Celebrating the Internet Freedom Movement at the EFF Awards

Celebrating the Internet Freedom Movement at the EFF Awards

“It would be easy to see the world filled with doom and gloom when you address these issues…but we do this work because we can fix the Internet. Our dream is that every person in this room will not only stand up for their rights, but will find ten more friends to stand with you.” — CEO of EFF, Cindy Cohen.

The reason why the EFF hosts our annual celebration, now known as… EFF Awards, is a celebration of those in the digital rights community who are pushing for online privacy and innovation. On September 14, we did just that. We gave away prizes to three winners: Alexandra Asanovna Elbakyan, Libraries Freedom ProjectAnd Signal Foundation. These three honorees have helped create a world where people can access and share knowledge online, grow and join communities, and express themselves to others without being spied on.

If you missed the concert in San Francisco, you can still watch what happened! We recorded the show and posted it on YouTube and the Internet Archive for you to watch.

EFF Awards 2023

The show started with our director, the famous science fiction author—Corey Doctorow– Welcoming everyone to the event and thanking the over 30,000 EFF members who make our work possible. Corey then admitted his age, which reflects on how good the internet used to be, whereas now we’re stuck in what he calls “the web.” But instead of longing for the return of the old Internet, Corey looked to fighting for a new good Internet, better than the old Internet he loved.

Corey Doctorow welcomes everyone to the event

Corrie then introduced EFF Executive Director, Cindy Cohen to the stage, who was excited to see so many old and new friends at the ceremony, from former EFF staff and interns to past EFF award winners like Chelsea Manning and Kyle Wiens.

“Often, we are portrayed as wild-eyed optimists, but the EFF was founded to fight for your rights.”

We need to celebrate some victories, but the EFF’s work is far from over, Cindy continued. Since last year’s awards, the EFF has been involved in some big battles, including Children’s Internet Safety ActWhich would sacrifice everyone’s privacy in order to “protect children”; the UK online safety law, which would undermine end-to-end encryption; the United Nations Cybercrime Convention threatens to undermine human rights online; Help Internet Archive, who encountered Lawsuit for Hosting a digital library; And our efforts to Sunset section 702It is a huge surveillance law that can be renewed.

Cindy Cohen talks about the EFF’s current work

Presenting the first prize of the evening to the EFF Legal Director Corinne McSherry He took the stage to present the works of Alexandra Asanovna Elbakyan. Alexandra is a Kazakh computer programmer who founded Sci-Hub in 2011 to provide free and unrestricted access to all scientific knowledge. Sci-Hub was launched as a tool to provide quick access to articles from scientific journals for anyone to read and download for free.

Corinne accepted Alexandra’s award on her behalf, saying: “The open access movement is fighting to get rid of paywalls completely, and we are making progress. But in the meantime, thanks to Alexandra’s courage and creativity, researchers around the world have SciHub. It’s an honor and a privilege To award her the 2023 EFF Prize.

Corinne McSherry holds Alexandra’s EFF Award

Unfortunately, Alexandra was unable to travel to the United States to receive her award, but she was able to share a video expressing her thanks. “I believe that knowledge is something that everyone should have free access to, because knowledge is a natural human right. Having a few big companies, restricting access to all knowledge, is not normal. It should not be this way.”

Alexandra receives her award

Introducing the next award winner, EFF’s Chief Staff Technologist Bill Buddington He spoke about the need for the Library Freedom Project (LFP), which is creating a network of values-driven library activists to build information democracy. Libraries are especially important for low-income individuals, who may not have access to the Internet in any other way. LFP educates and trains librarians on issues of privacy, surveillance, technology, and more to help create safer private spaces for all patrons.

Bill Buddington talks about the Libraries Freedom Project

In accepting the Library Freedom Project Award, eleven members of the organization, including Alison Macrina—LFP founder and executive director—contemplated founding the organization in 2015 when they made headlines with their efforts to Bring Tor exit relays In libraries. “In libraries, we now face an organized movement of anti-democratic and anti-discourse actors… Against this attack, the LFP is fighting back through community building and education,” Macrina said. “In this environment, we all need each other, and we need you.”

Library Freedom Project members receive EFF award

Alexis HancockEFF’s Director of Engineering, Certbot, presented the event’s eventual winner, the Signal Foundation. Alexis spoke about the importance of end-to-end encrypted communications in our daily lives, saying: “Signal has helped create more ubiquitous encryption in our daily lives.”

Alexis Hancock talks about the Signal Foundation

Josh Lund and Rhea Abraham, longtime employees of the Signal Foundation, took the stage and spoke about their memories of watching the first 100,000 messages pass through the Signal Protocol’s 100,000+ messages per second protocol. Signal provides true privacy for communications, offering easy-to-use technology that rejects the surveillance model the tech industry is built on. “It is an honor for all of us who work at Signal to continue moving forward with all of you. The crypto wars of the 90s never ended, and if you listen to the CEO of Signal they likely never will.

Signal Foundation members receive EFF award

The ceremony concluded with Corey Doctorow taking the stage, noting the importance of the work this year’s honorees are doing and how our actions create meaningful changes in our communities.

EFF greatly appreciates the opportunity to honor these leaders in the digital rights community. It is always a highlight of the year to bring human rights defenders from around the world together to honor and advance their important work. If you missed the in-person concert, take a moment to watch the recording below! You can also view a selection of our favorite images here.

Watch the concert

Recording on YouTube and Internet Archive

Thank you to all EFF members around the world who make our work possible – public support is the reason we’re able to push for a better internet. If you are interested in supporting our work, consider becoming an EFF member! You can receive special equipment as a token of our thanks, and help support the digital freedom movement.

Of course, special thanks to this year’s EFF Awards sponsors: Electric Capital, No Starch Press, and Ron Read. Interested in sponsoring a future EFF event? Please contact Tierney Hamilton.

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