Post image for March Meetup: #EFFsalon at SXSW

March Meetup: #EFFsalon at SXSW

by Stephen Torrence

For our March meetup, in collaboration with EFF we hosted a “Salon” event during the SXSW festival. Speakers included NSA Whistleblower William Binney, writer Bruce Sterling, and many other advocates for civil liberties on the electronic frontier.

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For our February meetup, technology lawyer and writer Chris Brown will examine how the blockchain (Bitcoin’s core technology) is spreading into other areas—from programmable money and smart property to distributed corporations and voting systems—and explore the implications for cyberliberties.

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Cory Doctorow with EFF-Austin

Cory Doctorow visiting EFF-Austin last October.

San Francisco – Leading digital rights champion and author Cory Doctorow has rejoined the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) to battle the pervasive use of dangerous digital rights management (DRM) technologies that threaten users’ security and privacy, distort markets, confiscate public rights, and undermine innovation.

Doctorow will be a special consultant to the Apollo 1201 Project, a mission to eradicate DRM in our lifetime. Apollo 1201 will challenge the use of DRM as well as the legal structures that support it.

“Apollo was a decade-long plan to do something widely viewed as impossible: go to the moon. Lots of folks think it’s impossible to get rid of DRM. But it needs to be done,” said Doctorow. “Unless we can be sure that our computers do what we tell them, and don’t have sneaky programs designed to take orders from some distant corporation, we can never trust them. It’s the difference between ‘Yes, master’ and ‘I CAN’T LET YOU DO THAT DAVE.'”

Working in the United States and across the globe, Doctorow will accelerate the movement to repeal laws protecting DRM, assist EFF with DRM-related litigation, and work with industry to kick-start a vibrant market in viable, legal alternatives to digital locks.

For many years, EFF has fought the use of DRM technologies, explaining that such technologies-as well as the laws that support them-impede innovation, security, and basic user rights and expectations, while failing to inhibit copyright infringement. One example of this lose-lose proposition is Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which generally prohibits unlocking “access controls” like DRM. That ban was meant to deter illegal copying of software, but many companies have misused the law to chill competition, free speech, and fair use. Software is in all kinds of devices, from cars to coffee-makers to alarm clocks. If that software is locked down by DRM, tinkering, repairing, and re-using those devices can lead to legal risk.

Section 1201 has also put a dangerous chill on security researchers, who face potential legal penalties for finding and disclosing critical flaws in systems-from smartphones to home automation. As a result, the public gets to find out about compromising vulnerabilities too late, or not at all.

“We’ve seen DRM misused again and again, whether it’s to thwart competition in printer-ink cartridges, to prevent videogame fans from modifying their consoles, or to block consumers from reading the parts’ specifications on their own cars,” said EFF Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry. “Cory has an unparalleled ability to show the public how bad copyright policy tramples on everyone’s rights.”

Doctorow worked for EFF for four years as its European Affairs Coordinator, and in 2007, he won EFF’s Pioneer Award for his body of work on digital civil liberties. He’s the originator of “Doctorow’s Law,” which has helped many around the world understand the dangers of DRM: “Anytime someone puts a lock on something you own, against your wishes, and doesn’t give you the key, they’re not doing it for your benefit.”

“No matter how noble your cause, you can’t advance it by insisting that computers everywhere be equipped with spyware to stop people from running the ‘wrong’ code,” said Doctorow. “The bad guys will still figure out how to run that code, and everyone else will end up with critical infrastructure that, by design, treats them as untrustable attackers and, by design, lets remote parties covertly seize control of the computers around them. We all deserve a better future-one without DRM.”

For more on DRM: https://www.eff.org/issues/drm

Contacts:
Cory Doctorow Special Consultant, Apollo 1201 Project Electronic Frontier Foundation cory@eff.org
Corynne McSherry Intellectual Property Director Electronic Frontier Foundation corynne@eff.org

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The Texas Electronic Privacy Coalition has fought to protect Texans’ digital privacy since 2013. Last session they successfully lobbied to protect emails with a search warrant. Now they’re back for more.

This session, TxEPC is lobbying to protect your sensitive GPS and cell phone location data under a warrant too. Come learn about StingRays, tower dumps, Texas politics, and how you can get involved on this important issue.

UPDATE: Audio and slides from this meeting are now available below.

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Internet Code Ring (@jonl’s 1993 interview with Phil Zimmerman, creator of PGP)

December 15, 2014

Discovered that this interview is no longer findable online, so I’m republishing it here. A version of this was published in bOING bOING (the ‘zine) in 1993 or 1994. We were sitting in a circle on the floor at the Computers, Freedom, and Privacy conference, March ’93 in San Francisco, St. Jude and I with […]

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December Meetup: Surveillance Self-Defense Workshop

December 8, 2014
Thumbnail image for December Meetup: Surveillance Self-Defense Workshop

Learn how to protect your privacy and defend your digital communications from government and corporate surveillance. This is a hands-on interactive workshop, so bring your phone and laptop! We’ll start with a short presentation introducing threat modeling, encryption, and the current array of free and open-source tools recommended by EFF. Then we’ll break up into small groups […]

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November Meetup Recap — Security and Privacy on the Internet of Things

November 25, 2014

Last Monday we welcomed three speakers from the Austin area to present on emerging security and privacy issues particular to the Internet of Things. You can watch the entire meetup here. You can view and download the presented slideshows here: How IoT Is Changing the Internet (Michael Hathaway / Diane Bernard) Privacy on the Series […]

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November Meetup: Security and Privacy on the Internet of Things

November 3, 2014

The Internet of Things continues to grow all around us. What challenges for security, privacy, and digital rights do IoT systems present? (Updated) Michael Hathaway and Diane Bernard will co-present a detailed introduction to IoT, including their current projects in the space and vision of its future. Following this, Veteran security researcher Todd Manning will present on IoT […]

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October Meetup Recap — Austin on the Electronic Frontier

October 23, 2014

At our meetup this past Monday, October 20th, Gregory Foster presented on the asymmetry in data flow between United States government entities and the public. Communities like MuckRock have arisen to streamline open records requests, but scaling and improving the data dialog remains difficult, and many agencies have become cautious about ‘Government 2.0′ efforts post-Snowden. How can we “Think […]

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ComputerCOP in Travis County

October 20, 2014

Here’s a video about the dangers of using ComputerCOP software, which has been distributed by hopefully unwitting law enforcement organizations: In 2011, the Travis County Sheriff’s Office distributed 5,000 copies of ComputerCOP with keylogger. Sources: EFF MyFoxAustin Television News KXAN Television News KLBJ Radio

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