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Washington, D.C. — November 3, 2021

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) announced that The Markup has won the Champion of Freedom Award for 2021. The annual award recognizes individuals and organizations that have helped safeguard the right of privacy, promote open government, and protect democratic values with courage and integrity. The award will be presented tonight at the National Press Club during a ceremony from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. ET and live-streamed here beginning at 8:15 p.m. ET. 

This year’s ceremony centers on the theme Innovating Privacy and honors those who have successfully drawn the public’s attention to emerging privacy issues and introduced creative solutions to address them. The Markup, which investigates how powerful institutions are using technology to change our society, goes to great lengths to never expose its readers to third-party tracking, collects as little personal information about its readers as possible to run its business, and never monetizes reader data. 

“We are thrilled to present this award to The Markup for their innovative work drawing public attention to emerging privacy and human rights issues through data-driven investigations,” said Electronic Privacy Information Center executive director and president Alan Butler. “The Markup has changed the game by taking the tools of data collection and analysis and pointing them back at the surveillance industrial complex.” 

The Markup regularly investigates data privacy issues, from shedding light on the $12 billion data location market that monetizes people’s movements, and exposing how the little-known data broker industry spends millions of dollars lobbying Congress, to offering readers a guide for how to protect their phones from surveillance during protests. In 2020, The Markup released a first-of-its-kind, custom privacy forensics tool called Blacklight, which empowers everyone to uncover how their personal data is collected as they browse the internet. The Markup used Blacklight to scan and capture insights about 81,593 of the world’s most trafficked websites. The results painted an unsettling picture about the state of data privacy across the internet, including: 74 percent of sites loaded Google tracking technology; 33 percent used Facebook tracking technology; more than 5,000 were “fingerprinting” users, identifying them even if they block third-party cookies; and more than 12,000 websites loaded scripts that watch and record all user interactions on a page—including scrolls and mouse movements. 

“The Electronic Privacy Information Center works tirelessly to protect privacy rights by fighting against abusive data practices like mass surveillance, browser tracking, and demographic profiling,” said The Markup editor-in-chief and founder Julia Angwin. “We’re grateful for their recognition and thankful to stand alongside esteemed honorees working to bring attention to emerging privacy issues.”

“No one understands the interconnected importance of privacy, democracy, and free speech rights quite like EPIC,” said president of The Markup, Nabiha Syed. “For our startup to be recognized by this illustrious group is quite the honor.”

EPIC is also honoring Joseph Cox of Motherboard, who is a co-recipient of this year’s Champion of Freedom Award, along with Joy Buolamwini of Algorithmic Justice League, who will receive the Privacy Champion Award, and Shoshana Zuboff, author of “The Age of Surveillance Capitalism,” who will receive EPIC’s Lifetime Achievement Award. 

For more information visit EPIC here


The Markup is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates how powerful institutions are using technology to change our society. We are a new kind of media organization, staffed with an unparalleled roster of quantitative journalists who pursue meaningful, data-driven investigations. Whenever possible, we will publish the underlying datasets and code that we use in our investigations, as well as a detailed methodology describing the data, its provenance, and the statistical techniques used in our analysis. We invite academics, journalists, policymakers, consumer activists, and community organizers to engage with our findings.


EPIC is a public interest research center in Washington, D.C. EPIC was established in 1994 to focus public attention on emerging privacy and civil liberties issues and to protect privacy, freedom of expression, and democratic values in the information age. EPIC pursues a wide range of program activities including policy research, public education, conferences, litigation, publications, and advocacy. EPIC routinely files amicus briefs in federal courts, pursues open government cases, defends consumer privacy, organizes conferences for NGOs, and speaks before Congress and judicial organizations about emerging privacy and civil liberties issues. EPIC works closely with a distinguished advisory board, with expertise in law, technology, and public policy. EPIC maintains one of the most popular privacy websites in the world: