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About Jillian C. York

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Jillian C. York is a writer and activist whose work examines the impact of technology on our societal and cultural values. Based in Berlin, she is the Director for International Freedom of Expression at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a fellow at the Center for Internet & Human Rights at the European University Viadrina, a visiting professor at the College of Europe Natolin, and the author of Silicon Values: The Future of Free Speech Under Surveillance Capitalism.

Jillian is a frequent public speaker on topics including censorship, surveillance, and the impact of social media on our lives and our societies, and her writing has been published by the MotherboardBuzzfeedAl Jazeera, the Atlantic, the GuardianQuartz, The Washington Post, and Die Zeit, among others. Jillian currently serves as Deputy Convener on the IFEX Council, on the Advisory Council of the Open Tech Fund, the Advisory Board of SMEX, and on the International Advisory Board of the International Free Expression Project.


Long-form bio:

I am a child of New England, of New Hampshire birch and Maine lakes, born on Abenaki land. I am tri-continental, with my feet in Germany, a piece of my heart in Morocco and a large part of my soul spread across the Middle East. I have traveled to more countries than I can count, met more incredible people that I could’ve ever dreamed, and have impressed my five-, fifteen-, and twenty five-year-old selves beyond their wildest imagination.

I am passionate about the idea of the Internet as a facilitator for global connections, and, as such, I believe that it must be as free and accessible as possible. To that end, I currently serve as the Director for International Freedom of Expression at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, where my work focuses on online censorship, digital security, and surveillance.  I am a frequent public speaker on those and other topics. I am also a fellow at the Centre for Internet & Human Rights in Berlin and a  member of the Deep Lab collective.

Drawn by Susie Cagle
Drawn by Susie Cagle

Other things that I’m passionate about include cats, social and environmental justice, languages, travel, camping, and avocados.

My writing has been published by, among others, the New York Times, the Guardian, the AtlanticSlate, the New Statesman, ViceDie Zeit, and Al Jazeera. I have contributed chapters to several books. Once upon a time, I wrote a travel guide to Morocco. I have served on the program committees of the re:publica and RightsCon conferences and consulted on the 2018 documentary The Cleaners. I am also featured prominently in the film #ChicagoGirl: The Social Network Takes on a Dictator. Here’s an interview with me that I particularly like.

Photo: Vandana Aneja. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.
Photo: Vandana Aneja. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Prior to joining the EFF, I worked at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University on a number of projects, including the OpenNet Initiative and Herdict Web. In 2009, I co-founded Talk Morocco, which was a winner of Deutsche Welle’s Best of Blogs (BOBs) competition in 2010. From 2011 to 2017, I served on the board of Global Voices Online, an incredible citizen media project to which I also occasionally contribute content, and in 2011 was named to Foreign Policy Magazine’s Top 100 ‘Twitterati’ list. In San Francisco, I was a member of the Future Soul Think Tank at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

I current serve on the IFEX Council and on the advisory boards of several projects and organizations, including  SMEXR-Shief, and the Open Tech Fund. With my friend Katherine Maher, I used to host a webshow called Interrobang‽ on Bloggingheads.tv. I have a BA in Sociology from Binghamton University, and attended THNK, the Amsterdam School of Creative Leadership.

My Twitter feed, which is my primary mode of public communication these days, was once (aptly, if I do say so myself) called “Grim reality mixed with activism, humanism, feminism and a dash of humor.”

If you want to understand a little about my life, this quote from Cory Doctorow describes it well.

Disclaimer: This is a personal blog and website.  The opinions expressed here represent my own and not and not those of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Global Voices, or any other organization with which I am affiliated.  Additionally, I am human, and as such, my views are subject to change.

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