Feeds

Griffin, Froomkin join EFF board

New broom time (we can but hope)

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

The future of digital rights group the Electronic Frontier Foundation looks faintly brighter today with the creation of an Advisory board, created to help the group form some effective long-term strategies.

Amongst the 12 advisors named are the FSF's Eben Moglen, and Princeton professor Ed Felten. But we're pleased to see two names familiar to veteran Register readers, music entrepreneur Jim Griffin and lawyer Michael Froomkin [home page - blog] of the University of Miami's law school.

Froomkin has devoted much of his time in recent years to examining how consensus is formed to provide a legitimate basis for online institutions, penning Habermas@discourse.net: Toward a Critical Theory of Cyberspace and although he has used the word "meme" on his blog (tut, Michael, we think you mean "theme" or "idea") he's proved himself a scrupulous and tenacious ICANN watchdog.

Former Geffen CTO Jim Griffin, who co-runs the Pho mailing list, is probably the most passionate and articulate advocate of modernizing the compensation framework for the digital distribution of music. We interviewed Jim back in February, and your reporter drew heavily on Jim's persuasive arguments when giving this talk to the music industry earlier this Fall.

All credit to the EFF for recognizing that fresh thinking is needed. The group's most notable successes have been on behalf of individuals who've falled foul of the rights' holders ugly use of litigation: such as "DVD Jon" Johansen and Dmitri Sklyarov. But the group has been outflanked at almost every turn by the better-funded copyright lobby. At times it's even managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory: for example in the case of Senator Orrin Hatch. Hatch was so disgusted by the way the recording industry treated artists he threatened to introduce flat fee licenses, but was wooed by persistent flattery from the RIAA. He's now one of the staunchest pigopolist advocates.

And earlier this year much of the organization's outstanding work on privacy was undone by Brad Templeton 'Google isn't so spooky' analysis of GMail, which kindly overlooked the implications of Google's defense of the service: that only machines read your email. As former DoJ cybercrime czar Mark Rausch pointed out here, that's an invitation for the the FBI to point its machines at your email too, and make the same defense.

Ah, what problems, what confusion these techno utopians create for themselves! So not all of the EFF's ineffectiveness can be explained by a lack of resources, or its location: 2,300 miles further from Congress than its rival lobby groups. The organization was born out of the popular technical ethos of libertarianism, in which compromise is distrusted and direct political engagement is shunned for a faith in market forces. And being lawyers, they like to fight cases, naturally.

"They like to lose - they feed on the indignation," thunders one reader, who characterizes the EFF as "a bumbling third-rate ACLU with high-tech airs. They're mucking about with some important cases, and every time they lose, we lose."

Ouch.

While there are welcome signs that the EFF is shedding some of its previously ideologically-hamstrung positions - such as advertising in Rolling Stone, and sending a blogger to the WIPO discussions - there's some way to go yet. The decision to advocate a "voluntary" collective license is going to go safely nowhere, to the contentment of the recording rights holders - as it's a compact that everyone in the world can sign up to except the people who matter. (The rights holders themselves)

Still, the new appointments are a welcome sign that new tactics may be deployed. At every turn the tech lobby has been outsmarted and outfought, losing almost every important case it's engaged in, and we now practically have to beg Congress not to detonate our computers. It's going to be a long haul back. Sitting back and praying that either the market, or some as yet unknown emergent phenomena, will take care of things is no longer an option. ®

Related stories

Dirty rotten inducers - the law the IT world deserves?
RIAA praises 'magnificent' P2P
EFF asks US court to ditch vague patents
EFF BOFH arrested
UK Sklyarov protestors picket US embassy

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
The 'fun-nification' of computer education – good idea?
Compulsory code schools, luvvies love it, but what about Maths and Physics?
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Yes, yes, Steve Jobs. Look what I'VE done for you lately – Tim Cook
New iPhone biz baron points to Apple's (his) greatest successes
Lords take revenge on REVENGE PORN publishers
Jilted Johns and Jennies with busy fingers face two years inside
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
Edward who? GCHQ boss dodges Snowden topic during last speech
UK spies would rather 'walk' than do 'mass surveillance'
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.