Leaving EFF and joining a fearless team of journalists

Posted November 15, 2013 in journalism

I started working at the Electronic Frontier Foundation in March of 2011. I joined the tech team as EFF’s first full-fledged web developer, eventually switching jobs internally to become a staff technologist. After over two and a half years of working with the most inspiring group of people I’ve ever met, I’m moving on to join a startup. Monday is my last day of work at EFF.

Pierre Omidyar, Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, Jeremy Scahill, and a fantastic team of people are starting a media organization that will redefine journalism, and I’m joining its tech team. My focus will be on using technology to ensure that the constitutional rights of journalists cannot be violated by powerful spy agencies or anyone else.

I’m ecstatic about my change in career, and there are so many ideas buzzing around my head about it. But I’ll wait until we launch our website before talking about the new company. Instead I’m going to talk about my time at EFF.

Some of the exciting things I was a part of at EFF included:

  • Migrating EFF away from an expensive, third-party, proprietary service (for sending email blasts, action alerts, and accepting donations) Convio into the open source, self-hosted software CiviCRM. As part of my work at EFF I got to become a major CiviCRM contributor, and travel around the world to code sprints and conferences to help improve this software for all non-profits.
  • Encouraged Ubuntu, the most popular GNU/Linux distribution used by 25 million people, to have more user-friendly support for disk encryption, and ultimately succeeded.
  • Helped kill the Internet censorship bills SOPA and PIPA, including helping organize the largest protest in Internet history (Internet Blackout Day), and spending four sleepless days building a web app that sent a million emails to Congress.
  • Spoke at open source and hacker conferences about things like Privacy Tricks for Activist Web Developers.
  • Since becoming a staff technologist, I’ve explained how crypto and computer security works (and how the NSA is actively trying to make it not work) to journalists all over the world in interviews for their stories. I’ve also given advice to journalists on safe ways to communicate with sources.
  • As I finish my last days at EFF I’m putting finishing touches on an email bot that will teach people the way-too-complicated art of encrypting email with OpenPGP.

I’ve never worked with a more friendly, happy, and excited group of people. Everyone who works at EFF works there because there’s nowhere they would rather be. As an organization, EFF is genuinely principled and values the important and ground-breaking work that they do on a daily basis over anything else. I’m so privileged to have had the opportunity with work with them.