I am honored to have been elected by my fellow board members to serve as president of the board of directors of the Freedom of the Press Foundation.
Freedom of the Press Foundation (FPF) started as a wildly ambitious dream and has become one of the most impactful free speech organizations in the country in just a few short years. My co-founders–including Trevor Timm, the executive director of the organization and its visionary, EFF co-founder and Grateful Dead songwriter JP Barlow, and whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg—and I built the organization in the face of severe and sustained attacks on press freedom. The organization was born in response to the extralegal financial blockade against the whistleblower website Wikileaks.
From the start, we designed FPF to be an organization that could be nimble and fearless. Today, I am so proud to see FPF is willing to take big risks and stand firm in our principles.
Freedom of the Press Foundation was founded on the belief that independent, investigative journalism is key to a functioning democracy. Journalists help inform and educate the public and hold public figures to account, and, through that work, they’ve changed the course of history.
To safeguard the future of democracy in the United States, we need to safeguard the rights of journalists. Some of the serious threats facing press freedom right now include:
- Direct attacks on journalists who are doing their work, including arrests and baseless prosecutions. I’m particularly concerned about the prosecution of reporter Derek Myers in Ohio, who is being charged with federal wiretapping after publishing a recording from a murder trial provided to him by a source.
- Attempts to undermine the ability of journalists to communicate securely and privately with sources, including targeted surveillance, undermining encryption, and legal attempts to force journalists to disclose their sources. It’s clear that standing up for freedom of speech also requires standing up for strong, end-to-end encryption.
- Attacks and prosecutions of whistleblowers and sources who work with journalists. My fellow board member, whistleblower Edward Snowden, faces ongoing prosecution under the Espionage Act that prevents him and his young family from returning home to the United States.
FPF is leading the battle for freedom of speech and the rights of the press, and we need bold strategies to counter these attacks. Here is some of the work we’ll be taking on in 2023:
- We’re monitoring attacks on journalists in the United States through our Press Freedom Tracker, which includes detailed documentation of attacks on reporters and analysis tools that help researchers identify trends and patterns;
- We’re helping newsrooms and journalists receive documents securely and anonymously from sources using SecureDrop, FPF’s free software project originally designed by the late Aaron Swartz;
- We’re engaging in advocacy around the prosecution of Wikileaks editor Julian Assange, whose trial could criminalize routine journalistic activities—creating a serious encroachment on the core press freedom rights of all journalists in the United States;
- We’re building our advocacy team to take on major legislative battles, like opposing the new defamation legislation in Florida, passing laws to protect reporters against surveillance, fighting against the Espionage Act, and promoting open government laws that reform our broken FOIA system;
- We’re training journalists and newsrooms in digital security, so that they can better defend themselves against technical threats.
I am so grateful to have been elected as FPF’s board president and for the opportunity to help the organization have an even bigger impact in the coming years. We have an exceptional board, including whistleblowers Edward Snowden and Daniel Ellsberg, Academy Award-winning filmmaker Laura Poitras, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Wesley Lowery, renowned actor and activist John Cusack and executive director Trevor Timm. The staff is full of hard working, strategic advocates whose ingenuity and dedication inspire me daily, and FPF’s supporters have made it possible for us to take on all of these ambitious projects.
If you haven’t done so already, please consider becoming a member of Freedom of the Press Foundation. You can also follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Mastodon. And if you’re curious about FPF and would like to learn more, please check out our annual impact report or reach out—I love talking about it.