A year ago today, on January 18th 2012, the largest protest in Internet history stopped the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) — a bill that would have allowed for the censorship of large portions of the Internet — in its tracks.

Perhaps no site was more important in this fight than Reddit. You guys helped organize the protest against GoDaddy, you started forcing members of Congress to come out against SOPA, and you were the first to declare January 18th blackout day.

So from all of us on the activism team at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, we just want to say thank you again.

But the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. And the fight for Internet freedom continues. So Ask Us Anything about the next battles over Internet freedom in the coming year and we will try our best to answer any and all questions that come our way.

Answering questions today will be Trevor Timm, Parker Higgins, Adi Kamdar, Maira Sutton, Julie Samuels, and Mitch Stoltz.

In honor of today's SOPA blackout anniversary, here is our blog posts from this morning on how speaking in one voice can completely change the fight against excessive copyright, and five Internet freedom issues Reddit can champion in 2013.


UPDATE: Thanks for all the questions, folks. We're going to keep answering on and off all day, so keep 'em coming. And if you happen to venture over to The Onion's 'Diamond' Joe Biden's AMA, make sure you ask him why he supported these outrageous SOPA provisions last year: http://www.theonion.com/articles/internet-against-sopa-pipa,27170/

UPDATE II: We're going to have to call it quits for now, but we promise we'll be back. This is our third AMA and it's always so much fun. Thanks again for all the great questions. And as always, keep fighting. Congress will get this whole Internet freedom thing right eventually.

Comments: 728 • Responses: 26  • Date: 

runrundan410 karma

What do you see as the top priority for 2013? There's so much to be concerned about. Where the hell do we start?

trevorEFF471 karma

There will probably be more fights about Internet freedom — whether it's privacy, patents, copyright, free speech, or computer crime law — in 2013 than there ever has been. We just published a blog post a few minutes ago that answers this question and identifies the top 5 issues SOPA activists should focus their attention on this year.

[deleted]365 karma

I'll have you know that my whole estate goes to the EFF if anything happens to my kids. How can I make sure you guys get it?

PS: please don't kill my kids

adiEFF342 karma

Here's how!

PS: we're not going to kill your kids.

Steve_Media346 karma

EFF is awesome :)

adiEFF309 karma

OpenMedia is awesome :)

tackyy210 karma

Remember that Aaron Swartz had a hand in starting Reddit, Demand Progress and the defeat of SOPA.

For Internet Freedom Day, I just called my representative in Congress urging her to support Aarons Law. If any member of the House wants to make a statement of support, TODAY would be an amazing day for it.

You can find your representatives phone number here

Edit: fixed a typo

Edit 2 Demand Progress, Not Think Progress. Corrected (Thx DoodGai1)

trevorEFF154 karma

YES, that is a great idea. Please call your Congressmen to reform the draconian Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Here's how you can email your Congressmen about this particular subject. You can also read how it adversely affected Aaron here.

And yesterday, we posted to Reddit our edits to the first draft of Aaron's law. By all means, give us your feedback on the thread.

ineedausernameplease133 karma

Besides donating to the EFF, what's the best way I can help improve the landscape of digital protections?

adiEFF139 karma

Besides donating to EFF—which we strongly support, since we're member supported—there are quite a few ways to help:

Take action: We have a number of outstanding campaigns on our action center that let you reach out to your congressperson to let them know you want software patents reformed, or you want to protect first sale rights, or you don't want backroom negotiations for international IP treaties. Call Congress, schedule meetings, tweet at them... they heard the thunderclap of the Internet last year, and they will hear it again.

Spread the word: Tweet. Post on Facebook. Dust off your Google Plus. Get on a soapbox. Tell your friends and family. We need more people to know about the issues and our efforts.

Here's a page with a bunch of ways you can help!

CeIestial120 karma

How do you feel about Anonymous's actions to legalize DDosing as a protest act?

trevorEFF98 karma

Not sure what 'actions to legalize' you are referring to, but you may be talking about the White House petition that has been going around asking for this. We think that, in general, the White House petition site is not an effective way to go about getting change, and if you want any change in the computer crime laws (which are very much in need of reform), Congress is the best place to petition for that change.

But more broadly, when we are talking about protests, we think the best way to protest in favor of any Internet freedom issue is always to spread information about it to people who wouldn't normally hear it, and then contact your representative to tell them your vote depends on that change. The SOPA blackout day proved that this is a highly effective method of bringing about good results.

SchindlersPissed97 karma

Do you think efforts like SOPA will come back anytime soon, or are they done for good?

mitchstoltz259 karma

Hi, this is Mitch at EFF. People in the entertainment industries are still talking about how to create a blacklist of websites they don't like. They seem to be trying to get payment processors and ad networks to enforce a blacklist without the government requiring them to do it (as SOPA/PIPA would have done).

trevorEFF206 karma

This guy is legit ⇧

mairaEFF119 karma

The same private interests behind SOPA and PIPA are using international policy venues like trade agreements and the UN's World Intellectual Property Organization to export the same kinds of abusive copyright enforcement laws to the rest of the world.

The major fight right now is the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a secretive trade agreement being negotiated between 11 countries around the Pacific region. The threat is that this agreement is being discussed completely behind closed doors, and we only know what's in it based upon leaked text. It has 26 chapters but the one we're concerned about is the one covering intellectual property, which rewrites global rules on enforcement that would turn ISPs into Internet cops, enact criminal sanctions for copyright infringement, and escalate protections for digital locks on content.

For folks in the US, go here to take action and demand that your elected representatives call for a hearing on these secretive negotiations that would trade away your Internet freedoms.

If you're outside of the US, you can sign this Stop the Trap Petition to send let government leaders and trade representatives know that you oppose any provisions in TPP that would criminalize or otherwise restrict the use of the Internet.

Zankman70 karma

Simple question - What is the next big threat?

Also: If there was some big Anti-Video Game movement (since they still try to blame violent gun crimes on games), would you be against it?

trevorEFF89 karma

We just published a blog post a few minutes ago about the top five issues we're going to face this year and what people can do about them. You can read it here.

As far as video games go, if there was a movement to ban certain types of video games that are traditionally protected by the First Amendment then we will — of course — be on the front lines protecting free speech. Here's a great blog post we wrote a few months ago about video game labeling laws and the First Amendment.

[deleted]68 karma

Did you deliberately withdraw support/decline donations from the Humble THQ Bundle because there was DRM attached to the games or was it for another reason?

Edit: I ask this because the EFF logo was conspicuously absent from a Bundle page for the first time ever but was restored to the Indie Bundle 7 page.

Edit 2: I was wrong. EFF has been absent before (see below).

JaycoxEFF112 karma

We have no control over who the Humble Bundle chooses for their charities. If you'd like to see them continue to have EFF as a charity, definitely voice your opinion on twitter, via email, etc! Thanks!

lulzlizard64 karma


mairaEFF57 karma

Well, we often team up with CIPPIC and OpenMedia on our international advocacy and we think they've done excellent work to cover Canadian digital rights issues. CIPPIC has been drafting crucially influential policy papers and providing legal support to individuals and organizations for the last 10 years. OpenMedia has done some creative and very effective campaigning, and we believe it was integral to the defeat of the C-30 surveillance bill. They are even addressing international threats to your copyright laws that could undo the C-11 copyright reform bill, such as CETA, the Canadian-EU Trade Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) with their Stop the Trap campaign.

As you said, lack of funding is a problem, and it's a problem that afflicts digital rights organizations around the world. I urge you to help support both CIPPIC and OpenMedia and help spread the word about their campaigns.

TheHexMan51 karma

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adiEFF55 karma

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wishcometrue47 karma

Does EFF still issue the Member Cards? Got mine at ONE BBS conference in 1993. Mitch and John attended and EFF had a booth....


I have a sticker that promotes "ISDN - Highway in Cyberspace" from EFF as well. Man have things changed! LOL....

adiEFF30 karma

We do!

trevorEFF17 karma

That picture has been making its rounds in the office and made everyone's day. Thanks for all your support!

IceCreamNarwhals39 karma

How likely is it that something like SOPA could come back?

trevorEFF70 karma

Right now, luckily, we scared Congress so much with the SOPA blackout, we're not likely to see legislation like SOPA anytime soon. We've heard from Congressional staffers their bosses are constantly (and nervously) asking "Is this the next SOPA?" when weighing Internet legislation.

But that does not mean the content industry is giving up. Soon, they'll be implementing their "six strikes" plan — or as we like to call it, "The Copyright Surveillance Machine." They also have been busy pushing for excessive copyright treaties like TPP to try to push harsh IP laws in other countries. So it's important to stay vigilant against copyright issues because you never know where they are going to crop up next.

schulz37 karma

What's a good EFF elevator pitch for non internet natives? IE: If my aunt asks me what the EFF is good for I say...

adiEFF76 karma

This is actually a common issue at parties or around my family, who still don't get what I do...

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is an organization that protects your civil liberties in the digital age. Any time freedom of speech, privacy, or innovation is threatened online—which is often as corporations exert their undue influence and governments repeatedly prove they don't understand the Internet—EFF is there to fight back.

or, like, EFF defends the Internet.

[deleted]23 karma

Do you think the US patent system will ever be fixed? If so, how and when do you think this tedious task could be accomplished by?

juliepsamuels32 karma

We're optimistic that we will see real reform to the broken patent system in the next few years. Policymakers in D.C. and across the country have shown an appetite to take up the matter, probably in no small part because of the amazing work that the tech community did defeating SOPA and PIPA. But, to be sure, we have a long road ahead of us. You can join our work on this issue at defendinnovation.org.

Chronos_FacePunch20 karma

Still after all these years it's sad our Gov't doesn't understand the internet and how the information here is beneficial to everyone. DO you think their lack of knowledge is why they want to control it? Also what are they doing to help themselves understand it.

mitchstoltz49 karma

As Upton Sinclair wrote, "it is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it." Many of our policymakers depend on campaign contributions from industries that benefit from locking down the Internet and making it "safe" for their twentieth-century business models. It's lobbyists who "educate" Congress, and money grants access.

We can counter that with organization, with technology, and with lots of citizen participation. Also, there are people in government who DO understand the Internet and how vital it is, and we can give them our support, advice, and votes!

trevorEFF34 karma

Don't worry, folks. Mitch is EFF. He knows what he's talking about.

scenix17 karma

Are there any particular issues that you believe the American public should be more aware of?

What can redditors do to further help your cause?

trevorEFF35 karma

Three subjects we wish got more attention:

  1. the NSA's warrantless wiretapping program, which is still active despite not being in the headlines anymore, and which we are still suing the government over.

  2. Secret law. The government has been heading in a disturbing direction where they've been keeping their interpretation of public laws secret, and refusing to release legal opinions on important subjects like the Patriot Act, FISA Amendments Act, and targeted killing of Americans overseas.

  3. Domestic drones - keep your eye on this issue, it should gain much more attention in Congress this year. Police departments all over the country have started buying surveillance drones which they want to start flying over US skies soon. The privacy dangers are unprecedented, and the law has not kept up with the technology, so we need to get Congress to pass safeguards ASAP.

storge_17 karma

Considering the Obama administration came out against SOPA (but for many of its provisions), what do you think of the fact that he signed ACTA before SOPA was even in the news, and to what extent do you believe ACTA may be a threat to online freedom?

mairaEFF33 karma

Despite our success defeating SOPA last year, the content industry's grip on our elected representatives is still firm. ACTA is part of a long line of trade agreements that carry expansive copyright provisions that were put there through the heavy lobbying influence of Hollywood and other major content publishers. Just like Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which is the current major fight on the international front, it was negotiated in complete secrecy with no democratic oversight. Fortunately, years of advocacy by digital rights organizations worked, and we were able to get them to remove some of the worst provisions in the agreement, and now it looks a lot like the US Digital Millenium Copyright Act.

While ACTA was victoriously defeated in Europe last Summer, there are still some indications that it may live on for the rest of the signatory countries. If ACTA goes into effect—and this is true for all trade agreements we sign on to—it will make it that much harder for us and other signatory countries to reform their domestic copyright laws in the face of these supposed "international standards" of intellectual property.

emfyo16 karma

I posted in the other thread -can we get access to the same program used last year for contact legislators to demand action for Aaron Swartz.

What kind of action do you think is best moving forward to reform draconian cyber laws. I hope to study law and was wondering if there is any protection under the 8th amendment, but it seems it has no effect in terms of sentencing.

What kind of amendment would you propose to limit government interference in the open web or do you think there is the frame work to ensure consumer protection and equality without something such drastic steps.

trevorEFF19 karma

We've been working on this subect non-stop this past last week.

Here's our post explaining why the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act is broken and how it adversely affected Aaron

Here's a link to our action center to contact Congress to demand they reform draconian copyright laws.

And here's a link to our Reddit thread from yesterday where we posted our edits to the first draft of "Aaron's Law" -- a bill Rep. Zoe Lofgren plans to introduce soon. We want Reddit's feedback, so please go to the thread and tell us what you think.

anotherbh14 karma

We're fucked, aren't we?

adiEFF66 karma


ScrapBuilder7749 karma

What are in your opinion the next great battle for the internet? How do you feel about Anonymous and what they do?

JaycoxEFF9 karma

There will probably be more fights about Internet freedom — whether it's privacy, patents, copyright, free speech, or computer crime law — in 2013 than there ever has been. We just published a blog post a few minute ago that answers this question and identifies the top 5 issues SOPA activists should focus their attention on this year.

rabidaudio7 karma

I am an engineering undergrad becoming increasingly interested in public policy. Do you have any internships or similar opportunities for students?

JaycoxEFF7 karma

You can find out about opportunities here: https://www.eff.org/about/opportunities/

mcfattykins5 karma

Thanks for your support. You guys are helping protect the last real frontier. With new bills coming through every month it seems, how far will you let the bill run through legislation before going on lockdown again?

JaycoxEFF6 karma

We try to keep track of all the important bills. All of us are pretty plugged in to Congress. We judge when to run a campaign against bills when they become seriousness enough for passage. Because of certain rules in Congress (like announcing hearings a week before, or filing bills with a 24 hour heads up), we tend to have time to weigh our resources, the seriousness of the bill passing, and then figure out what to do about it.

optimiz33 karma

Thanks for doing everything you guys do, been a monthly donating member for years.

trevorEFF4 karma

Thank YOU. We couldn't survive without member donations. For anyone who is interested, you can donate to EFF here: https://supporters.eff.org/donate