Social network Path apologizes in privacy flap

Dear Hollywood: An Open Letter to the Hardworking Men and Women in the Entertainment Industries

XO’s Column, September Newsletter

XO’s Corner

Believe it or not, one of my favourite parts of being involved in an SFI Chapter is our Humanitarian missions. Being from San Francisco, activism and charity work is just another part of life for me. That’s why I wanted to use this monthly column to share with you the charities and non-profit organizations that are very dear to my heart.

EFFThis month, I want to give you a history lesson on the birth of the non-profit organization that I’ve dedicated a great deal of time, resources and passion towards: The Electronic Frontier Foundation. Come back with me in history, the date is March 1st 1990 at the offices of Steve Jackson Games when without warning, a force of armed Secret Service agents accompanied by Austin police and one civilian “expert” from the phone company.

Steve Jackson Games vs The Secret ServiceThe Secret Service agents searched for computer equipment in both the home of Loyd Blankenship (writer of GURPS Cyberpunk) and the offices of Steve Jackson Games. Many pieces of equipment were seized, including four computers, two laser printers, some loose hard disks and a great deal of assorted hardware. One of the computers was the one running the Illuminati BBS. The only computers taken were those that held GURPS Cyberpunk files, but agents did a great deal of damage to other assets in the warehouses.

Why were they raided you ask? That would remain a question unanswered to Steve and Loyd until October 21st 1990, when they finally got a copy of the warrant affidavit that had been sealed by the Secret Service’s request. The answer was guilt by association, you see Loyd Blankenship was known in hacking circles as “+++The Mentor+++” author of the famous “Hacker Manifesto” originally written January 8th 1986 for popular underground ezine “Phrack.” Loyd had run a BBS from his home called The Phoenix Project, which he used to distribute Phrack.

In response to to the search and seizure on Steve Jackson Games by the US Secret Service, three incredible men got together in July of 1990 to form the Electronic Frontier Foundation. John Perry Barlow, Mitch Kapor and John Gilmore banded together to form the EFF with a mission dedicated to the preservation of Constitutional rights of computer users everywhere. The EFF provided the financial backing that made it all possible for Steve Jackson games to file suit against the Secret Service.

It was then in 1993 when Steve Jackson Games vs. The Secret Service finally game to trial and they won. The judge gave the Secret Service a lecture of a lifetime and awarded Steve Jackson games over $50,000 in damages as well as over $250,000 in attorney’s fees. This epic win for Steve Jackson Games and the EFF was only the first of many victories the EFF would gain in the protection of our Digital Rights.

tl;dr Watch Adam Savage tell this story and more: Part 1 and Part 2

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