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06 March 2008, 10:09

ETech: civil rights organisation recognises IT pioneers

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The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has handed out its Pioneer Awards at the evening session of the Emerging Technology conference in San Diego. Mozilla boss Mitchell Baker, Canadian copyright expert Michael Geist and former AT&T employee Mark Klein received awards. The Pioneer Award has been handed out since 1991. It is awarded to individuals or organisations who have significantly influenced computer controlled communication.

Guest speaker for the evening was former boss Michael Robertson, who used his speech to demonstrate his online music storage system Robertson demonstrated a new auto-synchronisation option which should be available to users of the service within the next month.

He showed how a song bought from Amazon's MP3 store could be automatically transferred to the MP3Tunes server, from where it could in turn be automatically copied to an additional PC and two Nokia N810 tablets. Robertson promised to release synchronisation software for most mobile phone devices by the end of the year.

The service is possible because all four major record labels now have music in MP3 format. Robertson is convinced that, "DRM for music is dead, completely dead and has disappeared." He thinks that it is unfortunate that the music industry has tried to achieve in court what they have been unable to do technically. MP3Tunes was sued by EMI in November, accused of copyright infringement. Robertson promised his audience on Tuesday that he would fight the action with all the means available to him.

Following Robertson's speech, the three Pioneer Awards were handed out. EFF co-founder John Perry Barlow used his eulogy to Mozilla boss Mitchell Baker to reminisce about the early days of the EFF. According to Barlow, they hadn't originally planned to start an organisation, "But it turned out that you needed one to take on the whole industrial era."

There was prolonged applause for Mark Klein, who blew the whistle on a secret NSA phone tapping centre at telephone company AT&T in early 2006. EFF staff member Cindy Cohen described Klein as a "true hero" and an "antidote to evil".

On ETech 2008, see also:

(Janko Röttgers)


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