DESPITE claims to promote online freedom, to represent the “public interest” on the internet “when our freedoms in the networked world come under attack,” the Electronic Frontier Foundation started by mavericks Mitch Kapor and John Perry Barlow is impotent when it comes to jurisdictions outside of the territory in which it is based.
A recent complaint about having an online post unilaterally deleted off this very blog, by a host based in South Africa got the following response from Gwen Hinze, EFF International Policy Director: “We are simply not able to provide legal advice outside of the country in which our lawyers are licensed.”
Hinze went on to say: “EFF is not able to provide legal advice or assistance outside of the United States. That means we are not in a position to act for you in South Africa in any capacity, even if we had made a determination to take on your case (which EFF has not done).”
So much for the Electronic Frontier Foundation claiming to represent freedom on the Internet. In South Africa there is very little protection for online publishers in an environment that favours big service providers to the detriment of open access to all. Digital rights are also not being enforced even within the limited constraints of the creative commons. The local creative commons website http://za.creativecommons.org/ has also been inactive for six months, and no response on the issue of the deletion of material under licence could be drawn from them. So it would appear South African publishers are operating in a vacuum.