Thermal Imaging Cameras are Still Dangerous Dragnet Surveillance Cameras

As governments around the world continue to seek solutions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, companies are eager to sell their technology as a silver bullet to defeating the virus. The public already has seen privacy-invasive proposals for geolocation tracking and face recognition. Now, some vendors of surveillance equipment are advocating for the use of…

Google-Fitbit Merger Would Cement Google’s Data Empire

Google buying another tech company isn’t new.  But Google’s proposed acquisition of Fitbit poses an extraordinary threat to competition and user privacy.  Users face having their Fitbit information added to Google’s already large and invasive data pool, and a world that makes it harder and harder for privacy-focused tech companies to exist and compete. The…

How EFF Evaluates Government Demands for New Surveillance Powers

The COVID-19 public health crisis has no precedent in living memory. But government demands for new high-tech surveillance powers are all too familiar. This includes well-meaning proposals to use various forms of data about disease transmission among people. Even in the midst of a crisis, the public must carefully evaluate such government demands, because surveillance…

Harden Your Zoom Settings to Protect Your Privacy and Avoid Trolls

Whether you are on Zoom because your employer or school requires it or you just downloaded it to stay in touch with friends and family, people have rushed to the video chat platform in the wake of COVID-19 stay-at-home orders—and journalists, researchers, and regulators have noticed its many security and privacy problems. Zoom has responded…

Thermal Imaging Cameras are Still Dangerous Dragnet Surveillance Cameras

As governments around the world continue to seek solutions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, companies are eager to sell their technology as a silver bullet to defeating the virus. The public already has seen privacy-invasive proposals for geolocation tracking and face recognition. Now, some vendors of surveillance equipment are advocating for the use of thermal cameras that would supposedly detect people who may be infected with the virus and…

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Google-Fitbit Merger Would Cement Google’s Data Empire

Google buying another tech company isn’t new.  But Google’s proposed acquisition of Fitbit poses an extraordinary threat to competition and user privacy.  Users face having their Fitbit information added to Google’s already large and invasive data pool, and a world that makes it harder and harder for privacy-focused tech companies to exist and compete. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is reviewing the deal, and could take steps to either…

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How EFF Evaluates Government Demands for New Surveillance Powers

The COVID-19 public health crisis has no precedent in living memory. But government demands for new high-tech surveillance powers are all too familiar. This includes well-meaning proposals to use various forms of data about disease transmission among people. Even in the midst of a crisis, the public must carefully evaluate such government demands, because surveillance invades privacy, deters free speech, and unfairly burdens vulnerable groups. It also metastasizes behind closed…

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Harden Your Zoom Settings to Protect Your Privacy and Avoid Trolls

Whether you are on Zoom because your employer or school requires it or you just downloaded it to stay in touch with friends and family, people have rushed to the video chat platform in the wake of COVID-19 stay-at-home orders—and journalists, researchers, and regulators have noticed its many security and privacy problems. Zoom has responded with a surprisingly good plan for next steps, but talk is cheap. Zoom will have…

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Automated Moderation Must be Temporary, Transparent and Easily Appealable

For most of us, social media has never been more crucial than it is right now: it’s keeping us informed and connected during an unprecedented moment in time. People have been using major platforms for all kinds of things, from following and posting news, to organizing aid—such as coordinating the donations of masks across international boundaries—to sharing tips on working from home to, of course, pure entertainment. At the same…

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Victory! Federal Circuit Enables Public to Hear Arguments In Important Patent Case

Just like us, federal judges are continuing to grapple with the challenges of COVID-19 and its impact on their ability to do their jobs. Less than two weeks ago, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C. announced that April’s oral arguments in our case would take place telephonically or not at all. Since that time, the court has cancelled arguments for a substantial number of…

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The EARN IT Act Violates the Constitution

Since senators introduced the EARN IT Act (S. 3398) in early March, EFF has called attention to the many ways in which the bill would be a disaster for Internet users’ free speech and security. We’ve explained how the EARN IT Act could be used to drastically undermine encryption. Although the bill doesn’t use the word “encryption” in its text, it gives government officials like Attorney General William Barr the…

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EFF to Supreme Court: Losing Your Phone Shouldn’t Mean You Lose Your Fourth Amendment Rights

You probably know the feeling: you reach for your phone only to realize it’s not where you thought it was. Total panic quickly sets in. If you’re like me (us), you don’t stop in the moment to think about why losing a phone is so scary. But the answer is clear: In addition to being an expensive gadget, all your private stuff is on there.   Now imagine that the…

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Speaking Freely: Sandra Ordoñez

Sandra (Sandy) Ordoñez is dedicated to protecting women being harassed online. Sandra is an experienced community engagement specialist, a proud NYC Latina resident of Sunset Park Brooklyn, and a recipient of Fundación Carolina’s Hispanic Leadership Award. She is also a long-time diversity and inclusion advocate, with extensive experience incubating and creating FLOSS and Internet Freedom community tools. These commitments and principles drive Sandra’s work as the co-founder and Director of…

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Vallejo Must Suspend Cell-Site Simulator Purchase

As Bay Area residents sheltered at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Vallejo City Council assembled via teleconference last week to vote on the purchase of one of the most controversial pieces of surveillance equipment—a cell-site simulator. What’s worse is that the city council approved the purchase in violation of state law regulating the acquisition of such technology.  Any decision to acquire this technology must happen in broad daylight,…

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Keeping Each Other Safe When Virtually Organizing Mutual Aid

Communities across the country are stepping up to self-organize mutual aid groups, uniting virtually to offer and coordinate support to those who are in need. In solidarity with the need for physical distancing, many people are organizing online using Google spreadsheets, Google forms, public posts on Twitter and Facebook, and private messages on social media platforms.  There is great beauty and power in this support, but it also puts security…

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Government Needs Critics—Now More Than Ever

In late December, only a few hundred people knew of COVID-19. Now it’s March—just 90 days later—and much of the world has had to learn about and adapt and respond to the deadly disease. Though the highly contagious virus seems impossible to ignore today, it’s in part thanks to whistleblowers and critics around the world sharing warnings and information that some governments responded to the pandemic when they did. Even…

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EFF Joins Locast Defense Team to Fight for TV Viewers’ Right to Use Free, Legal Streaming Service

Giant Broadcasters Abuse Copyright Laws to Go After Nonprofit San Francisco—The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today joined the legal team defending Sports Fans Coalition NY, Inc. (SFCNY), the nonprofit organization that runs Locast, a free, local TV streaming service facing bogus copyright infringement claims by broadcast giants ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox. Locast enables TV viewers to receive local over-the-air programming—which broadcasters must by law make available for free—using set-top…

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EFF Asks California AG to Close Loopholes, Respect "Do Not Track" With Regulations

Today, EFF once again joined a coalition of privacy advocates filing comments with the California Attorney General (AG) on the latest proposed regulations for the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). The CCPA was passed in June 2018 and took effect on January 1, 2020. Later this year, the AG will finalize regulations that dictate how exactly the law will be enforced. While the first set of proposed regulations were (as…

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Members of Congress Once Again Urge ICANN to Save Dot Org

As the proposed sale of the .ORG domain registry to private equity firm Ethos Capital plays out, we see more and more why this sale was rushed through: the longer we have to look at it, the more questions we all have, and the fewer answers we get. For the second time, some of the people questioning the wisdom of this sale are members of the U.S. Congress. On March…

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Now More Than Ever, Prisoners Should Have Some Access to Social Media

COVID-19 has trapped many of us in our homes, isolating us from family and friends and limiting our movements. But there are few people who feel the isolating impacts of COVID-19 more acutely than those who are actually incarcerated­ in jails and prisons across the country. As Jerry Metcalf, an inmate in Michigan, wrote for the Marshall Project’s “Life on the Inside” series: For those of you reading this who…

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EFF, ACLU & CDT Argue Five Months of Warrantless Covert 24/7 Video Surveillance Violates Fourth Amendment

Should the fact that your neighbors can see the outside of your house mean the police can use a camera to record everything that happens there for more than five months? We don’t think so either. That’s why we joined ACLU, ACLU of Massachusetts, and the Center for Democracy & Technology in filing an amicus brief last week in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court arguing the Fourth Amendment and Massachusetts’s…

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EFF Joins Coalition Urging Judicial Transparency During the COVID-19 Emergency

EFF and a number of other organizations that advocate for government transparency have signed onto a letter written by the First Amendment Coalition asking the California state judiciary to ensure public access to court proceedings and records. Many clerk’s offices are restricting entry and many operations of the state court system have moved online in direct response to actions taken by Gov. Gavin Newsom, including the Statewide Order of March…

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The Feds Can Stop Patent Trolls from Endangering COVID-19 Testing and Treatment

It’s unthinkable that bad actors could take advantage of patent law and keep the public from getting access to COVID-19 tests and treatment, but they can and will—it already happened this month. Fortunately, an often-overlooked section of U.S. patent law allows the government to do something about it. Patent troll Labrador Diagnostics LLC recently used a portfolio of old patents to sue a company that makes and distributed COVID-19 tests.…

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Verily's COVID-19 Screening Website Leaves Privacy Questions Unanswered

One week after Alphabet’s Verily launched its COVID-19 screening website, several unanswered questions remain about how exactly the project will collect, use, and retain people’s medical information. Verily, a healthcare data subsidiary of Google’s parent company Alphabet, has until now operated its Project Baseline as a way to connect potential participants with clinical research. Now, after a confused roll-out, Verily’s Baseline COVID-19 Pilot Program screening and testing website allows users…

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