Mitchell D. Kapor and John Perry Barlow have established a foundation, called the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), to address social and legal issues arising from an increasing use of electronic forms of communication. The EFF's mission is to civilize the electronic frontier by educating people in electronic communications, advising policy makers and the public on First Amendment matters being applied to telecommunications, and encouraging the creation of tools that make electronic forms of communications accessible to people other than the technical elite.
The initial funding for the EFF came from Kapor and Steve Wozniak, cofounder of Apple Computer. The EFF's first actions have been to award a grant to the Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility (CPSR). The grant will be used by CPSR to expand the scope of its on-going Computing and Civil Liberties Project. Other current EFF projects include legal intervention on the part of Steve Jackson, a game manufacturer whose computer equipment was seized in the Secret Service's Operation Sun Devil, and intervention in the case of Craig Neidorf, a University of Missouri student who is the editor of the electronic newsletter Phrack World News.
The founding of the EFF is ironic in the face of news that Lotus Corporation recently won its suit against Paperback Software for interface infringement and is proceeding to bring charges against Borland International and the Santa Cruz Operation (SCO). Perhaps the EFF will help defend against Lotus, although it seems that the EFF is aiming more to help individuals and small organizations who cannot adequately defend themselves. Kapor, who left the management of Lotus some time ago, has already said that he does not approve of the Paperback Software decision and opposes Lotus's decision to sue Borland and SCO.
The founding of the EFF seems to us to be a good step in the right direction because so much public policy relating to computers and telecommunications has been misguided due to lawmakers being unaware of the surrounding issues. If you feel strongly about this or just want more information, write or call the EFF and tell them you approve (or disapprove, as the case may be, although we hope not). Just mention where you read about the EFF as they may be interested in the sort of thing we are doing with TidBITS as well.
Electronic Frontier Foundation
One Cambridge Center, Suite 300
Cambridge, MA 02142
617/577-1385 -- fax 617/225-2347
InfoWorld -- 09-Jul-90, Vol. 12 #28, pg. 1
MacWEEK -- 10-Jul-90, Vol. 4 #25, pg. 113