EFF Issues Guide To Safe Blogging

    April 11, 2005

I’ve been a fan of the Electronic Frontier Foundation since it started. I’ve paid dues, gone to fundraisers, attended rallies. The EFF’s defense of people who can’t afford to defend themselves for online activities that attract the ire of organizations that oppose would stifle the use of the Net for expression has earned my respect.

Electronic Frontier Foundation

The EFF has even cranked out some useful guides, such as its printed guide to protecting your online privacy. So I was taken aback to read the EFF’s latest guide, “How to Blog Safely (About Work or Anything Else).” The first half of this single scrolling Web page, advises readers to “Blog Anonymously:”

Let’s say you want to start a blog about your terrible work environment but you don’t want to risk your boss or colleagues discovering that you’re writing about them. You’ll want to consider how to anonymize every possible detail about your situation. And you may also want to use one of several technologies that make it hard for anyone to trace the blog back to you.

This is lousy advice on so many levels it’s hard to know where to begin. First of all, who would respect any blogger who didn’t have the strength of his or her convictions to name the company or for which he works or identify himself? The word “coward” leaps to mind. Second, how can any pressure be brought on a bad company to change if nobody-including the offending company-knows what company the blog is talking about? Finally, for a group of lawyers to recommend its clients game the system seems a tad bit unethical. (Oh, wait, lawyers, right…)

The second half of the piece is more what I expected when I heard the EFF had published the document. Here, the EFF offers up advice on categories of speech for which companies can’t fire you, at least in some states, such as advocating unionization.

All in all, though, it’s a disappointing offering from an organization that has done so much better in the past.

Other PR bloggers have written about the guide, including BL Ochman and Steve Rubel.

Shel Holtz is principal of Holtz Communication + Technology which focuses on helping organizations apply online communication capabilities to their strategic organizational communications.

As a professional communicator, Shel also writes the blog a shel of my former self.