Electronic Frontier Foundation ▪ March 26

patriot-act-reform

Apple is one of ten tech giants to once again call on the US Government not to reauthorize the Patriot Act in its current form. The Act expires on 1st June unless it is renewed by Congress. Apple was joined by AOL, Dropbox, Evernote, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter and Yahoo.

In an open letter to President Obama, NSA Director Admiral Rogers and other prominent government figures, the companies urge Congress to end the bulk collection of communications metadata–the logs that determine how and when ordinary citizens contact each other.

The letter says that mass surveillance must end, and that a revised bill must contain mechanisms to ensure that future government surveillance is both transparent and accountable …  expand full story

Electronic Frontier Foundation ▪ January 7

EFF app for Android

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has released an app for Android devices, but announced today that it has no plans to bring the software to Apple’s iOS platform. The reason, the organization said, is that it simply cannot agree to Apple’s developer agreement.

The EFF specifically called out six points in the document that it took issue with, although it noted that there were even more problems it didn’t have the space to mention. The complaints aren’t new—many of them date back to 2010—but it seems the foundation is determined once again to make its points heard.

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Electronic Frontier Foundation ▪ November 5, 2014

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today released a report examining three dozen messaging services and ranking them based on what it deemed are seven “security best practices.” While Apple scored the best among what the EFF called “mass-market options”, it didn’t do as well when compared to all 36 messaging services included in the report. Specifically, EFF noted Apple’s iMessage and FaceTime services failed to offer “complete protection against sophisticated, targeted forms of surveillance.” expand full story

Electronic Frontier Foundation ▪ June 13, 2014

Following the publication of an NPR article detailing the security of major email services, Apple has informed the network that it is working on an update to its iCloud Mail service that encrypts emails in transit from other providers. As of right now, iCloud emails are solely encrypted in transit from one iCloud email account to another, but an email sent from iCloud to Gmail or Yahoo (as examples) or vice versa is not currently encrypted. This is what will change:

Apple encrypts e-mail from its customers to iCloud. However, Apple is one of the few global email providers based in the U.S. that is not encrypting any of its customers’ email in transit between providers. After we published, the company told us this would soon change. This affects users of me.com and mac.com email addresses.

The enhancement will come into effect “soon,” but Apple is not more specific than that on the timeframe. While the quote above oddly does not specify icloud.com addresses, that newer Apple email domain likely falls into the same category as me.com and mac.com. The lack of end-to-end iCloud Mail encryption with Gmail, for example, is shown on Google’s data protection transparency website:

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Electronic Frontier Foundation ▪ May 15, 2014

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today published its annual “Who Has Your Back?” report that rates and compares how major corporations deal with government data requests. The EFF’s ranking of technology company data request transparency is notable because the organization is the “leading nonprofit organization defending civil liberties in the digital world.” The report ranks companies based on six categories: requires a warrant for content, tells users about data requests, publishes transparency reports, publishes law enforcement guidelines, fights for users’ privacy in courts, fights for users’ privacy for rights in Congress. This year, Apple received a star for each of the six categories. 

This compares to many other technology companies, including Google, Yahoo, and Facebook, that received stars across the board:

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Electronic Frontier Foundation ▪ January 29, 2013

EFF

With a likely new iPhone jailbreak coming this Superbowl Sunday and unlocking phones’ DMCA exemption expiring this weekend, a lot of us don’t know where they stand with regard to the law. If you are in Canada, for example, the government is moving toward passing laws that require carriers to unlock phones and cap early termination fees. Must be nice.

In the ‘Home of the Free’, things got a lot murkier with the expiration of the DMCA exemption last weekend. So, does that mean you can jailbreak? How about carrier unlocking? The Electronic Frontier Foundation says:

First, the good news. The legal shield for jailbreaking and rooting your phone remains up – it’ll protect us at least through 2015. The shield for unlocking your phone is down, but carriers probably aren’t going to start suing customers en masse, RIAA-style. And the Copyright Office’s decision, contrary to what some sensational headlines have said, doesn’t necessarily make unlocking illegal.

So, Jailbreaking is cool. At least for another few years. Enjoy your Superbowl jailbreak.

Carrier unlocking is murky, but it appears that phones bought before last weekend are fair game for unlocking. Go nuts!

But, new phones? It sounds like the risk is on the “unlockers” or the people who do the unlocking.

More likely, wireless carriers, or even federal prosecutors, will be emboldened to sue not individuals, but rather businesses that unlock and resell phones. If a court rules in favor of the carriers, penalties can be stiff – up to $2,500 per unlocked phone in a civil suit, and $500,000 or five years in prison in a criminal case where the unlocking is done for “commercial advantage.” And this could happen even for phones that are no longer under contract. So we’re really not free to do as we want with devices that we own.

What’s interesting is a cottage industry has formed around unlocking done by actually getting the carriers to unlock your phone. For instance, friend of the site, ChronicUnlocks is still in operation in the United States, and we’re hearing nothing but good things from readers who’ve bought unlocks. The site says:

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