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[liberationtech] EFF Resigns from Global Network Initiative

Yosem Companys companys at
Thu Oct 10 13:33:52 PDT 2013

From: presslist at

Electronic Frontier Foundation Media Release

For Immediate Release: Thursday, October 10, 2013


Jillian C. York
  Director for International Freedom of Expression
  Electronic Frontier Foundation
  jillian at
  +1 415 436-9333 x118

EFF Resigns from Global Network Initiative

Citing Concerns Over NSA’s Impact on Corporate Members, EFF
Leaves Industry Group

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)
today withdrew from the Global Network Initiative (GNI),
citing a fundamental breakdown in confidence that the
group's corporate members are able to speak freely about
their own internal privacy and security systems in the wake
of the National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance

EFF has been a civil society member of the
multi-stakeholder human rights group since GNI was founded
in 2008 to advance freedom of expression and privacy in the
global information and communication technologies sector.
While much has been accomplished in these five years, EFF
can no longer sign its name on joint statements knowing now
that GNI's corporate members have been blocked from sharing
crucial information about how the US government has meddled
with these companies' security practices through programs
such as PRISM and BULLRUN.

"We know that many within the industry do not like or
approve of such government interference, and GNI has, in
statements, made it clear that member companies want
permission from the US government to engage in greater
transparency," EFF's International Director Danny O'Brien
and Director for International Freedom of Expression
Jillian C. York write in a letter to GNI leadership.
"However, until serious reforms of the US surveillance
programs are in place, we no longer feel comfortable
participating in the GNI process when we are not privy to
the serious compromises GNI corporate members may be forced
to make. Nor do we currently believe that  audits of
corporate practice, no matter how independent,  will
uncover the insecurities produced by the US
government's--and potentially other governments'--behavior
when operating clandestinely in the name of national

EFF's involvement with GNI included helping to define its
founding principles over two years of negotiations;
coordinating opposition to the United Kingdom's
Communications Data Bill in 2011; releasing a paper
addressing free-speech issues surrounding account
deactivation and content removal; and collaborating with
fellow members in internal international technical and
policy analysis.  However, EFF can no longer stand behind
the credibility of what had been one of GNI's most
significant achievements--third-party privacy and freedom
of expression assessments of service providers, including
Google, Microsoft and Yahoo.

Moving forward, EFF plans to continue to provide guidance
to the GNI and engage companies directly, but as an
external organization.  EFF supports the other
organizations and individuals that continue to work within
the GNI for the free speech and privacy rights of users

"Although EFF is taking a step back, GNI can still serve an
important role as a collaborative project between human
rights groups, companies, investors and academics," York
said.  "If the United States government truly supports
international 'Internet freedom,' it would recognize the
damage its policies are doing to weaken such efforts and
the world's confidence in American companies."

For the text of the letter:

For this release:

About EFF

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading
organization protecting civil liberties in the digital
world. Founded in 1990, we defend free speech online, fight
illegal surveillance, promote the rights of digital
innovators, and work to ensure that the rights and freedoms
we enjoy are enhanced, rather than eroded, as our use of
technology grows. EFF is a member-supported organization.
Find out more at

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