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The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is an international non-profit advocacy and legal organization based in the United States with the stated purpose of being dedicated to preserving the right to freedom of speech, such as protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, in the context of the digital technology age (see also digital rights). Its stated main goal is to educate the press, policymakers and the general public about civil liberties issues related to technology, and to act as a defender of those liberties. The EFF is supported by donations and is based in San Francisco, California, with staff members in Washington, D.Cmarker. They are also accredited observers at the World Intellectual Property Organization.

EFF has taken action in several ways. It provides or funds legal defense in court, defends individuals and new technologies from the chilling effects of what it considers baseless or misdirected legal threats, provides guidance to the government and courts, organizes political action and mass mailings, supports some new technologies which it believes preserve personal freedoms, 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 patent abuses with intentions to defeat those that it considers without merit.

History

Creation and personnel

The Electronic Frontier Foundation was founded in July 1990 by Mitch Kapor, John Gilmore and John Perry Barlow. The founders met through the online community at The WELL. Initial funding was provided by Kapor, Steve Wozniak, and an anonymous benefactor.

Barlow and Kapor were inspired to create the EFF by attempts by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigationmarker and Secret Service to repress programmers in 1990. The pair had been questioned by the law enforcement agencies about their suspected links to hackers, and had concluded that the authorities were gravely uninformed about the emerging forms of online communication. They saw a need for increased protection for Internet civil liberties and established the EFF with the initial purpose of financing lobbying, lawsuits and education efforts to that end.

In 1990 Mike Godwin joined the organization as the first staff counsel. Then in 1991 Esther Dyson and Jerry Berman joined the EFF Board. By 1992 Cliff Figallo became the new director of EFF-Cambridge and in December 1992 Jerry Berman became Acting Executive Director.

Early cases

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. However, the Steve Jackson Games case, which became EFF's first high-profile case, was the major rallying point where EFF began promoting computer- and Internet-related civil liberties. In 1993: Offices moved to 1001 G Street office in Washington, D.C.marker That same year Big Dummy's guide to the Internet, an Electronic Frontier Foundation publication, was made available for free download.

EFF's second big case was Bernstein v. United States led by Cindy Cohn, where 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.

Expansion and development

The organization was originally located at Mitch Kapor's Kapor Enterprises, Inc offices in Cambridge, Massachusettsmarker. By the fall of 1993, the main EFF offices were housed in Washington, D.C.marker, headed up by Jerry Berman. During this time, some of EFF's attention focused on the business of influencing national policy, a business that was not entirely palatable to parts of the organization. In 1994, Mr. Berman parted ways with EFF and formed the Center for Democracy and Technology. EFF moved offices across town, where Drew Taubman briefly took the reins as director. In 1995, under the auspices of director Lori Fena, after some downsizing and in an effort to regroup and refocus on their base 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 by Tara Lemmey. Just prior to the EFF's move into its new and present offices at 454 Shotwell St. in SF's Mission District, long-time EFF Legal Director Shari Steele became, and remains as of late 2009, the Executive Director. In the spring of 2006, EFF announced the opening of an office in Washington, D.C.marker with two new staff attorneys.

Global Network Initiative

On October 29, 2008 the Global Network Initiative (GNI) was founded upon its "Principles of Freedom of Expression and Privacy". The Initiative was launched in the 60th Anniversary year of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and is based on internationally recognized laws and standards for human rights on freedom of expression and privacy set out in the UDHR, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). Participants in the Initiative include the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Human Rights Watch, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, other major companies, human rights NGOs, investors, and academics.

Support

The foundation receives support from its board members Brad Templeton (Chairman), John Perry Barlow, John Buckman, Lorrie Cranor, David J. Farber, Edward Felten, John Gilmore, Brewster Kahle, Joe Kraus and Pamela Samuelson. Lawrence Lessig, Stanfordmarker professor and former EFF board member, is another major supporter. The organisation often receives additional pro bono legal assistance from Prof. Eben Moglen.

On February 18, 2004, the EFF announced that it had received $1.2 million from the estate of Leonard Zubkoff. It will use $1 million of this money to establish the EFF Endowment Fund for Digital Civil Liberties.

Charity Navigator has given EFF four out of four stars for its financial efficiency and capacity.

Related topics



Footnotes



References

(Covers Operation Sundevil and the formation of the EFF in great detail, including profiles of Mitch Kapor and John Perry Barlow)


External links




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