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Posts Tagged eff
EFF recently received dozens of pages of documents in response to a FOIA request we submitted about Operation Choke Point, a Department of Justice project to pressure banks and financial institutions into cutting off service to certain businesses. Unfortunately, the response from the Department of Justice leaves many questions unanswered.
EFF has been tracking instances of financial censorship for years to identify how online speech is indirectly silenced or intimidated by shuttering bank accounts, donation platforms, and other financial institutions. The Wall Street Journal wrote about the Justice Department’s controversial and secretive campaign against financial institutions in 2013, and one Justice Department official quoted in the article stated:
Randomly-generated passphrases offer a major security upgrade over user-chosen passwords. Estimating the difficulty of guessing or cracking a human-chosen password is very difficult. It was the primary topic of my own PhD thesis and remains an active area of research. (One of many difficulties when people choose passwords themselves is that people aren’t very good at making random, unpredictable choices.)
Measuring the security of a randomly-generated passphrase is easy. The most common approach to randomly-generated passphrases (immortalized by XKCD) is to simply choose several words from a list of words, at random. The more words you choose, or the longer the list, the harder it is to crack. Looking at it mathematically, for k words chosen from a list of length n, there are kn possible passphrases of this type. It will take an adversary about kn/2 guesses on average to crack this passphrase. This leaves a big question, though: where do we get a list of words suitable for passphrases, and how do we choose the length of that list?
In general choosing four five-letter words is better than one long word with number substitutions and some weird characters thrown in. It’s easier to remember and vastly harder for a computer to guess.
The underlying legal ideas stretch back to one of EFF’s earliest major legal victories. Twenty years ago, in Bernstein v. U.S. Department of Justice, a judge articulated that code is speech inrejecting so-called export restrictions on code that implements cryptographic protocols. Daniel Bernstein, a mathematics Ph.D. student, wanted to publish source code for a program to run an algorithm he developed. He objected to the State Department classification of his code as a “munition” and, with EFF’s help, sued to establish his First Amendment right to publish the code without arbitrary restrictions outlined in the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) and other laws—restrictions that included registering as an arms dealer and submitting the code for governmental review.
Read EFF’s full amicus brief here.
From the EFF:
Tell Congress: Stop S. 1357. No reauthorization of Section 215 of the Patriot Act—no matter how short.
Congress has a chance to vote no on the NSA’s mass phone record surveillance under Section 215 of the Patriot Act. But NSA apologists are trying to broker a deal to extend Section 215 for another two months. That’s two more months of the NSA sweeping up millions of people’s phone records unconstitutionally. With your help, we can stop Congress from simply rubber-stamping this reauthorization. Tell Congress: no reauthorization of Section 215, no matter how short.
Surveillance Self Defense will teach you how to use technology and software to protect yourself and your data online.
This is a project of the Electronic Frontier Foundation
From the Electronic Frontier Foundation:
The State of New York has proposed BitLicense, a sprawling regulatory framework that would mandate licenses for a wide range of companies that interact with digital currencies. The proposal creates expensive and vague new obligations for startups and infringes on the privacy rights of both Bitcoin businesses and casual users. And we have only four days before public comments on the proposal close. Speak out now.
This isn’t just about Bitcoin. Any future digital currency protocol would be affected, even if it’s not being used for financial services. As the proposal is currently drafted, innovators who want to use these protocols for smart contracts, to track digital assets, or for any other purpose would still be affected.
From the EFF:
In what can only be described as a results-oriented opinion, the court found Skinner had no reasonable expectation of privacy in the cell phone location data because “if a tool used to transport contraband gives off a signal that can be tracked for location, certainly the police can track the signal.” Otherwise, “technology would help criminals but not the police.” In other words, because cell phones can be used to commit crimes, there can’t be any Fourth Amendment privacy rights in them. If this sounds like an over-simplistic description of the legal reasoning in an opinion we disagree with, the sad reality is that the court’s conclusion really did boil down to this shallow understanding of the law.
Former AT&T engineer Mark Klein handed a sheaf of papers in January 2006 to lawyers at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, providing smoking-gun evidence that the National Security Agency, with the cooperation of AT&T, was illegally sucking up American citizens’ internet usage and funneling it into a database.
The documents became the heart of civil liberties lawsuits against the government and AT&T. But Congress, including then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-Illinois), voted in July 2008 to override the rights of American citizens to petition for a redress of grievances.
Congress passed a law that absolved AT&T of any legal liability for cooperating with the warrantless spying. The bill, signed quickly into law by President George W. Bush, also largely legalized the government’s secret domestic-wiretapping program.
Obama pledged to revisit and roll back those increased powers if he became president. But, he did not.
EFF has filed a Freedom of Information Act suit against the Department of Justice (DOJ), demanding the release of a secret legal memo used to justify FBI access to Americans’ telephone records without any legal process or oversight. This suit stems from a report released last year by the DOJ’s own Inspector General that revealed how the FBI had come up with a new legal argument to justify secret, unchecked access to private telephone records. According to the report, the DOJ’s Office of the Legal Counsel had issued a legal opinion agreeing with the FBI’s theory. EFF’s lawsuit is seeking that legal opinion, which is a crucial piece of the puzzle in understanding the government’s efforts to expand and overreach their surveillance powers.
Dear Friend of Digital Freedom,
In 1990, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) took an unprecedented stand for technology users’ civil liberties by suing the Secret Service for seizing and damaging Steve Jackson Games’ computers. Twenty years later, EFF remains passionately engaged in protecting civil liberties at the forefront of technology. In 2010, EFF rose to meet new challenges and secured new freedoms for users everywhere.
EFF made it possible – for the first time in history – for artists and educators to excerpt from DVDs without fear of breaking the law;
EFF defended political bloggers and peer-to-peer users from copyright “trolls” bullying them into bogus legal settlements;
EFF conducted groundbreaking research on privacy and security, and used the findings to lobby for improved user protections; and
EFF collaborated with local groups throughout the world to advance privacy and free expression through technology.
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