Court Upholds Public Right of Access To Court Documents

An anonymous reader quotes a report from the Electronic Frontier Foundation: A core part of EFF’s mission is transparency and access to information, because we know that in a nation bound by the rule of law, the public must have the ability to know the law and how it is being applied. That’s why the default rule is that the public must have full access to court records — even if those records contain unsavory details. Any departure from that rule must be narrow and well-justified. But litigants and judges aren’t always rigorous in upholding that principle. For example, when Brian Fargo sued Jennifer Tejas for allegedly defamatory Instagram posts, he asked that the court seal portions of his filings that contained those posts, references to other people and private medical information. The court granted Fargo’s request, with little explanation or apparent care.

That approach set a dangerous precedent for


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EFF: Thousands of People Have Secure Messaging Clients Infected By Spyware

An anonymous reader quotes the EFF:
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and mobile security company Lookout have uncovered a new malware espionage campaign infecting thousands of people in more than 20 countries. Hundreds of gigabytes of data has been stolen, primarily through mobile devices compromised by fake secure messaging clients. The trojanized apps, including Signal and WhatsApp, function like the legitimate apps and send and receive messages normally. However, the fake apps also allow the attackers to take photos, retrieve location information, capture audio, and more.

The threat, called Dark Caracal by EFF and Lookout researchers, may be a nation-state actor and appears to employ shared infrastructure which has been linked to other nation-state actors. In a new report, EFF and Lookout trace Dark Caracal to a building belonging to the Lebanese General Security Directorate in Beirut. “People in the U.S., Canada, Germany, Lebanon, and France have been hit by Dark


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EFF Resigns From Web Consortium In Wake of EME DRM Standardization

New submitter Frobnicator writes: Four years ago, the W3C began standardizing Encrypted Media Extensions, or EME. Several organizations, including the EFF, have argued against DRM within web browsers. Earlier this year, after the W3C leadership officially recommended EME despite failing to reach consensus, the EFF filed the first-ever official appeal that the decision be formally polled for consensus. That appeal has been denied, and for the first time the W3C is endorsing a standard against the consensus of its members. In response, the EFF published their resignation from the body: “The W3C is a body that ostensibly operates on consensus. Nevertheless, as the coalition in support of a DRM compromise grew and grew — and the large corporate members continued to reject any meaningful compromise — the W3C leadership persisted in treating EME as topic that could be decided by one side of the debate. […] Today, the W3C bequeaths


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Microsoft gains support from Mozilla, EFF, Google and Apple in fight against US gagging orders

Microsoft is fighting the US Justice Department in an attempt to quash a law that prevents companies informing customers that the government is requesting their data. The technology giant has the backing of other tech companies as well as media outlets. Amazon, Apple, Google, Fox News, Electronic Frontier Foundation and Mozilla are among those offering their support to Microsoft. The lawsuit says that blocking companies from keeping their customers informed is unconstitutional, and it comes at a time when tech companies in particular are keen to be as open and transparent as possible about government requests for data. Legal experts… [Continue Reading]


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EFF Announces Certbot Client For Let’s Encrypt

Peter Eckersley, the staff technologist for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, writes: EFF has just launched Certbot, which is the next iteration of the Let’s Encrypt client. It’s a powerful tool for obtaining TLS/SSL certificates from Let’s Encrypt, and (if you wish) automatically installing them to enable and tune HTTPS on your website. It’s extensible, and supports a rapidly-growing range of server software. As of last week more than three million certificates had been issued, according to EFF.org, and despite a new name and host, Certbot “will still get certificates from Let’s Encrypt and automatically configure HTTPS on your webserver…. We expect OS packages to begin using the Certbot name in the next few weeks as well.”


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US government will not force companies to decode encrypted data… for now

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The Obama administration has announced that it will not require companies to decrypt encrypted messages for law enforcement agencies. This is being heralded as a ‘partial victory’ by the Electronic Frontier Foundation; partial because, as reported by the Washington Post, the government “will not — for now — call for [such] legislation”.

This means that at the moment companies will not be forced to build backdoors into their products, but there is no guarantee that this won’t happen further down the line. The government wants to continue talks with the technology industry to find a solution, but leaving things in limbo for the time being will create a sense of unease on both sides of the debate.

Since the NSA surveillance revelations made by Edward Snowden, there has been increased concern about security and privacy, and greater interest in encrypted communication tools. The notion of communication that can’t be intercepted and read has governments around the world worried.

Companies will be under no illusion that the US government wants them to cave in and offer decryption keys — against the advice of security experts — and while the public message at the moment is that mandatory backdoors will not be required, it’s hard to know what sort of pressure might be applied or to guess what is actually going on in secret.

This is something that EFF and the SaveCrypto.org coalition fear:

If Obama wants to leave a legacy promoting innovation and consumer privacy, he should create a clear policy position opposing secret, and sometimes informal, agreements between the government and tech companies to undermine security and privacy. Internet users — both in the United States and abroad — deserve to trust their digital service providers, and this step would go a long way to amending the trust rift caused by years of privacy abuses by the NSA.

The government will continue to push the anti-terrorist agenda, ignoring complaints that the ability to access communication that could be harmful actually ends up weakening security for everyone. It would be the virtual equivalent of locking the front door but leaving a key under a flowerpot on the doorstep.

Photo credit: wk1003mike / Shutterstock


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