Today, a group of free expression advocates and journalists are launching the Freedom of the Press Foundation to promote aggressive, public interest journalism that takes aim at excessive government secrecy. Its goal is to crowd-fund donations for a variety of organizations that work to expose government mismanagement, corruption, and law breaking. EFF is proud to serve as legal counsel for this new nonprofit, which will allow the public to support transparency journalism through funding "bundles."
As part of EFF’s overall focus on the role of online intermediaries in facilitating and protecting free speech online, we’ve long noted that pressure on payment processors can result in censorship that is just as effective as direct government censorship. And of course the loss of payment processors also hurts the people around the world who want to exercise their free speech rights to donate to these organizations. Part of the Freedom of the Press Foundation’s mission is to serve as a bulwark against this kind of payment censorship by pooling financial support for a range of organizations that engage in journalism and publishing on transparency issues, from whistleblowers to websites to investigators.
Of course Exhibit A in the case against payment censorship has been the shameful economic blockade of Wikileaks, where the intermediaries that were assisting people in giving money to Wikileaks refused to do business with them, based in part on not-so-veiled threats from members of Congress. As we said at the time:
Let's be clear — in the United States, at least, WikiLeaks has a fundamental right to publish truthful political information. And equally important, Internet users have a fundamental right to read that information and voice their opinions about it.
Thus, it’s no surprise that Wikileaks is in the first bundle that the Freedom of the Press Foundation has put together. But the goal of the organization is much broader – to nuture and support transparency journalism in its various forms around the world. They're taking donations to three more great transparency journalism organizations as well—The National Security Archive, MuckRock, and The UpTake—and in the coming months will be choosing a variety of other worthy organizations trying to poke holes in the bloated and broken US secrecy system as well as similarly broken systems around the world. As co-founder Daniel Ellsberg said, "Let a thousand flowers bloom."
Note: The Freedom of the Press Foundation includes one EFF board member and a few staffers in their personal capacities, but it is not part of EFF or an EFF project. Instead, EFF is serving as legal counsel.