Electronic Frontier Foundation

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Electronic Frontier Foundation

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is a nonprofit organization that seeks to increase the understanding of civil liberties and other legal issues in cyberspace, or what it calls the electronic frontier. Concerned with preserving the principles embodied in the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, EFF defends the rights of computer users, network users, and members of the online community.

Widely recognized for its expertise in legal matters related to computer networks and electronic media, EFF has become a leading resource for those seeking to better understand the complex issues associated with new communications technology. As part of its civil liberties mission, EFF seeks to ensure that the creators of electronic communications have the same political freedoms as the creators of newspapers, books, journals, and other traditional media.

EFF was founded on July 10, 1990, by Mitchell D. Kapor, the founder of Lotus Development Corporation and ON Technology, and John Perry Barlow, a writer and lyricist. Kapor and Barlow formed the organization after becoming alarmed by what they saw as misguided and unconstitutional actions by state and federal law enforcement officials against individual computer users. Initial funding for EFF came from Kapor, Steve Wozniak, cofounder of Apple Computer, and other computer and technology entrepreneurs.

Among EFF's first efforts were the defense of several hackers, or computer enthusiasts, in cases brought by the government. EFF has continued to sponsor lawsuits when it has felt that individuals' online civil liberties have been violated. EFF also submits advisory reports, called Amicus Curiae briefs, to courts and arranges for the charitable donation of attorneys' services for individuals who cannot afford their own legal counsel.

As part of its effort to promote laws that better accommodate new technology, EFF monitors legislation and lobbies for changes in the law. It also creates and distributes legal analyses to companies, utilities, governments, and other organizations, and it maintains a free telephone hotline for use by those in the online community who have questions regarding their legal rights. EFF runs a speakers' bureau, which disseminates the organization's views to law enforcement organizations, attorneys' associations, universities, and other groups.

EFF promotes improved intellectual property laws, including patent and Copyright laws, for electronic media. It also encourages the creation of policies that will promote the distribution of electronic information by public and private providers. EFF sponsors summits and working groups that bring together people from business, government, education, and nonprofit organizations.

Specific proposals advanced by EFF include a "common carriage" approach to free speech on electronic networks. Under a common-carrier scheme, network providers must carry all speech, regardless of its content, but are not liable for the actions of users. EFF has called for an electronic freedom-of-information act to allow broader public access to information, and it has set forth specific proposals that promote wider access to computer networks such as the Internet.

EFF publishes the EFFector Online, an electronic bulletin; the EFFector, a hard-copy newsletter; and various pamphlets and books. It maintains several communications forums on the Internet, including a web site and news group forums on Usenet and on private online systems.


Computer Crime; E-Mail; Freedom of Speech.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The authors argue that the very openness of the unregulated space that is the Internet demands borders and national laws, in contrast to the independence sought by Barlow (for whom I worked at the Electronic Frontier Foundation from 1991 to 1994).
This has prompted the Electronic Frontier Foundation to claim that the Justice Department has refused to acknowledge if the government can see what individuals are reading on the Web without having to show probable cause.
Ask Congress to support legal file sharing at the Electronic Frontier Foundation's website, action.eff.org.
Wozniak founded the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and was founding sponsor of the Tech Museum, Silicon Valley Ballet and Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation awarded the pair a Pioneer Award in 1997.
"This is definitely an infringement on freedom of speech," claimed Shari Steele, director of legal services at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco-based cyber-rights advocacy group.
As head of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a strong lobbying group for freedom of expression on the Internet, she has been able to help persuade the U.S.
These and similar incidents might explain the result of a survey commissioned by eTrust, a certification organization jointly sponsored by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and CommerceNet.
"The interesting thing about this privacy issue is that sometimes you will never know when you've been discriminated against and why," explains Lori Fena, executive director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco organization that examines privacy issues.
Nothing better illustrates the laissez-faire ideals of the Net than this year's fight against the Communications Decency Act's ban on online indecency and offensive speech, overturned in the courts after intensive activity by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and other lobby groups from the Internet community (as well as the ACLU and a number of gay/lesbian civil-rights groups).
ELECTRONIC FRONTIER FOUNDATION staff counsel Mike Godwin on an SPA lawsuit against three internet service providers whose sites were inadvertently used by software pirates: "Ken Wasch and the lawyers at the SPA haven't an inkling of what moral law means to normal, decent people.

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