This month, EFF will dedicate the annual Pioneer Awards Ceremony to Internet visionary, Grateful Dead lyricist, and EFF co-founder John Perry Barlow who left the analog world on February 7, 2018. Barlow’s ideas extended to fields as diverse as fighting mass surveillance, opposing censorship online, and copyright reform. His dedication to online freedom led to a decades-long movement of Internet activism that shows no sign of stopping. Henceforth, the Pioneer Award will be known as the “Barlow” in recognition of the spirit that ignited EFF and left an indelible mark on this connected world.

Since 1992, The Electronic Frontier Foundation has presented our annual Pioneer Awards to recognize leaders on the electronic frontier who are extending freedom and innovation for the public good. The awards celebrate those whose contributions have substantially enhanced the health, growth, accessibility, or freedom of computer-based communications. Their contributions may be technical, social, legal, academic, economic, or cultural. See the previous Pioneer Award winners.

On September 27, we will celebrate the work of our 2018 Pioneer Awards Ceremony honorees:

Stephanie Lenz

Stephanie Lenz is the managing editor and a founder of Toasted Cheese, one of the earliest exclusively-online literary journals. Her 29-second video of her children playing and dancing to “Let’s Go Crazy” in early 2007 became the subject of a DMCA takedown notice sent to YouTube by Universal Music Group, which claimed copyright infringement. With the assistance of EFF, she sued UMG for the bogus claim. After more than 10 years of litigation, the case finally ended, with wins along the way for the consideration of fair use by rights holders and establishing fair use as an affirmative public right. She lives in western Pennsylvania with her husband Patrick and two children, Zoë and Holden.

Joe McNamee

Joe McNamee is Executive Director of European Digital Rights, Europe’s umbrella organisation for digital rights groups, both European and global. Joe joined EDRi in 2009, at a time when there were no digital rights advocacy groups based in Brussels, despite the importance of EU decision-making for digital rights both in Europe and globally. During the nine years since then EDRi has grown to become an established part of digital rights policy-making and from having no presence to having a vibrant office with nine team members. In the nine years since Joe joined EDRi, the organisation has campaigned for, among many other things, a comprehensive data protection framework, the “General Data Protection Regulation” and effective net neutrality legislation. Prior to joining EDRi, Joe worked for eleven years working on internet policy, including for the European Internet Services Providers Association. He started his internet career working in CompuServe UK in 1995.

Sarah T. Roberts

Sarah T. Roberts coined the term “commercial content moderation” (CCM), and her research has been key to understanding how social media companies farm out content takedown decisions to low-wage laborers globally. Roberts has spent the past eight years identifying, describing, and documenting how people from Mountain View to Manila screen user-generated Internet content to see if it meets various platforms’ often opaque guidelines, demonstrating the effect that this work has on free expression as well as the on the mental and physical health of the screeners. Currently a researcher and Assistant Professor in the Department of Information Studies at UCLA, Roberts is preparing a monograph for Yale University Press based on her findings due to be published in 2019. She is also the recipient of a 2018 Carnegie Fellowship to support her ongoing work.

The keynote speaker for this year’s awards will be one of Barlow’s many friends, Daniel Ellsberg. Ellsberg is known for his years of work advocating for government transparency, including his efforts towards releasing the Pentagon Papers. Ellsberg and Barlow also co-founded the Freedom of the Press Foundation.

Please join us at 6 pm at Delancey Street Town Hall in San Francisco, to celebrate the life of John Perry Barlow, as well as honor our three astounding Barlow recipients!

Register Now

Tickets are $65 for current EFF members and $75 for general admission.

Special thanks to Airbnb, Anonyome Labs, Dropbox, and Ron Reed for supporting EFF and the 2018 Pioneer Awards ceremony. If you or your company are interested in learning more about sponsorship, please contact