For its 2012 Pioneer Awards, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is recognizing three hackers and internet activists for their efforts in internet freedom. Andrew (bunnie) Huang, anti-ACTA activist Jérémie Zimmermann, and the Tor Project organization will be given Pioneer Awards on September 20 at Project One Gallery in San Francisco. According to EFF, the founding developer of WordPress, Matt Mullenweg, will be the keynote speaker.
This recognition is important because by and large the public perception of hackers or “hacktivists,” shaped as it is by pandering and hysterical politicians and the sensationalist mainstream media, is often a negative one. Politicians and journalists fixate on stolen data but rarely emphasize the politics or philosophy behind the hack; how it might well be necessary in a civilization that is heading more and more towards secrecy rather than open, honest government and capitalism.
“Every year, our Pioneer Awards celebrate those who have made a difference for digital freedom. We are extraordinarily proud of this year’s winners and their unflagging dedication to protecting the rights of technology users around the world,” said EFF Executive Director Shari Steele. “Whether it’s your right to reverse engineer a game console, or to avoid the interference of overbroad IP enforcement, or to block websites or governments from tracking your every online move, these winners are working hard to protect our online freedom. We’re honored they will be at our annual awards ceremony on September 20.”
Andrew (bunnie) Huang is an activist known for his work in open hardware, contributing original open designs and liberating closed hardware designs. Huang’s book on reverse engineering, “Hacking the Xbox,” is a widely respected tool for hardware hackers.
As EFF notes, “Huang has… released an open implementation of a man-in-the-middle attack on HDCP – enabling overlays on encrypted video without circumventing access controls. As part of his long-term advocacy for users’ rights, Huang worked with EFF to help encourage more than 25,000 people to ask the Copyright Office for the right to install the software of their choice on their smartphones, tablets, and video game consoles.” He also serves as a MIT Media Lab Research Affiliate and a technical advisor for several hardware startups and MAKE magazine, and he” shares his experiences manufacturing hardware in China through his blog.”
Jérémie Zimmermann is the co-founder of the truly awesome website La Quadrature du Net (check it out), a French internet freedom advocacy group. Zimmermann has fought against the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), an internet regulation treaty that D&T has covered extensively. ACTA was defeated in the European Parliament and, certainly, Zimmermann was instrumental in raising awareness about the issue in Europe. According to EFF, “Zimmermann has also worked on numerous other technology policy topics, including freedom of expression, copyright, regulation of telecommunications, and online privacy.”
Lastly, the Tor Project organization will be receiving a Pioneer Award for their work in providing free software to internet users, hacktivists and whistleblowers who require anonymous circumvention of state internet censorship. Tor Relays, which are described as onion-like layers of anonymization, allow a message to go from one user to another without being surveilled. EFF praises Tor for their work in enabling “software developers to create new communication tools with built-in privacy features.”
Now, spread the word about these pro-internet freedom individuals.