What it is…
Chilling Effects is a collaborative archive created by several law school clinics and the Electronic Frontier Foundation to protect lawful online activity from legal threats. Its website, Chilling Effects Clearinghouse, allows recipients of cease-and-desist notices to submit them to the site and receive information about their legal rights and responsibilities.
The archive was founded in 2001 by Internet activists who were concerned that the unregulated private practice of sending cease-and-desist letters seemed to be increasing and was having an unstudied but potentially significant “chilling effect” on speech.
The archive got a significant boost when Google began submitting its notices in 2002.
Why it’s awesome…
Sadly there are still institutions and countries out there that would seek to stifle free speech and restrict lawful creative expression. The site chillingeffects.org is an attempt to redress the balance.
It is also a place where these issues are explored in detail, providing information that outlines the rights of all parties, including copyright holders.
What it needs…
Unfortunately, we’re only talking about US law here, but hopefully the presence of the site is enough to exert influence on corporations and governments who would prefer to use the law as a sledgehammer to pound contrary views or creative expression. Hopefully other countries will move to emulate the site. The recent example of the South Australian Attorney General’s attempt to censor anonymous political comment on the internet indicates that even countries such as Australia would benefit from such a site.
Perhaps due to the nature of the subject matter, chillingeffects.org is not the prettiest site around.
Three Robots (out of Five)