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General Information
Stakeholder Group: Civil Society
Issue Areas: Cybersecurity, Privacy, Human Rights
Country: USA
Region: North America
Founded: 1990
Headquarters: Electronic Frontier Foundation
815 Eddy Street
San Francisco CA 94109

LinkIcon.png   https://www.eff.org

Email: information@eff.org
Facebook: Facebook.png   EFF
Twitter: TwitterIcon.png@eff
Brian Behlendorf, Chairman of the Board

Sarah Deutsch, Board Member
Cindy Cohn, Executive Director

Founder(s): John Perry Barlow
Mitch Kapor
John Gilmore

EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) is a donor-funded non-profit organization that defends free speech, privacy, innovation, and consumer rights today. EFF blends the expertise of lawyers, policy analysts, activists, and technologists to achieve its goals on behalf of consumers and the general public.[1]

It focuses on issues relating to free speech, innovation, intellectual property, international, privacy and transparency.

EFF is an accredited observer at WIPO[2] and a participant of the Global Network Initiative.[3].

Its head office is located in San Fransisco, California, thought it also has staff members in Washington D.C..


EFF was founded in July 1990 by John Perry Barlow, Mitch Kapor and John Gilmore in response to a search and seizure on Steve Jackson Games by the U.S Secret Service.

The U.S Secret Service conducted a series of raids to track the distribution of a document called E911, copied illegally from a BellSouth computer. It was alleged that the systems operator at Steve Jackson Games was one of the recipients of the E911 document. The Secret Services seized all the electronic equipment and copies of an upcoming game book from Steve Jackson Games' office.

Without the electronic equipment, Steve Jackson Games' business was badly hurt and it had to fire nearly half of its employees. Meanwhile, unable to find the E911 document on the computers, the Secret Service dropped the charges against Steve Jackson Games and returned the computers.

When the employees and Steve Jackson have inspected the returned computers, they found out that all the mail on their computers had been accessed and deleted. Steve Jackson became furious that his rights as a publisher had been violated and the free speech and privacy rights of his users had been violated. He tried to approach civil liberties groups, but none of the civil liberties groups of those days understood technology and thus, were not able to understand the complexity of the issue.

This issue was highlighted in an electronic community called the Whole Earth 'Lectronic Link and John Perry Barlow, Mitch Kapor and John Gilmore came together to form an organization to work on civil liberties issues raised by new technologies. The first case they took up was the Steve Jackson Games' case and brought a lawsuit on United States Secret Service.[4]

EFF's Work

EFF's work revolves around legal defense with regard to digital rights and privacy infringement, researching and writing white papers, distributing the EFF Awards and conducting research projects to "to improve the rights of free expression, security, and privacy on the internet." [5]


The EFF became active in anti-SOPA efforts in 2011 and into 2012. SOPA, or the Stop Online Privacy Act, was legislation being considered by the U.S. Congress to limit the use and spread of piracy practices on the Internet. Opponents argued that the bill would severely restrict free speech and an open Internet. Name.com donated $1,000 to the organization to support the EFF's continued efforts to maintain a free and open Internet.[6]


The EFF joined a coalition of 50 European and International organizations calling on the European Parliament to reject the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) being considered in July, 2012. The EFF had been involved in previous efforts to stop to Act in the U.S. Congress as well, which was largely associated with SOPA.[7]

EFF Pioneer Award

Since 1992, The EFF has hosted an annual award ceremony to recognize leaders "who are extending freedom and innovation on the electric frontier". Both individuals and organizations are eligible; past winners include Vinton Cerf, Jon Postel, Craigslist, Jimmy Wales, Douglas Engelbart, and others; the typical number of winners in a given year is 3, although as many as 9 people have been recognized in a single year.[8]


  • Bloggers' Rights
  • Coders' Rights
  • Free Speech Weak Links
  • Global Chokepoints
  • HTTPS Everywhere
  • Manila Principles
  • Medical Privacy Project
  • Open Wireless Movement
  • Patent Busting
  • Privacy Badger
  • Student Activism
  • Student Privacy
  • Surveillance Self-Defense
  • Takedown Hall of Shame
  • Teaching Copyright
  • Transparency Project
  • Trolling Effects
  • Ways To Help