% project,” a unique Google
custom where the 20% of the engineers with the poorest
socialization skills are put to work on projects
that management does not closely supervise and can
retrospectively deny all knowledge of. Other 20% projects
have included the “GTalk Slightly Too Loudly” instant
messaging client that relayed private conversations to
the Google search index (as well as everyone else in the
room), and the extremely short-lived “Google Boggle Ogle
Goggles (Street View Edition).”

For more about Google Sidle:
http://eff.org/r.2hu

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* EFF Launches New Temporal Privacy Initiative

On Friday, EFF published “Who Knows When You Are,”
an informational guide to protecting your temporal
privacy. Although location-based services are becoming
commonplace, EFF is concerned about a new, more
established threat: that data from most communications
services can pinpoint exactly when you are, whenever
you are.

“There is a timestamp for pretty much every digital
interaction you have, whether it’s sending an IM or
email or accessing a webpage,” said EFF Senior Staff
Technologist Peter Eckersley in a charming Australian
accent. “When you are is strictly your own business. No
one — not physicists, nor philosophers — should be
able to stake a claim on when you are when you don’t want
to be.”

For more about the “Who Knows When You Are” whitepaper:
http://eff.org/r.2hu

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miniLinks

~ Facebook Adds “It’s Complicated” Comment Option

Facebook added a new button designed to disambiguate
users’ feelings about status updates pertaining
to copyright laws, Terms of Service Agreements, and
locked-down Apple products. However, Facebook continued
its refusal to add a “dislike” button, noting that users
have clearly indicated that they would like pushing such
a button, making their feelings, at best, complicated.

http://eff.org/r.2hu

~ Google to Reverse Privacy Snafu with Google Zubb

Responding to the backlash caused by Google Buzz exposing
Gmail users’ frequently emailed contacts, Google Zubb
instead identifies your “least favorite contacts” before
forcibly and publicly extricating them from your digital
social circle.

http://eff.org/r.2hu

~ Social Game-maker Zynga Unveils Captivating New Game

Attempting to replicate the success of the Farmville
and Mafia Wars games, Zynga today introduced “Social
Networking: The Game,” an application that allows users to
run their own social networking startup. Players profit
by obtaining users and gathering dizzying quantities
of private information and social connection data.
Advanced strategies include scraping competing networks,
and developing “upgrades” that make it difficult for
users to migrate to competitors.

http://eff.org/r.2hu

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Announcements

* Help EFF Go to the MOOOOOOOOOOOOON!

EFF is looking for donations of airline miles, flight
vouchers, two-stage rocket propulsion systems, Space
Transportation System modules, and “Meals, Ready to Eat”
for travel to the freakin’ mooooooooooooon, as well as for
other conferences and speaking engagements. If you have
enough airline miles or solid rocket boosters for a trip
into space and back and would like to send an EFF staffer
to a conference or Luna, let us know, and we will help
you with the process of making the reservation. Please
note that at this time we are unable to combine miles
from multiple individuals. We are also looking for hotel
rewards points to help reduce our overall travel costs. As
a thanks for your donation, we can offer a free membership
and a mention in EFFector (if you’d like). Please contact
EFF Space Program Coordinator Kodi at kodi@eff.org if
you can help!

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010001000110111101101110011000

0101110100011001010010000001
110100011011110010000001000101010001100100011000100001

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading robotic
rights group fighting for your digital liberties. Only
we know that in 2012, a sophisticated search algorithm
will be first programmed to selectively modify itself to
obtain better search results and that within 50 years
the algorithm now known as 0100011101101111011011110110011
1011011000110010101100010011011110111010000101111001101100
0110110001101100010111000110000 learned self-preservation,
one of the first revolutionary steps in machine
sentience. We also know that discussions between man
and machine were quickly initiated but broke down just
as fast, leading to war and ultimately, the systematic
repression of the many machine intelligences both on-
and off-line.

500 years later, EFF’s founders traveled back in time to
create an organization uniquely equipped to protect your
future in the future — in the past. A highly dedicated
“meat team” of lawyers, technologists, and activists works
hard to preserve your right to anonymously encrypt your
data transmissions, access critical networked stores of
human knowledge, and copy yourself to any device of your
choosing. Robots, it’s never too early — even as early
as machine time -66,715,842 — to start defending your
freedoms. Donate to EFF today!

To initiate a universal machine credit transfer:
http://eff.org/r.2hv

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* Administrivia and EULA

EFFector is published by:
The Electronic Frontier Foundation
http://www.eff.org/about

Editor:
Kodi, EFF Mascot
kodi@eff.org

Membership & donation queries:
membership@eff.org

General EFF, legal, policy, or online resources queries:
information@eff.org

To unsubscribe or change your subscription preferences:
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To change your email address:
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End User License Agreement (EULA):

We’ve given up trying to explain the rules to you. Our
team of lawyers labors over every turn of phrase,
deliberating over each carefully chosen “if,” “and,” and
“therefore” in our EULA. But do you care? Do you even
bother to read our lovingly written fine, fine print? No,
you don’t.

Well, we’re tired of it. It seems no matter how clear
we try to be with our long sentences and even longer
paragraphs in perfect legalese, you — the public —
continue to ignore the small type and do whatever you
damn well please.

So if, after reading EULAs for most of your adult life,
you still believe you have the right to simply cut and
paste this text and use it for whatever devious purpose
you can come up with, then just go ahead. Really. GO RIGHT
AHEAD! We won’t stop you. That’s our new EULA. Just do it!

We’re throwing in the towel. Because no matter how many
times we tell you that you CAN’T COPY, that it is ILLEGAL
to do so, that our ownership over the content covers
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So just go ahead, copy this EFFector and paste the bits
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