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Re: What is the EFF doing exactly?

[This post may be fwd'd to the CP list if it does not show up there from 
my sending it.]

Bill Stewart typed:

> While nobody's called Esther Dyson a Communist here yet, there are
> people on the board I disagree with - Mitch Kapor, in particular, has shown

who is no longer on the board

> signs of being a (gasp!) Democrat!  My initial reaction to the EFF's first

Democrat v. Republican is largely irrelevant here, though more relevant 
when you get into infrastructure, universal access, and intellectual 
property issues - stuff that EFF has touched on here and there, but which 
is not at the heart of our mission.  There are other democrats on our 
board and staff, as well as Republicans.  Even Kapor, however, is very 
strongly for competition, for entrepreneurs, for markets, and ergo 
differs from a lot of Democrats in that regard. And no one at EFF that I 
know of is an extreme liberal or conservative on social issues (both 
extremes are very censorious - the right of "ungodly" things, and the 
left of "un-p.c." things).  So, again, I'd like to suggest that political 
party affiliation is approaching meaninglessness. The political axis that 
counts isn't l. vs. r., but civil libertarian v. authoritarian. No one at 
EFF is an authoritarian.

> year or two was that they were doing some very good things 
> (the Steve Jackson defense),

That was quite a bit more than a year or two ago. :)

> and also had people making speeches about
> the need to provide everybody with access to the Information SuperHighway.
> Getting the S.266 anti-crypto-pro-wiretapping bill killed a few years
> ago was what convinced me to join them, though their compromise positions
> on some of the other anti-freedom bills since then have not helped
> my mixed views of the organization.  

There were no compromise positions. We have 100% opposed implementation 
of such legislation.  In the case of the Digital Telephony Bill (the 
later version of S.266, drafted by the FBI), we were simply unable to 
stop it, and instead had to try to strip as much FBI wish list out of it 
as possible and insert privacy protections.  That's not a compromise, 
that's emergency action. We did everything we could.

We are too, for numerous reasons.

> Maybe.  If it's a good position, it will recognize that anonymity
> is a mixed blessing; there are people who use it creatively and
> responsibly, like Black Unicorn and Lucky Green, and there are
> spammers who abuse it to the detriment of society, like the slimeball
> who used my remailer to post hatemail to the gay newsgroups with
> somebody else's name attached to the bottom.  On the other hand,
> free speech is also a mixed blessing; there _are_ things I wish people

Such a position is likely to be the one EFF takes if it takes one, which 
is probable.  EFF in generally does not issue extremist position 
statements, but is careful to examine the risks as well as the benefits, 
and look for pro-liberty solutions to those risks. 

> had the good taste not to say, but I'm not going to get in Voltaire's
> way while he defends to the death their right to say them...

Just as an aside, in case anyone's interested, what Voltaire actually 
said was, "I never approved either the errors of his book, or the trivial 
truths he so vigorously laid down. I have, however, stoutly taken his side
when absurd men have condemned him for these same truths."  The "defend 
to the death his right to say it" paraphrase is an embellishment. :)

<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>