Technology design can maximize or decimate our basic rights to free speech, privacy, property ownership, and creative thought. Earlier this month, EFF board members discussed these societal impacts in a panel at Carnegie Mellon: "Architecture is Policy."
The rights and abilities that you have with a particular technology depends on how it's built. That's why EFF worked with concerned authors to intervene in the Google Books settlement. The way Google's massive digital library/bookstore is built will affect how everyone uses digital books in the future. Other topics tackled by the panel in "Architecture is Policy" include the ad-hoc early days of the Internet, and the difficult privacy implications of mobile computing.
For those of you who could not be in Pittsburgh, the full video of the talk is up on EFF's YouTube page and embedded below.