Hey Reddit, this is the activism team for Electronic Frontier Foundation (Rainey Reitman, Trevor Timm, and Parker Higgins, along with legal intake coordinator Mark Jaycox and international outreach coordinator Maira Sutton). We just launched a week of action against CISPA, a dangerous ‘cybersecurity’ bill that blows a hole in virtually all existing privacy laws.

Thankfully, Reddit has already been spreading the word about CISPA, but if anyone needs a refresher, here is our just-published FAQ on all the bill’s dangerous provisions that threaten Internet freedom.

Please visit our Stop Cyber Spying page to easily tweet at your member of Congress using the hashtag #CongressTMI. You can then go to our action center to email your member of Congress.

But this is an AMA, of course, and we are no Woody Harrelson. So please feel free to ask us anything. We can talk SOPA, ACTA, TPP, our proposed exemptions for jailbreaking tablets and video game consoles, the RIAA’s ‘six strikes’ program, or anything else that crosses your mind.

Obligatory legal disclaimer: We can't offer legal advice, so please don’t give us the specifics about any legal problems in your public posting. Sorry! But if you do have a specific legal issue, here’s a link to our page about getting legal help from EFF. There also may be cases we are involved in we may not be able to comment on.

Our first AMA is here. And you can go here to support EFF.

And here's proof we're real.

EDIT: Thanks for all the questions folks. We can keep going for another 60-90 minutes, even though we've just been scooped on IAMA by Ridiculously Photogenic Guy. What are the chances? But as Parker notes, "No hard feelings from us: we may spend our days defending the Internet, but he's what makes the Internet worth defending."

EDIT 2: Okay, I'm afraid we have to call it a day. Thanks again to everyone, we hope to come back soon. If you have any additional questions about protecting Internet freedom, Ridiculously Photogenic Guy's AMA is still going on and we are confident he can handle them.

Oh, and one more thing: Are you in college and interested in starting a group based around EFF issues at your school? We may soon have travel funding to visit your school to give a talk and help organize. Email [email protected] with the subject line 'college outreach' for more info.

Comments: 124 • Responses: 11  • Date: 

Drunken_Economist18 karma

Besides completely gutting the CISPA, what changes could be made to make it better?

trevorEFF22 karma

The main part of CISPA that companies like is the provision that allows the government to share classified cybersecurity information with them so they can better protect themselves. Facebook, for example, says this is why they decided to support the bill. And while we can argue about the scope, that is an okay goal.

The section that allows companies to voluntarily share our private information with the government, however, is the real problem. You can read more in our FAQ, but basically companies could hand over our emails to the government with no warrant - no nothing - and the government could use that for other purposes besides "cybersecurity."

The bill's authors could take this provision out and companies will still get all the benefits they wanted in the first place. This spying section is the portion that will destroy our privacy and it's a section that's not even needed to accomplish the bill's goals.

Facebook even admitted on Friday they don't like this section, don't need it, or don't want it, but for now, it's still in the bill. So that's why we need people to go here and email their member of Congress to vote against it.

ANewAccountCreated12 karma

Thanks for the work you do, but what an uphill battle. Even on reddit, a self-proclaimed tech/freedom loving site you get people who will white-knight anti-Internet companies such as Comcast because they "don't have any other options". Which is completely untrue; they just don't have other convenient options that involve zero sacrifice on their part. It seems the fate we're doomed to is well-deserved.

trevorEFF14 karma

On a somewhat related note, we'll have a new edition of our "Who has your back?" study in a few weeks. This year we are profiling over 20 online and Internet service providers so you can have a better idea about which companies support Internet freedom and the privacy rights of their users and which companies don't.

eddyb9 karma

What will we have to do to ensure the Freedom of The Internet? Will they ever stop? Will we need something like The Pirate Bay's LOSS soon?

trevorEFF26 karma

It probably won't stop anytime soon, but the good news is we now have Congress' attention. They insisted they would not listen to any of the Internet's criticism of SOPA up until the day of the blackout, and then within 24 hours, the bill they thought was inevitable completely collapsed.

This time around with CISPA—while the bill is horrible and seemingly written by people who don't understand the Internet—they are terrified what happened with SOPA will happen again and at least seem willing to negotiate. They are bending over backwards to stop the SOPA comparisons - and even are taking the intellectual property clause completely out of the bill! They are also insisting they want to work with civil liberties groups this time - most likely because they recognize the power that normal Internet users now wield if they choose to organize.

The best thing we can all do is stay aware of bills going through Congress that affect the Internet and sound the alarm as early as possible. If we can get out in front of these bills and make it clear to Congress that their jobs depend on them protecting the Internet, then we will continue to make progress.

earthmeLon9 karma

Do you have an Anti-CISPA pamphlet or reasonably sized image with basic facts, links to get more information (QR codes) and such, so that we could print them and bring them to work, when we go out shopping, and other things?

trevorEFF10 karma

We don't have a pamphlet on CISPA that we have on other issues yet (coming soon!), but I would point them towards this FAQ that we just released this morning explaining all the privacy dangers people should be worried about.

ReveRseR4 karma

What work do you do outside of the US? Are you a international non-profit, or is the US the main source of your concerns?

trevorEFF10 karma

Our Director of International Freedom of Expression Jillian York has more specifics: "EFF's international team focuses on freedom of expression, privacy, cybersecurity, surveillance, and intellectual property, among (a few) other things. We engage in European policy processes (more info here and here), as well as the Internet Governance Forum. We also work with grassroots activists and NGOs all over the world in fighting for a free and open Internet. At the moment, for example, two members of the international team are at the Swedish government's Stockholm Internet Forum."

RUbernerd3 karma

Well, just because I did it, where do I submit prize to the multi million digit prime number deal?

trevorEFF3 karma

You can go to https://www.eff.org/awards/coop/rules and as long as you followed all the rules, it will tell you how to submit a claim.

RLutz3 karma

Do you guys ever get discouraged with the odds you're up against? When you look at the sheer amount of lobbying dollars that get funneled into something like SOPA vs the amount of funding the EFF typically gets, I get discouraged and I'm not even a part of the activism team!

Also, how much help have the Humble Bundles that have allowed contributions to the EFF been for you guys? I know I look at every Humble Bundle as a reminder that it's time for me to donate to the EFF again so they can protect my Internet freedom!

trevorEFF4 karma

It is certainly a daunting task sometimes. Like in the SOPA battle, the content industry outspent the tech industry 13-1 in lobbying Congress. But the SOPA protests certainly showed what ordinary Internet users are capable of if they are organized - they can overcome odds that were previously thought impossible. So I think we are more optimistic than we've ever been, despite more action in Congress than ever.

And yes - we love Humble Bundle! Every bundle they release we have been able to get a lot of funds that weren't available to us before. And they are great games, so it's a win/win.

YoshiEgg252 karma

What do you feel have been your greatest "victories" so far?

Along with that, what issues do you currently see as maybe being under the radar with many people, even the Internet, that would be very important to know about?

trevorEFF8 karma

We have a 'victories' page, but unfortunately it hasn't been updated in a couple years (should be in two weeks though). https://w2.eff.org/legal/victories/

More recently, obviously the SOPA protest was a huge victory. Also, getting DMCA exemptions for jailbreaking iPhones and other smart phones. We are currently before the Copyright Office right now trying to expand that exemption to tablets and video game consoles.

And sorry to beat a dead horse, but we want to make sure the cybersecurity bill does not fly under the radar, which is always a danger.

apullin2 karma

I don't really have a question but:

You guys at the EFF are genuinely heroes. Not in that sense that we call every fat, power fetishist cop a "hero", I mean a genuine, crusading-for-the-good-of-civil-liberties hero. The iPhone ruling that you guys scored has definitely changed the course of modern history. And you have the right idea: instead of just general protest and disaggregated disapproval, you're actually using the tenants of law to fight back these evils.

You guys should form a political party; I'd vote for you in a second.

Keep doing it. I wish I had money to give you, but I'm just a graduate student. If I was a billionaire, I'd be ramming money up your asses as fast as I could.

trevorEFF1 karma

Thanks so much! Very kind of you to say. If you want to stay involved, there are a bunch of ways you can help without giving money. Check them out here: https://www.eff.org/helpout

Also, we are trying to do more outreach to colleges around the country and may soon have travel funding to come visit for talks. If you're interested in starting an EFF-like group at your school email [email protected].

runasone1 karma

During the fight to stop SOPA, was there ever a moment when you stepped back and realized that something huge was going on? It seems like that was the first time I heard people who aren't into "tech" issues talking about internet freedom. At what point did you realize that we actually had a shot at stopping SOPA?

trevorEFF3 karma

The day of the blackout, seeing all of the different sites protesting in so many creative ways, was quite a sight. I think despite all our planning, we were still taken aback at the beauty of it all.

When SOPA first dropped, it was so horrible we wanted to kill it entirely, but to be honest, it had so much support we knew that was going to be tough - if not impossible. Especially considering no one in the general public knew what it was.

After a month of working, it was pretty clear the tech community was on high alert, but it still wasn't getting through to the general public. It probably wasn't until a week before the blackout that everyday Americans finally got wind - and just in time.

And of course, by the day after the blackout SOPA was known by every person in America from ages 12-75.

temp427041 karma

I see that you are not linking CISPA and SOPA to generate interest like many other people have. I applaud you for this, but at the same time I feel if this shaky linking hadn't happened, CISPA wouldn't be getting the coverage it is getting right now and this campaign wouldn't be as successful. It seems that more outrage is about it being SOPA 2 rather than the privacy concerns it raises. How do you feel about this situation? Do you condone this tactic, even if not using it means less success or even failure?

trevorEFF2 karma

Yes, we want to be careful about over using the SOPA moniker because we want it to stay powerful when we do use it. There's always the change it can turn into a boy-who-cried-wolf scenario.

Although we weren't pushing the "SOPA 2.0" meme like others, in CISPA, there was actually an intellectual property clause that we looked at as a backdoor to copyright enforcement. But thankfully (because Congress is now so afraid of SOPA) they removed it completely. Privacy was always the worry in this bill, which is different than censorship and excessive copyright enforcement.

But both bills are very dangerous though - just in different ways. And if there is a thread that binds them, it's that Congress continues to try to legislate the Internet with no input from its users.