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Re: What is the EFF doing exactly?
[again, since I'm not on the CP list these days, feel free to bounce this
over to the list if it doesn't make it. I'm not sure what the
non-subscriber posting policy is and/or whether such attempted posts are
filtered out, though I seem to recall they didn't used to be.]
Black Unicorn typed:
> On Mon, 2 Sep 1996, Vladimir Z. Nuri wrote:
> > ah, the quasi-yearly ranting on EFF has started up. what a great
> > opportunity for drop-down-drag-dead flamewar.
> > Black Unicorn: I resent your holier-than-thou moral posturing
> > over EFF, and am going to attack it as representative of other
> > criticism I have seen of EFF.
> I, unlike EFF, have never compromised my efforts to make strong crypto,
> unescrowed strong crypto, and digitial communications, free from the FUD
> spouted by government and media alike. I, unlike EFF, have never
> compromised my efforts to resist the expansion of a wiretap state. I,
> unlike EFF, have never proported to be a political represenative for these
> positions and folded under the weakest of pressures like a reed.
EFF has done none of that either.
Compromise: 1. a settlement in which each side gives up some demands or
makes concessions. 2. a) an adjustment of opposing principles, systems,
etc., by modifying some aspects of each b) the result of such an
adjustment. 3. something midway between two other things 4. a) exposure,
as of one's reputation, to danger, suspicion, or disrepute b) a
weakening, as of one's principles, ideals, etc.) as for reasons of
1 did not occur. EFF yielded nothing on any of the issues you mention.
On Digital Telephony, which you clearly allude to, EFF opposed
implementation of the wiretapping provisions of the CALEA bill from start
to finish, and was instrumental in stripping most of them out, replacing
them with new privacy protections. 2 did not occur. Our mission remains
unedited from the day it was adopted, and EFF is just as committed to those
principles now as ever. We don't have a system, in the relevant sense,
as such. There was no such adjustment, ergo no result of one. 3 does
not apply in any relevant sense (our steadfast assault against the CDA is
a "compromise" under such a definition because it was neither a total
victory, nor a total loss - yet I'm certain this is not the definition of
"compromise" that you intend). 4a is not relevant (that's the
security/secrecy-related definition, a nonsequitur in this context). 4b
is simply a restatement of 2a - simply didn't happen. Our results speak
for themselves on this.
> > EFF is an organization that is professional and has
> > worked toward improving cyberspace. it is easy for someone
> > such as yourself to criticize such an organization anonymously,
> > but what is the justification of your criticism? to me someone
> > who has tried and failed, yet is still trying, is better than
> > someone who has never tried.
> I would put forth that you know nothing of my efforts, and therefore are
> in no position to judge me. I would also put forth that the efforts of
> EFF, or lack thereof, are quite public.
I would put forth that the public factors of EFF's efforts are quite
public, but that you know nothing of the internal factors of those
efforts, and ergo lack sufficient knowledge to make the allegations you make.
> > what *constructive*
> > alternative to EFF do you propose? if you have none, please shut up.
> I think any organization that would apply political pressure rather than
> bow to it would be an alternative. I think an organization in touch
I'm at a loss to think of any time in which EFF did otherwise. I don't
think you have any concept whatsoever what a fight EFF put up over
Digital Telephony. I would strongly advise a reading of the original
version of the DT/CALEA bill, and the version that passed after EFF took
an axe to it. You'll find a world of difference. You're welcome.
We make no bones about the fact that the DT bill passing at all with
wiretap provisions in it was a defeat. Defeats happen. Being defeated
is not the same thing as bowing, as yielding the fight.
> enough with its own policy to prevent its staff and board from making
> embarassing big brother type proposals to curtail the ability of any of us
> to post without attributation would be an alternative. I think an
In other words you propose an alternate EFF that censors its own boardmembers.
I'm not aware of any logical consistency that could adhere to an
organization that simultaneously says it supports free speech, yet
demands that its board of directors never speak except in agreement with
the organization's policy. You are asking for a mini-dictatorship. EFF
has no position on anonymity. We also have no position on abortion or on
whether roast duck is better than fried chicken. You are in essence
demanding that EFF impeach any boardmember that offers an opinion in
public or in private about whether or not chicken is good stuff, or states
a belief about right to choose v. right to life positions.
I'm sorry that we are not totalitarian enough for you.
Incidentally, Dyson made no such proposal as you refer to, but simply
expressed questions and doubts about the misuse of anonymity, and made a
clear and correct statement of fact ("you need to be able to get at
somebody's identity to enforce accountability") without offering any
value judgement about whether that was a good idea. She concluded that
"the question is how do you also enforce freedom of speech and freedom
from prosecution for unpopular opinions," clearly indicating at least as
much doubt about the value of any attempt to force identifiability and
accountability. Even Dyson's lead statement that "the damage that can be
done by anonymity is far bigger" online that offline is factually correct,
and does not consist of any kind of value judgement. It's simply an
honest and, IMNERHO, necessary observation. If we lie to the public, or
lie to ourselves, we lose, because the opposition will have arguements we
have not even looked at much less wrestled with.
I'm sorry we are not self-delusional and dishonest enough for you.
> organization without the internal conflict and strife that has clearly
> marred EFF in past and made it a laughable attempt at cohesive political
> persuasion would be an alternative.
I have news for you: We are human. Incidentally, two points: 1)
"cohesive political persuasion" is not the be-all and end-all of civil
liberties work, just a part of it; and 2) the political cohesion you want
to see is very hard to accomplish, because civil libertarians are loath
to march in lockstep. Compare the Christian Coalition and their allies -
authoritarians all. It is no surprise, on a moment's consideration, that
their spot on the politics-of-rights-and-authority axis has everything to do
with their ability to suspend disbelief, to embrace blind faith, and to act
in unison. BUT - a lot of progress is being made. EFF, ACLU, CDT, VTW,
EPIC, et al., are all coordinating like never before, new global-scale
civil liberties coalitions are forming, joint legal cases being filed,
joint press releases and action alerts, being issued, conferences
organized together, etc. What you are looking for is evolving as we type.
> I think an organization that had
> official policies on the core issues which it proposes to influence would
> be an alternative.
EFF has that. We have not proposed to influence anonymity issues, and we
do not have a policy on that issue. When we have a policy on it, we'll
probably propose to influence it.
> In short, an organization that had even one of the needed elements of
> legislative influence. (Cohesive, directed, persistent, and
We have all of these elements, but we have a lot more to do than engage
in legislative influence. You've all seen how well that worked. The
process is very corrupt, so we have to use it sparingly, and only
when nececessary. The bulk of our work has to be done in other areas
like supporting technical development, fighting cases to the Supreme Court,
direct grassroots action campaigns, public education, media exposure, etc.
All of these things directly affect the Hill, but EFF is not solely a
lobbying organization. Even CDT and other DC-based groups are not solely
> > I am tired of people announcing loudly to the world, "well if EFF
> > doesn't support [insert my personal jihad here], then they're
> > a bunch of losers who don't deserve anyone's money".
> Now who's holier-than-thou? What is so shocking about announcing that a
> given organization does not support my interests and therefore calling on
> others who share my interests not to make financial donations to said
What's shocking to me is that you'd state as fact "that a given
organization does not support [your] interests" when you have no actual
knowledge of whether that's true or not, just a vague perception based on
clearly insufficient information, and misapprehensions of fact that are
> Is there something EFF fears in free speech and political
> consensus building? Perhaps if they had a straightforward policy....
Certainly not. And please note that the person you are responding to does
not speak for EFF, so your question is a nonsequitur.
[Some stuff skipped, since irrelevant.]
> > get a clue. an organization does not have to officially espouse what
> > its members espouse.
> No, but when an organization espouses nothing on a given subject key to
> its mission, what does that say? What about when its members espouse
That says that the board of that organization has yet to come to
consensus on the issue. Happens all the time. Ask the ACLU - there are
all kinds of issues that someone somewhere thinks is "key to its mission"
that ACLU has not yet evolved a position on, and won't until they need to
due to some event or impending event such as legislation or a court case.
Personally I agree with you that this issue is key to our mission, and I
hope that EFF has a position on it soon. But I'm not the chairman of the
board, so I wait, and I speak my mind. I have no problem with you
speaking your mind, or even being less willing to wait. But I have no
respect for unfounded accusations and fingerpointing. I don't even have
much respect for well-founded fingerpointing when it's not helpful.
Cypherpunks are supposed to write code. This is a waste of time.
> entirely different and even counter productive beliefs? I would hardly
> trust Senator Burns on the board of the ACLU, or a George Pacific
> exec on Sierra Club's board. What's different here?
Neither are on our board. What's your point?
> > what an organization espouses should be carefully
> > crafted. if all members feel strongly about an issue, yet all also
> > feel that it should not be part of the official plank, then that may be
> > a wise decision to leave it out. what an organization does *not* do is as
> > important as what it does do. EFF is learning, by trial and error and the
> > hard way, to "choose battles wisely".
> I thought its point was to protect cyberspace? What battles are left
> after Digital Telecom, Anonymous Communication, Strong Crypto and CDA?
About a thousand. Probably more.
> There aren't many battles to choose.
What a laugh. Just an example: At least 12 US state have passed or are
considering passing CDA-like state legislation. Even after we kick the
CDA's unconstitutional butt, each one of those state bills, with one or
two exceptions if we're lucky, will have to be individually dealt with
all the way to the state supreme courts in all probability, and quite
possibly to the US Supreme Court in some cases. None of these bills are
direct clones of the CDA, and it's doubtful that a whole lot of the CDA
ruling will apply to them, necessitating individual constitutionality
challenges. Now think on how many other jurisdictions there are in the
world, from the local to the multinational, and consider how many of them
have or are in the process of getting their own CDA-alike. And this is
before we even think about censorship of online "hate speech" or
"dangerous information". This is just the anti-porn bills. AND, when all
is said and done the majority of these jurisdictions, especially the US
federal Congress, are very likely to come right back and try it all
again, with slightly modified bills that attempt to get around previous
rulings. This is complete aside from privacy issues which are even less
clear-cut than free speech issues. If you think there are a handful of
issues to wrestle with, you are very, very sadly mistaken. There's an
ocean of them.
> Let's seem some action.
I must surmise you don't read much about us.
> I can sit
> on my hands all day long too, but I will hardly claim to be supporting
> hunger prevention in Africa by "thinking very hard about the subject."
> (Particularly not when I have accepted money to further that goal).
http://www.eff.org/pub/Intellectual_property/NII_copyright_bill [EFF has
a position on intprop in as much as the fair use rights of the public
are involved, and we work with DFC on this issue.]
and so forth and so on. That's just off the top of my head.
[Note: If one of these URLs doesn't work for you, stick "/index.html" at
the end of it and try again, and/or try www2.eff.org instead of www.eff.org.]
> > I would love to see more info about EFF's new direction. but one
> > can ask for such clarification without a rabid style such as your own.
> Are you one of those people who still believes you can get more flies with
> honey...? Ever been to Washington, D.C.?
What does DC have to do with clarification of EFF's "new direction"? EFF
was not founded in DC, and is not based there now. CDT fissioned off to
do the DC stuff.
> > blah, blah, blah. why should EFF give the slightest damn what you think
> > of them?
> Its fairly clear that they don't. That said, why should I not make that
You are mistaken. Don't think for an instant I'd waste 5 seconds of
staff time on you otherwise. I have 10x more to do than I have time to
do it in.
[rest deleted as irrelevant, since founded on mistaken assumption.]
> > why do I see so much of this in cyberspace and on the cpunks list:
> > gripes, gripes, gripes by people who have no record themselves of
> > doing anything constructive...? the difficulty of doing something
> > constructive is proven by the failures, it is not necessarily
> > evidence of incompetence or conspiracies. perhaps you, Unicorn,
> > feel the cpunks have a greater track record than EFF?
> I do infact feel the cpunks have a greater track record than EFF. Tell
> me, what has EFF done?
See URLs above. Consider it a suggested reading list.
The list of "cypherpunk" accomplishments in terms
> of making the net a better place to be is, in my view, significant.
Indeed it is. I do not think it possible to quantify what EFF have done
or what CPs have done, and then weigh the two against eachother. I have yet
to see an accomplishometer. I also can't think of any point in doing so.
This is not a contest. We are on the same side.
> Certainly the discussion here is livelier than anything I've seen from
EFF is not a discussion forum (though we provide, in some sense, a pretty
lively one at comp.org.eff.talk in Usenet. We also started
alt.politics.datahighway, which sees some traffic, mostly about US govt
"info superhighway" hype and b.s. Comp.org.eff.talk is more general,
and tends to focus on civil liberties issues and cases.)
> > >I would be most happy to be proven wrong and see EFF suddenly, in a burst
> > >of impressive moral fiber, speak out publically and take some political
> > >action to assure anonymous communication.
> > I would like you to explain why you feel the need to criticize EFF
> > for not necessarily sharing your own agenda.
> The same reason I feel free to criticize communism for not sharing my own
> You reveal here the basic character of your objection. You don't like
> the fact that I criticized EFF. It has nothing to do with the fact that
> you think EFF has done wonderful and fantastic things (you point to none
> in this post) but that you have some emotional fondness for them. This is
> the trap. EFF _sounds_ good, and so its worth sticking up for. Well
> what, EFF, have you done for us LATELY?
Again, see above. See in particular:
- PA court rules CDA unconstitutional
http://www.eff.org/pub/Legal/Cases/Bernstein_v_DoS - CA court rules
software - both source and object code - protected expression under the
Both cases are headed for the Supreme Court.
NB: I think your criticism is valid at least in the abstract. It is
certainly fair to ask what we've done, not how we sound or feel. I think
the refereces I've provided will answer that question adequately.
> > >Well, let's have a clear official position issued then to end all dispute.
> > again, you fail to grasp: EFF may justifiably not want to engage in that
> > fight. it might be a wise decision. who are you to dictate EFF's
> > agenda? why are you picking a fight with someone who might be the
> > best ally?
> If EFF is the best ally then we need to seek others. They have done
> nothing in my view to help keep strong crypto around, to secure a person's
> right to speak without a citizen unit I.D. being attached, and to promote,
> by extension, free speech.
Then you know absolutely diddley about what we are doing. Beware
lecturing about that of which you know little. If our legal cases win,
we win all of the above concerns you just articulated. And both cases
look very much like they will win hands down. And, these are hardly the
only fronts we are working on.
> Look, even you have gotten on my case here for
> speaking without revealing my real name. You think something I said
Notably I have not. Indeed, I mentioned to the board here that the fact
that I've met you in person, signed your PGP key, had you and other DC
CP's over to EFF's DC office for CP meetings, was a testament to
anonymity/pseudonymity - I didn't need to know the name the government
calls you buy, just needed to see enough evidence that you as a body are
attached to Black Unicorn as a nym, and to have an idea of the reputation
of the nym.
[non-relevant (to me) comments skipped.]
> > > Of
> > >course you should expect people to wonder about EFF when you have no
> > > official position and yet some staff and board members seem to have a
> > >statist bent.
> > and you, like many other cypherpunks and cyberspace weasels,
> > have a whine-and-shriek-from-the-shadows bent.
> And your point is?
> You'd like the shadows lifted? Speaking without a true name attached is
> somehow evil?
I tend to suspect the criticism had more to do with "all talk and no
action" and other such concerns. Just my interpretation.
> Why not make some solid arguments for why TCM is wrong then? Certainly it
> appears he is on the mark to me.
The main flaw in this reasoning (which I'm not sure at all is actually
Tim's reasoning, but appears to be the reasoning here) is that these
efforts are not contradictory, but complementary. As a practical matter,
the entire question is meaningless since neither effort can be measured,
and there is no point in doing so in the first place, since no issue of
whether or not the CPs or the EFF is 'better' has arisen, and no such
issue makes sense.
> > I also don't understand the anonymity fight by cpunks. it's the
> > wrong battle imho. ask any remailer operators how their services
> > are panning out. they will complain of the incessant spam and
> > increasing litigious pressure. I don't see any technological
> > solutions to these problems. if there were, they'd have been
> > invented now.
> This is EFF talking. "The situation is hopeless, bail now to preserve
Uh, no, that was someone talking, who has an individual opinion on the
subject. One that I don't share and that I don't think anyone else shares
at EFF either. In particular, the litigatory pressures are likely to be
groundless, at least in US law. There is a hell of a lot of caselaw
supporting the rights to anonymous and pseudonymous speech and publication.
As for the spam problem, that can be rather trivially fixed with filters
(or reduced, at least. Clever people will always find a way to break or
abuse any given system.)
EFF has never "bailed" from any issue to preserve image. If we'd been
concerned with image, we would not have taken the tactic we did with
DigTel - a tactic that worked incompletely but better than shouting "boo"
from the sidelines, but a tactic which harmed our image very much. Such
is the price we pay. Our mission is not "to look cool to the public",
much less to Cypherpunks, our mission is to protect the public interest
and individual liberty.
> Explain to me how reputation systems work in the absence of anonymity.
> Explain to me when freedom has been anything but "a pain in the ass."
I have to agree wholeheartedly.
> Weakness is all you have to offer. Offer it to EFF.
No thanks, we have no use for it. We also have no use for pointless
ankle-biting. Please, go write some code. That's what you guys are best
at, and it's why you're here ("here" = cypherpunks). If you are in need
of a project, how about an anon remailer that runs on Windows 3.x, NT,
and 95, and another for Mac? There are what, maybe 20 operational
chained remailers right now? That's not going to cut it. There need to
be more. (This is MY PERSONAL opinion, not an EFF statement of policy.
For the time being anyway. :)
PS: No hard feelings are held here, on my part, and I intend to convey
none, even if I do argue forcefully. I am not your enemy. Consider this a
workout, some mental sparring to get the blood flowing.
<HTML><A HREF="http://www.eff.org/~mech/"> Stanton McCandlish
</A><HR><A HREF="mailto:[email protected]"> [email protected]
</A><P><A HREF="http://www.eff.org/"> Electronic Frontier Foundation
</A><P><A HREF="http://www.eff.org/A"> Online Activist </A></HTML>