Open Views 14 (repeat): A hacker history of the Electronic Frontier Foundation

John GilmoreJohn Perry Barlow7pm Tue & 7am Thu.

This week's episode of Open Views is a re-broadcast of a talk from Cory Doctorow's Fulbright Chair Speaker Series, from the Center for Public Diplomacy. The talk features John Perry Barlow and John Gilmore, founders of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

In the world of hacker culture, and by association, the open source and free culture movements, the most important official group is probably the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). This is the group that works to protect your digital civil liberties no matter where in the world you are. The EFF is ostensibly an American organization. Their focus on the Internet, however, makes them quite universal.

The EFF has been involved in cases from the earliest hacker suits that the US Government brought against alleged criminal teenagers from the Legion of Doom to the Grokster, Kazaa peer-to-peer suit, to fighting cyber-decency legislation, to currently suing AT&T in the recent illegal wiretapping case. This last case recently made some headlines, since AT&T had provided the NSA with a secret facility to which all conversations on their network were surreptitiously, and without warrant, copied - essentially wiretapping of the innocent public.

John Perry Barlow and John Gilmore are two of the core EFF people, and were founding members of the organization, along with Mitch Kapor and Steve Wozniak

Barlow entered into pop culture as a writer for the Grateful Dead, but his fascination with the ideas of community and connectivity that the Internet created made him one of the pioneer digeratis on The Well, an early online collaboration site for those thinking about and working with digital content and rights. Barlow has a truly fascinating background, and his cowboy activism probably comes from his cattle ranching history.

John Gilmore was the 5th employee at Sun Microsystems, and wrote the most popular C compiler in use today - the GNU C Compiler. Gilmore is an ardent civil liberties activist, and is most recently involved in a case against the US Government to define the legality of anonymous travel.

Barlow and Gilmore spoke at Cory Doctorow's Fulbright Chair Speaker Series, at the University of Southern California's Center for Public Diplomacy. I'm re-broadcasting their talk, since it provides probably the best history of digital rights, internet collaboration, and the necessity for open development I've heard anywhere, and that too directly from the guys who made it all happen.

The original interview can be found at the University of Southern California's site at http://uscpublicdiplomacy.com (here). The original talk lasts about 1hr 45minutes, including the Q&A session, so I'm only playing an abbreviated version.

(Images of Barlow and Gilmore from the Fulbright Chair Speaker Series site).