From: f...@eff.org (Cliff Figallo)
Subject: EFFector Online 5.01: EFF meets with grassroots representatives
Sender: use...@eff.org (NNTP News Poster)
Organization: The Electronic Frontier Foundation
Date: Fri, 5 Feb 1993 21:52:00 GMT
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EFFector Online Volume 5 No. 1 2/5/1993 edit...@eff.org
A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation ISSN 1062-9424
In this issue:
Three perspectives of a two-day meeting in Atlanta between EFF and
representatives of regional groups of grassroots networking activists.
This past January 23rd and 24th, 11 members of the electronic
community met in Atlanta with members of the staff and board of
the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The meeting lasted a day and a
half, with topics of discussion including EFF's recent organizational
restructuring and how groups serving the electronic community can
work together to be more effective. By the end of the two days,
meeting attendees had formed a group to organize and formulate
guidelines for continuing interchange among all who work to
strengthen electronic communications.
This issue of EFFector Online presents some first-hand views of what
transpired in Atlanta. Mitch Ratcliffe, one of the members of
This!Group out of San Francisco's Bay area, David Smith, a board
member of the EFF-Austin group, and Jerry Berman, EFF's Executive
Director, all offer their thoughts about the meeting. Other meeting
Dick Anderson, Delegate from EFF-Austin
John Perry Barlow, EFF Executive Committee Chairman
Judi Clark, Delegate from This!Group
Esther Dyson, EFF Board Member
Dave Farber, EFF Board Member
Cliff Figallo, EFF Online Coordinator
John Gilmore, EFF Board Member
Mike Godwin, EFF Legal Services Counsel
Mitch Kapor, EFF Board Chairman
Jon Lebkowsky, Delegate from EFF-Austin
Matt Midboe, Delegate from Huntsville, Alabama
Simona Nass, Delegate from NTE (New York)
Alexis Rosen, Delegate from NTE (New York)
Shari Steele, EFF Staff Attorney
Bob Stratton, Delegate from Washington, DC, area
Glenn Tenney, Delegate from This!Group
Ed Vielmetti, Delegate from Ann Arbor, Michigan
Information Activists Confer, Establish Understanding
by Mitch Ratcliffe
Atlanta, where the world comes everyday for news and colorized
movies, the capitol of Cyberspace, was the setting for a discussion
between the Electronic Frontier Foundation and information activists
on the weekend of January 23-24. After two days of discussions, the
parties came away with a new understanding of EFF's legislative
agenda in coming years, and how local groups can work together to
raise awareness of electronic freedom and privacy.
EFF has endured a roller-coaster year, during which it wrestled with
the growth of its influence in Washington and growing interest in
local chapters. After the group's board of directors rejected investing
organizational energy in local chapters and closed its Cambridge,
Mass. office -- shifting all funding to a Washington office -- they
faced the challenge of explaining their new role to the world. EFF's
founders had already discovered the Internet community can be a
fickle friend. As the group succeeded inside the Beltway, its Internet
constituency has savaged them in e-mail and news groups. People
have questioned their commitment to civil liberties and whether the
EFF agenda served only its corporate sponsors.
So, the purpose of the meeting in Atlanta was clearly two-fold. In
addition to identifying the projects on which the attendees can work
together, EFF needed to cultivate a chorus of voices in key virtual
and actual forums that can articulate their new agenda. The
representatives invited to the summit included members of the
Austin, Texas,-based EFF chapter that has been growing for the past
year, as well as activists from New York, San Francisco, Ann Arbor,
Mich., and Huntsville, Ala.
EFF and the representatives of the various groups met bearing with
them considerable defensiveness after months of crossed signals and
animosity. What transpired was not a conversion, but a discovery of
the personalities behind the EFF machine. Mitch Kapor and John
Perry Barlow, the founders, and Jerry Berman, the lobbyist who has
ascended to head the now Washington-based organization, exposed
themselves to questioning for two days. What we found were very
human leaders, who are as confused about perceptions of them as
the world is about where they came from, what they have
accomplished and how they operate in Washington. While we do not
agree with everything they do, there is no denying that they are
effective. Considerable educational and advocacy territories are also
wide open for other groups who want to make them their own.
"There has been some ambiguity in people's minds with regard to
who we are," Barlow said. "We are who we've always been. The
changes we announced are fairly minimal. We've decided to focus a
lot of our activities in Washington because there is a significant
window of opportunity there"
If EFF has suffered from anything this last year, it's bad
communication. Without a concerted effort to reach out to the Net --
and to everyday people who live and work on the fringes of
Cyberspace, because they use computers, cable television and ATM
cards -- the organization has allowed itself to become a victim of its
own early expectations that enlightened visions of the future would
allow them to transcend organizational and Beltway politics. Instead,
the EFF received a fierce, full-body reality check. They've found that
experience can be a high-sticking teacher on the black ice of life.
"We're a bunch of permanent, chronic mavericks," Kapor said. "But
certain things became very clear when the board met to discuss our
direction. We clarified the role of chapters, or lack of chapters,
deciding that we did not want a centralized organization. The other
thing that's increasingly clear is that there is a sense in certain parts
of the net that EFF has a perceived obligation to serve particular
constituencies. We are not trying to be the provisional government of
Cyberspace, and we also reject the idea that we have an obligation to
serve the good of the net," he said.
He also said his own personal animosity for running the day-to-day
operations of a large organization had contributed to the
miscommunication between EFF and potential chapters.
Discussion on the first day revolved around the recently announced
changes at EFF. After EFF presented several perspectives on its
Washington-based strategy, the activists from around the country
explained how their groups were founded and had begun to grow.
"We're better defined and we're capable of changing based on what
we hear from the outside," said EFF board member Esther Dyson. "We
are not for the net community, we're for the idea of communities.
One that we come from and feel close to is the net community, but
that's not the only one."
Jerry Berman explained that EFF will continue to advocate for
freedom of expression and extension of civil liberties into
"We are committed to the legal services and civil liberties service
role and we will work with people using the technology in different
ways that will raise constitutional and public policy issues," Berman
said, citing as an example the 2600 case the EFF has just joined with
the American Civil Liberties Union. "With regard to those two
functions, of representing people in trouble and civil liberties
representation, we are on the ground. With regard to representation
of the net community, there is a strong part of all of us who wants to
work with grass-roots organizations outside of Washington DC."
That outreach will come through collaboration with local information
advocates, Berman said.
The regional groups in attendance outlined their organizations:
This!Group, the San Francisco-based group, said that it has pursued a
loose structure, but tightly defined projects. Without a board or
officers in place, This!Group has not grown particularly fast. It has,
however, begun work on a pamphlet, "Thirteen Things to Keep You
Awake at Night at the Dawn of the Information Age", and a CD-ROM
containing video and audio clips from the Computers, Freedom and
Privacy Conferences I and II, and text of various electronic civil
liberties cases and papers.
EFF-Austin, the "alpha" chapter that EFF sanctioned in 1991, has
grown very quickly and holds monthly Cyberdawg events to reach a
large audience of potential members. With approximately 70
members, EFF-Austin has published "InfoDisks" of EFF-related
documents and conducted seminars on sysop liability.
NTE, the New York group that sprung up last fall, has 50 or so active
members. They have established a board of directors and hold
monthly meetings in Manhattan that are well attended. Net access is
a focus for NTE, because several public access UNIX providers have
joined; they would also like to conduct educational programs for
ordinary folk and the law enforcement community.
Ann Arbor, the Washington DC area and Huntsville, where people
have discussed forming groups, were represented, as well.
Conversation about how the Net might be organized to fight
intrusions on privacy or freedom of expression revolved around how
EFF might act as a central clearinghouse for information. But more
than that, it became apparent that a national action coordinator is
needed. This person or organization must be a conduit not only
between EFF and the regions, but also a mechanism for generating
letters to Congress, agencies and so on (for example, imagine the
impact of 100,000 letters sent to the National Security Agency vis-a-
vis encryption export policy -- the Director of the NSA should have
to wonder about how people got his address by now -- but no
such coordinated mailings have happened).
Attendees called repeatedly for a national coordinator staff member
at EFF. They also demanded that EFF take its show on the road,
having staffers and the board meet with activists around the
country. However, this may have been missing the real point -- if the
people of the Net want to have this kind of coordination, they are
probably going to have to set the wheels in motion themselves. EFF
has a talent for lobbying, and will be honing their legislative blade
over the next year. The Net -- or better, people concerned about the
extension of civil liberties into Cyberspace -- had better get to
organizing a body that can provide these services. The message is
that EFF is already busy.
So came the suggestion on the second day that a federation of
information activist organizations would be one possible solution to
the problem. Of course, more organization may be the last thing the
Net and activists need. But the suggestion was made and approved
resoundingly by all. A steering committee was named to explore how
such an organization might be launched, and to gauge the interest of
groups like Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility, the
American Library Association, ACLU and many others. The steering
committee began work on a statement of principles and conjured the
working title for the group: Congress of Information Associations
(CIA). A Birds of a Feather session to discuss the CIA will be
scheduled for the Third Conference on Computers, Freedom and
Privacy in Burlingame, Calif. on March 9 - 12, 1993. (for CFP
information, send mail to cf...@well.sf.ca.us).
What was accomplished? The reestablishment of communication
among members of a broad coalition, but one that has not succeeded
in including everyone concerned about electronic communications
and civil liberties. Contentiousness is the first law of the Net, and
there is certain to be argument about the motivations of EFF in
holding this conference without invitations to CPSR, ACLU and the
thousands of activists who are reaching users in the far corners of
the Matrix. But for those who attended, it was a weekend of
productive face-to-face talk that may serve as the foundation for
future collaboration and action.
Editor at Large
February 7, 1993
ATLANTA SUMMIT CONFERENCE
[This is not intended to be a definitive account, but rather my
personal account of what I thought was important at the Atlanta
Summit Conference. --D.S.]
The format of the conference was (roughly) a day and a half of
conversations while seated in a Georgia Tech campus building, 2-3
hours of conversation while seated at a Chinese restaurant, and many
more hours of conversation while seated in the lobby and bar of the
In addition to a greater understanding of the other groups and
individuals, I learned a lot more about EFF-Austin, and how we fit
into the "national scheme."
Take, for example, the nature of each organization. The word "civil
liberties" was dropped more times by lunch than I had heard in
almost a year of my own involvement with EFF-Austin. While EFF-
National works primarily as a political activist, EFF-Austin works as a
social activist. The strength of our organization is providing a forum
and common ground for the vast and diverse members of the Austin
While a wing of EFF-Austin may develop in the future that more
closely resembles the traditional cyber-liberties organizations, a self-
definition of "community activist" more aptly describes not only our
history but future goals as well.
A preconception I carried into Atlanta was thinking that the "Best
Thing To Do" was the creation of a document, FAQ, outline, or
guideline that served as a cookbook for creating other local groups
across the country. After meeting and speaking with members from
the other groups, however, I now believe a cookie sheet cut-out
won't work, because each group exists as a function unique to their
environment and local area.
San Francisco already hosts a strong Computer Professionals for
Social Responsibility (CPSR) group as well as Bay Area MacIntosh
User Group (BMUG). There is no need (or desire) for This!Group to
replicate those efforts. There is no need (or desire) for another highly
structured organization like an EFF-Austin, and so this is a very loose
affiliation of people picking and choosing tasks that interest them.
Judi Clark and Mitch Ratcliffe are working a CD-Rom that will be a
combination of historical archive of the Computers Freedom and
Privacy Conference (sound bytes, multi-media), as well as having
600+ textfiles. Glenn Tenney mentioned as another possible project
an informational brochure or pamphlet.
Another example of a group being a function of their area is Matt
Midboe, the representative from Huntsville. He cannot receive UUCP
access in his area, much less an Internet connection. (Note: He is
"borrowing" one from one of the Departments at his University, with
implicit permission). Austin has at least a dozen sites to receive
USENET newsgroups and e-mail access, so this is not an issue of
concern for EFF-Austin.
Finally, after listening to Simona Nass and Alexis Rosen discuss the
organization-building experiences of NTE, I am glad that we had the
good common sense to only have *one* lawyer-type and not half a
dozen or more.
Jerry Berman, executive director of EFF-National, spoke about the
recent reorganizations, the role of EFF, and how it operates. After
reading the press release and litany of jilted lovers on
comp.org.eff.talk, and after speaking with other EFF-Austin Board
members, my impression was that EFF had engaged in a full scale
Berman's explanation, however, showed the re-organization as an
attempt to realign the organization with their commitments to
advance the cyber liberties agenda. Not only did it not work to have
two offices, he said, but it was counter- productive, created mixed
signals, and was not very effective. Rather than abandoning the
communications function of the Cambridge office, they were simply
re- consolidating inside the Beltway. Nearly every member of EFF-
National that spoke admitted to the organization having a serious
communication problem, aggravated in part by having two offices.
Berman also left me with a greater understanding of the role that EFF
plays in national politics. Cyberspace is a domain in the Washington
political arena surrounded by entities who have interests other than
the First Amendment at heart : the CIA, FBI, the military, AT&T, NSA,
IBM, et. al. These organizations have enclosed telecommunications
policy into a gridlock and the way EFF-National has chosen to break
this gridlock is through alliances with as many members as possible
in order to provide for the passing of the civil liberties agenda.
Berman gave as an example the digital telephony bill, which the FBI
proposed, allowing law enforcement agencies (in essence) a back
door to all encryption methods.
EFF-National opposed this on constitutional grounds and enlisted the
aid of several business and telecommunication industry interests.
Perhaps these corporations were *really* concerned with the bottom
line and thought that the scheme would be too expensive to
implement. Perhaps they aligned with EFF-National not out of
concern about being a good democratic citizen, but out of the desire
to protect profits.
So what? says the EFF-National.
The alliance was so effective that not a single member of the Senate
nor House of Representatives sponsored the bill, when it could have
just as easily been framed as protecting the public from terrorists or
the need to be tough on crime etc. etc. The civil liberties agenda was
served through alliances with industry spear-headed by EFF-
That is the dance that Jerry Berman is hosting in Washington.
POST ATLANTA AGENDA
Besides a sense of greater understanding and co-operation between
groups (as measured by a whole week sans flames on the
thesegroups mailing list), some more concrete items are rising out of
The local groups banded together to present EFF-National with a joint
proposal about what we wanted from EFF-National. Essentially we
made a list of resource-sharing tasks that would help us out, and
asked EFF-National to assign or hire a person to perform these tasks.
Berman said this would be discussed at the Board Meeting (which
was scheduled for Sunday afternoon), though no official
announcement or follow- up as been released as of this writing.
As a direct result of contacts made in Atlanta, Matt Midboe reports
that he has located a company interested in providing access to the
A special Steering Committee was formed to investigate the creation
of a formal organizational structure that will serve as an alliance
between the cyber-liberties groups. Jon Lebkowsky immediately
volunteered as the representative for EFF-Austin, pending Board
approval at the next Director's meeting.
We also agreed to continue using the thesegroups mailing list as a
forum for communication. We discussed having another conference
in a year from now, and immediately volunteered Austin as a host
site. <joke! joke!> EFF-Austin is also working on projects that involve
members of different groups.
* * *
End note :
I want to point out that both Dick Anderson and Jon Lebkowsky
were vigorous participants in representing EFF-Austin as well. There
just wasn't room to try and discuss everything.
Also, I want to personally thank EFF-National for sponsoring the
conference and taking the time to listen to our concerns. I want to
thank EFF-National for paying for our round trip airfare and dinner
Saturday night, as well as Mike Godwin for picking up the tab at the
bar, even if Atlanta doesn't stock Shiner Bock.
EFF-Austin contact information
E-mail : eff-aus...@tic.com
Snailmail : PO Box 18597, Austin, TX 78760
VoiceMail : 512-465-7871
Disclaimers : You are encouraged to re-distribute this.
document electronically. Any opinions expressed belong to
the author and not the organization. (c) 1993
February 5, 1993
An Open Letter from Jerry Berman
Electronic Frontier Foundation
On January 12, 1993, the Electronic Frontier Foundation
announced that it was moving all of its operations to Washington, DC,
and that I was EFF's Executive Director. At the same time, EFF
announced that it was not going to establish formal EFF chapters
around the country. On January 23 and 24, members of EFF's board
and staff met in Atlanta with representatives of groups interested in
possible EFF affiliation to explain our decisions and discuss future
cooperative efforts. In this first issue of EFFector Online for 1993, we
offer you both "grass roots" and EFF views on what this all means. I
am including my own first take on the changes at EFF.
First and foremost, we are consolidating our operations in
Washington, DC, in order to better carry out our mission of fostering
openness, individual freedom and community on the electronic
frontier. We want to serve as more effective advocates of policies
and causes that increase civil liberties and democratic values in new
digital media, and we want to engage in education and advocacy both
with other groups who share a common mission and with "grass
roots" citizens on and off the net who want to join with us in these
But why Washington? The answer is plain: While many of us
are increasingly cynical about Washington, DC, and "inside the
beltway" politics, we must also understand that the momentous
decisions that affect our society are being made in Washington. This
is as true when it comes to the shaping and civilizing of cyberspace
as with anything else.
While many who already communicate online think of the
electronic frontier as inhabited by BBS systems, the WELL, USENET
and other fledgling outposts of new digital communities, in fact the
electronic frontier exists within communications wires that are
highly regulated and structured. Today, giant public and private
institutions -- from the FBI to the Congress, from the FCC to the
telephone and cable companies -- are battling between and among
themselves over the future control and governance of the electronic
Recognizing the importance of being "inside the beltway," EFF
opened the Washington office last January and ever since has
devoted an increasing amount of staff and resources to shape the
outcome of these policy battles in ways that are consistent with and
supportive of civil liberties and democratic values. Unfortunately,
we have not communicated well about our goals and activities.
Seldom have our electronic public interest policy efforts, or those of
others, been discussed in EFFector or other EFF outlets. And when
they have, they have often been badly garbled or misconstrued.
We can only accept full responsibility for failing to explain the civil
liberties implications of the "ISDN thing" or to fully communicate
EFF's leadership role in thwarting the FBI's effort to "dumb down"
new computer and communications technologies and networks to
carry out government wiretapping.
As none of these policy debates or issues are resolved, nor can
they be resolved in ways that serve the public interest without
broader citizen participation, we are restructuring our operations and
Soon, both EFFector and our new public policy newsletter will
set out the critical issues. For example, we will explain how:
* our ISDN initiative and our involvement in the NREN are
designed to empower a diversity of electronic voices to share politics,
commerce and culture with one another as we transition to the
broadband networks of the next century;
* EFF will continue to coordinate a broad coalition of
organizations -- from public interest groups like the ACLU and CPSR
to companies interested in the future of communications like AT&T,
Microsoft, Lotus and Sun Microsystems -- in opposition to the FBI's
legislation to "certify" technologies and networks only when they
meet broad, ill-defined wiretapping standards;
* EFF wants to build grass roots support for lifting export
and other controls on encryption to guarantee the right of privacy
* EFF not only wants to litigate future "Steve Jackson
Games"-type cases, but it wants to avoid the need to do so by
establishing new Secret Service and FBI investigative guidelines that
keep law enforcement officers from trampling on the First and
Fourth Amendment rights of computer users;
* we want other groups to use EFFector and other EFF
publications for communicating about their local, state and national
policy and cultural initiatives; and
* EFF is interested in working toward a possible
federation of electronic frontier outposts that we would join but not
govern or control.
To accomplish this mission, we will be located in Washington
but will maintain our presence on the Net. We are committed to
listen, learn and work towards common goals but maintain our
independence. Members of the EFF board and staff will be out and
about, both online and off.
EFF is a unique organization, operating at a critical moment.
Major policy decisions affecting free speech and privacy will be made
over the next several years. Combining technical, legislative and
legal expertise, EFF is committed to engaging in vigorous advocacy
for our vision of the electronic future, which we hope you share. We
look forward to working with you to make this vision a reality.
EFF Executive Director
(*Before joining EFF as Washington Office and now Executive Director,
Jerry Berman was Chief Legislative Counsel for the American Civil
Liberties Union and founder of the ACLU Projects on Privacy and
For information on EFF membership, email <f...@eff.org> or call
EFFector Online is published by
The Electronic Frontier Foundation
666 Pennsylvania Ave., Washington, DC 20003
Phone: +1 202 544-9237 FAX: +1 202 547 5481
Internet Address: e...@eff.org
Coordination, production and shipping by Cliff Figallo, EFF
Online Communications Coordinator (f...@eff.org)
Reproduction of this publication in electronic media is encouraged.
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To reproduce signed articles individually, please contact the authors
for their express permission.
Cliff Figallo f...@eff.org
Electronic Frontier Foundation (617)864-0665 (voice)
Online Communications Coordinator (617)864-0866 (fax)