Peter Eckersley, one of the founders of Let’s Encrypt, died on Sept. 2 at CPMC Davies Hospital in San Francisco for reasons unknown. Let’s Encrypt is a non-profit certificate authority that provides certificates for Transport Layer Security (TLS) encryption for free.It is the largest certificate authority in the world and is used by more than 276 million websites
According to Wikipedia, Peter Eckersley is an Australian computer scientist, computer security researcher and activist who received his PhD in computer science and law from the University of Melbourne in 2012. He worked at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) from 2006 to 2018, including as Chief Computer Scientist and Head of Artificial Intelligence Policy.
In 2018, he left the EFF to become Research Director for the AI Partnership, a role he will hold until 2020. In 2021, he co-founded the AI Objectives Institute, which was conceived to examine the value and politics of artificial intelligence; he was also a visiting senior fellow at OpenAI. Research and policy work focuses on applications including predictive policing, autonomous vehicles, cybersecurity, and military uses of artificial intelligence.
During his time at EFF, Peter Eckersley started projects including Let’s Encrypt, Privacy Badger, Certbot, HTTPS Everywhere, SSL Observatory and Panopticlick. Eckersley is an outspoken advocate on topics including internet privacy, net neutrality and the ethics of artificial intelligence.
One of Peter Eckersley’s core activities focuses on internet privacy, and he is openly critical of web tracking technologies and the companies that use them. In 2007, he criticized Facebook’s user-tracking service for a lack of transparency and Internet service providers’ use of deep packet inspection of peer-to-peer networks to find copyright infringement. He’s also been outspoken against the centralization of cloud hosting providers, particularly AWS, and worries that cloud providers could be forced to investigate users’ data.
according tointroducePeter Eckersley was the leader of the EFF’s contributions to Let’s Encrypt and ACME, and also contributed a lot in merging the EFF, Mozilla, and University of Michigan teams into one team and one project; later served on the initial board of the Internet Security Research Group member.
In his life he was “an avid road cyclist and espresso connoisseur, known for his flamboyant fashion sense, appreciation for beautiful architecture, and his talent for throwing parties and gathering crowds”. Academic interests include economics and moral philosophy, and active research has been conducted in these areas. As a founding member of “Giving What We Can pledge”, Peter Eckersley has also pledged to donate 10% of his income to charity.
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