Meet Filecoin Foundation Senior Fellow Danny O’Brien

Apr 21, 2023

The Filecoin Foundation (FF) and the Filecoin Foundation for the Decentralized Web (FFDW) are delighted to welcome Danny O’Brien to the team. As a Senior Fellow, Danny will use his breadth of first-hand experience in numerous sectors of the crypto and digital rights worlds to act as the Foundation’s “primary source” advisor and collaborator to globalize Web3.

Danny joins the Filecoin Foundation from the Electronic Frontier Foundationwhere he spent more than a decade as an activist, international director, and finally, director of strategy.

As Danny describes it, his career path has always been “twisted around questions of privacy, free speech, and human rights in the digital space.” He started out as a journalist embedded in the emerging world of the internet and digital rights. He sat in Netscape’s operations room at midnight on New Years’ Eve 1999, watching the creators of the first popular web browser fight Y2K bugs. He reported on the seminal “cypherpunks” meet-ups where the pioneers of crypto freedom first expanded on their ideas, and he read Satoshi’s original Bitcoin whitepaper when it was first sent to the cryptography mailing list.

Driven by his encounters with digital privacy invasion, harassment of journalists, and silencing of protesting voices, Danny shifted from journalist to internet rights activist. In 2005, he helped found the Open Rights Group, a digital rights organization in his home country of Great Britain, and he worked to free technologists from incarceration across the Middle-East during the Arab Spring.

“We could not be more thrilled to have Danny joining us,” said FF and FFDW Board Chair Marta Belcher. “We are excited to learn from Danny’s extraordinary experiences fighting for civil liberties, and we know he will continue to be an important champion for Web3.”

Danny’s mission at the Foundation is to help restore the original promise of the internet — radical decentralization. “Joining the Foundation as a senior fellow means that I’ve kind of seen it all. But I want to see a lot more of it. It’s time for the internet to live up to its original promise again, and for that to happen, the web needs to be re-decentralized,” said Danny. The Filecoin protocol, he adds, provides an elegant solution to incentivizing the decentralized web, and the work of the Foundation approaches promoting Web3 from a human rights perspective.

With his extensive experience in global digital rights communities, Danny hopes to bring the power of the dweb to those who most need it. “A decentralized internet is only meaningful if it’s adopted and adapted by the people furthest from the centers of power. I’m extremely comfortable with the idea that we can get this amazing invention back on its feet,” Danny said. “The internet’s latent strengths always lay with those who live and work on its edges. The innovations in cryptography and incentive economics that Filecoin and other decentralizing projects bring will help us give the digital ecosystem the revolutionary nudge it needs.”