|Founded||July 10, 1990|
|Founders|| Mitch Kapor |
John Perry Barlow
|Type||501(c)(3) nonprofit organization|
|Purpose||Digital rights, Internet activism, lobbying, and litigation|
|$19.2 million (2017)|
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is an international non-profit digital rights group based in San Francisco, California. The foundation was formed on 10 July 1990 by John Gilmore, John Perry Barlow and Mitch Kapor to promote Internet civil liberties.
The EFF provides funds for legal defense in court, presents amicus curiae briefs, defends individuals and new technologies from what it considers abusive legal threats, works to expose government malfeasance, provides guidance to the government and courts, organizes political action and mass mailings, supports some new technologies which it believes preserve personal freedoms and online civil liberties, maintains a database and web sites of related news and information, monitors and challenges potential legislation that it believes would infringe on personal liberties and fair use and solicits a list of what it considers abusive patents with intentions to defeat those that it considers without merit.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation was formed in July 1990 by John Gilmore, John Perry Barlow and Mitch Kapor in response to a series of actions by law enforcement agencies that led them to conclude that the authorities were gravely uninformed about emerging forms of online communication,and that there was a need for increased protection for Internet civil liberties.
In April 1990, Barlow had been visited by a U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation agent in relation to the theft and distribution of the source code for a series of Macintosh ROMs. Barlow described the visit as "complicated by [the agent's] fairly complete unfamiliarity with computer technology. I realized right away that before I could demonstrate my innocence, I would first have to explain to him what guilt might be." Barlow felt that his experience was symptomatic of a "great paroxysm of governmental confusion during which everyone's liberties would become at risk".
Barlow posted an account of this experience to The WELL online community and was contacted by Mitch Kapor, who had had a similar experience. The pair agreed that there was a need to defend civil liberties on the Internet. Kapor agreed to fund any legal fees associated with such a defense and the pair contacted New York lawyers Rabinowitz, Boudin, Standard, Krinsky and Lieberman about defending several computer hackers from a Harper's magazine forum on computers and freedom who had been the target of Secret Service raids.This generated a large amount of publicity which led to offers of financial support from John Gilmore and Steve Wozniak. Barlow and Kapor continued to research conflicts between the government and technology and in June 1990, Barlow posted online the influential article entitled "Crime & Puzzlement" in which Barlow announced his and Kapor's plans to create an organization to "raise and disburse funds for education, lobbying, and litigation in the areas relating to digital speech and the extension of the Constitution into Cyberspace."
This generated further reaction and support for the ideas of Barlow and Kapor. In late June, Barlow held a series of dinners in San Francisco with major figures in the computer industry to develop a coherent response to these perceived threats. Barlow considered that: "The actions of the FBI and Secret Service were symptoms of a growing social crisis: Future Shock. America was entering the Information Age with neither laws nor metaphors for the appropriate protection and conveyance of information itself."Barlow felt that to confront this a formal organization would be needed; he hired Cathy Cook as press coordinator, and began to set up what would become the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation was formally founded on July 10, 1990, by Kapor and Barlow, who very soon after elected Gilmore, Wozniak, and Stewart Brand to join them on the Board of Directors.Initial funding was provided by Kapor, Wozniak, and an anonymous benefactor.
In 1990, Mike Godwin joined the organization as its first staff counsel. Then in 1991, Esther Dyson and Jerry Berman joined the EFF board of directors. By 1992, Cliff Figallo became the director of the original office, and in December 1992, Jerry Berman became the acting executive director of the organization as a whole, based in a new second office.
The creation of the organization was motivated by the massive search and seizure on Steve Jackson Games executed by the United States Secret Service early in 1990. Similar but officially unconnected law-enforcement raids were being conducted across the United States at about that time as part of a state–federal task force called Operation Sundevil. GURPS Cyberpunk , one of the game company's projects, was mistakenly labeled as a handbook for computer crime, [ failed verification ]and the Secret Service raided the offices of Steve Jackson Games. The search warrant for the raid was deemed hastily issued, and the games company soon after claimed unauthorized access as well as tampering of their emails. While phone calls were protected by legislation, digital emails were an early concept and had not been considered to fall under the right to personal privacy. The Steve Jackson Games case was the EFF's first high-profile case, was the major rallying point around which the EFF began promoting computer- and Internet-related civil liberties.
The EFF's second big case was Bernstein v. United States led by Cindy Cohn, in which programmer and professor Daniel J. Bernstein sued the government for permission to publish his encryption software, Snuffle, and a paper describing it. More recently, the organization has been involved in defending Edward Felten, Jon Lech Johansen and Dmitry Sklyarov.
This section needs additional citations for verification .(October 2017)
The organization was originally located at Mitch Kapor's Kapor Enterprises offices.By the fall of 1993, the main EFF offices were consolidated into a single office, headed by Executive Director Jerry Berman. During this time, some of the EFF's attention focused on influencing national policy, to the dislike of some of the members of the organization. In 1994, Berman parted ways with the EFF and formed the Center for Democracy and Technology, while Drew Taubman briefly took the reins as executive director.
In 1995, under the auspices of Executive Director Lori Fena, after some downsizing and in an effort to regroup and refocus on their base of support, the organization moved offices to San Francisco, California.There, it took up temporary residence at John Gilmore's Toad Hall, and soon afterward moved into the Hamm's Building at 1550 Bryant St. After Fena moved onto the EFF board of directors for a while, the organization was led briefly by Tara Lemmey, followed by Barry Steinhardt (who had come from the closely allied Technology and Liberty Program at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and eventually returned to the ACLU). Not long before EFF's move into new offices at 454 Shotwell St. in SF's Mission District, Mike Godwin departed, long-time Legal Director Shari Steele was appointed executive director, and staff attorney Cindy Cohn became the legal director.
In the spring of 2006, the EFF announced the opening of an office again in Washington, D.C., with two new staff attorneys.In 2012, the EFF began a fundraising campaign for the renovation of a building located at 815 Eddy Street in San Francisco, to serve as its new headquarters. The move was completed in April 2013. On April 1, 2015, Shari Steele stepped down as executive director. Cindy Cohn became the new executive director, Corynne McSherry became the legal director, and Kurt Opsahl became the general counsel.
By the mid-1990s the EFF was becoming seriously concerned about the refusal of the US government to license any secure encryption product for export unless it utilized key recovery and claims that governments could not decrypt information when protected by Data Encryption Standard (DES), continuing even after the public breaking of the code in the first of the DES Challenges. They coordinated and supported the construction of the EFF DES cracker (nicknamed Deep Crack), using special purpose hardware and software and costing only $210,000.This brought the record for breaking a message down to 56 hours on 17 July 1998 and to under 24 hours on 19 January 1999 (in conjunction with distributed.net).
The EFF published the plans and source code for the cracker.Within four years the Advanced Encryption Standard was standardized as a replacement for DES.
The EFF is a leading supporter of the Email Privacy Act.
The EFF regularly brings and defends lawsuits at all levels of the US legal system in pursuit of its goals and objectives. The EFF has long taken a stance against strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPP) as attempts to stymie free speech and advocated for effective anti-SLAPP legislation.Many of the most significant technology law cases have involved the EFF, including MGM Studios, Inc. v. Grokster, Ltd. , Apple v. Does , and others.
The Patent Busting Project is an Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) initiative challenging patents that the organization claims are illegitimate and suppress innovation or limit online expression. The initiative launched on April 19, 2004, and involves two phases: documenting the damage caused by these patents, and submitting challenges to the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
The EFF has long been an advocate of paper audit trails for voting machines and testified in support of them after the United States presidential election 2004.Later, it funded the research of Hariprasad Vemuru who exposed vulnerabilities in a particular model. Since 2008, the EFF has operated the Our Vote Live website and database. Staffed by hotline volunteers, it is designed to quickly document irregularities and instances of voter suppression as they occur on an election day.
The EFF was active in the United States presidential election 2016 because of online phishing related to the controversy over fabrication of election results. J. Alex Halderman, a computer security professor at the University of Michigan, wrote an article that was published in Medium in 2016 stating he thought it was advisable to have a recount on some of the election results from states like Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.In retaliation against Halderman, a hacker sent anti-Semitic and racist emails to students at University of Michigan signed from Halderman. The EFF publicizes these controversies and promotes the reduction of online phishing.
In the spring of 2018, the EFF joined the Open Technology Institute (OTI), the Center for Democracy & Technology, the ACLU Foundation of Northern California and four academics in writing The Santa Clara Principles: On Transparency and Accountability in Content Moderation. The document sets out the following guidelines for social networks.
Six months later, the same organizations sought the support of roughly 80 others, including Article 19, in calling for Facebook to adopt the Santa Clara Principles.This was later updated with a request for Facebook to warn users who have interacted with sock puppet law enforcement accounts.
In 2019, the EFF and OTI delivered testimony about the Online Harms White Paper in the United Kingdom. They commented that several proposals to increase the amount of regulation on social media were open to abuse.Also in 2019, the EFF launched the website "TOSsed out" to document cases of moderation rules being applied inconsistently. Cindy Cohn underscored their commitment to upholding free speech online, writing that "once you’ve turned it on, whether through pressure or threats of lawsuits, the power to silence people doesn’t just go in one direction."
The EFF organizes two sets of awards to promote work in accordance with its goals and objectives:
The EFF Pioneer Awards are awarded annually to recognize individuals who in its opinion are "leaders who are extending freedom and innovation on the electronic frontier."In 2017, the honorees were Chelsea Manning, Mike Masnick and Annie Game.
The EFF Cooperative Computing Awards are a series of four awards meant "to encourage ordinary Internet users to contribute to solving huge scientific problems," to be awarded to the first individual or group who discovers a prime number with a significant record number of decimal digits. The awards are funded by an anonymous donor.The awards are:
EFF publishes through several outlets such as the online periodical EFFector,as well as its websites, blogs, and on social networking services.
EFF's first book was published in 1993 as The Big Dummy's Guide to the Internet, a beginners' how-to manual by contracted technical writer Adam Gaffin, and made available for free download in many formats. MIT Press published it in paperback form in 1994 as Everybody's Guide to the Internet ( ISBN 9780262571050). The online edition was updated regularly throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, and translated into dozens of languages.
The organization's second book, Protecting Yourself Online ( ISBN 9780062515124), an overview of digital civil liberties, was written in 1998 by technical writer Robert B. Gelman and EFF Communications Director Stanton McCandlish, and published by HarperCollins.
A third book, Cracking DES: Secrets of Encryption Research, Wiretap Politics & Chip Design ( ISBN 9781565925205), focusing on EFF's DES Cracker project, was published the same year by O'Reilly Media.
A digital book, Pwning Tomorrow, an anthology of speculative fiction, was produced in 2015 as part of EFF's 25th anniversary activities, and includes contributions from 22 writers, including Charlie Jane Anders, Paolo Bacigalupi, Lauren Beukes, David Brin, Pat Cadigan, Cory Doctorow, Neil Gaiman, Eileen Gunn, Kameron Hurley, James Patrick Kelly, Ramez Naam, Annalee Newitz, Hannu Rajaniemi, Rudy Rucker, Lewis Shiner, Bruce Sterling, and Charles Yu.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation's blog, DeepLinks, is a major section of its main website at EFF.org.
The EFF sent a video message of support to global grassroots movement CryptoParty.
The EFF has developed some software and browser add-ons, including Switzerland, HTTPS Everywhere, and Privacy Badger.
The EFF conducted a project named Secure Messaging Scorecard which "evaluated apps and tools based on a set of seven specific criteria ranging from whether messages were encrypted in transit to whether or not the code had been recently audited." As of April 21,2017 [update] , a revised version is under development.
Charity Navigator has given the EFF an overall rating of four out of four stars, including four stars for its financial efficiency and capacity.
EFF as of 2014 [update] had $23 million in assets, having received multiple grants or donations above 1 million dollars in its history. On February 18, 2004, the EFF announced that it had received a bequest of US$1.2 million from the estate of EFF member Leonard Zubkoff, a software developer and entrepreneur. It used $1 million of this money to establish the EFF Endowment Fund for Digital Civil Liberties.
Beginning in 2010, the EFF began regularly receiving income from the Humble Indie Bundle. In 2010, these donations made up 14% of EFF's total revenue.Between 2011 and 2014, the amount received from Humble Bundle reached $7.5 million or 23% of the EFF total revenues.
In 2011, the EFF received $1 million from Google as part of a settlement of a class action related to privacy issues involving Google Buzz. The Electronic Privacy Information Center and seven other privacy-focused nonprofits protested that the plaintiffs' lawyers and Google had, in effect, arranged to give the majority of those funds "to organizations that are currently paid by Google to lobby for or to consult for the company". An additional $1 million was obtained from Facebook in a similar settlement.
In December 2014, the Adams Charitable Foundation granted EFF a $3 million endowment to fund the new Adams Chair for Internet Rights.
The agitprop art group Psychological Industries has independently issued buttons with pop culture tropes such as the logo of the Laughing Man from the anime series Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (with the original The Catcher in the Rye quotation replaced with the slogan of Anonymous), a bleeding roller derby jammer, and the "We Can Do It!" woman (often misidentified as Rosie the Riveter) on a series of buttons on behalf of the EFF.
In late June 2014 the EFF flew a GEFA-FLUG AS 105 GD/4blimp owned by, and in conjunction with, Greenpeace over the NSA's Bluffdale-based Utah Data Center in protest against its purported illegal spying.
Yasha Levine, writing in 2018 for The Baffler magazine, described the EFF as astroturf created and funded by Silicon Valley, stating they do not actually defend rights for the users of Internet platforms, instead defending large Internet companies (which are, according to him, EFF's biggest benefactors) by lobbying for said companies' interests and deviating attention from their business practices (especially regarding copyright and privacy) to government practices regarding privacy and censorship, as well as actually acting in ways that actively harm Internet users.
John Perry Barlow was an American poet, essayist, cattle rancher, and cyberlibertarian political activist who had been associated with both the Democratic and Republican parties. He was also a lyricist for the Grateful Dead and a founding member of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Freedom of the Press Foundation. He was Fellow Emeritus at Harvard University's Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, where he had maintained an affiliation since 1998.
Mitchell David Kapor is an American entrepreneur best known for his work as an application developer in the early days of the personal computer software industry, later founding Lotus, where he was instrumental in developing the Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet. He left Lotus in 1986. In 1990 with John Perry Barlow and John Gilmore, he co-founded the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and served as its chairman until 1994. In 2003, Kapor became the founding chair of the Mozilla Foundation, creator of the open source web browser Firefox. Kapor has been an investor in the personal computing industry, and supporter of social causes via Kapor Capital and the Kapor Center. Kapor and his wife, Freada Kapor Klein, invest in social impact tech startups that seek to narrow gaps in opportunity and access for underrepresented communities and attempt to eliminate barriers to full participation across the tech ecosystem. Kapor and Klein take a comprehensive approach to removing barriers in education and the workplace for all and fixing the leaks at every stage of the tech pipeline. Kapor serves on the board of SMASH, a non-profit founded by Klein to help underrepresented scholars hone their STEM knowledge while building the networks and skills for careers in tech and the sciences.
Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) is a Washington, D.C.-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to strengthen individual rights and freedoms by defining, promoting, and influencing technology policy and the architecture of the Internet.
Electronic Frontiers Australia Inc. (EFA) is a non-profit Australian national non-government organisation representing Internet users concerned with online liberties and rights. It has been vocal on the issue of Internet censorship in Australia.
Electronic Frontiers Georgia (EFGA) is a non-profit organization in Georgia that raises public awareness of issues relating to Cyber law and free speech. It was founded in 1995 by Tom Cross, Robert Costner, Chris Farris, and Robbie Honerkamp, primarily in response to the Communications Decency Act.
Cindy Cohn is an American civil liberties attorney specializing in Internet law. She represented Daniel J. Bernstein and the Electronic Frontier Foundation in Bernstein v. United States. In 1997 she was recognized by California Lawyer Magazine as one of the Lawyers of the Year for this work. After serving for 15 years as legal director and general counsel for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, she became its executive director in 2015. In 2006 Cohn was named one of the 100 most influential lawyers in America by the National Law Journal. In November 2018, she was featured among "America's Top 50 Women In Tech" by Forbes. Cohn also serves on the board of directors of the nonprofits Human Rights Advocates and the Verified Voting Foundation.
European Digital Rights (EDRi) is an international advocacy group headquartered in Brussels, Belgium. EDRi is a network collective of NGOs, experts, advocates and academics working to defend and advance digital rights across the continent. For almost two decades, it has served as the backbone of the digital rights movement in Europe. In March 2021, EDRi is made of 44 NGOs, as well as experts, advocates and academics from all across Europe.
The Free Speech Flag is a symbol of personal liberty used to promote freedom of speech. Designed by artist John Marcotte, the flag and its colors correspond to a cryptographic key which enabled users to copy HD DVDs and Blu-ray Discs. It was created on May 1, 2007, during the AACS encryption key controversy.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is an international non-profit advocacy and legal organization based in the United States.
La Quadrature du Net is a French advocacy group that promotes digital rights and freedoms for its citizens. It advocates for French and European legislation to respect the founding principles of the Internet, most notably the free circulation of knowledge. La Quadrature du Net engages in public-policy debates concerning, for instance, freedom of speech, copyright, regulation of telecommunications and online privacy.
Jillian C. York is an American free-expression activist and author. She serves as Director of International Freedom of Expression at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), and a founding member of Deep Lab. She is the author of Silicon Values: The Future of Free Speech Under Surveillance Capitalism and Morocco - Culture Smart!: the essential guide to customs & culture.
Lori Fena is an American internet activist, entrepreneur, and author, best known as the former director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation from 1995–98 and author of "The Hundredth Window".
David R. Johnson is lawyer specializing in computer communications. He is a senior fellow at Center for Democracy and Technology, and a former chairman of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
FreedomBox is a free software home server operating system.
The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act was a proposed law in the United States which would allow for the sharing of Internet traffic information between the U.S. government and technology and manufacturing companies. The stated aim of the bill is to help the U.S. government investigate cyber threats and ensure the security of networks against cyberattacks.
Freedom of the Press Foundation (FPF) is a non-profit organization founded in 2012 to fund and support free speech and freedom of the press. The organization originally managed crowd-funding campaigns for independent journalistic organizations, but now pursues technical projects to support journalists' digital security and conducts legal advocacy for journalists.
The Email Privacy Act is a bill introduced in the United States Congress. The bipartisan proposed federal law is sponsored by Representative Kevin Yoder, a Republican from Kansas, and Representative Jared Polis, a Democrat of Colorado. The law is designed to update and reform existing online communications law, specifically the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) of 1986.
Marcia Clare Hofmann is an American attorney known for her work as an advocate of electronic privacy and free expression, including defending individuals charged with high-profile computer crimes, such as Marcus Hutchins and Weev.
Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF) is an Indian non-governmental organisation that conducts advocacy on digital rights and liberties, based in New Delhi. IFF files petitions and undertakes advocacy campaigns to defend online freedom, privacy, net neutrality, and innovation.
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