EFF is pleased to welcome Shahid Buttar to the activism team, where he will direct EFF's work supporting grassroots and student advocacy. Shahid is a constitutional lawyer focused on the intersection of community organizing and policy reform as a lever to shift legal norms. He comes to EFF with deep roots in communities across the country organizing in various ways to combat mass surveillance.
Shahid’s skills and experience will enhance EFF’s outreach efforts, helping us inspire supporters in local communities across the country. He’ll also serve as a resource for grassroots organizations and student groups looking for ways to defend and assert their rights.
EFF is especially interested in nurturing local and college student groups focusing on technology policy. We hope to encourage, help, and connect with groups that want to host surveillance discussion groups, or crypto-parties at local hacker spaces, or advocate for open access rules on campuses, or any number of actions. However your community takes action, if you’re interested in working with EFF on a local event in your area, email Shahid at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shahid’s experience makes him ideally suited to strategically expand EFF’s outreach efforts. He received his J.D. from Stanford Law School in 2003, where he served as executive editor of the Stanford Environmental Law Journal and spent a semester working as Larry Lessig’s teaching assistant for constitutional law. Directly out of law school, he went into private practice, where he organized a 2004 lawsuit seeking marriage equality for same-sex couples in New York state and represented the campaign finance reform community in a successful appeal before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
Shahid’s heart has always been in advocacy. He left private practice to build the communications team at the American Constitution Society for Law & Policy. He went on to found the program to combat racial & religious profiling at Muslim Advocates, where he launched a FOIA case seeking a still secret FBI policy governing the undercover infiltration of organizing and activist groups.
From 2009 to 2015, Shahid led the Bill of Rights Defense Committee (BORDC) as Executive Director. His work at BORDC included advising local, state, and federal policymakers, journalists, and grassroots organizers about civil liberties and civil rights issues encompassing mass surveillance, targeted surveillance, and law enforcement profiling according to race, religion, and national origin.
Shahid has been a powerful voice for accountable government, transparency, and justice. His comments have appeared in news outlets including The Washington Post, The New York Times, USA Today, FOX News, CNN, Agence-France Presse, Huffington Post, and Democracy Now!. In February 2015, video of his arrest in the U.S. Senate went viral after he posed uncomfortable questions at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in which Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testified.
As an organizer, Shahid focuses on connecting people across diverse ideologies and identities, based on their shared concerns about how national security and law enforcement agencies erode civil liberties and the rule of law. He has been active in the peace, Occupy, and Black Lives Matter movements on both coasts and in the Midwest.
Outside his work with EFF, Shahid’s commentary often explores novel arguments supporting social movements. For instance, he has publicly criticized police militarization as both constitutionally offensive, as well as rooted in CIA corruption. His previous publications include national security and foreign policy recommendations, as well as articles exploring the intersection of antitrust principles and tax policy.
Creatively, Shahid DJs and produces electronic music, kicks rhymes, and writes poetry in what he describes as his “spare time.” His work as an artist has taken him around the world, and before audiences as large as 50,000. He’s been making music, building communities, and fighting for justice for 20 years while based in Chicago, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Washington DC.
We are very excited to have him at EFF!