Geist wins EFF award

by Paul Jay, CBCNews.ca

Digital rights group the Electronic Frontier Foundation announced the winners of its annual Pioneer Awards, and once again a Canadian is among those honoured.

Privacy and copyright activist and academic Michael Geist was named a winner, alongside the Mozilla Foundation and its Chairman Mitchell Baker, and AT&T whistleblower Mark Klein.

Geist, the Canada Research Chair of Internet and E-commerce Law at the University of Ottawa, has been a frequent commentator on privacy issues in Canada and around the world. But he's most known these days as one of the most vocal critics of the federal government's efforts to reform Canadian copyright law.

After reports suggested Minister of Industry Jim Prentice was planning to introduce legislation in December that would mirror the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act and take a hard line against the copying of digital materials, Geist accused Minister of Industry Jim Prentice of caving in to lobbying from U.S. entertainment companies and not including the public in consultations.

He also started a Facebook group to protest the planned legislation, a group that now has more than 40,000 members.

Like one last year's winners - fellow Canadian and Boing Boing co-editor Cory Doctorow - Geist's success can perhaps be credited to the influence of his blog, which seems to be two steps ahead of the government when it comes to information about their own policies. It's also required reading for journalists.

Geist acknowledged the award today in his blog, saying he was "stunned and incredibly honoured" to be named.

The awards will be handed out at the O'Reilly Emerging Technology conference in San Diego, which begins on March 2.

(Thanks to Boing Boing for the link.)