Gotham Needs A Hero

“When our freedoms in the networked world come under attack, the Electronic Frontier Foundation is the first line of defense.” – EFF

Who is this super hero: this silent guardian… our dark knight?

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution reads “congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

In 21st century, there is an ongoing debate (or more accurately a tug-of-war or barroom brawl) about where the protections of the constitution end, as pertaining to our digital lives.

Founded in

1990 by  John Perry Barlow and Mitch Kapor, the EFF sets out to defend free speech, privacy, innovation, and consumer rights, along with championing the public interest in every critical battle affecting digital rights. As an international non-profit digital rights advocacy and legal organization, The EFF “provides funds for legal defense in court, presents amici curiae briefs, defends individuals and new technologies from what it considers baseless or misdirected 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, 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.”

With every passing day, the question of digital rights becomes an increasingly important issue. In the past few months, instances of law enforcement using social media and social networks themselves censoring content, among other things, have brought attention to the still evolving concept digital rights.

Funded by donations he EFF has won a number of notable court cases against major players such as the FCC, internet service providers and entertainment companies in the name of defending the civil liberties of web users.

The EFF is also involved in a number of ongoing projects. Chilling Effects is a project that works with several law schools to index take-down requests on a variety of sites, in hopes of drawing attention to individuals and corporations who are using “intellectual property” and other laws to silence other online users. Additionally, the EFF has written a number of whitepapers “ reflecting the results of EFF’s clear thinking on issues at the cutting-edge of law and technology.”

The EFF are not the only champions of digital liberties out there, but they are certainly the heavyweights in the room. Other key players in the battle for digital rights include The Association for Progressive communications and events like the World Summit on The Information Society, a United Nations sponsored conference aiming to help bridge the digital divide.

Organizations such as the EFF will take an increasingly important role in shaping internet legislation as bills like SOPA and PIPA continue to appear before congress and in the news.

[Originally Posted at Big Data Really Gets Me]

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Gotham Needs A Hero

  1. This week a 9-year Marine Corps veteran was discharged for using his Facebook page to make disparaging remarks about President Obama, and to state that he wouldn’t follow lawful orders handed down by the administration. It will be interesting to see what implications, if any, that these pending acts of legislation may have for the military.

  2. cameronellis88

    I agree that we are in a pivotal point on the legislation regarding the internet. I recently had a discussion with a lawyer who decided to stop using Pinterest because of copyright infringement. From her understanding of the law, a lot of the artwork that was being pinned on Pinterest was not meant to be duplicated because of the copyrighted info on the original site. It will be interesting to see how future legislation tries to address these kinds of issues.

  3. I still get worked up when I hear anecdotes about employers asking for facebook passwords so they can see your account. Most of you have heard the rant (Would you like my SS number, credit card, keys to my house…), so I won’t repeat the whole thing here. Luckly, my actual employer is somewhat behind in this realm and the default guidance is to crank up privacy settings to the max.

  4. Ning Huang

    EFF is wonderful, asleast as a digital library! I hope it could become better and better. Just as you said, a hero!

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