EFF Cases: StorageTek, U.S. Government, Echostar

By Ericka Chickowski Print this article Print

The Electronic Frontier Foundation fights tirelessly for free speech and privacy rights, but it is also a big proponent for free innovation. The following legal cases are some of the most important the EFF has participated in over the years.

8. StorageTek v. Custom Hardware

Another important case abusing the DMCA, this case saw the vendor StorageTek using a very basic maintenance code to prevent the defendant and other computer repair technicians from performing routine maintenance on its systems. The idea is to keep customers coming to the vendor for more costly repairs. Custom Hardware circumvented the measures to help its customer, and was ultimately sued for the action. EFF participated in this case, which ultimately set the precedence in favor of technology users everywhere, who do not have to be locked into a vendor’s repair service simply through the fear of being dinged by DMCA.

9. U.S. v. Arnold

The EFF is one of the major public interest groups leading the charge against the government in its bid to confiscate traveler laptops at its whim. EFF lawyers filed an amicus in this case, in which the government claims Fourth Amendment requirements for reasonable suspicion doesn’t apply to laptops and other digital devices at the border and at international airports. Sadly, the government won this case. This is bad news for businesses sending employees out on international trips with digital devices containing intellectual property and other sensitive material. EFF plans on continuing this fight, though.

10. Echostar v. Freetech

The EFF fought on behalf of a company called Freetech to prevent Echostar from receiving Freetech customer information in its bid to prevent copyright infringement. Echostar said that the satellite receivers created by Freetech could be modified to pirate DISH TV programming. The EFF argued with the court that this doesn’t necessarily mean customers actually did pirate anything and that allowing Echostar access to Freestar customer list is a flagrant privacy violation. The court ruled in favor of EFF and Freestar, a major plus for any business looking to protect its customers in similar instances. 

For a more in-depth look at the EFF, read The EFF Patrols Uncharted Online Territory.

This article was originally published on 2008-10-13
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