Access in the News

You Spoke Out, and They Listened: U.S. FCC Passes Strong Net Neutrality Rules

10:45am | 26 February 2015 | by Access Team,

Today the U.S. Federal Communications Commission listened to the more than 4 million voices who asked for the agency to protect the open net. Voting 3-2 in favor of Net Neutrality, the agency re-classified broadband internet under Title II of the Communications Act—the strongest protections currently available. The move caps off almost a decade of activism by civil society groups in the U.S., but also pressure from groups outside the country including members of the Global Net Neutrality coalition.

The last 100 days to pass surveillance reform

11:41am | 25 February 2015 | by Drew Mitnick, English, Privacy, Surveillance

As of this past Saturday, there are less than 100 days remaining until certain provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act will expire unless Congress takes action. Now is the time for Congress to pass surveillance reform, and if they cannot, to allow the USA PATRIOT Act articles to sunset.

What we can learn from Lenovo’s Superfish and the government’s SIM card heist

6:00pm | 20 February 2015 | by Access Team,

This week two important news stories broke about digital security. The first related to the installation of adware on Lenovo laptops that used a very insecure method of tracking the web browsing habits of users. The Intercept reported the second news story, which detailed how U.S. and UK intelligence operatives infiltrated one of the world’s largest SIM card manufacturers to steal the encryption keys of the chips used in cell phones.

Dear U.S. FCC: Net Neutrality Rules Must Ban Zero Rating. Period.

9:51am | 20 February 2015 | by Josh Levy,

Next week, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission will vote on rules that, it says, would finally put in place Net Neutrality protections for U.S. internet users. While we are optimistic about the strength of these rules, we’re also worried they will fail to adequately protect against so-called “zero rating” services — schemes devised by internet providers and services like Facebook, Wikimedia, and Spotify in which app usage doesn't count against data caps —and other forms of price discrimination. A failure to include such language in the FCC's new rules would not only render them weaker than what came before, but would also create a giant opening for Verizon and other carriers to perpetrate rampant online discrimination.

U.S. eases sanctions on tech exports to Sudan

2:47pm | 19 February 2015 | by Ephraim Percy Kenyanito,

This week the U.S. government issued a General License to provide users with easier access to the internet and a wide range of software, hardware, and services “incident to personal communications” in Sudan. Access applauds the move, which follows years of advocacy by our organization alongside civil society partners in the U.S. and Sudan.

Access delivers petition to U.S. agencies to investigate use of zombie cookies by mobile carriers

11:12am | 18 February 2015 | by Deji Olukotun, Carolyn Tackett, Peter Micek

Today, Access delivered a petition signed by 3,000 users to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate the use of so-called “zombie cookies” by mobile carriers to track their customers’ web traffic. Access also delivered a similar petition to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) because both agencies arguably have the authority to investigate these harmful practices.

Access submits evidence to International Criminal Court on net shutdown in Central African Republic

2:29pm | 17 February 2015 | by Peter Micek,

Access has submitted evidence to the International Criminal Court about the SMS shutdown in the Central African Republic during June and July 2014. The submission supports the latest ICC investigation into crimes against humanity in CAR, the Court’s second probe into the “endless” list of atrocities perpetrated there.

Taming the skies: Obama memo looks at commercial drones, restricts government use

11:02am | 15 February 2015 | by Drew Mitnick, Jack Bussell

Today, President Barack Obama issued a presidential memorandum addressing the increased development and use of drones within the United States. Among other things, the memorandum, which has the force of law, requires the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to develop a multistakeholder process for the creation of non-binding rules governing commercial drone use. The NTIA will collaborate with businesses and civil society organizations to develop the guidelines, which must be drafted to adequately address threats to privacy and free expression posed by the public use of the technology, particularly the unique challenges of drones as mobile internet service platforms.

Emerging threats in cybersecurity and data protection legislation in African Union countries

1:52pm | 13 February 2015 | by Ephraim Percy Kenyanito,

In January 2015, heads of state met at the 24th African Union Summit to discuss the “African Union Agenda 2063” with the goal of enabling “a continent on equal footing with the rest of the world as an information society.” While Access applauds the human rights protections enshrined in the convention, we are deeply troubled by draft legislation that has emerged across the continent that tramples rights in the name of implementing the convention.

President Obama’s cyber summit must not dwell on solutions that violate privacy

9:01am | 13 February 2015 | by Jack Bussell,

Today, the White House will hold its Summit on Cybersecurity and Consumer Protection. While improved digital hygiene is critically important, the information-sharing proposals offered by Congress and President Obama so far place user privacy at risk while being of questionable utility for improving digital security.

Parliament votes to push forward its agenda on EU-PNR

8:11am | 13 February 2015 | by Access Brussels Office,

On February 11th, the European Parliament (EP) has adopted a resolution in which it commits to work toward finalising, by the end of the year, a directive on EU Passenger Name Records (PNR). Despite serious privacy concerns raised by civil society organisations, discourses privileging the need to reinforce EU anti-terrorism measures seem to have prevailed over European citizens’ fundamental rights.

Rafael Correa: y u so mad at the internet?

5:34pm | 12 February 2015 | by Javier Pallero,

In a worrying move against freedom of expression on the internet, Ecuador’s president Rafael Correa publicly shamed critics for their statements on social networks and asked his supporters to attack them online. Digital rights organizations worldwide, including Access, issued this statement condemning the president’s disturbing reaction.

Access joins letter citing impact of sanctions in Crimea on free expression and digital security

2:39pm | 12 February 2015 | by Peter Micek,

Access joined EFF, Global Voices Advocacy, New America’s Open Technology Institute, and Ferrari & Associates, P.C. in a letter calling for the OFAC—the agency charged with enforcing the sanctions—to issue a general license that would protect internet users.

New cybersecurity legislation introduced in U.S., but still doesn’t protect users

4:05pm | 11 February 2015 | by Drew Mitnick,

Today, U.S. Senator Tom Carper introduced the Cyber Threat Sharing Act of 2015, a new bill to authorize the public/private dissemination of cybersecurity-related information. The legislation’s limitations on the type of information that can be shared are not enough to protect user privacy. Access is calling on the U.S. Congress not to consider information-sharing legislation--which could ostensibly create new surveillance authorities under the guise of cybersecurity--until existing surveillance authorities are adequately reformed.

The World Is Watching: 31 Rights Groups from 21 Countries Urge the FCC to Protect Net Neutrality

10:34am | 10 February 2015 | by Deji Olukotun,

This week 31 digital rights groups from some 21 countries on five continents urged the U.S. Federal Communications Commission to pass strong Net Neutrality rules that that would reclassify broadband providers under Title II of the Communications Act. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler gave encouraging signs that he intends to propose rules that would harness the full extent of the FCC’s authority on February 26, yet members of the U.S. Congress and some ISPs are already on the attack.