For thirty years, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has opened nominations to the public to recognize leaders on the electronic frontier who are extending freedom and innovation in technology. EFF’s annual Pioneer Award Ceremony celebrated the longtime stalwarts working on behalf of technology users, both in the public eye and behind the scenes.
This year, we’re taking a new step to recognize the ways in which the digital world has fused with modern life. We invite you to celebrate the first annual EFF Awards! The celebration will include drinks, bytes, and excellent company. Join us!
We are proud to present awards to this year's winners:
Alaa Abd El-Fattah: EFF Award for Democratic Reform Advocacy
Digital Defense Fund: EFF Award for Civil Rights Technology
Kyle Wiens: EFF Award for Right to Repair Advocacy
Thursday, November 10th, 2022
6 PM to 10 PM Pacific
The Regency Lodge
1290 Sutter Street, San Francisco, CA
$65 for current EFF members • $75 for general admission
6 PM Reception
7 PM Award Ceremony
8:30 PM Post-event Mingling
Special thanks to our sponsors: Dropbox; Electric Capital; No Starch Press; Ridder, Costa & Johnstone LLP; and Ron Reed for supporting EFF and the 2022 EFF Awards.
Sponsorships ensure EFF can continue hosting events like this—which are important to maintaining a sense of community among digital rights supporters. If you or your company are interested in learning more about sponsoring EFF events, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
More About the 2022 EFF Award Winners
Alaa Abd El-Fattah
Alaa Abd El-Fattah, 40, is an Egyptian-British blogger, software developer, political activist, and perhaps the most high-profile political prisoner in Egypt if not the entire Arab world.
He was instrumental to the creation of the Arab blogger and techie networks, he ran one of Egypt's longest-running and most-celebrated blogs, and co-founded a trailblazing Egyptian blog aggregator. In 2005, his Manalaa blog won the Special Reporters Without Borders Award in Deutsche Welle's Best of Blogs competition.
Though his arrests for activism date back to 2006, he has been imprisoned by the Egyptian government for all but a few months since the 2013 coup d’etat. He has been repeatedly arrested for alleged crimes such as organizing protests without authorization; most recently he was sentenced in December 2021 to five years in prison for sharing a Facebook post about human rights violations in prison. He began a hunger strike in April 2022, and is reported to be in failing health.
An anthology of his writing—including some pieces smuggled out from jail—was translated into English by anonymous supporters and published in 2021 as You Have Not Yet Been Defeated. A fierce champion of free expression, an independent judiciary, and government accountability–even at immense personal cost–he still advocates for democratic reforms, tech freedoms, and civil and human rights in Egypt and elsewhere.
“What needs to happen is a complete change in the order of things,” he told RightsCon in 2011, “so that we are making these amazing products, and we’re making a living, but we’re not trying to monopolize, and we’re not trying to control the internet, and we’re not trying to control our users, and we’re not complicit with governments.”
Digital Defense Fund
Digital Defense Fund was launched in 2017 to meet the abortion rights movement’s increased need for security and technology resources after the 2016 election. This “multidisciplinary team of organizers, engineers, designers, abortion fund and practical support volunteers” provides digital security and technology support to abortion rights and provider organizations as well as individual organizers.
“DDF’s commitment to building resources for a thriving, resilient, growing abortion access movement has strengthened the field’s transition to digital strategies,” said Cynthia Conti-Cook, a technology fellow working with the Ford Foundation’s Gender, Racial, and Ethnic Justice team. “Its generous contributions and collaborations with other movements makes DDF so much more than an abortion access digital services organization—it has become a model for embedding movement-aligned technical expertise and a platform for fostering cross-movement learning and strategies.”
The fund’s staff provides digital security evaluations, conducts staff training, maintains a library of go-to resources on reproductive justice and digital privacy, and builds software for abortion access organizations.
DDF’s mission to leverage technology to defend and secure access to abortion became even more crucial with this year’s U.S. Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, which ended the half-century of abortion rights protected under Roe v. Wade. Despite this setback and the ensuing proliferation of state abortion bans, DDF continues to pursue its vision of “a future where technology and innovation support secure, autonomous reproductive decisions, free from stigma.”
“I don’t think as a culture we recognize, respect, or take care of our digital selves,” DDF Director Kate Bertash tweeted in July. “The me that lives in my machines and across cloud servers of our online spaces is the me that most interacts with the wider world. She deserves as much privacy and protection as physical me.”
Kyle Wiens, 38, is CEO and co-founder of iFixit and a godfather of the Right to Repair movement who has empowered millions of people to fix their own goods, keep jobs, and reduce waste, while also helping to win major exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
Wiens and Luke Soules launched iFixit in 2003 in their dorm room at California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo, posting a step-by-step repair guide online for Wiens’ broken laptop. As manufacturers used legal threats to limit access to repair manuals, they worked with their rapidly growing community to create homemade step-by-step illustrated repair guides of their own. Today, iFixit is a collaborative effort spanning thousands of fixers, repair seekers, and translators that provides over 80,000 free open-source repair guides for many thousands of devices. The company takes apart and rates products for ease of repairability, inspiring labeling regulations in Europe that are shaping new product designs.
Starting in 2012, Wiens joined with EFF and other organizations to successfully petition the U.S. Copyright Office for sweeping Right to Repair reforms including the rights to repair medical equipment, unlock phones, repair vehicles and farm equipment by modifying their software, and have third parties perform repairs on an owner’s behalf. In the latest round, the Copyright Office granted a broad exemption for repair of smartphones, home appliances, or home systems. Wiens also has been a stalwart crusader for congressional action to clarify and codify fixers’ and consumers’ rights.
Through it all, Wiens has tirelessly championed the Right to Repair not only as a basic digital freedom, but also as a job creator for countless fixers and a sustainable environmental imperative that keeps tons of e-waste out of landfills. “Our planet is impacted by consumption to a degree that no one expected and few understand,” he says. “I’m trying to get a handle on it.”
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