Navigation: Return to: Seth Finkelstein - EFF 2001 Pioneer Award or Anticensorware Investigations

Seth Finkelstein's EFF Pioneer Award - Andrew Greenberg's nomination

From: [Andrew Greenberg]
Date: Wed, 15 Mar 2000 14:37:00 -0500
Subject: EFF Pioneer Award Nomination

Please accept my nomination of Seth Finkelstein for an EFF Pioneer Award. Mr. Finkelstein's telephone number is [SF: redacted]. His email is sethf[at-sign]

I am a former computer game designer and publisher of entertainment software. My credits include Wizardry, which inducted into the Computer Gaming World Hall of Fame, and which was recently identified by PC Magazine as one of the 10 Most Influential Games of All-Time. Since leaving the business ten years ago, I have been a practicing attorney in Tampa, Florida, specializing in Intellectual Property and Technology Law. I am chairman of The Florida Bar Computer Law Committee, and have dedicated many pro bono hours in the interest of free speech activism.

In the mid-90's, I joined the EFF and others who embraced the availability of censorware-based private censorship as a talking point while contesting the merits of legislation that would censor content on the Internet. It was on this issue that I first met Mr. Finkelstein. We sparred quite fiercely in various fora on the merits of these questions, in particular as to whether the technology for private censorship might ultimately be used as a vehicle for government-enforced censorship. And from these colloquys, I believe we have manged to teach each other a great deal.

What I did not know at the time was how deep was his personal involvement with developing the facts of these issues.

Mr. Finkelstein served as a cofounder of The Censorware Project, a group which has provided substantial resources and data used by those battling government use of censorware. I have only recently discovered, that his interest and involvement runs far deeper than promoting a civil liberties position. From the trenches, Seth himself provided the bulk of evidence and information that was necessary to push back such automated government censorship.

I am now informed that Mr. Finkelstein was the sole source of material used in Meeks and McCullagh's "Keys to the Kingdom" dispatch, and Mr. McCullag's time magazine article. It was Seth who decrypted the blacklists of CYBERSitter, SurfWatch and Cyber Patrol, and obtained the Net Nanny list. Primarily because of his work, we now know these lists to ironically, but not surprisingly, censor among other things, works advocating anti-censorship and civil liberties positions. Seth went on to take apart X-Stop, the software used by Loudoun County Public Library, and relied upon by Loudon County Mainstream to bring the First Amendment action.

Although others have followed, Seth was the first to provide solid, concrete evidence -- in the finest, albeit thankless, tradition of technical muckraking. Mr. Finkelstein is largely responsible for educating many of us as to the dangers lying therein, and was the first to provide meaningful, concrete evidence of the chilling risks of private censorship technology when applied by the government.

Accordingly, it is my pleasure and my honor to nominate Seth Finkelstein for an EFF Pioneer Award.

Andrew C. Greenberg
Carlton Fields
One Harbour Place
Tampa, Florida

Mail comments to: Seth Finkelstein <>

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