Setting the Record Straight: EFF Statement in Support of FCC Nominee Gigi Sohn
In the last week, a number of dangerous and conspiracy-driven attacks were made against EFF board member Gigi Sohn, an eminently qualified nominee to the Federal Communications Commission. These attacks attempt to twist EFF’s long-held positions and commitments into dog whistles against Ms. Sohn. We’d like to set the record straight.
First, we’ve seen some outlandish headlines about EFF’s 2020 recognition of Danielle Blunt, a leader in the technology policy space and advocate for sex workers, because she is a professional dominatrix. Ms. Blunt is one of the co-founders of Hacking//Hustling, a collective of sex workers and others working at the intersection of tech and social justice to interrupt state surveillance and violence facilitated by technology. Through that work, Ms. Blunt is an expert on the impacts of the censorship law FOSTA-SESTA, and on how content moderation affects the movement work of sex workers and activists. No one is more aware of the way that the power imbalances of the real world permeate online, and is more poised to act, than she is.
Second, much has been made about EFF’s strong and continued opposition to FOSTA-SESTA. These attacks take the claims of FOSTA-SESTA’s proponents at face value—that it was a good and useful measure to take against sex trafficking when all evidence points to the contrary. Our opposition to FOSTA-SESTA was and remains based on the facts: It will not stop sex trafficking and will instead make stopping it harder. At the same time, the law puts a wide range of online expression at risk and we are always, unapologetically, against the criminalization and chilling of legal speech.
Third, despite what its supporters claim, the EARN IT Act is a surveillance bill that would have a devastating impact on privacy, security, and free speech. If Congress passes this disastrous bill, it may become too legally risky for companies to offer encryption services. This bill treats every internet user as a potential criminal, and subjects all our communications to mass scanning. We are pleased that Congress has rejected it twice already.
Finally, the flurry of hyperbole and personal attacks should not be allowed to deflect attention from the most important thing about Gigi Sohn’s nomination: She is one of the most qualified people possible for the role of FCC commissioner. She has been a fair and balanced advocate for public interest for her entire career, which is why she is supported by experts, industry associations, and consumer groups alike. That is why we were happy to add her to our board— a role from which she will step down if she is appointed—and why we would be thrilled to see her confirmed to the FCC. The public deserves an FCC commissioner who will fight for net neutrality, for rural broadband access, and for strong internet infrastructure. It is past time to let her get to work helping to build a better internet for everyone.