Fight for the Future


Final TPP text confirms worst fears: shadowy agreement poses a grave threat to the Internet and freedom of expression

Posted 11:14 EST on November 5, 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 5, 2015

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

Early this morning, the government of New Zealand released the final negotiated text of the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP.)

Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future, said, “Now that we can read the final TPP text, it’s obvious why it was kept in total secrecy for so long: this agreement is a wishlist for powerful special interests and multinational corporations. The Intellectual Property chapter confirms our worst first about the TPP’s impact on our basic right to express ourselves and access information on the Internet. If U.S. Congress signs this agreement despite its blatant corruption, they’ll be signing a death warrant for the open Internet and putting the future of free speech in peril.”

Fight for the Future has been at the forefront of a massive coalition of groups that oppose the TPP, and has organized a wide range of high profile actions against the agreement. As an organization that works to protect the Internet, many of our concerns focus on the Intellectual Property chapter, which reads as if it were written directly by by lobbyists from Hollywood, the record indsutry, and big pharmaceutical companies (because it was.)

Here are several sections of grave concern based on our initial read of the final released text. There are undoubtedly other serious issues in the TPP that will be surfaced as technologists and experts read more deeply.

Article 18.26: Term of Protection for Trademarks
Increases the minimum protection for trademarks to 10 years, forcing countries to follow the U.S. model on this rather than make their own trademark policy based on the public interest. This will limit technological innovation and could curtail affordable access to medicines or other basic necessities.

Article 18.37: Patentable Subject Matter
Allows for the patenting of “new methods of using a known product,” which essentially allows for unlimited patents from Pharmaceutical companies and will block affordable access to medicines and medical procedures and prevent innovation of better and more affordable healthcare procedures.

Article 18:28: Domain Names
This undermines anonymous online expression by requiring governments to keep a public database of real names and addresses associated with country code top level domain names, (such as .us, .au, .ca, etc). This is dangerous especially for the ability of opposition groups in repressive countries to voice their concerns online without fear of violent retribution.

Article 18.63: Term of Protection for Copyright and related Rights
This is one of the most egregious pieces of the deal. It forces the most draconian parts of the U.S.’s broken copyright system on the rest of the world without expanding protections for fair use and free speech. This section requires countries to enforce copyright until 70 years after the creator’s death. This will keep an enormous amount of information, art, and creativity out of the public domain for decades longer than necessary, and allow for governments to abuse copyright laws to censor online content at will, since so much of it will be copyrighted for so long.

Article 18.68: Technological Protection Measures
This section attempts to make it a crime to circumvent any “Digital Rights Management” (DRM) locks on a device, even if you own it. It could criminalize people who unlock their phones in order to use accessibility software, for example, or make it illegal to circumvent DRM on a computer in order to use Linux.

Article 18.69: Rights Management Information
This section criminalizes basic activities that involve removing a Rights Management marker, even if it’s done in the process of creating something totally legal. For example, cropping a photo that has a watermark on it in order to use it as part of a fair use creation or as part of a political protest. And yes, that does include if you give credit elsewhere (like the description of a YouTube video).

Article 18.78: Trade Secrets
Criminalizes the “unauthorized and willful disclosure of a trade secret including via a computer system.” This is clearly intended to stifle whistleblowers and journalism covering the documents they expose – it could criminalize, for example, The Guardian’s reporting on the documents they received from Edward Snowden.

Section J: Internet Service Providers
This is one of the worst sections that impacts the openness of the Internet. This section requires Internet Service Providers to play “copyright cops” and assist in the enforcement of copyright takedown requests – but it does not require countries to have a system for counter-notices, so a U.S company could order a website to be taken down in another country, and there would be no way for the person running that website to refute their claims if, say, it was a political criticism website using copyrighted content in a manner consistent with fair use.

Section J makes it so ISPs are not liable for any wrongdoing when they take down content – incentivizing them to err on the side of copyright holders rather than on the side of free speech.

Additionally, the Trans-Pacific Partnership’s chapter on investments includes intellectual property as a matter that can be included in investor-state dispute settlements (ISDS).

Article 9: Investor-State Dispute Settlement
No matter what else is in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, this section makes it bad for people everywhere. It allows companies to sue governments — but not the other way around. These legally-binding challenges are decided by arbitrators hired for that case only, and investors have every reason to stack the cases with as many standards violations as they’d like. Intellectual property is just one of the many things that investors can bring suits over, but we could soon see cases of investors suing governments because they think punishments and rewards for copyright or trademark violations aren’t enough to satisfy them. Decisions that impact the future of the Internet should never be made in secretive international tribunals — especially not ad hoc ones.

Additional background:

Fight for the Future is a digital rights nonprofit that has driven more than 130,000 emails and more than 15,000 phone calls to Congress opposing the TPP  in recent months, rallied more than 7,500 websites for an online protest, and helped coordinate a letter to Congress from more than 250 tech companies expressing transparency and tech related concerns about Fast Track legislation.

The group made headlines in March when they flew a 30’ blimp over several of Senator Ron Wyden’s town hall meetings calling for him to “Save the Internet” by opposing Fast Track for the TPP, and then parked a Jumbotron on capitol hill to display the viral video they made about the stunt. More recently, Fight for the Future made a splash on the hill when they delivered actual rubber stamps to every house Republican’s office with a mock letter from President Obama asking Congress to “please rubber stamp my secret trade agenda.

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Fight for the Future works to defend the Internet as a free and open platform for expression and creativity, and is best known for their role organizing the massive online protests against SOPA, the Internet Slowdown for net neutrality, and the Reset The Net campaign for online privacy, which was endorsed by Edward Snowden.

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Chelsea Manning just wrote a bill to abolish the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court… from behind bars.

Posted 12:16 EST on November 3, 2015

Wikileaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning has written a 129 page bill aimed at reforming the U.S. government’s out of control spying programs.

She provided this bill to Fight for the Future and we are hosting it in its entirety on FreeChelsea.com, along with a petition encouraging lawmakers to read it.

The bill is extensive and addresses many different surveillance policies but its primary focus is abolishing the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which is essentially a rubberstamp system for authorizing mass surveillance.

Chelsea has a piece up in The Guardian today explaining why she thinks doing away with the Fisa Court is a critical first step to meaningful surveillance reform. 

Check it out here: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/nov/03/end-fisa-courts-due-process-chelsea-manning 

Wondering how Chelsea managed to write this bill while serving a 35 year prison sentence? She has a personal piece up in Medium as well describing what the process was like: https://medium.com/@xychelsea/taking-on-the-most-difficult-undertaking-in-prison-so-far-2ff850ef5393 

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Fight for the Future is stoked that the EU Parliament just voted to drop all charges against Edward Snowden and protect him from extradition to the U.S.

Posted 12:06 EDT on October 29, 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 29, 2015

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

Today the European Union’s parliament voted 285 - 281 on a nonbinding resolution encouraging member states to drop all criminal charges against NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and protect him from extradition to the United States.

Fight for the Future, a leading digital rights group based in the U.S. celebrated this news and released the following statement, which can be attributed to campaign director, Evan Greer:

“The battle over mass government surveillance is a decisive moment in the history of humanity, and it’s hard to think of anyone who has done more than Edward Snowden to educate the public about the grave risks that runaway spying programs pose to our basic human rights, the future of the Internet, and freedom of expression.

The European Parliament agrees with the vast majority of people in the world that Edward Snowden is a courageous whistleblower whose actions have made us all safer. The United States government should be ashamed that it continues to criminalize Snowden and torture and imprison other whistleblowers like Chelsea Manning.

We hope that this resolution leads to a binding agreement in the EU that allows Edward Snowden to move to whichever EU country he wants, and we hope he gets an epic party thrown in his honor when he arrives.”

Fight for the Future (FFTF) has been on the frontlines of the fight to end the U.S. government’s mass surveillance programs since Edward Snowden first exposed them. They released “The NSA Video,” narrated by actress Evangeline Lilly, and projected it onto the side of a building in Manhattan, leading to more than 440,000 views on YouTube.

The group also ran a “Thank Edward Snowden” campaign where more than 10,000 people publicly thanked Edward Snowden with heartfelt images. On the first anniversary of the original Snowden revelations, Fight for the Future organized the largest online campaign against surveillance in history, Reset the Net. It rallied the participation of thousands of major tech companies, and was endorsed by Edward Snowden himself through a written statement and on a video interview.

Recently, Fight for the Future has lead a series of high profile campaigns in fierce opposition to CISA, a cyber surveillance bill that passed the U.S. Senate on Monday. Edward Snowden also bolstered those efforts, joining FFTF’s reddit Q&A about the bill, and tweeting his support.

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Fight for the Future statement on CISA vote in U.S. Senate

Posted 14:25 EDT on October 27, 2015
image

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 27, 2015

Contact: Tiffiniy Cheng, 413-367-6255, press@fightforthefuture.org

Today the U.S. Senate voted to pass the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), a profoundly unpopular cyber surveillance bill that expands and codifies the U.S. government’s unconstitutional spying programs while completely failing to prevent cyber attacks.

Fight for the Future, a leading digital rights group that has spearheaded a series of high-profile campaigns against CISA, issued the following statement, which can be attributed to campaign director Evan Greer:

This vote will go down in history as the moment that lawmakers decided not only what sort of Internet our children and our children’s children will have, but what sort of world they will live in. Every Senator who voted for CISA has voted for a world without freedom of expression, a world without true democracy, a world without basic human rights.

But perhaps most importantly, they have voted to make utter fools of themselves and proved that they have absolutely no clue how to prevent cyber attacks. By supporting a bill that has been resoundingly rejected by security experts, tech companies, and advocacy groups from across the political spectrum, these politicians have highlighted the brokenness of our political system and exposed the reality that U.S. Congress is one of the Internet’s greatest foes. If President Obama doesn’t veto this bill, he’ll be showing that his administration never cared about the open Internet, despite his posturing on net neutrality.

Everyone knows that CISA is not what these corrupt politicians are claiming it is. Thanks to the Internet, it’s already easy to see when Congress is being clueless and dishonest – soon, we’ll be able to hold them accountable too, and it’s only a matter of time.

There is so much more that internet users can do to defend their privacy from this Congress. Fight for the Future will continue to fight on the frontlines to protect the Internet as a powerful platform for freedom of expression and social change. In the coming months, we will be returning to our campaign to defend and expand the use of strong encryption: Reset the Net.

Despite today’s vote, the fight over CISA is not over yet. The bill must still be “conferenced” with similar legislation in the House of Representatives, and then signed by President Obama. Fight for the Future intends to fight this dangerous measure at every step, and will hold lawmakers and companies accountable for supporting it or standing idly by and allowing it to pass.

Fight for the Future and Restore the Fourth will be updating their “legislative scorecard” based on the CISA vote. Lawmakers who supported the measure will receive -4 points, pushing many of them onto “Team Surveillance.”

For more on Fight for the Future’s recent campaigns around CISA, which have generated millions of messages to Congress against the bill and lead to an avalanche of large tech companies coming out in opposition, see this previous release, which includes high-resolution photos of CISA related protests that are available for use by press.

Note: Greer’s pronouns are she/hers.

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Fight for the Future is a grassroots advocacy group with more than 1.4 million members that fights to protect the Internet as a powerful platform for freedom of expression and social change. They’re best known for organizing the massive online protests against SOPA, for net neutrality, and against government surveillance. Learn more at https://www.fightforthefuture.org and https://www.twitter.com/fightfortheftr

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Edward Snowden weighs in on CISA: “It’s not going to stop any attacks. It’s not going to make us any safer. It’s a surveillance bill.”

Posted 07:10 EDT on October 27, 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 27, 2015

Contact: Tiffiniy Cheng, 413-367-6255, press@fightforthefuture.org

Last night, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden joined Fight for the Future’s Q&A session on reddit to weigh in on the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA,) the controversial “cybersecurity” bill that is expected to see a vote on the Senate floor this afternoon.

“CISA isn’t a cybersecurity bill,” Snowden wrote in the reddit “IAmA” thread, “It’s not going to stop any attacks. It’s not going to make us any safer. It’s a surveillance bill. What it allows is for the companies you interact with every day – visibly, like Facebook, or invisibly, like AT&T – to indiscriminately share private records about your interactions and activities with the government.”

The reddit Q&A also featured representatives from Access, EFF, and Demand Progress as well as Senator Ron Wyden, who has been one of the strongest Congressional opponents of CISA.

Snowden, who of course understands the inside of the United States’ surveillance programs better than most, went on to explain how CISA will enable new types of government spying:

“In theory, this is supposed to allow the government to sort through what is in effect the entire private network space of civil society within the United States for “indicators of compromise,” or, more simply, red flags that indicate a hack has happened. The problem is that the NSA, FBI, and other organizations already do this on a higher level of the network under other authorities, such as Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act. They don’t like that, though, because it means there are still parts of the internet and types of records that they aren’t (legally) allowed to add to the dragnet.

CISA changes that. CISA allows private companies to immediately share a perfect record of your private activities the instant you click a link, log in, make a purchase, and so on – and the government with reward for doing it by granting them a special form of legal immunity for their cooperation.”

The former NSA contractor also took to twitter to encourage his 1.5 million followers to call their Senators to oppose the bill. Snowden’s comments come at the peak of a rising wave of opposition that has included dozens of civil society groups, security experts, and major tech companies including Apple, Twitter, Dropbox, Mozilla, and Wikipedia.

Fight for the Future and other groups have driven millions of faxes, hundreds of thousands of emails, and tens of thousands of phone calls in opposition of the bill. The hashtag #StopCISA has been used more than 11,000 times in the last week alone.

Snowden concluded his IAmA comments with a warning about the impact of CISA on Internet users’ trust in U.S. tech companies, echoing concerns from industry experts and privacy advocates:

“This is a bill that will radically reshape the relationship between users and companies, because it undermines the core foundation of trust on the internet: that companies work for users rather than governments.”

Fight for the Future campaign director Evan Greer said, “This vote will go down in history as the moment that lawmakers decided not only what sort of Internet our children and our children’s children will have, but what sort of world they will live in. Every Senator who votes for CISA will be voting for a world without freedom of expression, a world without true democracy, a world without basic human rights. And they will be voting for their own removal from office, because the Internet will not forget which side of history they stood on.”

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Fight for the Future is a grassroots advocacy group with more than 1.4 million members that fights to protect the Internet as a powerful platform for freedom of expression and social change. They’re best known for organizing the massive online protests against SOPA, for net neutrality, and against government surveillance. Learn more at https://www.fightforthefuture.org and https://www.twitter.com/fightfortheftr

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