EFF Announces Pioneer Award Winners

By Chris Gonsalves Print this article Print

A corporate whistleblower, a Canadian copyright critic, and a pioneer of the open-source movement are this year’s recipients of the annual Electronic Frontier Foundation Pioneer Awards.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation's Pioneer Awards honor those that make “significant and influential contributions to the development of computer-mediated communications and to the empowerment of individuals in using computers and the Internet,” according to EFF officials.

This year’s winners are:

Mark Klein, the retired AT&T technician who exposed the federal government’s warrantless surveillance program.

When news reports of illegal government spying first surfaced in early 2005, Klein realized that he had unwittingly helped set up the systems that were “violating the rights of millions of Americans,” according to the EFF.

Klein turned over documents to the EFF showing how AT&T was diverting customers' communications to the National Security Agency. The EFF now represents AT&T customers in a class-action suit stemming from the domestic spying.

Dr. Michael Geist, the University of Ottawa law professor and popular syndicated tech columnist who led last year’s opposition to a proposed Canadian copyright law.

Geist complained that the new law “would mirror the DMCA with strong anti-circumvention legislation, far beyond what is needed to comply with the WIPO Internet treaties,” and contained no protection for "flexible fair dealing. No parody exception. No time shifting exception. No device shifting exception. No expanded backup provision. Nothing.”

Widespread support for Geist’s protest, including a petition from more than 30,000 Facebook users, led to the tabling of the copyright legislation by Canada’s Industry Minister Jim Prentice.

Mitchell Baker, Chairman of the Mozilla Foundation and the former Netscape attorney responsible for all legal issues related to the pioneering browser’s product development and intellectual property protection.

During that time, Mitchell wrote the Netscape and Mozilla Public Licenses. Now known in the Mozilla organization as the “chief lizard wrangler,” Mitchell works as general troubleshooter, spokesperson and policy arbitrator for mozilla.org.

"The Pioneer Award winners this year show us how one person can truly make a difference in our digital world," said EFF Executive Director Shari Steele in a statement. "It's hard work to protect freedom, and we are so grateful for the invaluable contributions of Mitchell, Michael, and Mark."

EFF Pioneer Award winners were nominated by the public and chosen by a panel of judges that included: Kim Alexander, president and founder of the California Voter Foundation; Esther Dyson, noted blogger and founding chairman of ICANN; Mitch Kapor, president of Kapor Enterprises; Drazen Pantic, co-director of Location One; Barbara Simons, retired IBM researcher; James Tyre, co-founder of the Censorware Project; and Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia. The EFF will officially hand out the awards on March 4 at a ceremony held as part of the O’Reilly Emerging Technology conference in San Diego. ETech this year will also feature a keynote by MP3.com and Linspire founder Micahel Robertson titled, “What to Expect When You're Expecting...To Be Sued.”

This article was originally published on 2008-02-22
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