With an open letter addressed to members of the Board of Directors of the Global Network Initiative (GNI), the Electronic Frontiers Foundation (EFF) has officially resigned its membership from the non-governmental organization.
Established in 2008, GNI’s goals are the prevention of Internet censorship and the protection of the Internet privacy rights of individuals, and it is supported by a number of academics, educational organizations, civil society organizations, and companies.
“Within confidential GNI discussions, human rights experts are expected to share with companies the challenges that vulnerable groups face worldwide. Likewise, companies are expected to be frank in how their systems can both protect users’ rights and the limits they face in doing so. When GNI produces reports and commentary, all of its members should be able to stand by what is said,” pointed out EFF’s Danny O’Brien and Jillian C. York.
Following the recent NSA revelations, they say, “it has become clear that affected companies are unable even to talk about secret orders they have received from the US government.”
“As a result, EFF longer no believes we can sign our name onto joint statements that rely on shared knowledge of the security of company products or their internal processes,” the said, adding that until serious reforms of the US surveillance programs are in place, they “no longer feel comfortable participating in the GNI process when we are not privy to the serious compromises GNI corporate members may be forced to make”, nor do they “currently believe that audits of corporate practice, no matter how independent, will uncover the insecurities produced by the US government’s—and potentially other governments’—behavior when operating clandestinely in the name of national security.”
They concluded by saying that the EFF will continue to share information and work with GNI and its member organizations, and that they hope they can continue to work together to protect Internet users’ rights.