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Snowden's embrace puts EFF back in the spotlight

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Can the Electronic Frontier Foundation mount an effective fight from San Francisco against government surveillance in Washington? That's the central question in a Washington Post feature on the civil liberties advocacy group, which chronicles its rise from a legal defense fund for hackers to a lobbying group championed by Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor. In the immediate aftermath of Snowden's revelations about domestic spying — and a picture of an EFF sticker on his laptop — the nonprofit group raised 10 times more money in a single week than normal.

But as it looks to expand its influence in Washington, the organization has been forced to confront its mid-90s experience in the capital, when some staffers revolted after the EFF helped to negotiate a bill that required phone companies to build surveillance into new digital networks. The EFF won several privacy protections, the Post reports, but some staffers who thought EFF should have opposed the bill entirely quit the group. Since moving to San Francisco in 1995, though, EFF has won a series of legal victories on privacy issues, and recently won the release of secret documents related to the NSA.

Correction: This article has been updated to reflect that the EFF saw donations increase by 10 times over a typical week following the Snowden revelations, not over the previous year. "Over a longer period of time, donations are indeed stronger, but not nearly that dramatically," a spokesman told The Verge.