[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]
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>