No June 2015 Meetup

EFF-Austin will have no meetup in June. We’ll have information about our July meetup soon!

May Meetup: Archiving the Electronic Frontier

For our May meetup, we have invited two Digital Archivists from the University of Texas to lead a discussion on a vast and unique challenge — preserving the huge, complex, and rapidly growing volume of information that our modern culture produces.

Video Now Available

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April Meetup: Law Enforcement Body Cameras

For our April meetup, we invited APD Commander Ely Reyes, activist Debbie Russell, and community organizer Andrew Bucknall to lead a discussion on the push for law enforcement officers to wear body cameras, examining the implications for civil liberties, privacy, public safety, and police accountability.

Video Now Available

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March Meetup: #EFFsalon at SXSW

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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February Meetup: Beyond the Blockchain

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 Rejoins EFF to Eradicate DRM Everywhere

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

January Meetup: Lobbying for Location Privacy in Texas

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)

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 Tom Jennings, Fen La Balme, et al, discussing encryption and
other neophiliac rants when a dapper fellow wandered by with a
beard on his face and a tie hanging from his neck. He picked up
Jude’s copy of bOING-bOING number 10 and glanced through it,
clearly interested. I later learned that this was Phil Zimmerman,
creator of PGP (“Pretty Good Privacy”), so I tracked him down and
we talked for the record.

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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 to install these tools together and discuss related topics in depth.

(Do you already feel confident using PGP, OTR, Tor, Bitcoin, password managers, and/or other dimensions of digital security? We’d love your help sharing these skills as a facilitator! Please email me if you’re interested.)

Time: Monday, December 15, 7pm-9pm
Location: Capital Factory, 701 Brazos Street, Suite 1601, Austin, TX

Enjoy free pizza and drinks, sponsored by ACLU of Texas.

Validated parking is available in the Omni garage. Details:
http://capitalfactory.com/about/parking/

Suggested Links:

 

EFF-Austin-logoACLU of Texas LogoCapitalFactoryLogoBlack

 

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

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: