Jérémie Zimmermann

Computer scientist and online rights activist
Jérémie Zimmermann


Enter Jérémie Zimmermann, founder of the internet freedom advocacy group La Quadrature du Net. He also co-authored the book “Cypherpunks: Freedom and the Future of the Internet” with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
Jérémie Zimmermann Overview ‧ read
When it comes to internet freedom and privacy threats, American laws and issues often dominate the global headlines. That was the case with , which global net users defeated with the biggest ever online protest. And when US net neutrality was put at risk by cable company lobbying, American rights again became a world issue. But that doesn’t mean everything is rosy in Europe. Net users there have their own digital rights problems - and their own activists fighting to protect them, too.

What is ACTA, and how was it defeated? Here’s our biography of Jérémie Zimmermann, with the whole story.

Life, DataLove, And Liberté

Jérémie Zimmermann was born in France in 1978. Details of his personal life are slim - which only goes to show how committed he is to online privacy! Zimmermann is a professional computer engineer, specializing in “ co-operative free technology .”

Identifying himself as a netizen , Zimmermann runs a blog about free sharing of data called DataLove . He’s also a vice president of April , a French non-profit for promoting and defending free software.

Founding La Quadrature du Net

In 2008, Zimmermann co-founded La Quadrature du Net, a Paris-based non-profit advocacy group promoting digital rights and freedoms. ‘La Quadrature’ campaigns for “adaptation of French and European legislation to the founding principles of the internet, most notably the free circulation of knowledge.” La Quadrature speaks up for citizens’ rights in public policy debates on “freedom of expression, copyright, regulation of telecommunications and online privacy.”

Zimmerman’s co-founders at La Quadrature were other free software promoters. And La Quadrature is supported by major rights advocacy groups including the and Privacy International .

Zimmermann defeats HADOPI

La Quadrature rose to prominence through its victory against the French HADOPI law in 2009. HADOPI intended to promote the “distribution and protection of creative works on the internet.” It was a three-strikes law, which could suspend a citizen’s internet access rights if they were found to download copyrighted material three times. The French government could only enforce the law by snooping on private net traffic.

Zimmermann and La Quadrature were key figures in the public campaign against HADOPI. The law was overturned by the French National Assembly in April 2009, before it could ever be enforced.

“This is a formidable victory for all citizens, ” said Zimmermann. “It is a fantastic example of how to use the Net to fight against those who are trying to control it. Individual liberties, in the end, have not been sacrificed to try to preserve the corporate interests of some obsolete industries”

Striking down ACTA

In 2012, a new law proposed by the European Union again threatened Europe’s digital freedoms. The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) was negotiated in secret from 2007 to 2010. The law intended to target internet users with extended IP enforcement laws. It would be overseen by a non-elected “ACTA Committee” with no obligation to be transparent in its proceedings. ACTA also incentivized commercial ISPs to become copyright police.

La Quadrature du Net’s campaigning was again instrumental in defeating the law. ACTA was rejected in July 2012, with Zimmermann commenting :
“Through the victory on ACTA, we hope that the EU policy makers will understand that the endless spiral of repression that has been pushed for the last fifteen years by the entertainment industry has to stop.”

Zimmermann receives EFF Pioneer Award

In 2012, the Electronic Frontier Foundation recognized Zimmermann with an EFF Pioneer Award. The EFF noted Zimmermann had “ worked tirelessly to spread the word about ACTA and the ways in which it would put a chokehold on internet and digital rights,” as well as on “numerous other technology policy topics, including freedom of expression, copyright, regulation of telecommunications, and online privacy.”

Zimmermann's battle goes on

Jérémie Zimmermann has been at the forefront of many of Europe’s biggest online freedom campaigns. He’s become a veteran of the war against online repression - and he’s won key battles.

But the threats keep coming. In a 2016 interview, Zimmerman notes that “in the last year and a half, four security laws have been adopted in France in the name of combating terrorism… police can now search and seize any property any time without a court order.” Thankfully, Jérémie Zimmermann and La Quadrature du Net are out there, watching the watchers.

Featured image: Still from “Rien à cacher - Jérémie Zimmermann et la Parisienne Libérée” by la parisienne libérée is licensed under CC BY 2.0 fr.