Does Europe need an EFF?

If we don’t let the politicians know what we’re worried about, we’ll inevitably end up stripped of the rights we presently have, says Nicole Simon.

Prompted by a call for support for a UK-based tech/civil liberties organization by Cory Doctorow, Nicole has just launched a pledge to garner support for establishing such an organization at a European level.

So Nicole’s idea is to try and set up an equivalent of the US Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) in Europe.

Although I agree with Nicole – better to try and do this for Europe as a whole than just for one European country – I have some small concerns about the whole EFF model. And while I would support an effective initiative that seeks to safeguard an individual’s rights to free expression, It seems to me that the EFF has some odd ideas on the differences between such rights and the responsibilities of individuals.

I’m referring in particular to the EFF’s support for the international bloggers’ bill of rights which includes a list of organizations “…that have fired, threatened, disciplined, fined or not hired people because of their blogs.” If only it were that black and white!

I suppose a basic question arises – Do we need a European EFF? Well, if you read any European newspaper at either political extreme, you’d probably say yes. Personally, I don’t subscribe to some views that life is just a big conspiracy with all the politicians and Big Business out to screw the Average Joe. Yet I do subscribe to the view that each of us does have the right of freedom of expression. With that right comes some clear responsibilities, too, especially relating to respecting the rights of others. But this isn’t a political blog, and I don’t do politics here.

Still, I support Nicole’s idea which is why I’ve signed the pledge even though the idea is nothing more than that right now – an idea. You have to start somewhere and if more people are willing to sign on for a concept that has little substance yet, and then be part of shaping it, then maybe this might grow and actually have some influence.

Little acorns, etc.

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4 thoughts on “Does Europe need an EFF?

  1. Thanks for the signup Neville, and yes, something like the EFF would come to my mind. It does not need to be the same as them, but those well established organisations have one big advantage against new to be found organisations: They already have a lot of experience and contacts.
    So while there may be many things I disagree on (let’s start at the EFF with them only barely touching European issues the way they do American), there is also much good stuff. At the moment, I feel good at supporting them – if the bad feeling gets more because they do more stuff I don’t like, I will give to someone else.
    (Where giving can be money and or time).
    Jim, thanks for the link too, I was not aware of them. And they already seem to be tax deductable 😉

  2. I hadn’t heard of EDRI before, Jim. So it’s been around since 2002, according to the website.
    Nicole, maybe this is the route forward if anough people sign the pledge?

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