Keynote: Cindy Cohn
5:58PM Aug 2, 2020
Good afternoon everyone. Law and technology have been colliding since low density floppies held a whopping 360 K and threw it all the hacker community the E FF the ACLU have been fighting the good fight taking stock over the last 30 years of battles. What we've learned what we've lost and fights like encryption that still raged on today is our next and final keynote speaker of hope. 2020. Cindy Cohn. Cindy is the executive director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and was for 15 years the Legal Director and General Counsel of the E FF, a board member of the Tor project and according to Forbes, not just us, one of the top 50 women in technology I can think of no one better, no one better placed to take stock of these legal battles, present lessons learned and offer the hope community wisdom about why these battles are so important, and why we all have to fight to make sure that technology supports and does not undermine freedom and justice. Take it away. Cindy Cohn,
thank you so much. Thank you hope community. I feel like I'm home here. You're our people. We're your people in E FF, we have been proud to stand with you, and work together and have you and really very grateful for your support of us over, you know, as many years as I've been involved with the FF In fact, my very first client when I joined the FF in the grand old 2000s was Emmanuel Goldstein in the 2600 case. So the founder and and still guiding force for a lot of what's going on with hope. So thank you so much for having me. And thank you community for the support ffs have been all over this conference. And that's great. And I know you've also been raising money so I can continue, we can Continue to pay them to do the work of defending hackers. And so I really, really want to say thanks from the bottom of my heart.
I'm so I'm,
here we are in a very different timeline than the one that we had expected to be in. So I am and I want to, I want to honor that. But I also think there's opportunities here as well for us. And I want to today hopefully, encourage you and maybe even inspire you to help us build a better technical future together because I think we can do it. You know, there's, there's no better time than when the stakes are high to stand up for what you believe in and make a better world. You know, arguably the digital rights movement started with the founding of the Electronic Frontier Foundation 5030 years ago this summer. So I wanted to take this moment to take stock of what we've accomplished, the ongoing fights and then where we are We're here in the midst of a global pandemic, gigantic recognition of racism in our societies, a reckoning around inequality, worry about the very fate of our planet. And, you know, we're not just worried reactively we've got active we've got forces actively trying to grow and recruit towards a fascist future towards an authoritarian future. human rights abuses are being defended and celebrated rather than fought around the world. This is a dire time, and we need to rise to meet it. So I want to talk about where we've been, I want to crow a little bit about of our accomplishments because we are 30 years old this summer, but then I really want to shift the focus to where we need to go together and, and, and, and hopefully spur some ideas for for you guys to take and build forward. So let's start 30 years ago, e FF was founded on July 10 1990. At That time, it was revolutionary to imagine that ordinary people sitting in their homes could possess the ability to talk to anyone around the world, instantly and for free largely for free to create connections, build communities and build movements across distance, much less access all the world's information. But those on the Internet at that time were a small, I would say weird, but largely wealthier middle class people who looked a lot like it was just a sliver of society. And for most of them, the internet wasn't yet vital to their work or to their lives. But even then, we saw the glimmers of the possibilities. The early internet was an extraordinary place burgeoning with possibilities especially of throwing off old stale powers or people who didn't fit into society's molds, especially in remote places, having a place where they could find others and explore. It's a place where there was no scarcity of ideas, ideas and opinions and knowledge. Could be shared freely and and copied and build upon by folks above, faraway, better than going to an old musty library to learn things. Not that there's anything wrong with libraries or musty libraries, to be clear. And it was a place where you could be free from your offline identity a little bit you know, the the famous New Yorker column cartoon that says on the internet, no one knows you're a dog. The prospect that your ideas would lead and who you were would follow, maybe or not at all was very much alive in the 1990s internet. Now john Perry Barlow, one of the founders of E FF called the internet the new home of the mind.
But as my friend Cory Doctorow has noted, you don't found an Electronic Frontier Foundation and you don't call your conference hope honestly, if you think everything you think is going to be magically great censorship, corporate and government surveillance and as lock around and control innovation and innovators were all present from the beginning. So let's look a little bit at the early fights from the E FF got itself involved in. Because e FF wasn't founded on a naive belief that the coming change would create a digital utopia, e FF took root because even in those early days, it was clear that the power of these new digital tools could be used to hurt people as well as to heal them. Now, in those early days, the very first threats came from government, a government that absolutely did not understand what was happening and overreacted rather than showing up with curiosity and questions. So that's why FF was founded upon the hacker crackdown. Now that story has been well told. And if you want to know all the details, you can look No, look no further than the amazing work of Bruce Sterling and capturing the early days and the impetus for the E FF, john Perry Barlow has done a version as well. It's easy to find them so whether you're looking at it Sun Devil the seizure of for Steve Jackson Games. The early internet fight started with the Fourth Amendment and the limit of search and seizures on computers. It started with police overreactions to the shift of power away from the old guard and towards a newer, less organized, more chaotic set of players. Sound familiar? And even as those fights we sought to restrict police overreactions, playing defense and working to make sure that the new online environment contains the kind of constitutional grounding that the offline world was supposed to do it the fights the fights were hard, and and we got some early victories in the Steve Jackson Games case we got the search and seizure of Steve Jackson Games which nearly killed crippled that small company declared improper and and and we got remedies. The second fight though, was not just to restrict what government should do, but to empower power users and that bi n is still ongoing is the fight to free and defend encryption. We needed to make sure that we not only put limits on what the government could do, but that we empowered you, the users to protect yourself against not just governments, but private actors that would seek to invade your privacy.
So the first thing
we had to do with that fight, and that was one where I got first, I was first involved with the E FF, it ended up being a four part fight. The first thing we had to do was we had to convince the court the code was speech. The second we had to convince the court that the internet is a place where speech happens where people share ideas, including scientific ideas, like the ongoing development of cryptography. And third, ultimately, the easy part once we've gotten the first two done was to convince the court that the government's rate export regulations of encryption which affected us domestically as well as internationally violated the first Amendment's restriction on prior restraints of speech. So we did that. Between the litigations, multiple cases, fights and Congress, ultimately, political and corporate pressure led the government to give up on the Export restrictions on encryption. It was a full court press. It wasn't just the courts. It wasn't just the legislature. It wasn't just the community and in the conversation, and it wasn't just the corporate pressure all of them together, created the first tremendous victory for encryption. We thought that was a victory that it was going to end the war. But really, it marked a new face in the battle as we came to learn later, and we'll get to and then sometime in the late 1990s, the threat of over reaching intellectual property laws came into focus and the passage of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in 1998 made that clear. Now, the DMCA has some good parts and bad parts. The good parts are the safe harbors and protections for people who host other people's speech from copyright claims but it also has some big bads and and and the biggest bad is section 1201 of the DMCA, which is a pair of copyright regime. What that means is if you protect a copyrighted work with a digital lock, breaking that lock or telling someone how to break that lock is itself illegal even if the person has the right to the underlying copyright work. Now, this is where e FF
and hope and and 2600 magazine came together. In 2600 magazine and
Mandy Goldstein were sued for publishing information about how one might break the lock on DVDs that had been developed by a Linux enthusiast in Europe. I can go on forever about this, but I've only got an hour so I'm going to give you the highlights. All of this is easy to find if you use your friendly neighborhood search engine for hopefully one that doesn't track you to find the information. The case is called the 2600. case. So, E FF came to defend 2600. Magazine magazine and Emmanuel Goldstein and the very first set of cases bought under Section 1201 of the DMCA. Now, we didn't win that case. But we cemented the idea that code is speech. And just as the government did not give up on encryption, we did not give up on section 1201. And we're still fighting that today. So those are the three big cases that started the Electronic Frontier Foundation and our work together as a movement. And 30 years later, we have a long track record of standing together and beating back bad ideas and uplifting good ones, so forgive me, but on our 30th anniversary, I want to crow a little bit about all the work that we've done together because sometimes we get so involved in the current fights, that we forget what we've won, and we forget how things might have gone if we weren't there to hold back the top or change the tide. And I want to say this really clearly I am very proud of the work that I have done and that e FF has done in standing with this community but we did this together we built a movement. We, we we stood up against bullies from the NSA to the local police from the MPAA and the ri double A to patent and copyright trolls from Barney the Dinosaur whose was a copyright troll.
to to bullies and take down abusers all across the the internet and all across the world. And we've stood up together, we've stood up together for bloggers, for coders, for people who type in white or in green on black backgrounds, people who need anonymity to speak truth to power or even just to complain about a product that sucks. We've stood up for your right to speak your mind and your right to have a private conversation. We helped establish the test for the first amendment right to protect to anonymous speech that both makes sure that that lawsuits can't be used to unmask critics, but also can be available when there is a real cause of action in real harm. We help secure Fourth Amendment protection for your emails when are hosted by other people. We established. As I mentioned, that code is speech which is set the floor for regulating code much higher than it would have been otherwise and beat back lots of bad ideas. We've stopped patent trolls stupid patents, we've defended creators. We've developed tools for people to protect themselves. We built guides and we've trained trainers, a whole community of people who train people and how to protect themselves against surveillance and so that they can engage in protests has grown up out of this work. Together, we built tools to make browsing safer and more secure. We've supported and protected security researchers, tinkerers and coders alike who give us better tools and better secure the tools we all rely on. We've shamed and sued and pushed companies to stand with their users instead of spying on them, censoring them and mistreating them. Looking at you right now ring. We've investigated and exposed and worked to undermine the ugly underbelly of the surveillance business model. We've stood up for your rights to your culture, to create make fun of and engage with your culture without going on bended knee to content creators to ask for permission. We forced governments to provide information about its spine capabilities, both locally and nationally and internationally. We've stood before lawmakers together to ensure that everyone has access to real broadband and network neutrality. And we've stood for judges time and time again to challenge us government overreach And increasingly government overreach around the world. And we have stopped cold, so many bad ideas and in the courts and legislatures and even sometimes in the boardrooms and public conversations that honestly, we lost count. So today, we have lots to celebrate. And we should take a moment to celebrate it because of course, we're in very dark waters right now. But if you don't know where you've come from, it's hard to envision where you're going to go. So the internet is everywhere. Now. Many, many more people rely on it every day and the pandemic has made it very clear how vital it is to so many people. And those people are far more diverse than they were than this when a small sliver of people enjoyed the internet in the 1990s and began exploring this new home of the mind. So where are we with our central fights? Well, as I mentioned before, our central fights remain when you take on giant dragons. This is my friend Sigmund. When you take on giant dragons, they don't just go away. It's Doesn't all end in the arc of a television show or a movie where you get to happily ever after, when you have a movement, you need to keep using it. So in the Fourth Amendment, we've had huge wins, as I mentioned around email privacy, around location privacy, the US Supreme Court, the third party doctrine, the idea that when you give your data to somebody else, you lose all of your fourth amendment rights in it, it's going down. It's going down piece by piece, but it's going down. We are winning that fight. And I think we're going to win it in the next couple of years for good. We, we started with the Secret Service, but now it's government at all levels.
That where we need to continue to work to fight back the overbroad seizure and to fight to get information about what the governments are doing, whether that's at and T's work with the NSA, or rings work with local law enforcement, the idea of corporate government partnerships to spy on us and create us the enemy is one of our big fights today. And it's one of the earliest fights that e FF started on We still see police searching and seizing way too much. And we've also seen that the police access to sophisticated surveillance technologies as increasing whether that's facial recognition technologies, the misuse of machine learning tools, not AI. I'm sorry, I'm old school like this hackers are still people who hack on things and AI is not machine learning. alpr is as automated license plate readers cameras everywhere. The police ability to spy on us has gone up at the same time that our ability to hold them accountability has been racing to try to keep up. It's an ongoing battle and it's not one that's going to end soon. encryption. As I mentioned, while we've had some tremendous victories and we're all still using encryption, including over the very platforms we're using right now and to access the internet. We see a new Boogeyman come up every few years for law enforcement to say the why we can't have strong encryption or unbreakable encryption or actual real estate Security anymore. For a few years it was terrorism right now it's child sexual abuse material or see Sam. But watch for it to change as government thinks that the next thing is going to do that. The answer is we're all more secure if we have real security. And there are other ways to solve the problems that the government keeps throwing up as being a problem of encryption. So one of my big calls to action for you, and I'm sure you've heard it from my FF colleagues over this week is that we need to stop the Senate Bill, and all of its variants. I would say during the FF 30th anniversary, I said we need to kill the senate bill and all of its children. But apparently that's a little too Game of Thrones for some folks. We need to stop this bill and we need to continue to watch for it. If we want to stand up for encryption. We have to stand up for encryption all the time. The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act is still overbroad. It took our friend Aaron Schwartz, but right now there's a Supreme Court case called Van Buren where we have a chance to scale it back Significantly won't take us all the way. But we could scale it back significantly. Getting the Supreme Court to take a look at the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act took a tremendous effort over many, many years. And we Fingers crossed, we're going to get a good a better result out of this case than we had before. But it can go both ways. And we need to stand up for computer crime law that understands how computer security work that understands how networks work that understands that when you're on the internet, you're on other people's computers a lot. And that can't be de facto illegal. We have to set the rules set that are consistent with our needs for information and our needs for connectivity.
And we need to continue to empower you to build your own world and access all the world's information without going on bended knees to information or other cartels. That's why we launched our green the Matthew greens case, a section 1201 case where we're still trying to fight back against this pair of coffee. Right regime, we won an initial ruling and the courts are being very slow. And I think they're being very slow because we're right. And they don't want it and going against the status quo is very hard. But I think we are going to win that case. And over many years with the drip, drip drip of support of this movement, we've managed to get the copyright office to create exceptions to Section 1201 that have freed up a lot of what people need to do now, we can only free up so much with the Copyright Office thing. process, the Copyright Office process only lets us free up a circumvention. It doesn't let us free up the tools that people need to do circumvention. So while we're going to continue the drip, drip drip at the copyright office, we need to work on wholesale reform of Section 1201. And in another case, I want to highlight where we're talking about empowering you to get access to your own world and access all the world's information. We need to keep our eye on the new case against the Internet Archive for the crime. Making books available to children during the pandemic. That's right in the middle of a pandemic, the Internet Archive was sued for making information available to kids who are stuck at home. And people who are stuck at home and can't go to real libraries right now, this is a case that should not have been brought and needs to be squelched. And we need as a community to stand up for the right of public interest, internet and the right to universal access to all knowledge. That doesn't mean we don't pay creators, but it means we need to fight the cartels who are trying to hold us in lockstep and keep us on bended knee asking for permission to access our own knowledge and our own culture. So those are that's where we are on our old fights. I'm only on the old fights now. But we have a whole set of new fights as the Internet has grown. Luckily, our movement has grown along with them, but we need to we need to make sure that we're doing this the first thing is, and this is I'm not sure that call this a new fight because this is a fight that's been with us all along but that we need to treat To now urgently, and that's recognizing and fighting racism in technology and recognizing that if you have a racist society, you're going to build technologies that mirror and sometimes double down on that racism if you're not paying very close attention, and you're not recognizing the diversity of people who need to rely on your technology and having those people in the room when you're thinking about what you're building. Early on, there was a dream that this new home of the mind represented a chance to break free from the oppression of the offline world. That's what Barlow meant when he said we were building a world where all may enter without privilege or prejudice supported by race, economic power, military force, or station of birth, the famous quote from the Declaration of Independence of cyberspace. This was his hope that we could create such a world but we have to be honest with ourselves. While we have created tools that help marginalized peoples up against higher powers. The cellphone camera is one, the Internet Archive is another strong encryption is another. Overall we have not succeeded in building the world where all may enter without fear or favor. And worse, we're seeing increasingly technologies being used by the powerful to further disempower the marginalized. Whether the technical tools are used by corporations or governments. And as I mentioned before, these two things work in lockstep all the time separating them and trying to pretend like they're different problems is misunderstanding how corporations and governments are working together to oppress us. They are disproportionate, we know that these tools are disproportionately aimed at an impact people of color and other marginalized people in our society, especially in time these times we need to recognize that if we think that we need to recognize that Black Lives Matter, and that we pledged to redouble our efforts to beat back police surveillance and abuse education. build and protect the tools that allow you to organize, assemble and speak securely and without censorship. We see this not just in the United States, Cisco helped build the Great Firewall of China that helps the PRC identify and squelch religious minorities, the US National Security has been partnering with, with companies to tap into the internet back backbone, and the surveillance business model embraced by large technology companies to track our every move and control what comes in our feeds and pushes us into the role of consumer instead of citizen are all working together to disempower us we need these are these are all intertwined fights, and we need to stand up against all of them. We need to recognize that the new bosses are in many ways, the same as the old bosses, and I'm talking about Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft. We need to develop we need to redistribute the internet. We need to create interoperability or what my friend Cory Doctorow calls competitive compatibility, where we can interoperate with these technologies and exercise our rights to leave when we need to leave. And it's not just the tech giants, ISP is the broadband access the broadband companies are our initial connection to the Internet has been controlled by giants and we need to continue the fight to
to make sure
that everyone has access to the internet, which means taking on the broadband giants and enforcing network neutrality. They're all of a piece. And the pandemic has highlighted the digital divide what we used to call the digital divide in the United States and around the world. And it's time to take those guys on to the new bosses are where they are, in some ways the same as the old bosses and we have to we have to get past this. The stakes are a little different. Now I want to leave some time I'm going to try to end in about five minutes. So that We can ask answer some questions. The stakes are different now, though, than they were in the 1990s. We aren't the only ones who know how things work. I mean, we occasionally get boned. Did stupid law enforcement but a lot of times law enforcement understands how things work and it's just trying to use and uses that knowledge in a very different way than we use it. That's different than we were. And also some we we we are realizing that there are misuses of technology to its we're protect organization of the FF and we're protect movement. We have to recognize where technology is being misapplied. I want to talk about specifically about election systems for that, but also facial recognition systems, which are just incompatible with self government and the right of assembly and protest, which is why FF took a pretty rare position and said, that we need to ban government uses of facial recognition. We're seeing little bands all across the country. We need to keep that movement going. There are some things Technology while we love technologies and technologies itself can be used for good or evil, there is not a bad technology per se, there are technologies that are too dangerous to be in the hands of governments and powerful forces. So where does this leave us right now? Well, it leaves us realizing that while we'd have old fights, many of them are continuing while we have victories, the the playing field continues to get bigger things that we need to take on. It really, we need to realize that the work of protecting our rights, our freedoms and our dreams of an equitable digital world is ongoing, that we are part of the arc of justice, and it is indeed long. And we need to pay attention and take concrete steps to make sure that we include all the people of the world as the beneficiaries of our technology, not just the few not just the people who have the knowledge, not just the elites. And that it's this movement, that what that is what matters. Individuals can be important. We need our Ed snowdens we need our Chelsea Manning's. But I think we've also all learned as a community in the last few years the dangers of worship worshipping at the fate of heroes are waiting for super super powers to come and, and solve our problems. We continue to struggle to move past the individual narrative, to find ways to talk about the power of all of us coming together and each bringing our own gifts and insights towards a common righteous cause. And then our overall movement, it's not a solid, it's more like a liquid. It needs to flow to move to change to change shape as circumstances require. It can be mighty when riled, but most of his lasting impacts are not only the big floods and the big movements of waters but the slow gradual wearing over time that takes investment, the kind of investment that you had hoped have given us at EF F to do this professionally for so long, but the kind of investment But so many people in this community have made with their lives and livelihoods. And that the righteous causes are there waiting for you to join them. And we have lots of those right now. Whether it's building tools or building systems, joining us in the courts, legislatures, the halls of power, and in the means and the stories that we tell ourselves and each other about the future, and this is an area where we can all participate, and I hope we all will. I think that right now, we're in a time where things feel so dark, that it's hard to envision a better world. I certainly have spent 20 years telling people how terrible things could be if we don't get it right, and worrying and warning about the dystopian future. I think that at this point while that work needs to continue, we need some of us, those of us with those kinds of imaginations to be envisioning a better world. I in the last two years at rights con, I've co hosted a session With my friend Lucas credit changed org to try to begin to create space for that visioning. And we had five
topics that have emerged as ways where it was places where we need to begin to talk about what the world will look like if we get it right. And I want to throw those out to you, and encourage you to begin to use your gifts to help us flesh out what a better future looks like, not just how bad it could be, but how good it can be save some of the space in your brain for how good it could be. What are those five that have emerged? I want to share them with you. But there's, there's no, there's no central power in this. We can all do this together. First, how do we live in a world that is free of surveillance and control? Whether that's government control, or business model control? What does the world look like if we're free of those technologies? How do we how do we talk through things together? How do we solve things? How do we empower ourselves? What does that What does a day look like in that world where we're free of surveillance and control? What The second one is empowering us to control and change our world. What does it look like for a day in which we have protocols, not platforms in the world? The words of my friend Mike, Mark, Matt, Mike Masnick? What does the world look like when we decentralize the power of the networks? What does the world look like when we have local tools for accountability and fairness rather than thinking that gigantic corporations are going to magically figure out who's a good guy and who's a bad guy and make a decisions every time the right decisions every time? What What does that world look like? How do we how do we play that out? What tools do exist exists now? Whether that's the mastodon fediverse, or some other worlds, but how do we build out the vision of that world so that we can envision a better world together to begin to build it? What how would we live? What What does the world look like in a world that supports our rights to assemble and to gather and to engage in collective action to fix our problems? How do our tools support that? How do we build those kinds of worlds that are better than the worlds now where any of that kind of communication happens on lockdown controlled and centralized platforms at the hands of a
How do we build a technological world that supports our planet that makes sure that we can survive and that fights back against climate change? How do we build a world of the future that supports our body? So we're not all cramped over and looking into screens all the time? How do we build a digital technical world that helps us live better lives and better humans as opposed to being beholden to the to the screens and the technology and the systems that leave us kind of cramped and built down especially during this pandemic when we're all stuck at home? So here's five there's a five visions of a world of fixed world how do we fix the world so that it is free of surveillance and control, whether that's from government or businesses? How do we have a world that empowers us to control and change our world when we need to and then gives us the power to do so how do we build a world that supports our rights to assemble, gather and engage in collective action to fix our problems together? How do we build a world that supports our planet? And how do we build a world that supports our bodies? Those are just five. I know there's so much ideas. There's so much enthusiasm. There's so much artistry and visioning in this community. So I throw those out at you to join us in beginning to build a world so that the kids who are coming up today aren't just thinking about the dystopias, which Hollywood has sold us a lot of our culture has sold us a lot of I'm a big fan of dystopian science fiction. It's not like there's anything wrong with that. But we need to marry that with a good world of vision of a world that's better. That's why as we hear, I'm going to stop and just a couple minutes and answer your questions. We picked a lighthouse for the central edge image of our year long celebration of our 30th anniversary a dff. We believe that the guiding principles that helped us build this movement together over the years should shine even brighter in today's darkened skies, they should define our work, especially as the world continues to live in a murky, murky place where there be dragons in the water. And, and and hopefully we continue to build towards the light of the future. We know now that technology affects and is affected by almost everything we do. So it's crucial that we recognize how privacy free expression and digital creativity can help us in this moment, and get us out of the dark murky water and into the light. So thank you. I'm very, very happy to take some questions and can talk this was a kind of a high level conversation. I'm happy to dig a little deeper into the issues if people want to but I also know that you had two hours with my colleagues, you know, far more than I do about most of these things. Alex, do
we have any questions?
unmuted, Alex? Here we are. I think we're back. Cindy, thank you so much for that. Absolutely wonderful. tour de force of over the last 30 years of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. I have to say I found it very enlightening. Going back to two things like operations, Sun Devils in the hacker crackdown and Bruce Sterling's book. I mean, I remember I read the hacker crackdown. I must have been in high school, I think and it was before I ever had a computer and it was really what one of the things that inspired me to get into computers and programming and hacking and calling BBs is reading about 2600 in that book and the E FF. I cannot endorse your recommendation enough for members of our home community to read that wonderful book by Bruce Sterling as well. We've got tons of Questions. I'll start off with one of my own you, you went back going back to memory lane as well, you talked about that you talked about the dcss case. And I believe that was in the Southern District of New York in front of Judge Kaplan. I was an undergraduate at the time, I wasn't in law school. But it was my first introduction to the Southern District of New York. And then my first introduction to when we lost the case when e FF in 20. Oh 200 lost the case to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. And if I recall correctly, you somehow managed to finagle the Dean of Stanford's law school Kathleen Sullivan, to fly into New York that up for one day. take a taxi from JFK or LaGuardia more likely to the Second Circuit and argue that case for us for the 2600 and the E FF pro bono. That's a pretty amazing coalition to have created 20 years ago when the E FF was really only 10 years old and technology was in its nascent areas. What advice do you Have for the whole community about building coalitions like that, you know, today, it's obviously you guys are really good at. Yeah, I think
that I thank you for that. And we certainly did. And I have to say that was one of the most thrilling moments of my life to watch one of the best advocates of our time, argue this case for us and to get to help to prepare her as well. She's on the side of companies now in some really bad digital fights. So we got to bring Kathleen back. But, you know, I will say first of all the thanks to that goes to Larry Lessig, who was on the E FF board at the time and also a professor at Stanford, who reached out to Kathleen and asked her if she wanted to do to do that. So so you know, hats off to Larry for really helping bring in the big guns for our community. But the other thing that happens and I think this is really important thing is people want to do the right thing. People want to help you just need to give them the pathway and the way to do it. What we do this this digital stuff, can be really fun. And I really believe that we are a merry band of people fighting for justice and the married man is far, you know, I'm a big fan. And if I can't dance, I don't want to go to your revolution, theory of change. And so one of the things we do, what we continually do is we, you know, people want to be in the good fight, most everybody wants to be, you know, one of the good guys and not one of the bad guys. So our job is to open those doors for them, and give them ways to meaningfully contribute. So, you know, be welcoming to people who are like, I don't know anything about this, but I think you might be doing something interesting. And I think, you know, hope is a great example of this hope is a place where people who don't have a lot of technical skills or understanding can come and be welcomed. And you know, that there's a stripe in in the digital in the digital community. There was for a long time of people being really hostile to newcomers, especially newcomers who were women or people of color, and I think that Hope is one of the places where we've turned the corner on that. And, and that's what we've always tried to do with E FF. If you're if you want to show up and help, we're going to, we're going to make that possible for you. And we're not going to look askance at you because you don't already know the things that we do.
I think that's great advice being being inclusive, you know, don't let your prejudices automatically turn you off to somebody, especially if they're what we would call a noob. Building on those lines, and we have so many questions coming in glad that you left a good amount of time for us. I hope we can get through a number of them. So I'll launch right in. What do you do? And this is somewhat related, I think to last question, what do you think about funding of privacy researchers and privacy related events by companies with poor privacy records? Yeah, if Google Facebook palantir are actual examples. You know, if the researchers events seem unaffected in their work, is this a problem? Yeah,
I mean, I think
I think that the I think that it's a really hard problem, right? Because we don't have a lot of independent sources of funding. And you know, I do believe at some level all money is dirty, right? So if you're looking for the cleanest money around, you're you're always going to be chasing the sunset. But I do think there are things that people can do to try to protect themselves and make sure that they're not vulnerable to the charge. I mean, e FF, it's really, you know, our independence is tremendously important. Now, I have 30 years of saying, you know, sometimes we fight with Apple. Sometimes we stand with Apple, we fight with them when they're ridiculous about their DRM and their control of their platform. But when they stand up for users encryption, we stand with them now. So so we have a history that we can point to about standing for the principles rather than the things but there are things that people can put in place with that one of them and the companies ought to start doing this. If companies want to support privacy researchers, they should develop third parties that helped make those decisions for them about where the funding goes. And you know, it's imperfect. But there are, you know, the rose foundation is a foundation that has done a lot of providing of supreme money to groups that do privacy work. There are models where you create independent third parties who have transparent and open systems where, you know, if companies are sincere about wanting to really stand up for privacy research, and then they need to empower third parties to make open and transparent decisions about how to support that work. And I think, you know, an example of it. And I wouldn't say it's perfect, but an example that's trying to do this right now is one of our very current fights, which is the open technology foundation OTF, which I think has done a really good job of trying to develop an open and transparent way to look at who they're funding and what their funding so you can see whether there is government influence in where that money goes. But still taking advantage of getting money to projects like Tor that desperately need it and OTF is under fight right? stration tried to take it over, I just helped put together an AMA crossbreed forum with a dozen, more than a dozen, I think 17 large organizations to say that it's tremendously important to protect the independence of organizations like this. Now, I'm not saying there's a perfect example, I'm just saying, there's places to look for ways in which you can build systems where the answer to money is dirty isn't, well, we just don't get to do the research anymore, but rather create systems that can be trustworthy and transparent so that we can all look at them and say that research, that research is independent, even if you can trace the money back because somebody in between whether that's a federal judge or a foundation or a nonprofit, has taken the steps that you can see to make sure that that's what's going on.
Fantastic advice again, and I love the idea of having an intermediary or Third Party vehicle that is the the siphon for this particular type of funding. To me, it almost sounds like a an alternative use case for special purpose vehicles perhaps created out of Panama by you know, instead of sketchy law firms like mossack Fonseca you know, perhaps we can have so you know, special purpose vehicles designed specifically to fund privacy related projects. wonderful idea is something really cool to think about and, and perhaps somebody at home will take up the torch and and make it happen. We mentioned we, you mentioned the Van Buren case. That's I believe, Supreme Court granted cert shiori on that, and that's a Computer Fraud and Abuse Act case. So we know that's a really important case a question from the audience's there's so much going on what other cases or issues should be tracking most closely, which are the best topics for discussions with less well informed family members and co workers? Well, I
would say for me, and I admit that I've got a You know, nearly 30 years in on this issue, I think, recognizing encryption, how important encryption is where it is, I think for your uninformed, you know, colleagues and friends and family members, they rely on encryption every single day. You know, when we started, you couldn't buy things online because there wasn't secure enough for the credit card companies to be willing to run the risk. Now, you know, they carry the risk for you now, because the risk isn't so great, and they can handle it. So, so many things we do rely on encryption, and the constant demonization by the US Department of Justice is something that those of us who understand how important this technology are need to make sure that that that that argument doesn't fly, right. You know, if you've got somebody who's scientific, you can talk about how encryption is just math. And the idea that the government control math is crazy. For other people, it's the idea that you know the answer to you know, the fact that there might be crime isn't for everybody to leave their doors open. So the cops can come in in case you're a bad guy, like that's a bad security thing, but that's what they're trying to push. So I've got all these arguments depending on who you're talking to, there's ways you can do I think encryption is tremendously important. You're right about the Van Buren case for the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. I think that you know, oh my god, there's so many issues, you know, I think that recognition bands if you're in a place where you've got a reasonable local government, there's a lot of these bands that are getting adopted across the country. I think it's a great shot over the bow and you know, we've seen as a result of this work now, big companies like Microsoft and others say they're gonna
put a, you know, a hiatus or
a stop to their facial recognition work pending, you know, for a year until we get, you know, real law protecting it. Oh my gosh, there's probably so many you know, my colleagues at E FF do so much of this work. But it's it's it's those are three that come to my mind right away. And I think we have the urgent work right now to pay attention to what's going on in the streets and the activists and protecting the protesters. protecting people's ability to assemble and protest is is tremendously important. And so the the work of, you know, e FF has it surveillance to self defense
watching what's going on with surveillance of the protests, whether that's alpr data or other data is getting that information out of your local These are things you can do locally, like what's going on with your local cops. E FF just launched the Atlas of surveillance where we're beginning to track what surveillance technologies are available by what things tremendous project led by my colleague, Dave moss, look and see what are your local cops have and what are the things you can do to try to inform your community because some of this stuff is hard to see. You know, it's really easy to see when they show up in the riot gear but it's hard To see that they've got license plate readers information, and mZ catchers and other things where they're tracking who comes to the protests. And so that's something where this audience in the hope, like you understand this, and you understand the dangers there and sounding the alarm on this and getting real transparency is tremendously important.
I couldn't agree with you more on all of those issues, and especially encryption, that's a battle that just keeps on raging. I remember 2527, maybe 28 years ago, arguing about the clipper chip, which was, you know, essentially all about math. And here, we are still arguing today about math. So, I think, you know, great advice and encryption, and especially the noises as a department of justice is making about encryption and lawful access for law enforcement to encrypted communications is really kind of disturbing and really critical. So we've only got a couple of minutes remaining, and I think this is a really critical question from the audience. How does the E FF decide which increase to respond to I know a lot of of people who tried to get ETFs ETFs help, didn't get a response. So you know, when we got a couple of minutes, we're hoping you could give some advice to those who need assistance. Well, I
am very sorry, if people didn't give advice, we have a full time person who responds to requests. Maybe I need to add a second one info at ef f.org is how you reach that person. And we do try to respond to everybody. So I think that sometimes people are upset because we didn't, we weren't able to take their case. And they say they didn't get a response. But But if people aren't getting a response, I'm very sorry about that. And please, you know, feel free to ping me if that doesn't happen. And I will make sure that you get a response now, in terms of getting help from the E FF. I mean, if F's job is to make the law better, is to set precedent. That means that we're looking for the test cases that we can use to try to make the law better. And so we're we're pretty picky about those because we want to win. So not every injustice is a thing that e FF can take on we're not like Legally, we're not the free lawyers, that's a great job. And lots of people have it, it's really important that we try to connect people who can do that. Our job is to pick the test cases and the test issues that will push things forward, that will change the law in a positive way, or stop the law coming in a better way. So that means out of the hundreds of people, thousands of people who come and asked us for help every year, we're going to pick two or three that we think will really help everybody, not just the one person and help build the law. And so often when you get a response that we can't help you. Sometimes it's because we don't have the expertise. But more often, it's because while your situation may be really, really hard, and we will try to get you help for it, fixing your problem is not going to help push the law forward or help more people. And that's our brief. Our brief is to try to make sure that the constitution and your rights come with you when you go online. And that means picking test cases, not taking every case.
Cindy, I think we're out of time. This has been incredible. I know the whole, the whole host community is grateful for you closing out the keynote slots here. This has been incredible. You've done amazing work. And it sounds like we've all got a lot of work to do ahead of us. We do this together.
I am very, very proud of the role that I play and the E FF has played with this, but this community, you guys are a core community. You know, we have lots of communities now but the hackers, hackers on planet Earth, this is where this is our home, and we couldn't do it without you. And we really, you know, there's a new generation of hackers coming up and again, I'm old school, that means good things. Let's, let's help that don't see that there's a movement here. There's a community here and that they can plug into it and help us grow it and help us make it better.
Back to you, Greg