Cory Doctorow on Why the EFF Matters

By Deane Barker on January 1, 2006

Cory quit his day-job: Cory Doctorow is leaving the EFF to be a full-time writer. In this post announcing the move, he does a good job explaining why the EFF matters so much.

EFF has a problem: we work on issues before anyone knows that they matter. In 2002, we were at the inaugural meeting on the Broadcast Flag, and we spent the next two years explaining to everyone we could find what this stuff was and why it mattered. We published on the risks of Trusted Computing before anyone had a clue that this isn’t just a security technology: it’s a system for gutting competition in the market and user choice and privacy by subjecting computers to control by remote parties.

We’re at the Broadcast Treaty meetings at the UN, trying to get the big IT companies to understand that if its provisions come to pass, they’ll need permission from the entertainment companies to launch new services like Google Video and new devices like the Video iPod. We’ve been sounding the alarm over the Analog Hole, over paperless electronic voting machines, over DRM, since the earliest days.

EFF are canaries in the coal-mine, the first responders of cyberspace, building coalitions and briefing lawmakers, users and companies on the risks coming down the pipe. This is a critical job: if the resistance to these issues only mobilized once their risks had percolated out to the wide world, it would be too late. You need to start work on these issues as they are born, not when they are about to mature.