Seth Finkelstein - EFF 2001 Pioneer Award

I'm honored. In March 2001, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) named me a Pioneer of The Electronic Frontier :


Ennis, Finkelstein, and Perrin Presented Awards at EFF's Tenth Annual Pioneer Awards Ceremony
Seth Finkelstein - Anti-censorship activist and programmer Seth Finkelstein spent hundreds of unpaid and uncredited hours over several years to decrypt and expose to public scrutiny the secret contents of the most popular censorware blacklists. Seth has been active in raising the level of public awareness about the dangers that Internet content blocking software and rating/labeling schemes pose to freedom of communication. His work has armed many with information of great assistance in the fight against government mandated use of these systems.

I was profiled in the New York Times of July 19, 2001! See Cracking the Code Of Online Censorship (discussing my decryption work and anticensorware investigations ).

Here's the fine nominations which made this all possible:

James S. Tyre's revelations to the Censorware Project about my work
"Why has Seth been so secretive? He can explain better than I, but in a nutshell, think about how he's been flamed by Brock [Meeks] and Declan [McCullagh] over the years, despite what they knew. And yes, think even more about how brutal [Mike] Godwin has been on Seth, and then know that Godwin has known this little secret from day one, ...
... [Censorware Project] never would have existed without Seth's (undisclosed) involvement."
James S. Tyre
"This is something into which Seth has invested hundreds, more likely thousands of hours of his time, working in the background, when he just as easily could have been using his considerable skills for more lucrative ventures. ... Seth was the first to get inside of censorware, and most of what we now know about it is directly traceable to his efforts."
Robert Chatelle and James D'Entremont (Boston Coalition for Freedom of Expression)
"Thus we were delighted to find that Seth not only recognized the dangers of such schemes ... but could explain these dangers more intelligently and persuasively than anyone we had previously encountered."
Bennett Haselton (Peacefire )
"It is not an exaggeration to say that the vast body of evidence criticizing blocking software, simply would not be the same without Seth's work. It is a minor miracle when someone with Seth's earning potential gives so much of his time to a necessary cause for free, especially considering that he had to remain anonymous while others such as Declan McCullagh and Brock Meeks (not to mention Peacefire) took the bulk of the credit."
Irene Graham ( )
"In summary, Seth has not only raised the level of public awareness about the dangers of censorware and rating/labelling schemes to freedom of communication via his own work, he has also armed other free speech activists with relevant knowledge and information. Seth was one of the first, probably the first, to start doing so, often in the face of considerable criticism from people who apparently did not share his knowledge and vision."
Jamie McCarthy
"Seth even contributed the lion's share of this work - the cracking of encrypted blacklists - anonymously. Unknown even to most of us who worked side-by-side with him in the Censorware Project, he had been the source who had made most of our work possible."
Eric Grimm
"If the criterion for selection of EFF Pioneer Award winners is the extent to which nominees have worked tirelessly and voluntarily to "[make] a substantial contribution to the health, growth, accessibility, [and] freedom of computer-based communications," then I can think of no person more deserving of this year's award than Seth Finkelstein."
Carl Kadie (Computers and Academic Freedom )
"What many have come to learn, however, is that this theory and practice are miles apart. How did we learn this? From the pioneering work of Seth Finkelstein."
Jonathan Wallace (Ethical Spectacle )
"... he did all the work and I got the glory for writing it up. ... Seth did tireless and brilliant work after that to determine what censorware products really blocked. Seth is one of the heroes of Internet free speech; one of those rare people who do the work despite the fact that they know they will receive no credit."
Peter Junger (law professor, Case Western Reserve University )
"And I was also aware of how unfairly he was attacked by some of those who were challenging the CDA and resented any attention being paid to other, equally important issues. But I was not aware ... of all the technical expertise and effort that Seth brought to the task of exposing the fraudulent claims that are made for such filtering programs. "
Chris Hansen (ACLU )
"... I did not know the extent of Mr. Finkelstein's personal involvement in this process. I did know that the information we received from the Project was consistently reliable and extremely helpful. Now that I have learned the specifics of Mr. Finkelstein's work, I think an award to him for that work, and his long resistance to internet censorship, is well deserved."
Andrew Greenberg
"From the trenches, Seth himself provided the bulk of evidence and information that was necessary to push back such automated government censorship."
Michael Sims (later he disowned it after he destroyed the old website of Censorware Project - search for "shut down" , but here for completeness)

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