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+--| My new job at EFF! |-----------------------------------------------------+
|                                                                             |
| I am enormously proud and excited to announce that my next job will be      |
| with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), working as Senior Global     |
| Policy Analyst focused on intellectual property issues. I confess that I    |
| have been a bit of an EFF fanboy for many years, so this job is something   |
| of a dream come true.                                                       |
|                                                                             |
| At the same time, I am conscious of the great responsibility that now       |
| falls upon me, to make sure that all my work helps uphold EFF's stellar     |
| reputation for defending citizens' rights in the digital world - not to     |
| mention the challenge of pulling my weight in a team composed of such       |
| smart and experienced colleagues.                                           |
|                                                                             |
| In some respects, the role would be a change from what I've been doing      |
| until now - but then why else move on, if it's not to something different?  |
|  The most obvious chance is that I will be refocussing on intellectual      |
| property (though I could dip into EFF's other policy areas), so I'll be     |
| taking a back seat in Internet governance discussions from now on.          |
|                                                                             |
| Another difference is that whereas until now I have been the only subject   |
| matter expert in my organisation, at EFF I will be working closely with a   |
| team, including not only lawyers, activists and policy experts, but also    |
| technologists, and those rare birds who are a combination of all of these   |
| (as I like to consider I am).                                               |
|                                                                             |
| Third, there is a more subtle difference of approach, whereby the broader   |
| consumer movement (of which I have been a part) is more likely to advocate  |
| for regulatory solutions to policy problems, whereas my perception (though  |
| not yet from the inside) is that EFF tends to advocate for user             |
| empowerment through freedom-enhancing technologies and open innovation.     |
|                                                                             |
| Does this mean that I've been living a lie for the past six years, in       |
| advocating for strong regulation of technology companies, and               |
| strengthening of government participation in multi-stakeholder governance   |
| arrangements?  Or, conversely, does it mean that I'll be fighting against   |
| libertarian colleagues at EFF, to seek their agreement to regulatory        |
| solutions?                                                                  |
|                                                                             |
| Actually neither of these. Consumer advocates do believe, and I concur,     |
| that where market failures occur, regulation is one of the necessary tools  |
| that we have to address these. In that sense, I'm no libertarian - but      |
| then, there are plenty of other EFF staff who aren't either (it sounds as   |
| though I'm entering a workplace where robust debate is the norm).           |
|                                                                             |
| On the other hand, I think (and have expressed before) that the broader     |
| consumer movement could do more than it does to support non-regulatory      |
| mechanisms for the empowerment of consumers, such as promoting the use of   |
| free and open source software. I have also tended to endorse the use of     |
| soft law (such as guidelines and recommendations), where possible           |
| developed using a multi-stakeholder approach, rather direct regulatory      |
| intervention.                                                               |
|                                                                             |
| Finally, some may be surprised that I am heading into a Global North        |
| organisation, when I have spent much of my time advocating for the rights   |
| of consumers from the Global South. But indeed, I will continue to be       |
| doing exactly that. I'll be part of EFF's international team, and my focus  |
| will therefore continue to be very much on improving access to knowledge    |
| and upholding digital rights worldwide, including for the world's most      |
| disadvantaged citizens.                                                     |
|                                                                             |
| I am aware of the talk (though usually from industry or government          |
| representatives!) that EFF is seen as extremist and not representative of   |
| the views of ordinary consumers. Whilst EFF doesn't claim to be             |
| representative of anyone but its members, I don't accept claims that its    |
| demands are extreme. On the contrary, I have always been impressed with     |
| how impeccably researched its positions are.                                |
|                                                                             |
| Although its outreach activities do speak to a popular audience (and it is  |
| exceptionally good at this), it has never to my knowledge succumbed to the  |
| temptation that too many lesser digital rights organisations have, to       |
| sacrifice accuracy for the sake of making a splash in social media. For     |
| me, that is extremely important and one of the reasons why I accepted the   |
| job.                                                                        |
|                                                                             |
| I'm also really glad that joining EFF won't mean that I'll have to abandon  |
| Best Bits, which is the civil society network on Internet governance and    |
| Internet rights that I helped form while at Consumers International. EFF    |
| has confirmed its support for Best Bits, although as indicated above its    |
| interest is in advancing substative Internet rights, rather than in         |
| debating the institutional arrangements for doing so.                       |
|                                                                             |
| But despite my long-time admiration for EFF, it still wasn't by any means   |
| an easy decision. To accept this offer required me to turn down another     |
| good offer, from an organisation that is in some ways very different, but   |
| which I also admire very much indeed. There were a number of reasons why I  |
| turned that offer down, none of which had anything to do with the quality   |
| of the organisation or the role, or my admiration for its work.             |
|                                                                             |
| So overall, I am insanely excited about joining EFF and I can't wait to     |
| get started this May!                                                       |
|                                                                             |
+---------------------| posted 1256 days ago via news | reply (2 comments) |--+
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