Jillian C. York

Jillian C. York is a writer and activist.

Month: December 2013

5 ways you can support free speech today

While I’m tweeting, Facebooking, and otherwise making an ass of myself all over the Internet, lots of folks aren’t able to do so, their speech limited by their governments either through network censorship or worse.  Here are five great causes you can donate to to support free speech this holiday season:

  • The Media Legal Defence Initiative is raising funds for their defense of Eskinder Nega and Reeyot Alemu, two Ethiopian journalists facing down long prison sentences for engaging in the act of journalism.  Both were imprisoned on trumped-up terrorism charges; Alemu faces five years, and Nega twenty.  They’ve already raised more than $12,000 of their $20,000 goal: Can you help them make it the rest of the way?  Donate here.
  • Comedy site FunnyOrDie might seem like an odd place to go to support free speech, but in fact some of the comic giants behind the site have taken on an important cause: Defending Shezanne Cassim, a US citizen unjustly imprisoned under the United Arab Emirates’ Cybercrime Law for posting a satirical video to YouTube.  Want to help #FreeShez?  Click here.
  • When PayPal cut WikiLeaks off from using their services to receive donations, the Freedom of the Press Foundation was conceived.  Since then, the organization has taken on a number of key projects, including SecureDrop, a secure whistleblowing platform.  The causes on their front page are constantly rotating; right now, donations to FPF support a bundle of wonderful encryption tools, including Tor, the LEAP Access Encryption Project, and TextSecure/RedPhone. Donate here.
  • PEN is an internationally known organization that defends the free speech writers, but this year they’ve delved into surveillance, creating a report that shows just how deep the impact of spying can be on free expression.  Donations to PEN support a range of literary and free speech programs.  Donate now.
  • This year, my job got a lot easier, thanks to Edward Snowden.  Now all I need to say when people ask about EFF is “we’re the folks suing the NSA!”  If you follow me, you probably already know what I do, but if not, check out our website, and if you like what you see, donate here.

The 12 Days of Christmas: NSA Edition

Whilst wandering around a Berlin Christmas market with surveillance-concerned friends from ten different countries last night, we came up with a lovely holiday song for you all (with a little help from Twitter friends*).  From the bottom:

On the twelfth day of Christmas, the NSA gave to me:

Twelve days of torture,

Eleven days in prison,

Ten FISA orders,

Nine Clapper head rubs,

Eight legs a-reaching,

Seven pens a-trapping,

Six drones a-spying,

Five Eyes spying,

Four viruses,

Three Fins a-Fishing,

Two hacked phones,

And a rootkit malware on my laptop.


*Thanks to: @astepanovich, @joncamfield, @jessecfriedman, @quinnnorton, @ChrChristensen, @octal, @sleepylemur, and @xeenarh for your contributions!

#GivingTuesday: 5 Great Organizations

Last year I wrote a post highlighting 13 organizations I’d donated to in 2012.  I still wholeheartedly recommend all of those, but this year, I’d like to highlight 5 more!  The following are all causes that I have donated to at some point, and a few are places that are near and dear to me for other, more personal reasons.  All are worth donating to.  This year, please consider giving to one of these great orgs.

Without further ado…

  1. The Dream Program. This amazing Vermont-based organization (where I once served as development director) pairs university students with kids in low-income housing developments.  In the past few years, they’ve spread beyond their Vermont and New Hampshire origins to take on the Boston area.  They also host a fantastic camp in both winter and summer, and if you give today, that’s the incredible experience you’ll be contributing to.
  2. Career Collaborative. I worked here too, fundraising so that low-income folks in the Boston area could gain the skills necessary to get jobs.  One of the things I loved most about working here was helping out the folks who were newer arrivals to Boston and the US, many of whom had extensive careers back home but faced new challenges in the local job market.  They make really good use of their funds, and have an extraordinary success rate.
  3. Big Blue! Families First, where my mother works, is a great organization that provides low-income individuals in southern New Hampshire with low-cost health and dental care, parenting classes, and more.  Big Blue is their mobile healthcare van that does outreach to the local homeless population.  Check out the video, and give a few to the cause.
  4. Mailpile.  This one’s close to my heart, but for a different reason.  Sure, I’m friends with the developers, but the main reason Mailpile is so special to me is that it solves a problem that matters a whole lot – the usability of secure, encrypted email.  Mailpile is one of several new products aiming to do this, but its design is really what sells me!
  5. Your local domestic violence organization.  And if you have a suggestion for one in SF for me to give to, let me know.

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