San Francisco – The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is honored to announce the winners of its 2019 Pioneer Awards: trailblazing tech scholar danah boyd, groundbreaking cyberpunk author William Gibson, and the influential surveillance-fighting group Oakland Privacy. The ceremony will be held September 12th in San Francisco.
The keynote speaker for this year’s awards will be “Savage Builds” and Tested.com star—and all-around advocate for makers—Adam Savage. Tickets for the Pioneer Awards are $65 for current EFF members, or $75 for non-members.
danah boyd has consistently been one of the world’s smartest researchers, thinkers, and writers about how technology impacts society, especially for teens and young people. Currently, boyd is focused on detecting and mitigating vulnerabilities in sociotechnical systems. To better understand these vulnerabilities, boyd has been examining the challenges surrounding the 2020 U.S. Census. In 2013, boyd created Data & Society, an independent nonprofit research institute that is committed to identifying thorny problems at the intersection of technology, culture, and community, and advances understanding of the implications of data technologies and automation. danah’s most recent books—“It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens” and “Participatory Culture in a Networked Age”—examine the intersection of everyday life and social media, and have helped families around the world navigate technologies like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram. In addition to her work as a partner researcher at Data & Society, boyd is also Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research and a Visiting Professor at New York University.
William Gibson coined the term “cyberspace.” Neuromancer, his first novel, won the Hugo Award, the Nebula Award, and the Philip K. Dick Award in 1984, and is a groundbreaking portrayal of an unforgiving high-tech future with heroes that are thoroughly flawed human beings who nonetheless resist corporate power by seizing the means of computation. His work presents an incisive look at how technology shapes identity, with sharp, prescient depictions of everything from reality TV to wearable computers. Gibson's canon includes such New York Times bestsellers as the Sprawl trilogy, the Bridge trilogy, the Blue Ant trilogy, and The Peripheral. Gibson’s newest novel, Agency, will be published in January of 2020.
Oakland Privacy is the group behind many influential anti-surveillance fights in Oakland, California and beyond. Oakland Privacy was born in 2013 when activists discovered a Homeland Security project called the Domain Awareness Center (DAC). DAC was meant to be an Oakland-wide surveillance gauntlet—with cameras, microphones, license plate readers—and a local data center to put it all together. But after Oakland Privacy led a ten-month campaign of opposition, the DAC was finally cancelled. Later, Oakland Privacy was one of the primary organizations behind the Oakland City Council’s creation of the first municipal privacy commission in the country, and then continued to be instrumental in bolstering opposition to surveillance around the San Francisco Bay Area and across the United States. For example, Oakland Privacy helped develop a comprehensive surveillance transparency regulatory law mandating use policies, civil rights impact reports, and annual audits, and pushed for its passage in multiple jurisdictions. The model is now in use in three Bay Area cities and other jurisdictions like Seattle, Nashville, and Cambridge, Massachusetts. Most recently, Oakland Privacy successfully worked to ban facial recognition in San Francisco and Oakland—two of the three cities in the country to enact such a ban.
The Pioneer Award winners will be awarded a “Barlow,” a statuette named after EFF’s late co-founder John Perry Barlow and the indelible mark he left on digital rights.
“John Perry Barlow knew that you had to visualize the future of technology—both the promise and the perils—in order to create the world we want. All of our winners this year have done just that,” said EFF Executive Director Cindy Cohn. “I’m so proud to be honoring these bold thinkers and brave activists.”
Awarded every year since 1992, EFF’s Pioneer Awards recognize the leaders who are extending freedom and innovation on the electronic frontier. Previous honorees have included Vint Cerf, Mitchell Baker and the Mozilla Foundation, Aaron Swartz, and Chelsea Manning.
Sponsors of the 2019 Pioneer Awards include Dropbox, O'Reilly Media, Matthew Prince, Medium, Ridder, Costa & Johnston LLP, and Ron Reed.
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