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Electronic Frontier Foundation bails from Global Network Initiative

PRISM claims a casualty as EFF can't bear to be associated with NSA

Sign outside the National Security Agency HQ

The Electronic Frontiers Foundation (EFF) has resigned from the Global Network Initiative (GNI), citing the presence of GNI members who co-operated with the NSA as making its ongoing involvement untenable.

The GNI was established in 2008 and aims to promote privacy and freedom of speech online. Its membership roster comprises academics, governments and plenty of IT companies. Among those in the latter category are Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo!

The world now knows that the NSA had its digital tentacles into those companies, the EFF feels uncomfortable collaborating with them. That the companies mentioned above participate in a forum like the GNI to pursue its stated aims of privacy but then also co-operate with the NSA is a bridge too far for the EFF.

In a resignation letter sent to the GNI it says the organisation “... no believes we can sign our name onto joint statements that rely on shared knowledge of the security of company products or their internal processes.”

The letter also offers the following observation:

“However, until serious reforms of the US surveillance programs are in place, we no longer feel comfortable participating in the GNI process when we are not privy to the serious compromises GNI corporate members may be forced to make. Nor do we currently believe that audits of corporate practice, no matter how independent, will uncover the insecurities produced by the US government's—and potentially other governments'—behavior when operating clandestinely in the name of national security.”

The EFF signs off by wishing the GNI well and saying it hopes the two can work together. The letter leaves no doubt, however, that the EFF feels its signature cannot ever appear on the same letterhead as the likes of Google and Facebook. ®

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