EFF Quits Global Network Initiative To Protest Tech Firms' Inability To Be Transparent On Surveillance Issues

from the incompatible dept

An interesting bit of fallout from the NSA revelations: the EFF has resigned from the Global Network Initiative, a big coalition of public interest groups, academics, investors and companies that are trying to advance concepts of freedom of expression and the right to privacy around the globe. The group is pointing out that the forced gag orders on the tech companies who are a part of GNI mean that it is now uncomfortable having its name associated with the group. The fear is that if the companies can't speak freely about what's going on, it harms the overall mission of GNI.
EFF has been a civil society member of the multi-stakeholder human rights group since GNI was founded in 2008 to advance freedom of expression and privacy in the global information and communication technologies sector. While much has been accomplished in these five years, EFF can no longer sign its name on joint statements knowing now that GNI's corporate members have been blocked from sharing crucial information about how the US government has meddled with these companies' security practices through programs such as PRISM and BULLRUN.

"We know that many within the industry do not like or approve of such government interference, and GNI has, in statements, made it clear that member companies want permission from the US government to engage in greater transparency," EFF's International Director Danny O'Brien and Director for International Freedom of Expression Jillian C. York write in a letter to GNI leadership. "However, until serious reforms of the US surveillance programs are in place, we no longer feel comfortable participating in the GNI process when we are not privy to the serious compromises GNI corporate members may be forced to make. Nor do we currently believe that audits of corporate practice, no matter how independent, will uncover the insecurities produced by the US government's—and potentially other governments'—behavior when operating clandestinely in the name of national security."

While this may be more symbolic than anything else, it highlights the wider breakdown in trust that the NSA's overreach has brought about. The NSA and its defenders like to pretend that there's no downside to their dragnet surveillance efforts, and the secrecy that encases every program. But it has a very real impact for so many people, organizations and companies.


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    Get off my cyber-lawn! (profile), Oct 11th, 2013 @ 4:04pm

    I can see their point

    Kind of like finding out that your "save the horses" campaign is being run behind the scenes by dogfood companies!

     

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    out_of_the_blue, Oct 11th, 2013 @ 4:11pm

    "the wider breakdown in trust" is an UP side from NSA view.

    In police states, you never know who's an informer -- or what the rules are. People keep to themselves; civil life shuts down.

    BUT I don't for a second buy the notion that the mega-corporations are at all unwilling to spy for NSA. That it's been exposed is momentary embarrassment, a mere PR problem. Meanwhile, JUST TODAY, the corporate abuse of their spying ratchets up:

    Facebook RIPS away your veil of privacy, declares NO MORE HIDING

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/10/11/facebook_privacy_deletion/

    Google ads to be made of SCRAPED PEOPLE
    Welcome to a world where your mother tries to sell you toilet rolls

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/10/11/google_shared_endorsements_social_ads/

    YouTube turns on dormant DRM, permits official downloads

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/10/11/youtube_goes_offline_for_inflight_viewing/

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 11th, 2013 @ 4:27pm

    Interesting that none of the other groups or individuals involved in GNI followed EFF's lead. Implied endorsement of NSA programs?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 11th, 2013 @ 4:28pm

    Go back to Infowars, ootb. They need you far more than we do. You've been told over and over, you don't like Google, don't use them, block their ads, block their domains; you should have long ago had this duh moment.

    Have another report vote for a meaningless post.
    --------------------------------------------------------------

    The NSA has by itself done more harm to the US by it's constant lying about what it's doing that a whole passel of congress critters on a junket.

    The fallout just keeps coming like a slow building tidal wave. It's one company, then another, followed by another country, followed by governments saying they can no longer do business with the US. That comes up right behind other businesses saying they have a problem with the way the US does things.

    Many are the people saying they are not going to return to the police state known as the US. Many more are saying they can no longer do business with the US due to a lack of privacy.

    It's a slow build but it's coming. At this rate before it is over with a lot of companies in the US are going to be demanding something be done about all this rampant illegal spying.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 11th, 2013 @ 4:51pm

    Here's a good lead for people sending foias.

    http://www.dsac.gov

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 11th, 2013 @ 5:08pm

    GNI was never significant

    GNI was never a "big coalition." It was started to provide cover for Google, Microsoft and Yahoo when they were under pressure for operating in China and and complying with Chinese law.

    Since then, despite intense political pressure from Sen. Durbin and others, the only other tech company of significance to join has been Facebook.

    See http://www.forbes.com/sites/larrydownes/2011/03/30/why-no-one-will-join-the-global-network-initiativ e/

     

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    Mark Wing, Oct 11th, 2013 @ 9:06pm

    It's a short list of organizations that give a shit, and the EFF is on that list.

     

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    corwin155 (profile), Oct 12th, 2013 @ 2:44am

    Fascism

    James Clapper says you cant have a totalitarian police state if everyone wants "advance concepts of freedom of expression and the right to privacy"

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 12th, 2013 @ 7:55am

    'if the companies can't speak freely about what's going on, it harms the overall mission of GNI'

    and you think this isn't an aim of the various governments and law enforcement agencies? it's one more out of their hair!!

    the bigger aim is to just be able to do whatever the hell the governments and law enforcement agencies want to do, with absolutely no recourse at all. those who think it isn't true, wait and see just another short couple of years. what we have now isn't that much but what we are going to end up with is going to be nothing, with no way out either except joining the bigger internet in the sky!!

     

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