21NTC Session

What Nonprofits Should Know About Online Censorship

This is a resubmission of an accepted 20NTC session proposal.


When the Internet Society announced that it was selling the Public Interest Registry to private equity firm Ethos Capital, many NGO leaders worried that as a for-profit company, the registry might be susceptible to pressure by governments to censor nonprofits’ websites. In an increasingly global NGO sector, repressive governments have become ever savvier at exploiting the policies of online platforms, domain name registries, and other intermediaries to silence their critics.

Here in the US, new censorship laws can also bring challenges to nonprofits’ ability to work effectively. Recent legislation aimed at fighting human trafficking has thrown nonprofits’ harm reduction work into a legal gray area.

In this session, we will discuss the “weak links” that can be exploited by governments and other people in power to silence nonprofits’ work and how nonprofits are working together to fight back.

Session Type

60 minute session

Learning Outcomes

  • Understand the “weak links” where nonprofits’ speech online is vulnerable to censorship.
  • Learn stories of real nonprofits, NGOs, and activists who have faced censorship online.
  • Learn how current proposals in Congress could put nonprofits at risk of censorship.

Target Audience

Nonprofit leadership, especially of organizations that provide services to at-risk groups. People who manage nonprofit websites.


Emerging TechPanelPolicyStrategy


Elliot Harmon

Senior Activist

Electronic Frontier Foundation

Elliot is a senior activist at EFF. He advocates for free speech and the right to innovate online, with particular emphases on patents, copyright, open access, and Section 230.

Before coming to EFF, Elliot served as director of communications at Creative Commons, an organization that helps creators share their works with the public via open copyright licenses. Before that, he worked as a writer and curator for TechSoup, a technology resource for the nonprofit community. He has degrees from the University of South Dakota and the California College of the Arts.



March 23, 2021


9:45am – 10:45am