Attorney Carrie Goldberg has been making quite a name for herself over the past few years as someone who represents and advocates for victims of revenge porn and other privacy invasions. As part of her passionate advocacy, she (and others) have advocated for the repeal of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA).
I have previously blogged about about my conflicted views of Section 230 and how there are people on both sides of the debate whose opinions I respect and consider. This past week, I read a thread on Twitter by Carrie Goldberg that really concerned me. It began:
Recently I was reviewing the financial records for everybody’s favorite internet libertarian organization, @EFF. My goodness, I was surprised to see $3million (about 25% of their annual expenses) came from cy pres settlement awards in 2017. #Thread
— Carrie A. Goldberg (@cagoldberglaw) May 20, 2019
So, in 2018, you might wonder what EFF did with all that money from cy pres awards. if you think they used it to help folks who suffered from privacy invasions like in the cases that resulted in their awards, you’d be DEAD wrong. Just the opposite.
That tweet was followed by her allegation that “EFF filed court papers AGAINST people who suffered some of the most heinous tech-facilitated crimes in history.” As examples, she tweeted:
Filed papers in NY against a victim of child pornography who was seeking information about the people who shared and “liked” her underage images on Tumbler
Filed papers urging the court to rule against a man who sued Grindr for allowing a stalker to continuously use its product to send strangers (1200 + in total) to the man’s home and job to fulfill his “rape fantasies”
Filed papers against a family whose daughter was brutally murdered because a website trafficking in illegal gun sales allowed this man (who had an outstanding restraining order) to purchase a gun.
“So, to go over this, ” Goldberg tweeted, “EFF collected $1.7m in other people’s settlement money for a case where a guy got a dozen annoying robocalls. That, EFF, says is a legit type of legal case to bring (especially if EFF gets the money!!). Yet, EFF used that money to intervene in lawsuits protecting corporate defendants being sued by folks whose lives were RUINED.”
That’s a pretty damning statement, but she was not done:
It boils down to this: EFF is a hypocritcal astroturfing nonprofit. EFF must return the cy pres settlement money and give it to orgs that actually help people — not corps. Courts should NOT give EFF cy pres settlement funds in the future.
And not surprisingly, she mentions, without providing specifics in this particular thread, how EFF has opposed revenge porn laws that she and others have worked tirelessly to pass.
I was troubled after reading her thread. I am a regular member of, and donor to, EFF, and have been for years. I had raised some of the same issues with them about Section 230 back in the 1990’s when I was first being stalked and harassed, but never got a response to my concerns at that time. Goldberg’s criticisms brought some of my concerns to the forefront again, and so I wrote to EFF and asked them to respond to both Goldberg’s allegations and to some simple questions as to whose side they are on when it comes to certain issues.
Cindy Cohn, Executive Director of EFF, responded to my inquiry. In detail.
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