The Electronic Frontier Foundation has long been known as a protector of the free Internet, but the organization can’t do it alone. One of the EFF’s greatest strengths is its ability to rally people behind its causes, which of course isn’t terribly difficult since the group’s causes always benefit Internet users.
With the EFF’s latest project, the organization has created a new open source tool that makes it easier than ever for Americans to contact their Congressmen and women and make their voices heard. And just as important, the tool will also allow the EFF to hold members of Congress accountable.
One look at Reddit and you’ll see that there are legions of Internet users who are very passionate about keeping the Internet open and free. But how many of them actually put in the effort and try to make their voices heard?
It’s not always easy… or at least, that used to be the case.
According to Tech Fellow Sina Khanifar, the EFF spent a year building Democracy.io. The new open source website is designed to simplify the process of identifying and contacting one’s representatives, and it really couldn’t be easier to use.
Simply enter your address on the site’s homepage and it will return a list of representatives for your region. Choose which ones you’d like to write to, and Democracy.io will display a form where you can type your message and include your contact information for responses.
“Democracy.io is the product of about a year’s worth of work by our team at EFF,” Khanifar wrote in a post on ProductHunt. “Advocacy organizations have had paid tools to deliver messages to Congress for years, which results in them getting millions of spam messages. But Congress really wants to hear from regular citizens, not receive the same email thousands of times over – and they use complex systems to filter their mail. But their contact forms are clunky and difficult to use; we wanted to make them much simpler and easier to use.”
Democracy.io isn’t just about simplifying the process of contacting members of the House of Representatives and the Senate — the EFF also wants to hold lawmakers accountable.
“Down the line, we’re planning on analyzing responses from Members of Congress so that we can hold them accountable,” Khanifar wrote. “We’ll eventually produce reports that rank each legislator by the timeliness and relevance of their responses.”
Like all other EFF projects, Democracy.io is open source from top to bottom, including the “contact-congress” dataset that enables the site. The dataset is the result of the hard work of approximately 100 volunteers, who helped to ensure that the Democracy.io website can communicate properly with each legislator’s online contact form.