The Soong Foundation is a group affiliated with the Daystrom Institute and dedicated to promoting the rights of artificial life forms.
The Foundation announced that it was beginning research to create a mobile holographic emitter of its own design, with the hopes that the technology could be adapted for civilian use.
Starfleet transferred the Soong-type android B-4 to the custody of the Soong Foundation.
The prototype android, with a less advanced positronic matrix than Noonian Soong's later androids Data and Lore, was deactivated after its discovery by the U.S.S. Enterprise-E in 2379.
At the time of the transfer, Soong Foundation representatives said they hoped to restore B-4 to full positronic functioning.
When the U.S.S. Enterprise-E returned to Earth, Chief Engineer Geordi La Forge requested a long-term leave of absence from Starfleet to work on personal projects, including a plan to build and test his own starship designs. His first project, however, was to assist the team at the Soong Foundation studying the Soong-type android B-4.
With La Forge's help, on Stardate 62762.91 the team unlocked what it called the "Data Matrix," successfully accessing the personality, knowledge and memories of Data, who had downloaded this information into B-4 before his destruction in the Battle of Bassen Rift. The Data persona asserted itself over B-4's more primitive programming, and the android was then able to assist the Soong Foundation team to upgrade the positronic brain and recreate the emotion chip invented by Dr. Noonian Soong. In a statement to the Federation News Service, a representative for the team said he was confident that their work would be completed in months.
In the courts, the case of the photonic lifeform known as The Doctor made a small advancement after years of being stalled in hearings and appeals.
On Stardate 66954.79, a Federation judge ruled that the lawsuit could be expanded into a class-action suit encompassing all sentient artificial lifeforms in the Federation. "This is about more than one being and a mobile emitter," said Alyssa Cogley-Shaw, a lawyer for the Soong Foundation. "This is about basic rights."
Cogley-Shaw said that while the expansion of the lawsuit may mean that it would remain tangled in the courts for years to come, its ultimate resolution may mean an end to the forced servitute of more than six hundred EMH Mark I holograms. And, as Starfleet re-equips more of its starships with holoprojectors to expand the usefulness of photonic "tools" such as the Emergency Command and Emergency Medical Holograms, someday those lifeforms could be considered Starfleet officers with all of the rights and privileges of their rank.
On Earth, the Federation Supreme Court agreed to hear oral arguments from a group of holonovel publishers and programmers seeking to block the class-action lawsuit asking for civil rights for holograms.
The group hired a retired Starfleet rear admiral, Phillipa Louvois of the Judge Advocate General's office, to lead their case and she argued that appearing sentient does not automatically mean a hologram is sentient. Unless the holograms could be determined to be intelligent and self aware, the Acts of Cumberland and the Federation Constitution did not offer them full protection.
The Soong Foundation argued that without full holoemitter technology, it could not bring withnesses to court to speak in their own defense and that court rules precluded remote testimony in matters such as this. The justices granted the Soong Foundation a delay.
On Earth, the Federation Supreme Court ruled in favor of Phiillipa Louvois and the holonovel publishers and programmers she represented, sasying that the Acts of Cumberland would not apply to non-sentient holographic or artificial lifeforms.
The justice returned the Soong Foundation's class action suit to a lower court to determine what defined sentience in a legal sense. Not content with pursuing its agenda only in the courts, the Soong Foundation launched a campaign to lobby Federation worlds to support an amendment that would add rights for artificial lifeforms to the Federation Constitution.
And the legal fight for civil rights for artificial lifeform hit a snag over the hologram known as "Moriarty." Alerted to its existence in a Starfleet computer, the Soong Foundation sued to have the program released into its custody.
Attorneys for Starfleet argued that Moriarty and his companion were a security risk, and that the program's attempt to take over the U.S.S Enterprise-D in 2369 allowed Starfleet to keep it in indefinite custody to protect the public. "That's just imprisonment without a trial," argued Alyssa Cogley-Shaw, lead attorney for the Soong Foundation. "Since when did Starfleet turn into the Obsidian Order?"
The case at the heart of the fight over the legal status of artificial lifeforms came to a close when the Supreme Court of the Federation ruled that The Doctor is indeed a sentient being, and, as such, he had the right to self-determination and the right to retain the mobile emitter brought back from the Delta Quadrant.
The court went on to set standards which artificial lifefroms must pass to be considered sentient, and ruled that any that cannot do so are technological constructs that are the property of their creators or owners.
"This is a major victory," said Alyssa Cogly-Shaw of the Soong Foundation after the ruling. "These are people, not replicators. We won't stop until every photonic lifeform has the right to choose how they want to live."
The Soong Foundation and other artificial life groups argued that the bill allowing dual citizenship should be extended to artificial lifeforms, but the Federation Council refused. Artificial lifeforms must either pass the tests established by the Supreme Court of the Federation to be granted full citizenship, or they were property. There was no middle ground.
The Soong Foundation sued for an injunction forcing Starfleet to reveal the whereabouts and condition of all of its holographic programs.
"We want to review these cases," said Soong Foundation attorney Alyssa Cogley-Shaw. "There are sentient lifeforms trapped in lives of misery and slavery, like the EMH Mark I holograms who have been mining dilithium for more than thirty years!"
Starfleet appealed the injunction, saying that the request was too broad and it invaded officers' privacy. "The brave men and women serving the Federation deserve to have some holographic entertainment without legal review," said Starfleet spokesperson Marie Durant. "Even if all classified uses of holograms were struck from this injunction, it is still illegal and irresponsible."
Legal analysts predicted this holorights case, like that of The Doctor, could go all the way to the Supreme Court of the Federation.
One thing that was expected to help Starfleet was an advance in power cell technology developed by the research teams at Memory Alpha. The new cells made personal shield generators feasible for Starfleet officers on away teams.
"This new technology will keep our officers safe," said Starfleet spokesperson Loris Brex. "It is just one example of what the Federation can do. There is no problem that we cannot solve."
The first shield generators were issued to special teams on ground assaults in the Archanis Sector. Once the technology was adequately tested, Starfleet expected to provide it to all of its members. Three companies announced that they were working on variations of the technology for commercial use.
"Forget the shields, give us the power cells," said Soong Foundation researcher Alexander Baker. "If we had access to the cell technology now, it could cut months of our timetable to release a mobile emitter for holographic lifeforms who aren't in Starfleet."