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2013 in Review: Revelations, Tragedy, and Fighting Back

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When it comes to the fight for free expression and privacy in technology, 2013 changed everything.

This was the year we received confirmation and disturbing details about the NSA programs that are sweeping up information on hundreds of millions of people in the United States and around the world. This set off a cascade of events, from EFF’s newest lawsuit against the NSA to protests in the streets to a United Nations resolution to Congressional bills both promising and terrifying. In December, a federal judge even found the surveillance likely unconstitutional, calling it "almost-Orwellian."

It was also a year we lost a beloved friend and activist, Aaron Swartz. Aaron was a fellow freedom fighter working to bring the world access to knowledge. We’re still mourning his suicide, which was spurred in part by an aggressive prosecution under the vaguely worded and over-penalized Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). In his memory, EFF and our friends at Demand Progress created a coalition to fight for reform of the CFAA.

We also went on the offensive against patent trolls with our new website TrollingEffects.org. Patent trolls buy up patents—often vague software patents that should never have been issued in the first place—and use them to bully legitimate companies. EFF attorneys fought back on behalf of the victims of patent trolls, including podcasters like the Adam Corolla Show. We then took the battle to Congress, where a bill designed to tackle patent trolls called the Innovation Act successfully passed the House of Representatives. 

Below you can find a series of articles revisiting watershed moments in 2013. Check back soon; we’ll keep adding more articles till the New Year. You also can follow our series by subscribing to EFF on Twitter, Facebook, or Google Plus.

We wouldn’t be able to do our work without the support of more than 26,000 card-carrying EFF members. Join us.

2013 in Review

Tragedy Brings CFAA Into the Spotlight

And just for fun, here's a graphical interpretation of the words most frequently used on the Deeplinks blog in 2013:

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Retired cops, activist pensioners, and the economic blowback over Snowden

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By David Sirota On December 23, 2013 When you think of NSA critics, you probably think of crusading reporters like Glenn Greenwald, whistleblowers like Edward Snowden, left-leaning ACLU types and libertarian Ron Paulites. Certainly, an image of aging…

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Retired cops, activist pensioners, and the economic blowback over Snowden is a story from: BitcoinWarrior.net

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2013 in Review: Tragedy Brings CFAA Into the Spotlight

EFF's Deeplinks -

As the year draws to a close, EFF is looking back at the major trends influencing digital rights in 2013 and discussing where we are in the fight for free expression, innovation, fair use, and privacy. Click here to read other blog posts in this series.

For EFF, 2013 started on a tragic note when our friend, the gifted activist, coder, and Pioneer Aaron Swartz committed suicide in January. At the time of his death, Aaron was under indictment for allegedly violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act ("CFAA") when he used MIT's computer network to download millions of academic articles from the online archive JSTOR without "authorization." But out of his untimely death grew an enormous outcry against the CFAA and the government's prosecution of Swartz, including a Congressional hearing about the case, a bill introduced in his name to reform the CFAA, and a disappointing MIT report about the case.

Despite the renewed attention given the CFAA, it was still used in dangerous ways throughout the year.

First, in March Andrew "Weev" Auernheimer was sentenced to 41 months in prison following his CFAA conviction for revealing to media outlets that AT&T had configured its servers to allow the collection of iPad owners’ unsecured email addresses. We joined his legal team on appeal, arguing to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals that it's not a crime to view information on a publicly accessible website.

Then over the summer, we weighed in on craigslist's dispute with 3taps, a company that collects publicly accessible craigslist postings and makes the data available to other sites. 3taps provided craigslist apartment listings to Padmapper and craigslist sued both, claiming the companies had violated the CFAA. In an amicus brief, we explained that once craigslist made the information on their sites available to the whole world to see, they could not selectively decide to make someone's access "unauthorized" merely because they were competing with craigslist. The court partially agreed with us, finding that 3taps was authorized to view and use the listings until craigslist sent 3taps a cease and desist letter and blocked their IP address.

Finally, in the fall we submitted a support letter on behalf of "hacktivist" Jeremy Hammond before his sentencing after pleading guilty to violating the CFAA when he obtained credit card numbers and internal emails from intelligence contractor Stratfor. The emails revealed the company's work conducting surveillance on political protesters at the behest of both private companies and the government and were reported in major news outlets. Hammond was ultimately given the sentence requested by the government: ten years in prison, an unfortunate yet unsurprising development given the CFAA's draconian punishment scheme.

Hopefully, the push towards reform that began in 2013 with tragedies—death, incarceration and the stifling of innovation—will bear fruit in 2014, between Aaron's Law getting committee hearings in Congress, the Third Circuit reviewing Weev's case, and the renewed energy given to rein in the CFAA. You can help by telling Congress to support common sense changes to the CFAA and ensure that 2014 isn't another year of tragedy.

This article is part of our 2013 Year in Review series; read other articles about the fight for digital rights in 2013.

Related Issues: Computer Fraud And Abuse Act ReformRelated Cases: U.S. v Auernheimer
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A Word from BitInstant CEO and Bitcoin Evangelist, Charlie Shrem

Bitcoin Magazine -

On behalf of the Bitcoin Magazine Team, we would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, and a fantastic New Year!

Here is Holiday Greeting from Bitcoin Evangelist, BitInstant CEO, and Bitcoin Foundation Board Vice Chair, Charlie Shrem:

Seasons Greetings Bitcoiners!

What a wild year 2013 has been!

At the time of last year’s holiday message, BTC was $13.30 and on Jan 10th, 2013 I was predicting $14.00. As of Christmas morning, BTC is holding steady around$675.

Now, before all of you say “Bitcoin is not all about the price”, relax. You are correct. This year I’ve been fortunate to have travelled all over the world evangelizing Bitcoin. From Austria to Las Vegas, Panama, California, London, Amsterdam, Morocco, Argentina and more meeting Bitcoin communities and building lifelong friendships. One thing I’ll always remember, said to me by long time friend and Bitcoin Foundation general counsel Patrick Murk, “Bitcoin is the accumulation of the talent, hard work and dedication of the people who develop and maintain the protocol, build industries around the protocol, the merchants and consumers who use the Bitcoin protocol in their daily lives, and those who promote and protect the protocol. As more people become a part of the Bitcoin community, the value of the system increases.”.

Bitcoin is not simply a currency, or a payment system. Bitcoin is a technology that enables you and I to work together to make the world a better place. Bitcoin not only has the potential for global financial inclusion of the world’s poor, it also provides a stable money supply to people living in some of the world’s most corrupt and irresponsible governments.

We’ve had many ups and downs this year, literally. We saw the end of Silk Road and the dawn of government regulation. Some people thought we even found Satoshi. China emerged as a dominant player in the Bitcoin space. Senate hearings and various worldwide government bodies either embraced or tried to slow it down. I say good luck to that. To shut down Bitcoin you’d have to shut down the world’s electricity and the internet. Lastly, Canada and Australia joined the foundation’s initiative to bring together some of the most energetic Bitcoin communities in the world to fulfill our mission to protect, standardize and promote Bitcoin worldwide. Bitcoin is you, me, and all of our hard work. It’s our community and culture that we’ve all decided to make our own – and we will prevail.

Satoshi built Bitcoin for us so we that can carry the torch and continue to develop it for mainstream adoption. He gave us the land and now its up to us the build the roads, bridges, and tunnels. 2013 was the year of regulation. 2014 is the year of infrastructure so get ready to build! Circle’s $9 million and Coinbase’s $25 million investments are just the tip of the iceberg. An iceberg full of new ideas, talent and capital just waiting to be tapped by the right people to bring Bitcoin to the masses.

Looking forward to an even wilder year!

Happy holidays!

Charlie Shrem

Vice-Chairman, Bitcoin Foundation

CEO, BitInstant


The post A Word from BitInstant CEO and Bitcoin Evangelist, Charlie Shrem appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas from 'The Hacker News'

The Hacker News -

The Christmas spirit has finally arrived. It's Christmas Day, a time for family and friends. <!-- adsense --> We have had another wonderful year here at 'The Hacker News', so we not only want to wish you a Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas, but also thank you for reading our articles, commenting, sending tips and joining us for spreading Cyber awareness. We really appreciate your support


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