From: r...@eff.org (Rita Marie Rouvalis)
Subject: General Info/ FAQ
Summary: read this if you want to know what EFF is and does
Date: 18 Sep 92 14:44:38 GMT
Sender: use...@eff.org (NNTP News Poster)
Organization: Electronic Frontier Foundation
General Information about the Electronic Frontier Foundation
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is dedicated to the pursuit of
policies and activities that will advance freedom and openness in
computer-based communications. It is a member-supported, nonprofit group
that grew from the conviction that a new public interest organization was
needed in the information age; that this organization would enhance and
protect the democratic potential of new computer communications technology.
From the beginning, the EFF determined to become an organization that would
combine technical, legal, and public policy expertise, and would apply
these skills to the myriad issues and concerns that arise whenever a new
communications medium is born.
By remaining faithful to this initial vision, the EFF has become an
organized voice for the burgeoning community of nationally and
internationally networked computer users. It performs the multiple roles of
guardian, advocate, and innovator to serve and protect the public interest
in the information age.
Goals of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, 1990-1992
1. To engage in and support educational activities that increase the
popular understanding of the opportunities and challenges posed by
computing and telecommunications.
2. To develop among policymakers a clearer comprehension of the issues
underlying free and open telecommunications.
3. To support the creation of legal and structural approaches that will
ease the assimilation of these new technologies by society.
4. To raise public awareness about civil liberties issues arising from the
rapid advances in computer-based communications media.
5. To support litigation in the public interest to preserve, protect, and
extend constitutional rights to the realm of computing and
6. To encourage and support the development of new tools that will endow
nontechnical users with full and easy access to computer-based
Two years after its inception, the EFF is striving to meet these goals and
fulfill its mission in many ways:
* The EFF is intensely involved in public advocacy and policy-making in
the telecommunications arena at the federal level.
* The EFF is constantly reaching out for new members, be they individuals,
companies, or groups, that are united in their desire for an open and
affordable National Public Information Network that embodies the finest
traditional values of the United States.
* The EFF is managing a public domain software development program that
promises wide access to existing and future networks without intensive
* The EFF is active in keeping the present and future costs of network
access low to ensure that this nation and the world not devolve into the
"information rich" and the "information poor."
* The EFF has commissioned studies on the future of computer networks, their
practicality, and their impact on the nation and the world.
* The EFF is supporting an expanded electronic and print publication
program to inform people of the issues on the electronic frontier, and to
help both new and experienced network users maximize their own and the
* The EFF builds and manages coalitions of public interest, academic and
corporate groups and concerned individuals for specific actions on
specific items of legislation and policy on the federal and state level.
* The EFF helps to defend people wrongly accused of computer crime, and to
ensure that users of these new technologies are extended the full range
of constitutional protection.
* The EFF provides advice and counsel on new issues arising in this
information age to citizens, companies, government organizations, the
media, and other public interest groups.
* The EFF works to raise the consciousness of citizens, companies, and
government bodies regarding both the rights and responsibilities of
computer network users through speeches, panels, interviews, meetings,
* The EFF actively manages discussion groups on several major computer
conferencing systems, and is a presence in many more.
* The EFF maintains a legal hotline for people in need of advice or
references in the case of legal difficulties arising from computer-based
* The EFF, in both its Cambridge and Washington offices, remains alert
for opportunities to influence public awareness and shape public
policies in order to maximize freedom, competitiveness, and civil
liberties in the electronic social environments created by new
computer and communications technologies.
In short, thanks to the moral, technical, and financial support of our
members and constituents, the EFF in two short years is well on its way to
fulfilling its original goals. Emerging out of the computer networks it
represents, the EFF has become an organization that people, companies, the
media, and governments turn to when they look for insight into questions
involving new communications technologies and life on the electronic
EFF's Open Platform Proposal
The EFF is urging Congress to establish an Open Platform for Information
Services in the United States. We advocate the rapid deployment of widely
available, affordable ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network). We
believe that this can be the basis of a consumer information delivery
system to be used until national switched broadband options become
available in the 21st century.
Narrowband ISDN, if offered nationwide and priced at affordable,
mass-market rates, can offer end-to-end digital service without major
infrastructure investments. With an ISDN platform in place, information
entrepreneurs will soon be able to reach an expanded market in which to
offer text, video, and interactive multimedia services. Public agencies,
private communications, computer, and publishing firms, and even
individuals will be able to access an inexpensive, widely available medium
in which to publish and communicate electronically.
Other networks and technologies such as the cable television network may
also play an important role in providing digital access, but because of the
public telephone network's ubiquity and common carrier regime, ISDN has a
key role to play. ISDN will not only spur innovation, it will establish,
with appropriate safeguards, a level playing field for all who wish to
provide information services over the telephone network.
For many months, the EFF has been exploring the technical and economic
feasibility of our Open Platform Proposal. We have received valuable
comments and support from key players among the regional Bell operating
companies, interexchange carriers, information providers, our members,
individuals on the Internet or associated systems, and public service
commissions. All these believe that ISDN can play a crucial role in
developing the information arena for the benefit of all today. As of July
1992, we have reached the following conclusions:
1. ISDN can meet many of the information needs of residential and
commercial users long before a public, switched broadband network is
available. For example, with advances in compression technology, ISDN
makes it possible to distribute interactive voice, data, and video
services over the copper wire telephone network currently in place
throughout the nation.
2. ISDN can be deployed nationwide within the next three to five years
without massive infrastructure investment or new technology development.
3. ISDN can be tariffed as a basic service at affordable rates.
4. ISDN is a critical and even necessary transitional technology on the
path toward the future broadband fiber optic national public network.
5. The benefits of other networks that are already important information
distribution media can be enhanced by interconnection with a digital
narrowband ISDN telephone network.
We are optimistic that ISDN is an important step on the path to the
development of a telecommunications infrastructure that meets the diverse
needs of the nation. As a result we are now working to get the principles
of the Open Platform Proposal adopted as legislation in Congress, and
by public utility commissions nationwide.
To do this we are building a coalition behind our proposal. In recent
months, we have garnered the interest and support of key computer firms,
including Microsoft, Sun Microsystems, Apple Computer, Novell, Lotus and
Adobe. We are now seeking support for the Open Platform Proposal from the
communications industry, consumer groups, library associations, other
nonprofit public interest groups, and our membership. If we work together,
we can break the telecommunications deadlock and take a significant step
toward a national public network.
Structure of the EFF
The EFF maintains offices in Cambridge, Massachusetts and Washington, D.C.
EFF/Cambridge deals with member services, publications, legal counsel,
technical development, and the support of our online discussion and news
EFF/Cambridge also maintains the central library and our main computing
facilities, including eff.org proper, which hosts our mailing lists;
ftp.eff.org, home of our anonymous ftp archives; and wais.eff.org, our WAIS
EFF/Washington is charged with policy-making, coalition building,
congressional liaison, and the administration of the Communications Policy
The EFF is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization. It is an operating foundation
and does not make grants. The EFF is a membership organization with both
individual and corporate members from throughout the United States and the
* We organize and maintain continuing online newsletters and active
discussion groups on USENET (comp.org.eff.talk, comp.org.eff.news, also
available as Internet mailing lists), which are read by 25,000 to 50,000
people a month; on the WELL (Whole Earth 'Lectronic Link), whose
membership is about 5,000, and on CompuServe, which has over 900,000
subscribers. In addition, much of our material is echoed to BIX, GEnie,
Fidonet, America Online, and numerous other electronic bulletin board
systems in the United States and around the world.
* To advance ease of use and maximum connectivity, we have launched the
Intersuite Project. Working with Software Tool and Die, operators of The
World, a public access Unix system in Brookline, Massachusetts, we will
develop an easy series of applications for connecting to the Internet
from personal computers. Once completed in 1993, these applications will
be released into the public domain.
* As our major conference of the year, we inspired and helped to organize
both the first and second Computers, Freedom and Privacy conferences
(CFP). CFP is an annual four-day event that brings together, in search of
knowledge and common ground, representatives from computer networking,
law enforcement, and privacy advocate groups.
* In order to recognize worthy individuals, the EFF organized and hosted
the first annual Pioneer Awards (at CFP II). This event, which drew
hundreds of nominations, honored five outstanding individuals who had
contributed to the growth of computer-based communications.
* To keep our members and other interested parties apprised of our
activities, we have produced and distributed more than 30 issues of our
electronic newsletter, EFFector Online.
* We have published the first two issues of our quarterly print newsletter,
EFFector, as well as numerous policy studies and white papers, such as
the seminal "Building the Open Road."
* We continue to expand our presence on, and usefulness to, the Internet
with our connected systems, which have recently been enlarged to five Sun
SPARCstations and six gigabytes of disk storage.
* To take advantage of this technology, we created a heavily used FTP
archive on ftp.eff.org. This archive provides documents on computer
networking and privacy law as well as a number of online publications.
* Because we believe in finding common cause with a multiplicity of
organizations, we have hosted groups such as Index on Censorship and the
Computers and Academic Freedom mailing lists on our systems.
* In order to fulfill our role as a bridge between often disparate interest
groups, EFF staff members have spoken to groups of librarians, software
and hardware developers, law enforcement officers, lawyers, and many
others on the issues of civil liberties and computer networking.
* Using our library and personal resources, we have built solid
relationships with both print and broadcast media to become a "place of
first and last resort" for reporters covering stories involving
telecommunications policy, legislation, and the new information
* To make it easier to use networking, we have begun a complete guide to
the Net for both novices and experienced users for publication in late
* Because of early work with the Massachusetts legislature, we have been
invited to spearhead the Massachusetts Computer Crime Commission,
established to study the need for new or revised laws addressing computer
* As part of our efforts to educate, we have spoken at and participated in
the conferences of various members of the judicial and law enforcement
community, such as the High Tech Criminal Investigation Association, the
American Society of Criminologists, and the FBI.
* We have contributed articles and position papers to such publications as
The Quill, Communications of the ACM, Discover, and Scientific American.
* We have routinely given legal information and advice to lawyers, online
systems, system operators, the media, and individuals about the evolving
case law in the area of computer-based communications.
* We have repeatedly aided students in restoring computer accounts
suspended merely for showing interest in information relating to system
* We are pursuing litigation against the Secret Service to establish
constitutional limits on the search and seizure of computers, BBS
systems, books, and manuscripts at Steve Jackson Games in Austin, Texas.
* We have lobbied effectively at the state level to change legislation
inimical to computer networking and are represented on the Massachusetts
Computer Crime Commission.
With the advent of the Washington office, the EFF has begun the complicated
and arduous task of tracking pending legislation and working with numerous
policymaking bodies and organizations.
* The EFF in Washington leads the way in moving the elements of the Open
Platform Proposal into the legislative process.
* The EFF is leading the coalition of telephone, computer, communications
and public interest groups to oppose the recent FBI-sponsored initiative
to require all communications firms, as well as public and private
networks, to automatically enable wiretapping and anti-encryption in
* To foster the dialogue about the shape and design of the national public
network, EFF administers the Communications Policy Forum. The CPF offers
consumer and public interest groups, telecom companies, computer industry
groups, and policymakers a forum in which to discuss telecommuncations
issues. It conducts meetings and workshops and undertakes nonpartisan
research. It is cosponsored by the Consumer Federation of America and the
* We have filed formal briefs with the FCC regarding the regulation of 900
numbers that support the position that 900 numbers and other information
services be carried on a common carrier basis.
* We have testified several times before the Federal Communications
Commission concerning the public access and design needs of the National
Research and Education network.
* We are helping to define the issues of protecting BBSs, Internet sites,
and other telecommunications carriers from unwarranted risks and
* In response to legislation passed in the House to make it a crime to scan
cellular telephone signals, the EFF has commitments from the Senate to
either substitute or include a feasibility study of cellular encryption
in the FCC appropriations bill along with the scanner penalties.
* The EFF is credited by sponsors with having helped to enact the High
Performance Computer Act of 1991.
* In November, 1991, the EFF joined in a public interest letter to the
House and Senate commerce committees, urging them to ensure that phone
companies carry all 900 number services without regard to content.
* The EFF has joined with the IIA, the ACLU, ADAPSO, the Software
Publishers Association, and others to oppose H.R. 191 and similar
legislation in the Senate to give the government a software exception
under Section 105 of the copyright act, which prohibits the government to
copyright public information.
* The EFF is working with the information industry and library associations
to prevent Congress from passing Section 534 of the Maritime Act, which
would allow the Federal Maritime Commission to charge above cost for
electronic data, thus exercising a quasi-copyright over government
* This year the Senate introduced legislation, S. 1940, to establish an
electronic freedom of information act (EFOIA) to ensure that public
access to information applies to electronic public data. The EFF
spearheaded the legislation and helped to draft it.
* The EFF is now a proponent of legislation before Congress to establish a
positive obligation on the part of government agencies to disseminate
information in electronic as well as paper formats. Compromise
legislation satisfactory to the administration, information industry,
library groups, and public interest organizations is in the works. These
are known as amendments to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1992.
* We have endorsed H.R. 3459, the Improvement of Information Access Act,
introduced by Representative Major Owens, and indicated our willingness
to work on the GPO WINDO proposal, H.R. 2772. In our view, all of these
bills support broader public access to information and should be
enacted into law.
* We have supported OMB's recently published Revised Circular A-130 on
government information dissemination policy, which embodies broad
principles endorsing active and equitable federal agency dissemination of
electronic public information, at marginal cost, through a diversity of
public and private sources.
* We commissioned a study, now complete, from Economics and Technology,
Inc., of Boston that establishes the affordability of ISDN when fully
* We have been developing and promoting guidelines for magistrates who
issue search warrants for computer data and hardware.
* We write a monthly legal column for an electronic bulletin board
magazine, BBS Callers Digest.
* We have met with specialized usergroups such as Senior Net and the Public
Library Association, to work on shared goals and concerns.
* We have researched civil liberties issues related to telephone company
efforts to reclassify hobbyist BBSs from residential to business
How to Connect to the EFF
Internet and USENET:
General information requests, submissions for EFFector Online, and the like
can be mailed to e...@eff.org.
If you receive any USENET newsgroups, your site may carry the newsgroups
comp.org.eff.news and comp.org.eff.talk. The former is a moderated
newsgroup for announcements, newsletters, and other information; the latter
is an unmoderated discussion group for discussing the EFF and issues
relating to the electronic frontier.
For those unable to read the newsgroups, there are redistributions via
electronic mail. Send requests to be added to or dropped from the eff-news
mailing list to eff-requ...@eff.org.
Mail eff-talk-requ...@eff.org to be added to a redistribution of
comp.org.eff.talk by mail; please note that it can be extremely high-volume
A document library containing all of the EFF news releases, John
Barlow's "Crime and Puzzlement", and other publications of interest is
available via anonymous FTP from ftp.eff.org. Mail ftph...@eff.org if
you have questions, or are unable to use FTP.
To be on a mailing list specific to a discussion of technical and policy
issues relating to the EFF's Open Platform Initiative, send a request to
There is an active EFF conference on the WELL, as well as many other
related conferences of interest to EFF supporters. Access to the WELL is
$15/month plus $2/hour. Outside the San Francisco area, telecom access
for $5/hour is available through the CompuServe Packet Network. If you
have an Internet connection, you can reach the WELL via telnet at
well.sf.ca.us; otherwise, dial +1 415 332 6106 (data).
Our forum on CompuServe has also opened recently. GO EFFSIG to join. Many
of the files on ftp.eff.org, as well as other items of interest, are
mirrored in the EFFSIG Libraries.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, Inc.
155 Second Street
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02141
+1 617 864 0665
+1 617 864 0866 FAX
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, Inc.
666 Pennsylvania Avenue S.E., Suite 303
Washington, D.C. 20003
+1 202 544 9237
+1 202 547 5481 FAX
MEMBERSHIP IN THE ELECTRONIC FRONTIER FOUNDATION
In order to continue the work already begun and to expand our efforts and
activities into other realms of the electronic frontier, we need the
financial support of individuals and organizations.
If you support our goals and our work, you can show that support by
becoming a member now. Members receive our quarterly newsletter, EFFECTOR,
our bi-weekly electronic newsletter, EFFector Online (if you have an
electronic address that can be reached through the Net), and special
releases and other notices on our activities. But because we believe that
support should be freely given, you can receive these things even if you do
not elect to become a member.
Your membership/donation is fully tax deductible.
Our memberships are $20.00 per year for students, $40.00 per year for
regular members, and $100.00 per year for organizations. You may, of
course, donate more if you wish.
any circumstances, sell any part of its membership list. We will, from
time to time, share this list with other non-profit organizations whose
work we determine to be in line with our goals. But with us, member
privacy is the default. This means that you must actively grant us
permission to share your name with other groups. If you do not grant
explicit permission, we assume that you do not wish your membership
disclosed to any group for any reason.
Mail to: The Electronic Frontier Foundation, Inc.
155 Second St. #AB
Cambridge, MA 02141
I wish to become a member of the EFF. I enclose: $_______
$20.00 (student or low income membership)
$40.00 (regular membership)
$100.00 (Corporate or organizational membership.
This allows any organization to
become a member of EFF. It allows
such an organization, if it wishes
to designate up to five individuals
within the organization as members.)
[ ] I enclose an additional donation of $_______
City or Town:
State: Zip: Phone: ( ) (optional)
FAX: ( ) (optional)
I enclose a check [ ].
Please charge my membership in the amount of $
to my Mastercard [ ] Visa [ ] American Express [ ]
I hereby grant permission to the EFF to share my name with
other non-profit groups from time to time as it deems
appropriate [ ].
Last Update: 12 August 1992
Rita Marie Rouvalis r...@eff.org
Electronic Frontier Foundation | Brown eggs are local eggs,
155 Second Street | and local eggs are fresh!
Cambridge, MA 02141 617-864-0665 |