APC joins in the condemnation of the suspension of Twitter services in Nigeria, and considers that this measure not only limits Nigerian citizens' exercise of their right to access information, but also other rights including freedom of expression, privacy, and freedom of assembly and association.
This week, EFF joined with several prominent right-to-repair groups to file an amicus brief in the United States District Court of Massachusetts defending the state’s recent right-to-repair law. This law, which gives users and independent repair shops access to critical information about the cars they drive and service, passed by ballot initiative with an overwhelming 74.9% majority.
Almost immediately, automakers asked to delay the law. In November, the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, a group that includes Honda, Ford, General Motors, Toyota, and other major carmakers, sued the state over the law. The suit claims that allowing people to have access to the information generated by their own cars poses serious security risks.
This argument is nonsense, and we have no problem joining our fellow repair advocates—iFixit, The Repair Association, US PIRG, SecuRepairs.org, and Founder/Director of the Brooklyn Law Incubator and Policy Clinic Professor Jonathan Askin—in saying so.Access Is Not a Threat
The Massachusetts law requires vehicles with a telematics platform—software that collects and transmits diagnostic information about your car—to install an open data platform. The Alliance for Automotive Innovation argues that the law makes it “impossible” to comply with both the state’s data access rules and federal standards.
Nonsense. Companies in many industries must balance data access and cybersecurity rules, including for electronic health records, credit reporting, and telephone call records. In all cases, regulators have recognized the importance of giving consumers access to their own information as well as the need to protect even the most sensitive information.
In fact, in cases such as the Equifax breach, consumer access to information was key to fighting fraud, the main consequence of the data breach. Locking consumers out of accessing their own information does nothing to decrease cybersecurity risks.Secrecy Is Not Security
Automakers are also arguing that restricting access to telematics data is necessary if carmakers are to protect against malicious intrusions.
Cybersecurity experts strongly disagree. “Security through obscurity”—systems that rely primarily on secrecy of certain information to prevent illicit access or use—simply does not work. It offers no real deterrent to would-be thieves, and it can give engineers a false sense of safety that can stop them from putting real protections in place.
Furthermore, there is no evidence that expanding access to telematics data would change much about the security of information. In fact, independent repair shops aren't any more or less likely than authorized shops to leak or misuse data, according to a recent report from the Federal Trade Commission. This should not be accepted as an excuse for carmakers to further restrict competition in the repair market.The Right to Repair Enhances Consumer Protection and Competition
Throughout the debate over the Massachusetts ballot initiative, the automotive industry has resorted to scare tactics to stop this law. But the people of Massachusetts didn’t fall for the industry’s version of reality, and we urge the court not to either.
The right to repair gives consumers more control over the things they own. It also supports a healthier marketplace, as it allows smaller and independent repair shops to offer their services—participation that clearly lowers prices and raises quality.
Time and time again, people have made it clear that they want the right to repair their cars. They’ve made that clear at the ballot box, as in Massachusetts, as well as in statehouses across the country.
That’s why EFF continues to stand behind the right to repair: If you bought it, you own it. It’s your right to fix it yourself or to take it to the repair shop of your choosing. Manufacturers want the benefits that come with locking consumers into a relationship with their companies long after a sale. But their efforts to stop the right to repair stands against a healthy marketplace, consumer protection, and common sense.
EFF and FSFP to Court: When Flawed Electronic Voting Systems Disenfranchise Voters, They Should Be Able to Challenge That with Access to the Courts
Atlanta, Georgia—The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Free Speech for People (FSPF) urged a federal appeals court today to hold that a group of Georgia voters and the organization that supports them have standing to sue the Georgia Secretary of State over the implementation of defective voting systems they say deprives them of their right to vote and have their votes counted.
EFF and FSFP filed an amicus brief siding with the plaintiffs in Curling v. Raffenberger to defend Americans’ right to challenge in court any policy or action that disenfranchises voters.
The voters in the Curling lawsuit, originally filed in 2017, are seeking to block, or otherwise require protective measures for, Georgia’s new electronic voting, which has been found to have flaws that could block or deter some voters from exercising their right to vote and cause some votes to not be counted.
After reviewing a tremendous amount of evidence and testimony, a federal judge found that problems with the system’s scanners violate Georgians’ fundamental right to vote, and flaws in electronic pollbooks impose a severe burden on the rights of voters. The court ordered the state to take specific steps to fix the problems.
Lawyers for the Georgia Secretary of State’s office are appealing the orders and seeking to have the case thrown out. They argue that the voters lack standing to sue because they can’t show that they would be personally and individually harmed by the voting system and are merely speculating about potential harms to their voting rights. The Secretary of State went so far as to say the plaintiffs are, at best, “bystanders” making merely a general grievance about alleged harms that is not sufficient for standing.
In a brief filed in U.S. District Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, EFF and FSFP said the Supreme Court has long recognized that the right to vote is personal and individual. Directly depriving people of the right to vote is a concrete and particularized injury, and the Curling plaintiffs showed how the flaws both blocked voters from voting and scanned ballots from being counted.
“The plaintiffs in this case are seeking to vindicate their own rights to vote and have their votes counted,” said EFF Executive Director Cindy Cohn. “The fact that many other people would be harmed in a similar way doesn’t change that or negate the fact that the state’s choice of voting system can disenfranchise the voters in this case.”
EFF urged the court to look at the Ninth Circuit Court decision in EFF’s landmark case Jewel vs. NSA challenging dragnet government surveillance of Americans’ phone records. The court found that AT&T customers alleging the NSA’s spying program violated their individual rights to privacy had standing to sue the government, despite the fact that the program also impacted millions of other people, reversing a lower court’s ruling that their assertions of harm were just generalized grievances.
“When government or state policies cause personal harm, that meets the standard for standing even if many others are subject to the same harms,” said Houston Davidson, EFF public interest legal fellow.
EFF and FSFP also pushed back on Georgia’s attempt to minimize the problems with its systems as mere “glitches,” akin to a snowstorm or traffic jam on Election Day that do not require deep court review. They noted that the problems proven in the case are not minor but serious, preventable, and fundamental flaws that place unacceptable burdens on voters and jeopardize the accurate counting of their votes. Passing these problems off as minor, with unserious consequences for voters, can make it easier for Georgia to convince the court that it should not intervene.
Don’t fall for it, EFF and FSFP urged the court.
“It’s outrageous and wrong for Georgia to try to dismiss the flaws in the voting system as ‘glitches,’” said Davidson. “Technology problems in Georgia’s electronic pollbooks, scanners, and overall security are systematic and predictable. These issues jeopardize voters’ rights to cast their votes and have them counted. We hope the court recognizes the flaws for what they are and confirms the plaintiffs’ rights to hold the state accountable.”
For the EFF/FSFP brief:
For more on election security:
Seeding change: Nodes that Bond women overcome access gaps at the Portal sem Porteiras community network in Brazil
How are APC partners improving their communities’ lives? The feminist project Nodes that Bond has developed circles of women with an emphasis on technology at Portal sem Porteiras, a rural community network in Brazil.