EFF quits internet advocacy group, cites surveillance issues

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), an influential digital rights organization, announced on Thursday that it will resign from a group of tech companies, known as the the Global Network Initiative, that advocates to stop government censorship of the internet.

The EFF claims that it longer has confidence that members of the group, which includes Facebook(s fb) and Google(s goog), can speak freely about privacy and surveillance given the US government’s controversial PRISM and Bullrun programs. The programs, details of which were leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, involve secretly collecting information and interfering with cryptography standards.

In a statement, the organization said:

“EFF can no longer sign its name on joint statements knowing now that GNI’s corporate members have been blocked from sharing crucial information about how the US government has meddled with these companies’ security practices.”

The EFF’s resignation appears to be a tactic to increase scrutiny of the government’s efforts to co-opt the tech industry into surveillance activity.

It’s unclear, however, how much importance the Global Network Initiative actually carries. Created in 2008, the group issues occasional policy pronouncements but does not appear to have much in the way of concrete achievements. (Om was skeptical at the outset — see his post at the time, “Morality is Not a Group Effort”).