2013 in Review: Revelations, Tragedy, and Fighting Back

Rainey Reitman
Electronic Frontier Foundation

When it comes to the fight for free expression and privacy in technology, 2013 changed everything.

This was the year we received confirmation and disturbing details about the NSA programs that are sweeping up information on hundreds of millions of people in the United States and around the world. This set off a cascade of events, from EFF’s newest lawsuit against the NSA to protests in the streets to a United Nations resolution to Congressional bills both promising and terrifying. In December, a federal judge even found the surveillance likely unconstitutional, calling it “almost-Orwellian.”

It was also a year we lost a beloved friend and activist, Aaron Swartz. Aaron was a fellow freedom fighter working to bring the world access to knowledge. We’re still mourning his suicide, which was spurred in part by an aggressive prosecution under the vaguely worded and over-penalized Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). In his memory, EFF and our friends at Demand Progress created a coalition to fight for reform of the CFAA.

We also went on the offensive against patent trolls with our new website TrollingEffects.org. Patent trolls buy up patents—often vague software patents that should never have been issued in the first place—and use them to bully legitimate companies. EFF attorneys fought back on behalf of the victims of patent trolls, including podcasters like the Adam Corolla Show. We then took the battle to Congress, where a bill designed to tackle patent trolls called the Innovation Act successfully passed the House of Representatives.

Below you can find a link to a series of articles revisiting watershed moments in 2013. Check back soon; we’ll keep adding more articles till the New Year. You also can follow our series by subscribing to EFF on Twitter, Facebook, or Google Plus.

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2013 in Review

Tragedy Brings CFAA Into the Spotlight

And just for fun, here’s a graphical interpretation of the words most frequently used on the Deeplinks blog in 2013:

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