Electronic Frontier Foundation ousts co-founder John Gilmore from its board

He's free of governance duties now, but still an emeritus member


Updated Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) co-founder John Gilmore has been removed from any active role on the digital rights organisation's board but will continue to serve as emeritus member.

"Since he helped found EFF 31 years ago, John Gilmore has provided leadership and guidance on many of the most important digital rights issues we advocate for today," wrote EFF executive director Cindy Cohn.

If your instincts tell you that's the kind of prose that presages a "but", your instincts were correct.

"But in recent years, we have not seen eye-to-eye on how to best communicate and work together, and we have been unable to agree on a way forward with Gilmore in a governance role. That is why the EFF Board of Directors has recently made the difficult decision to vote to remove Gilmore from the Board."

The EFF announcement adds that the board is "deeply grateful for the many years Gilmore gave to EFF as a leader and advocate, and … has elected him to the role of Board Member Emeritus moving forward".

Cohn's post doesn't outline the nature or particulars of the dispute that led to Gilmore's departure. The EFF appears not to publish board minutes, nor to have posted its constitution or charter to its site (but does advocate for transparency), making it hard to ascertain why Gilmore was removed or the powers that made it possible to do so.

The EFF's announcement about Gilmore's change of status was published on Friday. The Register has requested further information about the reasons for his changed status.

The statement includes a quote from the man himself.

"I am so proud of the impact that EFF has had in retaining and expanding individual rights and freedoms as the world has adapted to major technological changes," Gilmore is quoted as saying. "My departure will leave a strong board and an even stronger staff who care deeply about these issues."

In recent years, we have not seen eye-to-eye on how to best communicate and work together

Gilmore co-founded the EFF in 1990 – just one standout on a CV that includes being hired as employee number five at Sun Microsystems, helping to disprove the security of the Data Encryption Standard (DES), and creating Usenet's "alt." newsgroups. He's widely credited as the source of the famous aphorism "The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it."

Gilmore's EFF profile states "He's trying to get people to think more about the society they are building."

As an emeritus board member, he'll have the chance to keep doing that – but without a vote. ®

Updated to add at 2300 UTC, October 25

The EFF's Cindy Cohn just told us:

The post on our website speaks for itself, and we don’t have much to add. This is essentially a personnel matter, so we will be keeping the details confidential. While it’s unfortunate that we reached a point where a governance role was no longer appropriate, we are pleased that John is staying in an emeritus role. John’s work and guidance from EFF’s founding helped make us who we are today and we are eternally grateful that he saw the need to have a digital rights organization, and indeed a digital rights movement, to ensure that our civil liberties remain protected as technology changes.


Other stories you might like

  • Prisons transcribe private phone calls with inmates using speech-to-text AI

    Plus: A drug designed by machine learning algorithms to treat liver disease reaches human clinical trials and more

    In brief Prisons around the US are installing AI speech-to-text models to automatically transcribe conversations with inmates during their phone calls.

    A series of contracts and emails from eight different states revealed how Verus, an AI application developed by LEO Technologies and based on a speech-to-text system offered by Amazon, was used to eavesdrop on prisoners’ phone calls.

    In a sales pitch, LEO’s CEO James Sexton told officials working for a jail in Cook County, Illinois, that one of its customers in Calhoun County, Alabama, uses the software to protect prisons from getting sued, according to an investigation by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

    Continue reading
  • Battlefield 2042: Please don't be the death knell of the franchise, please don't be the death knell of the franchise

    Another terrible launch, but DICE is already working on improvements

    The RPG Greetings, traveller, and welcome back to The Register Plays Games, our monthly gaming column. Since the last edition on New World, we hit level cap and the "endgame". Around this time, item duping exploits became rife and every attempt Amazon Games made to fix it just broke something else. The post-level 60 "watermark" system for gear drops is also infuriating and tedious, but not something we were able to address in the column. So bear these things in mind if you were ever tempted. On that note, it's time to look at another newly released shit show – Battlefield 2042.

    I wanted to love Battlefield 2042, I really did. After the bum note of the first-person shooter (FPS) franchise's return to Second World War theatres with Battlefield V (2018), I stupidly assumed the next entry from EA-owned Swedish developer DICE would be a return to form. I was wrong.

    The multiplayer military FPS market is dominated by two forces: Activision's Call of Duty (COD) series and EA's Battlefield. Fans of each franchise are loyal to the point of zealotry with little crossover between player bases. Here's where I stand: COD jumped the shark with Modern Warfare 2 in 2009. It's flip-flopped from WW2 to present-day combat and back again, tried sci-fi, and even the Battle Royale trend with the free-to-play Call of Duty: Warzone (2020), which has been thoroughly ruined by hackers and developer inaction.

    Continue reading
  • American diplomats' iPhones reportedly compromised by NSO Group intrusion software

    Reuters claims nine State Department employees outside the US had their devices hacked

    The Apple iPhones of at least nine US State Department officials were compromised by an unidentified entity using NSO Group's Pegasus spyware, according to a report published Friday by Reuters.

    NSO Group in an email to The Register said it has blocked an unnamed customers' access to its system upon receiving an inquiry about the incident but has yet to confirm whether its software was involved.

    "Once the inquiry was received, and before any investigation under our compliance policy, we have decided to immediately terminate relevant customers’ access to the system, due to the severity of the allegations," an NSO spokesperson told The Register in an email. "To this point, we haven’t received any information nor the phone numbers, nor any indication that NSO’s tools were used in this case."

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021