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Re: Why organizations turn statist.



 James A. Donald typed:
> The EFF is ultimately a business lobby group, because it gets
> most of its funding from businesses.  

Faulty logic.  A does not follow from B.  I have news for you: Most 
nonprofits get most of their funding from businesses.  In some cases, 
corporations offer funding because the organization exists to represent 
their corporate donors (such things are variously called industry 
associations, trade groups, and in some cases PACs.) Others give to 
organizations that are centered on a written mission statement, rather 
than on the flexible interests of the donors, and the give because it 1) 
improves their market or customer base in various ways, and 2) allows 
them to claim philanthropy and charity, which are marketable traits.

There's a very large difference between organizations that exist to 
represent the interests of members and donors, whatever those interests 
happen to be at the moment, and organizations with specific mission 
statements. It doesn't do well to confuse the two.  It's the difference 
between the Business Software Alliance and the Free Software Foundation,
between the Telephone Association of America and Voters' Telecom Watch.

> It is therefore potentially
> subject to the same corruption as other business lobbies.

This is assumption not fact.  The facts are that EFF accepts donations 
from companies that support our mission. If they expect to get some kind 
of trade association style "representation" for that, they are deluded.
What they get is our work to help the Net grow and flourish, which is 
good for their business. That's the perq they get. Nothing else. 

If you don't believe this, I invite you to ask all of the RBOCs whether 
they give us money any more. They used to, but didn't listen and expected 
us to act like their PAC, particularly on Digital Telephony. Instead of 
fighting for RBOCs' "rights" we fought for YOURS. They don't fund us any 
more. We don't care.  Our mission doesn't bend to attract funders. It's 
stayed the same since day one.  You may think EFF didn't do a good job on 
DigTel, but we didn't do Bell Atlantic's dance, that's for sure. And why 
don't you ask our boardmember Tim O'Reilly whether EFF has asked him to 
stop combatting MicroSoft attempts to license how many IP connections 
people can make with NT Server, because it hurts our chances of getting 
money from Bill Gates.
 
EFF has certainly be *pressured* to behave like a PAC, and this was one 
of our many reasons for leaving DC. It became increasingly difficult to 
fund a DC-based organization that was *not* a membership-controlled 
lobbying organization.  We're betting on one thing: That the software, 
online commerce, and related industries, centered on Silicon Valley, can be
dragged into the politics that are threatening to stomp them.  It's been 
observed multiple times by several commentators that some key differences 
between this industry and older industries are 1) lack of philanthropy - 
almost no charitable organization support is seen from the computer 
industry at all, and 2) participation in the political process - there 
really hasn't been much action of any kind from the computer industry in 
legislative or legal issues in general, only on specific stuff like their
particular intellectual property rights, even though some of the 
political issues cropping up on the Hill threaten their entire market.
Most analysis concludes that these two lacking features are due to youth 
of the industry, and lack of anyone pushing them into action. So, we're 
pushing. If we fail, we won't be here in 1997.

EFF does not want to be a PAC. We *can't* be a PAC. We don't have the 
necessary skill set (we have a membership coordinator, we have civil 
liberties attorneys, etc.  We do not have professional lobbyists, nor do 
we have an on-staff media and PR communicator, as some examples.)  We'd 
like to see the industry recognize that what we're doing is vital for 
them, and to support it, but also to get their own trade associations 
going and working and actually engaged in the political process (for one 
thing, that further reduces any desire to try to get EFF to play that 
role, which we will not do. Less wasted time and effort pushing us, and 
less of the same from us pushing back.)

I hope this explains the situation fairly clearly.


> To be a successful lobby group, the EFF needs to get its
> fingerprints on legislation, so that it can make threats and
> promises to businessmen in the computer industry.

EFF isn't interested in being "a successful lobby group". That's CDT's job.
You may have missed some of the history here: CDT's core staff is our 
former policy staff. They split off because they wanted to do lobbying 
work, and EFF didn't.

> Our interests, and the EFF's interest are opposed with no
> apparent mutual good possible.

That's absurd.  I suppose you think ITAR and the CDA are good things? If 
not, then our work to defeat them is mutual good.
 
> In order to be well funded, the EFF needs government
> regulation of the net.  The kind of regulation that would be

That's absurd, too.  I suppose there's a hidden grain of logic there: EFF 
would have little or no reason to exist without some kind of bad action 
on the part of government when it comes to the Net.  This is true. We all 
would be really happy if that weren't the case and there was no need for 
an EFF. The day the government stops censoring and EFF can go away will 
be the happiest day of my life if it ever happens.  Hell, I could be making 
3x my current salary in the commercial sector. If you think I do this 
because I enjoy working 12 hour days fighting the largest government on 
earth, for a paycheck that only barely covers the bills, you have another 
think coming. At any rate, there is no logical connection whatsoever 
between the grain of truth here, and your conclusion (that EFF must be 
working to *increase* government control to keep itself alive).  There 
are many assumptions that one is required to make before arrival at
that conclusion from the data, and some of these conclusions are not 
only contradictory, but precluded by other observable facts.

[...]
> most effective in ensuring large donations would be regulation
> that compels internet businessmen to lobby the government.
> for example regulations that make impossible, inconsistent, and
> contradictory requirements on those who provide software,
[...]

In other words you are claiming EFF authored the Communications Decency Act?

[...]
> of business,  for example legislation that requires case 
> by case approval of software, or legislation that compels
> the businessman to invade his customers privacy, and also
> prohibits him from invading that privacy unless he has a
> waiver issued by the state.

In other words, you are claiming EFF is not really behind the Bernstein 
v. US Dept. of State suit to get rid of the only existing US "legislation 
that requires case by case approval of software"?

--
<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>