Enter the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a organization that's been scouting and pioneering the "electronic frontier" for five years. Its mission is to ensure that the basic rights to which we are accustomed, continue into the next generation of technology. If you've ever used a bulletin board system or the Internet, if you ever talk on the telephone, listen up. The EFF aren't a bunch of dreamy utopians or technophobes. They're fighting for your rights, legislating to protect our basic freedoms of speech and privacy. The Washington-based group is working to update outmoded laws and educate the masses and the media about technology and the complex issues it creates. Consider this:
Although the rights that the government and citizens take for granted are at a crossroads, there is hope. In 1994, the EFF demanded that the FBI be required to publicly disclose the cost and number of wiretaps conducted each year -- and won. The organization also sponsored the now-famous court case of Steve Jackson Games vs. U.S. Secret Service, where a federal court affirmed that electronic mail cannot be read by law enforcement officers without a count-authorized warrant. The government wouldn't dream of reading your postal mail without probable cause and a warrant -- shouldn't the rules count for electronic mail, too?
The group is also working on a policy of common carriage requirements for network providers so that all speech, no matter not controversial, can be carried without discrimination.
For the EFF, education is as important as legislation. In the last year, they helped the mainstream press better understand cyberspace and educated healthcare reform legislators about the importance of security and privacy of personal medical information. The group also maintains a wide variety of information services and communications groups online: they're on the Internet (www.eff.org) America Online (keyword: EFF) and CompuServe (Go: EFF.)
What can the average person do to help keep our rights in the right hands? "The best thing you can do is to become more politically aware, and to use whatever resources you can find -- if you're on the īnet there's lots of information there, if not, go to the library and read newspapers," says Stanton McCandlish, EFF's Online Activist, Editor and Archivist. "When you see a political issue that deals with privacy, civil liberties and networking, don't just shrug and go on. Write to Congress, your govenor or the city council...Take definite action. Don't other people decide your future for you. Democracy is not a spectator sport."
The EFF is a nonprofit organization supported by the contributions of its members, corporations and private foundations. For more information, or to join the EFF, contact the Electronic Frontier Foundation via electronic mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation 1550 Bryant St., Suite 725 San Francisco CA 94103 USA +1 415 436 9333 (voice) +1 415 436 9993 (fax) Internet: email@example.com