The GNI's most significant achievement so far has been third-party assessments of freedom of expression and privacy practices of service providers, including Google, Microsoft and Yahoo, according to the EFF. However, the EFF feels that it can no longer stand behind the credibility of those assessments giving the recent NSA surveillance revelations.
Members of European Digital Rights (EDRi), a pan-European association of digital rights organizations, generally support EFF's decision, said Joe McNamee, EDRi's executive director, Friday via email. However, "it is not appropriate for us to tell other civil rights groups what they should do. Any diligent NGO will always keep its membership of any organisations under constant review."
"As an organisation, EDRi has always had doubts about the value of GNI and our position remains unchanged," McNamee said. "We had an extensive discussion about the possibility of joining during our 2010 General Assembly and there was no support for this."
The EFF will continue to provide guidance to GNI as an external organization and feels that the project can still serve an important role as a platform for collaboration between human rights groups, companies and academics.
"We appreciate the contributions that EFF has made to GNI and we look forward to working with them outside our formal structure to protect rights online," GNI said in an emailed statement. "GNI is growing, and just admitted six new members and observers, including LinkedIn and PEN America."
"The disclosure of secret national security orders highlights the constraints government secrecy imposes on companies," the organization said. "GNI and its members are actively calling for transparency from governments on surveillance. These challenges make GNI's work to advance freedom of expression and privacy rights more important than ever."