This page collects information on EFF Staffers and board members who are no longer among the living. We cherish their memories, and continue their struggle for a better world.
John Perry Barlow, a poet and internet philosopher, was a co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and a member of our Board of Directors from 1990 until his death in 2018. It is no exaggeration to say that major parts of the Internet we all know and love today exist and thrive because of Barlow’s vision and leadership.
While Barlow knew that new technology could create and empower evil as much as it could create and empower good, he made a conscious decision to focus on the latter. His "Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace" was just one of the many places he articulated the vision of the internet that has become his legacy: as a fundamental place of freedom and connection where voices long-silenced can find an audience.
Peter Eckersley joined EFF as a staff technologist in 2006, and worked at EFF for over a dozen years, eventually holding the role of EFF’s Chief Computer Scientist. Peter was instrumental in implementing the vision of what a public interest technologist could be—not only as an advisor that ensured EFF’s legal and activist work was technically smart and correct, but as a builder of technologies that spur more security and freedom online, while ensuring that the internet serves everyone.
Peter played a central role in many groundbreaking projects to create free, open source tools that protect the privacy of users’ internet experience by encrypting communications between web servers and users. Peter’s work at EFF included privacy and security projects such as Panopticlick, HTTPS Everywhere, Switzerland, Certbot, Privacy Badger, the SSL Observatory, and Let’s Encrypt. Let’s Encrypt fostered the web’s transition from non-secure HTTP connections to the more secure HTTPS, so websites could offer secure connections to their users and protect them from network-based threats. By 2017 it had issued 100 million certificates; by 2021, about 90% of all web page visits use HTTPS. As of today it has issued over a billion certificates to over 280 million websites. Peter left EFF in 2018 and founded AI Objectives Institute, to focus on studying and calling attention to the malicious use of artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Peter was a recognizable figure throughout San Francisco—he had a unique fashion sense, with regularly rolled up pants and striped socks (one year we made special red EFF-logo socks for the entire staff to honor his style), and he was well known as a cycling advocate who made sure bike parking at the EFF office was secure and useful. He had the gift of being able to widen the aperture of any problem, giving a perspective that could help see patterns and options that were previously invisible. Peter’s vision, audacity, and commitment made the web, and the world, a better place.
Elliot Harmon joined EFF in 2015 and served as EFF's Activism Director from 2018-2020. He was a senior member of EFF's leadership team, where he was always a thoughtful and powerful voice for EFF's mission and how to better structure the organization to serve that mission as it grew.
In 2021, due to his battle with melanoma, Elliot stepped back from the rigors of being the Activism Director but, ever incapable of not working, continued on at EFF as a Senior Activist. He advocated for free speech and the right to innovate online, with particular emphases on patents, copyright, open access, and Section 230. Elliot's leadership was on display often during his time at EFF, as he led campaigns protecting net neutrality, fighting SESTA-FOSTA, and defending the .org domain from a takeover by private equity, not to mention his regular battles against patent trolls and for open access to research.
Before coming to EFF, Elliot served as Director of Communications at Creative Commons, an organization that helps creators share their works with the public via open copyright licenses. Before that, he worked as a writer and curator for TechSoup, a technology resource for the nonprofit community. He was granted degrees from the University of South Dakota and the California College of the Arts.
Elliot was a mentor to many and his contribution to civil society will continue on in the people he inspired.
Update: We lost our dear friend Jim Tyre in March 2020. Please see our tribute to Jim here.
Jim Tyre has been a practicing attorney since 1978, focusing primarily on speech issues. Jim has worked closely with EFF on a wide variety of matters, including Universal City Studios v. Reimerdes, Felten v. RIAA, Auerbach v. ICANN, as well as Jewel v. NSA and First Unitarian Church v. NSA, EFF's cases against the NSA and others on account of the NSA's unlawful domestic spying programs.
Jim is a co-founder of The Censorware Project, which began studying and criticizing censorware in 1997. In 2003, he testified before the Copyright Office, Library of Congress in support of the censorware exemption to the circumvention prohibition of Section 1201(a)(1) of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. That exemption was one of four granted in the triennial rulemaking proceedings. Jim received his A.B. from Dartmouth College and his J.D. from Loyola Law School Los Angeles.