Fight for the Future


Hundreds of Tech Companies to Congress: TPP and Fast Track Harms Digital Innovation and Users’ Rights

Posted 09:07 EDT on May 20, 2015

The following letter was sent to Congress on May 20th by more than 250 technology companies and users’ rights organizations. See the press release here. You can see the letter as a PDF here. 

Dear Members of Congress,

We write to you as a community representing thousands of our nation’s innovators, entrepreneurs, job-creators, and users to express our concern over trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Despite containing many provisions that go far beyond the scope of traditional trade policy, the public is kept in the dark as these deals continue to be negotiated behind closed doors with heavy influence from only a limited subset of stakeholders.

The recently-introduced Fast Track bill (the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015, “the Bill”) would not remedy the utter lack of transparency of the negotiation process, nor does it include any language to ensure that these deals would contain safeguards to protect our interests in freedom of expression and innovation online. These are just some of our specific concerns we have:

*    Threats to Fair Use: The TPP contains language that could prevent countries from expanding exceptions and limitations to copyright. The Fast Track Bill also contains nothing to promote balance in copyright law. This is despite how much value fair use has added to the U.S. economy and could add for investors in the growing economies of our trading partners.

*    Expensive and Harmful Costs of Online Enforcement: U.S. law incentivizes online content providers to take down content over a mere allegation of infringement. The TPP will likely emulate these rules, continuing to make it expensive and onerous for startups and small companies to oversee users’ activities and process each takedown notice.

*    Criminalizing Journalism and Whistleblowing: TPP’s trade secrets provisions could make it a crime for people to reveal corporate wrongdoing “through a computer system.” The language is dangerously vague, and enables signatory countries to enact rules that would ban reporting on timely, critical issues affecting the public.

*   Investor-State Courts Jeopardize User Protections: The TPP Investment Chapter contains text that would enable corporations to sue nations over democratic rules that allegedly harm expected future profits. Companies can use this process to undermine U.S. rules like fair use, net neutrality, and others designed to protect the free, open Internet and users’ rights to free expression online.

Overall, the Bill would legitimize the secret process that has led to these provisions, while doing nothing to ensure that these agreements would enable lawmakers to work towards striking the right balance between the interests of copyright holders and those of users and innovators. As such, we urge you to come out against the Fast Track bill and call on your colleagues in Congress to do the same.

Sincerely,

2b1Inc
ACN Telecommunications & Energy
Adafruit Industries
Advanced Surfaces and Processes Inc.
Airborne Surfer Media
Aldine Publications, LLC
Alpine Travel Services
Archer Law Offices PC
art-efex.com
ArtsDigital.co
Astonishing Legends Productions, LLC
Atlantistechs
Automation Technology, Inc.
Autopia, Ltd
AVG Technologies
Babel Consulting, Inc.
BAGeL Radio
Basecamp
Baumhauerphoto.com
Bay Buys, LLC
Bead & Reel
Bilerico Media LLC
Black Hills Computer Consulting, Inc.
Blue Dog Mobile Marketing
Blue Gothic Design Studios, LLC
BlueTree Website Design
Bohemian Jedi
Boing Boing
Breakwind Farm
Butterflies & Blueberries, Inc
Catalysta LLC
Cell Nation, Inc.
Centerlyne
Cheezburger Network
Chocolate Pocket, LLC
Civic Hall
CoachAccountable, LLC
Codecooler.com
Collaborative Design and Planning
Comatose Podcast
Computer Fix-It
ComputerGiant Consulting, Inc.
Concentric Sky, Inc.
Connect Everywhere LLC
CONTEMPL8 T-SHIRTS LLC
Copia Institute
crasstalk.com
Create Your Health, LLC
CREDO Mobile
CTVotersCount.org
Cultural Circle Poetry Workshops
Curren Media Group
Deskninja Studios LLC
Disconnect
DJs Computers
Dobson Computer Svcs
DreamHost
Duct Tape Programming
eCnet Solutions
Eden Foods
Edison Cimputers, Inc.
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Ellicottville Real Estate
Engineered Fear, LLC
Eric A. Wessman, Photographer, LLC
ET Productions
Euphonic Studio LLC
EvoText Inc.
Expri Communications LLC
Extracto Enterprises (dba Extracto Coffee Roasters)
Facture Studios
FarSight Data Systems
Fathom
FDA Consulting, LLC
Fight For the Future
FIVELEAF IT, INC.
Floorchan Networks
Fun1schat
Gamercredo
GCP Design & Marketing
Giganator games
GlowHost.com, LLC
Go2RIA INC
Golden Frog
GR KOMPLETE PRODUCTIONS LLC.
Great Scott Technology LLC
Griffae Design, LLC
GSM Nation
Hackers/Founders
Hacktron Technology Inc.
Handmade Interactive LLC
Harrison’s Websites
HD Supply
HomeWorks REI
Honor Health
HRData
Humblebee Media
iFixit
Ignition Digital
Imgur
Infinite Functions, Inc.
info4disasters
Inspiro Business Solutions
Intelligent Solutions, LLC
Internet Archive
JJ Industry
Juan Calvillo Photography
JustPlainTV
JWorks Studios
Kaup Communications
Kestrel Biologic
KKI
Knowledge Ecology International
Koame Systems International
KSER
Lakehub, LLC
Laurel Digital, LLC
Liquid Mastering
Local Loop Farms
Local Wave Maker, LLC
Ludwig Sewing Machine Company
Lulu Luna
m & e tech new york
MakeHartford
Mangaden
ManzoPhotoCraft
Marc Berner Music
Married to Health
Massachusetts Pirate Party
MCM Inventions, Inc.
McSwain Photography
Mechvision, Inc.
MediaFire
MediaIgniter, LLC
Melody Lanes Recording
Merchant Services Group LLC
Metamuse Media
Microfrost.com
Minvera Hosting, LLC.
Mojo Bureau
MonadCloud LLC
Moons Over Missouri
Mortar Data Inc.
Move To Amend
MrG Associates
Munnich Design LLC
Myrick Visual, LLC
Namecheap, Inc
Natalie Cannon’s Editorial Services
Native American Films
Nelson Specialties Co.
Netcetera, Inc.
New Games
Node-Nine, Inc.
North Coast Radiology
NY Tech Meetup
Occupy Bellingham
Ocean Motion Media, LLC
OceanSky Web Design
Off-Road Concepts
OnHolyGround Networks, LLC
Open Heart Press
Out Front Magazine
PacifiCAD Incorporated
Pacius Designs
palesca
Panelist Media
Participatory Culture Foundation
Pawzii, Inc.
PEACEWORKERS
Penny Films
PermaSolutions
Personal Democracy Media
Personal Technology Consulting, LLC
Pete Miller’s Water and Wildlife Studio
Phoenix Quintet
Phosphoros Media, LLC
Piwik
Pixel8, Inc
PrepaidPhoneNews.com
Private Internet Access™
Pryor Computer Forensics
Purple Sail Creative LLC
Quaraishi Enterprises
QuipTracks LLC
Ralphie’s Portal
Read Andra Watkins LLC
Relatively Free Press
Research Associates
Right Angles Technologies Inc.
Riverstone
RO Productions
Robosane
Rootwork.org
Rylen & Rhys Originals
Ryno Media House
sampleloft.com
San Juan Tech Services
San Juan Update
Satori
Sentinel SDK
SEO Hosting and Design
SEPTA
SHS Forum
Silicon Engines
Sixth Sensitivity
Snap Synapse LLC
Social Hamlet
Sound Data Services
Spilled Milk Catering
Spiritbody Inc
Stirrup-Slippers.com
Studio Z Mendocino
Sturgeon Advertising
Success Systems International
Sue Kauffman Fitness
Synergy Marketing
Tangerine
Tau Ceti
Tax Lien Software Development and Analytics LLC
Tech@NYU
TechPointPro LLC
That Ruled Productions
The Eagle Directory
The General Store Seattle
The Laboratory Arts Collective Llc
The Modern Trade
The Naked Villain Society
The Public Society
The Regulator Online
The Sound Guy, Inc.
Thirstea Cafe
ThisGuys Development
Thompson Films, LLC
ThoughtWorks, Inc.
Thunder Puppy Art
Thunderclap, Inc
Tiny Design Studio
tNY Creative LLC (DBA tNY.Press)
Tom’s computer repair
Trade Inflo
Trinartia
Trophies ‘N Tees
TunnelBear Inc.
Twin Peaks Creative
Unchained Creations
Update International
USA Corporate Services Inc.
VikingVPN
Web Magi
Well Spent
Whatsits Galore
Whistling Kettle, LLC
Wicked Liquid
Willow Technology, Inc.
Wizards Familiar
Wolfestar Design
WOMEN RISING RADIO
woolly&wise LLC
WyvernIRC
X Desk Publishing
X-Lab

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“Hell hath no fury like the Internet scorned,” digital rights group warns Congress after Senate votes to advance “Fast Track” for the TPP

Posted 16:43 EDT on May 14, 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 14, 2015

Media contact: Evan Greer, 978-852-6457
Email: press@fightforthefuture.org

WASHINGTON––Today the U.S. Senate voted to advance Trade Promotion Authority legislation to “Fast Track” the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. Digital rights groups, startups, and tech companies condemned the decision, pointing to the extreme secrecy of the trade negotiations process and Internet policy provisions that would stifle innovation, decrease online privacy, and open the door for global Internet censorship.

More than 7,500 startups, websites, and tech companies have joined an online protest against the bill, and Internet activists have driven more than 7,000 phone calls and 77,000 emails to Congress in recent weeks.

Fight for the Future, a leading technology policy nonprofit best known for its role in the massive SOPA blackouts and the Internet Slowdown protest for net neutrality, issued the following statement, which can be attributed to campaign director Evan Greer:

“Today the U.S. Senate put the entire Internet in danger by voting to advance anti-democratic Fast Track legislation for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). But fortunately the entire Internet is coming together to sound the alarm, and tens of thousands of concerned netizens are contacting their lawmakers to demand that they stand up for free speech and online privacy by opposing the broken “Fast Track” process and call for the release of the TPP text.

The future of the Internet is too important to be decided in secret or through backroom deals and Senate horse-trading. “Fast Track” and the TPP have nothing to do with “free trade.” This obscure and bureaucratic process is being used by industry lobbyists quietly push for extreme policies that the public would never accept if they were proposed openly.

This should be clear: any member of Congress who votes for Fast Track / Trade Promotion Authority is voting against the basic rights of every Internet user in the world. They should take a look at recent history from SOPA to net neutrality: hell hath no fury like the Internet scorned.”

Fight for the Future has been one of the forefront groups opposing both Fast Track and the TPP and built the prominent StopFastTrack.com web page.

Last month, Fight for the Future made national headlines when they followed Senator Ron Wyden around his home state of Oregon with a 30’ blimp as part of ongoing protests against Fast Tracking the TPP. They also parked a JUMBOTRON on Capitol Hill as part of an anti-Fast Track film fest. Last year, the group delivered a letter to Senator Wyden signed by more than 25 companies including reddit and imgur opposing Fast Track legislation.

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Justin Amash on USA Freedom: “H.R. 2048 actually expands the statutory basis for the large-scale collection of most data“

Posted 18:50 EDT on May 13, 2015

Earlier today, before USA Freedom went up for a vote on the House floor, Rep. Justin Amash posted this on his Facebook page. USA Freedom has passed the House, reauthorizing key mass surveillance sections of the PATRIOT Act until 2019. As I post his words in full, it feels like posting words that will help to build the anti-surveillance movement and live on into the future for their truth and righteousness.  Those who voted for mass surveillance will be proven wrong. 

Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that the bulk telephone metadata program run by the National Security Agency (NSA) is not authorized by Section 215 of the Patriot Act and is thus unlawful. The ruling is a big win for privacy and civil liberties advocates who have long argued that Section 215 clearly does not contemplate the type of mass collection we now know is occurring. But the win will be short-lived if H.R. 2048, the latest version of the USA FREEDOM Act that’s scheduled to be considered by the House of Representatives this afternoon, becomes law.

Section 215 authorizes the government to collect records and other “tangible things” that are “relevant” to a terrorism or foreign intelligence investigation. To support the bulk collection of data pertaining to millions of law-abiding Americans, the government has effectively claimed that all records everywhere are potentially relevant to a current or future investigation, and thus all records are fair game for collection. In its ruling, the Second Circuit had little choice but to reject the government’s broad interpretation of “relevant,” given that the rest of the statute gives no indication Congress ever contemplated collection on such a mass scale.

So far, so good.

But H.R. 2048 threatens to undo much of the progress resulting from the Second Circuit’s opinion. The bill’s sponsors, and unfortunately some outside advocacy groups, wrongly claim that H.R. 2048 ends “bulk” collection. It’s true that the bill ends the phone dragnet as we currently know it—by having the phone companies themselves hold, search, and analyze certain data at the request of the government, which is worse in many ways given the broader set of data the companies hold—but H.R. 2048 actually expands the statutory basis for the large-scale collection of most data.

H.R. 2048 does this by authorizing the government to order the production of records based upon a “specific selection term” (i.e., like a search term used in a search engine). The records sought still must be relevant to an investigation, so it’s possible the court’s ruling will continue to restrain the government in some fashion. But it’s more likely a court looking at H.R. 2048’s language will see the “specific selection term” as defining the outer limits of what Congress considers acceptably “relevant” under Section 215.

Indeed, the Second Circuit encouraged Congress in reforming Section 215 to make a “congressional judgment as to what is ‘reasonable’ under current circumstances.” Unfortunately, “specific selection term” is defined so broadly under the bill as to have little effect on narrowing the scope of items the government may obtain through a 215 order.

A “specific selection term” may be a specific person (including a corporation, such as Western Union), account, address, or personal device, but it also may be “any other specific identifier,” and the bill expressly contemplates using geographic regions or communication service providers (such as Verizon) to define the records sought, so long as it’s not the only identifier used as part of the specific selection term. In other words, the bill doesn’t let the government require Verizon to turn over all its records without limitation, but nothing appears to prevent the government from requiring Verizon to turn over all its records for all its customers in the state of New York. Only a politician or bureaucrat wouldn’t call that “bulk.”

H.R. 2048 gives our intelligence agencies, for the first time, statutory authority to collect Americans’ data in bulk. In light of the Second Circuit’s opinion that the NSA has been collecting our information in bulk without statutory authority for all this time, it would be a devastating misstep for Congress to pass a bill that codifies that bulk collection and likely ensures no future court will ever again be positioned to rule against the government for over-collecting on statutory grounds.

H.R. 2048 falls woefully short of reining in the mass collection of Americans’ data, and it takes us a step in the wrong direction by specifically authorizing such collection in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. Americans, and members of Congress, should demand that Congress instead pass the original, bipartisan version of the USA FREEDOM Act from 2013, which strengthened—not weakened—Section 215’s relevance standard to end bulk collection, while still allowing the government the flexibility it needs to pursue genuine threats against the United States.

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Awesome statement from Rep Justin Amash about why the USA Freedom Act doesn’t end bulk NSA collection

Posted 18:49 EDT on May 13, 2015

We’re not in the habit of copying and pasting statements from politicians, but this one is pretty bad-ass and breaks down an important and complex issue.

The statement below is copied from Rep Justin Amash’s Facebook page. 

Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that the bulk telephone metadata program run by the National Security Agency (NSA) is not authorized by Section 215 of the Patriot Act and is thus unlawful. The ruling is a big win for privacy and civil liberties advocates who have long argued that Section 215 clearly does not contemplate the type of mass collection we now know is occurring. But the win will be short-lived if H.R. 2048, the latest version of the USA FREEDOM Act that’s scheduled to be considered by the House of Representatives this afternoon, becomes law.

Section 215 authorizes the government to collect records and other “tangible things” that are “relevant” to a terrorism or foreign intelligence investigation. To support the bulk collection of data pertaining to millions of law-abiding Americans, the government has effectively claimed that all records everywhere are potentially relevant to a current or future investigation, and thus all records are fair game for collection. In its ruling, the Second Circuit had little choice but to reject the government’s broad interpretation of “relevant,” given that the rest of the statute gives no indication Congress ever contemplated collection on such a mass scale.

So far, so good.

But H.R. 2048 threatens to undo much of the progress resulting from the Second Circuit’s opinion. The bill’s sponsors, and unfortunately some outside advocacy groups, wrongly claim that H.R. 2048 ends “bulk” collection. It’s true that the bill ends the phone dragnet as we currently know it—by having the phone companies themselves hold, search, and analyze certain data at the request of the government, which is worse in many ways given the broader set of data the companies hold—but H.R. 2048 actually expands the statutory basis for the large-scale collection of most data.

H.R. 2048 does this by authorizing the government to order the production of records based upon a “specific selection term” (i.e., like a search term used in a search engine). The records sought still must be relevant to an investigation, so it’s possible the court’s ruling will continue to restrain the government in some fashion. But it’s more likely a court looking at H.R. 2048’s language will see the “specific selection term” as defining the outer limits of what Congress considers acceptably “relevant” under Section 215.

Indeed, the Second Circuit encouraged Congress in reforming Section 215 to make a “congressional judgment as to what is ‘reasonable’ under current circumstances.” Unfortunately, “specific selection term” is defined so broadly under the bill as to have little effect on narrowing the scope of items the government may obtain through a 215 order.

A “specific selection term” may be a specific person (including a corporation, such as Western Union), account, address, or personal device, but it also may be “any other specific identifier,” and the bill expressly contemplates using geographic regions or communication service providers (such as Verizon) to define the records sought, so long as it’s not the only identifier used as part of the specific selection term. In other words, the bill doesn’t let the government require Verizon to turn over all its records without limitation, but nothing appears to prevent the government from requiring Verizon to turn over all its records for all its customers in the state of New York. Only a politician or bureaucrat wouldn’t call that “bulk.”

H.R. 2048 gives our intelligence agencies, for the first time, statutory authority to collect Americans’ data in bulk. In light of the Second Circuit’s opinion that the NSA has been collecting our information in bulk without statutory authority for all this time, it would be a devastating misstep for Congress to pass a bill that codifies that bulk collection and likely ensures no future court will ever again be positioned to rule against the government for over-collecting on statutory grounds.

H.R. 2048 falls woefully short of reining in the mass collection of Americans’ data, and it takes us a step in the wrong direction by specifically authorizing such collection in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. Americans, and members of Congress, should demand that Congress instead pass the original, bipartisan version of the USA FREEDOM Act from 2013, which strengthened—not weakened—Section 215’s relevance standard to end bulk collection, while still allowing the government the flexibility it needs to pursue genuine threats against the United States.

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Privacy groups reject USA Freedom Act as “fake reform.” Hundreds of thousands of people call on Congress to sunset the PATRIOT Act on June 1st.

Posted 17:44 EDT on May 13, 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 13, 2015

Media Contact: Evan Greer, 978-852-6457
Email: press@fightforthefuture.org

WASHINGTON––This afternoon the U.S. House of Representatives passed the USA Freedom Act, a bill that reauthorizes section 215 of the PATRIOT Act until 2019 and allows the government to continue their mass surveillance of phone call data.

Fight for the Future has opposed the USA Freedom Act and, working with a coalition of other privacy groups, helped to drive tens of thousands of calls and hundreds of thousands of emails to Congress calling for real NSA reform and an end to Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act. The group also created a website (www.usafreedom.fail) that explains in eight bullet points why the bill increases mass surveillance, which flew to the top of reddit shortly after it was launched.

The passage of the bill comes less than a week after the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 2nd District ruled unanimously that the government’s bulk collection of call data under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act is illegal. The House’s action today are a step towards overriding the court decision and legitimizing the NSA’s expansive and illogical interpretation of the law.

Tiffiniy Cheng, co-founder of Fight for the Future, issued the following statement:

“Congress has an opportunity to reform mass surveillance by letting the PATRIOT Act expire, and that’s what they should do. Their vote today to reauthorize the PATRIOT Act with even broader terms that expand the scope of surveillance, is the opposite of reform. It makes absolutely no sense.”

There is literally no reason for the NSA to be surveilling everyone and their mom in order to go after their targets. Why they aren’t satisfied with the US Constitutional limits on search and seizure and getting a warrant to do so is very suspicious. That’s just rogue and illegal behavior and part of selling a culture of fear. We’re demanding to see them build a case to surveil my mom and millions of Internet users around the world before they get one more peek at our private lives.“

Congress is trying to sell the USA Freedom Act to the American people as reform, but what the bill actually does is extend and expand the government’s power to monitor our communications under the PATRIOT Act. Far from reform, the bill will allow the government to invade even more of our private moments than ever by updating their surveillance powers for the devices and communications platforms we use most often these days.”

This is a fake privacy bill. Corrupt members of Congress and their funders in the defense industry are attempting to package up their surveillance-powers wishlist and misleadingly brand it as ‘USA Freedom.’ This is disappointing and offensive, and we will continue to work to kill this bill and any other attempt to legitimize unconstitutional surveillance systems.”

Fight for the Future favors allowing Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act expire on June 1, 2015, as is currently scheduled under the law. The provision allows the government to secretly force anyone to turn over “any tangible things” that they deem to be relevant to an authorized investigation, as determined by the secretive, rubber-stamp FISA court. It is fundamentally flawed authority and a direct violation to the U.S. Constitution’s restriction on unreasonable search and seizure.

Fight for the Future also opposed last year’s version of the USA Freedom Act, calling for more meaningful reforms.

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