Changing Section 230 Won’t Make the Internet a Kinder, Gentler Place

Tech platforms, especially the largest ones, have a problem—there’s a lot of offensive junk online. Many lawmakers on Capitol Hill keep coming back to the same solutionblaming Section 230.

What lawmakers don’t notice is that a lot of the people posting that offensive junk get stopped, again and again, thanks to Section 230. During a March hearing in the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, lawmakers expressed concern over some of the worst content that’s online, including extremist content, falsehoods about COVID-19, and election disinformation.

But it’s people spreading just this type of content that often

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Emails from 2016 Show Amazon Ring’s Hold on the LAPD Through Camera Giveaways

In March 2016, “smart” doorbell camera maker Ring was a growing company attempting to market its wireless smart security camera when it received an email from an officer in the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Gang and Narcotics Division, who was interested in purchasing a slew of devices.

The Los Angeles detective wanted 20 cameras, consisting of 10 doorbell cameras and 10 “stick up” cameras, which retailed for nearly $3,000. Ring, headquartered in nearby Santa Monica, first offered a discount but quickly sweetened the deal: “I’d be happy to send you those units free of charge,” a Ring employee told

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Unconstitutional Florida Law Barring Platforms from Suspending Politicians Should be Blocked, EFF Tells Court

Tallahassee, Florida—The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Protect Democracy urged a federal judge to strike down Florida’s law banning Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms from suspending political candidates’ accounts, saying it unconstitutionally interferes with the First Amendment rights of the companies and their users, and forces companies to give politicians’ speech preferential treatment that other users are denied.

EFF has long criticized large online platforms’ content moderation practices as opaque, inconsistent, and unfair because they often remove legitimate speech and disproportionately harm marginalized populations that struggle to be heard. These are serious problems that have real world consequences, but they

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Hearing Tuesday: EFF Testifies Against SFPD for Violating Transparency Policies

San Francisco – On Tuesday, June 15, at 5:30 pm PT, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) will testify against the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) at the city’s Sunshine Ordinance Task Force hearing. EFF has registered a complaint against the SFPD for withholding records about a controversial investigation and the use of facial recognition.

In September of last year, SFPD arrested a man suspected of illegally discharging a gun, and a report in the San Francisco Chronicle raised concerns that the arrest came after running the man’s photo through a facial-recognition database. If the SFPD was involved in using facial

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1000 Californians Have Asked Their Representatives To Fix Our Broken Broadband System. Have You?

The California legislature has been handed what might be their easiest job this year, and they are refusing to do it.

Californians far and wide have spent the pandemic either tethered to their high-speed broadband connections (if they’re lucky), or desperately trying to find ways to make their internet ends meet. School children are using the wifi in parking lots, shared from fast food restaurants. Mobile broadband isn’t cutting it, as anyone who’s been outside of a major city and tried to make a video call on their phone can tell you. Experts everywhere insist we need a

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The ACCESS ACT Takes a Step Towards a More Interoperable Future

When it comes to online services, there are a few very large companies whose gravitational effects can alter the entire tech universe. Their size, power, and diverse levers of control mean that there is no single solution that will put right that which they’ve thrown out of balance. One thing is clear—having such large companies with control over so much of our data is not working for users, not working for privacy or freedom of expression, and it’s blocking the normal flow of competition. These giants need to be prevented from using their tremendous power to just buy up competitors,

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The GDPR, Privacy and Monopoly

In Privacy Without Monopoly: Data Protection and Interoperability, we took a thorough look at the privacy implications of various kinds of interoperability. We examined the potential privacy risks of interoperability mandates, such as those contemplated by 2020’s ACCESS Act (USA), the Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act (EU), and the recommendations presented in the Competition and Markets Authority report on online markets and digital advertising (UK). 

We also looked at the privacy implications of “competitive compatibility” (comcom, AKA adversarial interoperability), where new services are able to interoperate with existing incumbents without their permission, by using reverse-engineering, bots,

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Victory! Dartmouth Ends Unfounded Cheating Investigation After Students, Rights Groups Speak Out

The Dartmouth Geisel School of Medicine has ended its months-long dragnet investigation into supposed student cheating, dropping all charges against students and clearing all transcripts of any violations. This affirms what EFF, The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), students, and many others have been saying all along: when educators actively seek out technical evidence of students cheating, whether those are through logs, proctoring apps, or other automated or computer-generated techniques, they must also seek out technical expertise, follow due process, and offer concrete routes of appeal. 

The investigation at Dartmouth began when the administration conducted a

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Big Data Profits If We Deregulate HIPAA

This blog post was written by Kenny Gutierrez, EFF Bridge Fellow.

Recently proposed modifications to the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) would invade your most personal and intimate health data. The Office of Civil Rights (OCR), which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), proposes loosening our health privacy protections to address misunderstandings by health professionals about currently permissible disclosures.

EFF recently filed objections to the proposed modifications. The most troubling change would expand the sharing of your health data without your permission, by enlarging the definition of “health care

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Tracking Global Online Censorship: What EFF Is Doing Next

As the world stays home to slow the spread of COVID-19, communities are rapidly transitioning to digital meeting spaces. This highlights a trend EFF has tracked for years: discussions in virtual spaces shape and reflect societal freedoms, and censorship online replicates repression offline. As most of us spend increasing amounts of time in digital spaces, the impact of censorship on individuals around the world is acute.

Tracking Global Online Censorship is a new project to record and combat international speech restrictions, especially where censorship policies are exported from Europe and the United States to the rest of the world. Headed

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