EFFECTOR – A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation

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EFFector Vol. 28, No. 4 April 1, 2015

A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation
ISSN 1062-9424

effector: n, Computer Sci. A device for producing a
desired change.

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In our -65535th issue:

* Security Experts: PANIC

MITRE has announced the PANIC vulnerability, a critical
security flaw which affects the server administrators and
software developers underpinning almost every interaction
we have with the Internet. PANIC is particularly dangerous
as it has the potential to interfere with administrators’
ability to safely patch other vulnerabilities. This issue
appears to have existed, undiscovered or unreported, since
the creation of the very first networked computers. It is
not yet known if PANIC has been exploited in the wild.

Read more:

* EFF Wins Court Battle to Have Pig Latin Approved For
Civilian Use

After more than three years of litigation, EFF has
prevailed in Ohencay v NSA with a unanimous panel of the
Ninth Circuit ruling that the federal prohibition on Pig
Latin is inconsistent with the First Amendment. Fred
Mithsay, a spokesperson for the Department of Justice, said
that the government was disappointed in the decision and
was considering an appeal to the Supreme Court.
“Unrestricted use of Pig Latin threatens national
security,” said Mithsay. “Al-Qaeda could use it to organize
the latest strike on the homeland or my DOJ coworkers might
use it to keep me from knowing about the coolest parties.”

Read more:

* NSA Tells Public To Reduce Use of Passive Voice In Email

Both style and national security are impacted by the use of
passive voice, the NSA said today. Having spent many
billions of taxpayer dollars to capture all private
electronic communication, the agency is frustrated that
poor writing habits are making this data difficult to
analyze. “We strongly prefer short declarative sentences
where the actor is clearly identified,” said an NSA
spokesperson. “Instead of writing, ‘The protest will be
attended by many activists,’ it would be better to write,
‘Known dissidents Amy Goodman, Laura Poitras, and Glenn
Greenwald will travel by bus to the protest in Washington
Square Park, New York, and will arrive at approximately
1:04 p.m. on April 1st, 2015.'” The NSA further suggested
that instead of composing private email, citizens could
instead fill out a webform at NSA.gov or travel to
Bluffdale, Utah and share all of their most private secrets
with the NSA in person.

Read more:

* Privacy Nihilists Debate Mass Surveillance

The tension was palpable at the first ever Privacy Nihilist
Debate held earlier this week in the gymnatorium of San
Francisco’s Uli Kunkel High School. It started with a
strong opening statement: “There is no truth to observe, so
from a metaphysical and epistemological perspective, mass
surveillance is meaningless.” That was followed by a
gripping rejoinder: “Merelogically, any perceptor, even
myself, will not perceive ‘me,’ only improper
misperceptions of supposed parts of me. The truth of my
being cannot be known even if all observable parts are
cataloged. The government is capable only of making
inherently flawed observations that cannot form the basis
of correct action.” Ultimately, the nihilists agreed that
no act is inherently right or wrong and concluded the
debate with a group shrug.

Read more:

* Leaked Documents Reveal NSA Once Ran Dangerously Low on

The Intercept has published a PowerPoint slide released by
Edward Snowden showing that as late as 1999, the NSA was
dangerously close to depleting all appropriate permutations
of English words to serve as codenames for its surveillance
efforts. One internal projection states that before a new
reserve of words was added to the supply, the last
available combination–OBSEQUIOUS MOUSTACHEHORSE–was set
to be assigned in 2004. The presentation implies, but does
not explicitly state, that the Agency may have introduced
those newly discovered words to the general population, and
suggests that this is the origin of “blog.”

Read more:

* Obama Requests “Flash Track” for TPP

In a televised address on Tuesday, President Obama defended
the secrecy of his administration’s trade negotiations, and
called for the most aggressive measures yet. While
transparency and civil society advocates have previously
opposed so-called “Fast Track” bills–which limit Congress
to a single up-or-down vote after secret negotiations on
the Trans-Pacific Partnership have concluded–Obama has
doubled down with a “Flash Track” proposal that gives
Congress just 15 minutes to raise objections from the
moment Obama declares the agreement completed. “I’m not
going to mince words here,” stated Obama. “It will probably
be in the middle of the night, while everybody’s sleeping.
But trust me, this is what the American public needs.”

Read more:

* White House Reverses Course on Glass Doors Remodel

The White House has turned its back on yet another
component in its ill-fated campaign to be the Most
Transparent Administration in History, removing its newly
installed sliding glass doors and replacing them with
traditional wooden models. Transparency advocates have been
vocal in their disappointment, but a White House
spokesperson said the move is necessary, as both Bo Obama
and Vice President Joe Biden have repeatedly run into the
closed doors.

Read more:

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~ Congress To Extend Copyright Terms for All Artistic Works
to “Life of Mickey Mouse plus 70 years.”
After several impassioned speeches about the harms of
piracy, Congressional leaders introduced a bill tying the
terms of all copyrights to the lifespan of the fictitious
rodent Mickey.

~ Harris Corporation Demands Non-Disclosure Agreements From
Aquarium Visitors
The maker of the Stingray cell-tracking surveillance
equipment is notoriously tight-lipped; but it’s taken that
secrecy to a new level in a new partnership with the
Monterey Bay Aquarium, demanding visitors to the stingray
tank refrain from discussing what they see.

~ EFF Scores Zero Stars on Inaugural “Who’s On Our Backs”
A coalition of tech giants, including Google, Facebook, and
Twitter, have released a scorecard grading advocacy groups
who continue to badger them about their privacy practices.
The categories included: “Readily Appeased,” “Easily
Misled,” and “In Our Pockets.” EFF got zero stars.

~ Shari Steele Attempts EFF Overthrow
In a sudden reversal, outgoing Executive Director of 15
years Shari Steele has announced that she will instead
cling to power, changing her title to Executive Dictator
For Life. EFF staff graciously accepts the rule of Shari
Steele, long may she reign.

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Supported by Members

Our members make it possible for EFF to bring legal and technological
expertise into crucial battles about online rights. Whether defending
free speech online or challenging unconstitutional surveillance, your
participation makes a difference. Every donation gives technology users
who value freedom online a stronger voice and more formidable advocate.

If you aren’t already, please consider becoming an EFF member.

Donate today: https://supporters.eff.org/join/effector

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* Administrivia

Marlowe and Buster, @DigiTerriers

EFFector is published by:
The Electronic Frontier Foundation

Membership & donation queries:

General EFF, legal, policy, or online resources queries:

Reproduction of this publication in electronic media is
encouraged. MiniLinks do not necessarily represent
the views of EFF.

Back issues of EFFector are available via the Web at:

815 Eddy Street
San Francisco, CA 94109-7701
United States


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