Shahid Buttar, director of grassroots advocacy at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, will speak during a “Sunshine Week” event in Arcata on March 20. – Provided

What does the future hold for surveillance, privacy and free speech? That’s what an upcoming series of events hope to answer.

Access Humboldt, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Humboldt State University Library are collaborating with local media outlets this month to explore these topics during Sunshine Week in Arcata and Eureka from March 16-21.

“Sunshine Week is a national initiative promoting public access to information and government transparency, and it’s also a chance for Americans to celebrate our rights to privacy and free speech,” said Sean McLaughlin, executive director of Access Humboldt.

“We believe that privacy is essential for protecting freedom of information and expression. Information consumers and creators must have privacy as a fundamental right, and sometimes people become complacent about those rights until they come under attack. These Sunshine Week events are meant to inform citizens about the importance of transparency for the government and privacy for the people.”


Local Sunshine Week events begin Thursday, March 16, with a Community Participation Fair from 5 to 7:30 p.m. at the Arcata Community Center sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Humboldt County. The event will feature live entertainment, refreshments and information booths.

Next will be a forum on “Surveillance, Privacy and Free Speech” at Humboldt State University Library on Monday, March 20, from 4:30-7:00 p.m. The keynote speaker will be Shahid Buttar, director of grassroots advocacy at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and the event will feature practical workshops on topics including Web Browser Privacy Settings, Smartphone Encryption, Virtual Private Networking, Encryption and Security, Digital Rights Management and more. To register for this event, visit

Finally, on Tuesday, March 21, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Access Humboldt will host a Citizens’ Workshop on Surveillance Self-Defense — focused on ways that members of the public can protect themselves from surveillance and enhance the privacy of their phones and computers. Highlights will include a presentation on Surveillance Self-Defense by Shahid Buttar, and a chance to discuss other aspects of transparency and safe conduct in cyberspace.

Speaker profile

According to a profile on, Buttar graduated from Stanford Law School in 2003 and became immersed in the movement to stop the war in Iraq. He is a constitutional lawyer “focused on the intersection of community organizing and policy reform as a lever to shift legal norms, with roots in communities across the country resisting mass surveillance.”

From 2009 to 2015, he led the Bill of Rights Defense Committee as executive director, and he has also championed causes including campaign finance reform, marriage equality for same-sex couples, and combatting racial and religious profiling of Muslims.

Outside of work, Buttar also “DJs and produces electronic music, writes poetry and prose, kicks rhymes, organizes guerilla poetry insurgencies, plays capoeira, speaks truth to power on Truthout, occasionally elucidates legal scholarship, and documents counter-cultural activism for the Burning Man Journal.”

Hoe to get involed

For more information about local events, call 707-476-1798, visit or email To find out more about national Sunshine Week, visit To learn more about the Electronic Frontier Foundation, visit

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