Electronic Frontier Foundation

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The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is a U.S. non-profit civil liberties advocacy and litigation pressure group that campaigns on matters related to freedom online: free speech, censorship, digital rights management, the overreach of copyright and intellectual property laws, electronic voting machines and freedom from government surveillance. The group was founded in July 1990 by businessman Mitch Kapor, Grateful Dead lyricist John Perry Barlow and John Gilmore, a free software programmer and activist, in response to US Secret Service raids on Steve Jackson Games, a company in Austin, Texas who hosted a bulletin board to promote their products, but where hackers placed an illegally copied document describing the operation of BellSouth's 911 emergency telephone system[1].

Since the 1990 founding, the EFF has taken on some controversial litigation and advocacy both inside the United States and abroad: it sued Bill Clinton's Attorney General Janet Reno over the 1996 Communications Decency Act which was struck down by the Supreme Court of the United States, and later sued again when the Bush administration tried a similar move with the Children Online Protection Act, which the Supreme Court also struck down. They have defended security researcher Dan Bernstein in his attempt to publish encryption software, which led to a federal court stating that software is protected under the free expression clause of the First Amendment. They have also sued over the Broadcast Flag, a plan to insert copy protection into digital television technology.

In Europe, the EFF has advocated against software patents and the inclusion of copy protection technologies in the DVB (digital television) standards. Other national organizations have appeared in a variety of other countries to engage in activism, political lobbying and litigation: Electronic Frontiers Australia, Electronic Frontiers Canada, the Open Rights Group (UK), Digital Rights Ireland and European Digital Rights.

[edit] References

  1. A situation described in great detail in Bruce Sterling's 1992 book The Hacker Crackdown: Law and Disorder on the Electronic Frontier, available online.
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