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In the digital world as in the physical world, public policy must reflect a balance between collective good and civil liberties in order to protect the health and safety of our society from communicable disease outbreaks. It is important, however, that any extraordinary measures used to manage a specific crisis must not become permanent fixtures in the landscape of government intrusions into daily life. There is historical precedent for life-saving programs such as these, and their intrusions on digital liberties, to outlive their urgency.

A greater portion of the world’s work, organizing, and care-giving is moving onto digital platforms and tools that facilitate connection and productivity: video conferencing, messaging apps, healthcare and educational platforms, and more. It’s important to be aware of the ways these tools may impact your digital privacy and security during the COVID-19 crisis.

This blogpost provides an overview to help you fight against phishing attacks and malware, examples of phishing messages we’ve seen in the wild related to coronavirus and COVID-19, and specific scenarios to look out for (such as if you work in a hospital, are examining maps of the spread of the virus, or are using your phone to stay informed).

The massive infrastructure required to run face recognition (such as cameras, software, and open-ended contracts with vendors) cannot be easily dismantled when the public health crisis is over. We cannot allow law enforcement and other government officials to normalize this invasive tactic.

EFF Updates

In collaboration with the Association of Alternative Newsmedia, EFF compiles “The Foilies,” a list of anti-awards that name-and-shame government officials and corporations that stymie the public’s right to know. Now in its sixth year, The Foilies are part of the annual Sunshine Week festivities, when news and advocacy organizations celebrate and bring attention to state and federal open-records laws that allow us to hold the powerful to account.

The government and law enforcement should not be scanning your photos with face recognition technology. But right now, at least half of Americans are likely in government face recognition databases—often thanks to secretive agreements between state and federal government agencies—without any of us having opted in. EFF is launching a new project to help fight back: Who Has Your Face, which includes a short quiz that you can use to learn which U.S. government agencies may have access to your photo for facial recognition purposes.

Tatt-C (also known as the Tattoo Recognition Challenge) was a project managed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation that  created an “open tattoo database.” Research institutions around the world received this dataset of tattoo images taken from incarcerated individuals to train their software. After multiple years and a lawsuit, EFF now knows what institutions received the unethical dataset and asked them to delete all of the materials. Here are the results.

Members of Congress have mounted a major threat to your freedom of speech and privacy online. This bill would undermine key protections for Internet speech in U.S. law. It would also expose providers of the private messaging services we all rely on to serious legal risk, potentially forcing them to undermine their tools’ security.

A universal fiber network that was completed years ago. Millions of 5G users. Some of the world’s fastest and cheapest broadband connections. South Korea has all of these, while other nations that have the same resources lag behind. How did South Korea become a global leader in the first place? EFF did a deep dive into this question and has produced the following report. The key takeaway: government policies that focus on expanding access to telecommunications infrastructure were essential to success.

Job Openings

EFF is seeking a Director of Technology Projects to help lead our team of ethical technologists in defending encryption, outwitting censorship, and coding a better digital future. This is a senior leadership role within EFF, and will help guide the organization in charting its overall external technical strategy.

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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. Check out our FAQ for information on memberships, donations, shop orders, corporate giving, matching gifts, and other ways to give. https://www.eff.org/pages/membership-faq

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About EFF

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading organization protecting civil liberties in the digital world. Founded in 1990, we defend free speech online, fight illegal surveillance, promote the rights of digital innovators, and work to ensure that the rights and freedoms we enjoy are enhanced, rather than eroded, as our use of technology grows. EFF is a member-supported organization. Find out more at https://eff.org.

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