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Seth Finkelstein's EFF Pioneer Award - MichaelSims' disowning

[April 2002: Note from Seth Finkelstein: In fairness, I'm also including Michael Sims' disowning of his Pioneer Award nomination for me . This is related to the events where he destroyed the old website of Censorware Project, (search the page for "shut down"), and What Happened To The Censorware Project ( . ]

[Message posted with permission, at least from Jonathan Wallace]

Date: Thu, 19 Jul 2001 10:28:08 -0400 (EDT)
From: [Jonathan Wallace]
To: Michael Sims <>
Cc: [a freedom of expression mailing list]
Subject: Re: NYT Profile of censorware fighter Seth Finkelstein

Shame on you.

1. As you well know, Seth's contribution--the decryption of censorware blacklists that got this whole debate going--was powerful and unique.

2. You shut down the Censorware Project web site out of pique. No matter how annoyed you were with Seth or anyone else, that action was completely unjustified.

Since you opened this up for discussion again, please explain to the group why, despite my emails to you requesting that you assign it, you continue to hang on to the domain, with the "sorry this site is no more" message, when the site, and the group, have continued at Why did you re-register the domain in March for two more years when you are not planning to do anything with it?

[Replying to
> On Thursday 19 July 2001 01:11 am, James S. Tyre wrote:
> > ]

On Thu, 19 Jul 2001, Michael Sims wrote:
> What an incredible embarassment it is to EFF to have given an award to
> online stalker and flame-artist Seth Finkelstein, whose main contribution
> to online free speech is repeatedly attacking other free speech proponents
> over various issues of "orthodoxy", contacting their employers and
> demanding that they be fired, etc. Seth has personally driven numerous
> competent, motivated people out of free speech work due to his attacks.
> He has written my employer over 20 times demanding that I be fired from my
> job because he dislikes me, which has caused incredible stress at my
> workplace and nearly succeeded in getting me fired. (My job, needless to
> say, is totally unrelated to my anti-censorship activities.) His attacks
> were the reason for the demise of the website, which I
> maintained and ran until I could stand Seth's attacks no longer. He did
> the same thing to Mike Godwin at EFF and to Declan McCullagh of Wired,
> which drove Godwin mostly out of free speech work and strongly contributed
> to the death of Declan's fight-censorship list.
> The free speech world could use a lot fewer people like Seth Finkelstein.
> Overall, there is less free speech work being done with Seth around than
> there would be without him. Jim Tyre should be embarassed for associating
> with the likes of a nutcase such as Seth. I know I'm ashamed of myself
> because I once wrote a recommendation that he receive the Pioneer award,
> back when I hadn't fully grasped Seth's personality. So to the extent
> that I contributed to Seth receiving the award, I blame myself. But EFF
> should have done the due diligence necessary to give the award to someone,
> anyone, who has had a net positive effect on free speech.
> --
> Michael Sims

[April 2002: Note from Seth Finkelstein: I never wrote his "employer over 20 times", never demanded that he be fired (much later, I did factor his actions into my legal risks ), and Michael Sims' job, "Slashdot" journalist ("YRO - Your Rights Online", "cyber-liberties", etc.) is indeed broadly related to anti-censorship activities. With regard to Mike Godwin, see the apology from EFF , or law professor Peter Junger's account of Mike Godwin's behavior (and funny comment regarding what should be Mike Godwin reaction to the New York Times profile of me ). I gave Declan McCullagh (along with Brock Meeks) the very first anticensorware expose . I came to regret that greatly, as my legal situation was later used against me. Note as one confirmation of general unethical behavior, Declan McCullagh was later quite publicly accused by Peacefire (in two press releases!) of plagiarizing Peacefire's anticensorware work. Free-speech activism isn't pretty.]

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