1997-06-03 - “Follow the money”

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From: Tim May <tcmay@got.net>
To: cypherpunks@Algebra.COM
Message Hash: 9d22497bfa46d5adaf6d9700160f1e8f7238aff1e3dc946e5e772b6a80730a3f
Message ID: <v03102803afba0104af92@[]>
Reply To: <v03007805afb8066bc310@[]>
UTC Datetime: 1997-06-03 17:46:12 UTC
Raw Date: Wed, 4 Jun 1997 01:46:12 +0800

Raw message

From: Tim May <tcmay@got.net>
Date: Wed, 4 Jun 1997 01:46:12 +0800
To: cypherpunks@Algebra.COM
Subject: "Follow the money"
In-Reply-To: <v03007805afb8066bc310@[]>
Message-ID: <v03102803afba0104af92@[]>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

At 5:54 AM -0700 6/3/97, Declan McCullagh wrote:
>This is a crucial point. Rotenberg != Berman.
>As much as I like individuals at CDT, I disagree fairly often with the
>organization's position. CDT supported the so-called "compromise" that
>would have replaced the CDA's indecency provision with a ban on material
>that's "harmful to minors." They've done the wrong thing on Digital
>Telephony in many cases -- helping phone companies suck in $$$ to make
>their systems wiretappable more than helping civil liberties -- and
>continue to do so. They're now silent (read the latest CDT post) on the
>many problems with SAFE.
>Then again, CDT may not be good on individual rights in the examples above
>but they don't support Rotenbergesque privacy regulations either. Again:
>issue-by-issue alliances.

It seems to me that an accounting of the *funding* of these organizations
is in order. What fraction of CDT's budget comes from the telecom industry?
What fraction from the software companies? What about the established
crypto companies?

"Follow the money."

In their defense (!), it may be hard indeed for any group like them to
viably exist on small contributions from citizens and indivuals at the
bottom of the privacy food chain. The EFF made an attempt to get a lot of
such members, but my sources tell me the membership base never exceeed
2500. I don't know what the current membership figures are.

(2500 x $30 a year (on average) = $75,000, or hardly enough to pay for one
computer technician or for one small bribe to a Congressional staffer.)

(I was a member for a couple of years. I refused to sign up again after the
Wiretap Bill fiasco, but then signed up again later when an Executive
Director said they'd learned to mend their ways. No more, as it no longer
seems a member-oriented group. To defend them, it probably would cost a lot
more than $75K to have a staff to increase memmbership, to put out a
newspaper or magazine, etc.)

The National Rifle Association, NRA, is a good example to compare EFF,
EPIC, CDT, etc. to. The NRA is largely member-driven, though membership has
been declining.

(The Charlton Heston faction says its because members were put off by the
"militia" rhetoric, i.e., the strong pro-Second stance. Others of us say
we've quit because NRA became too namby pamby about basic rights, e.g., its
support of gun registration.)

When the NRA took a greater fraction of its funding from "industry," it
molded its views to those of industry. One manufacturer, Ruger (Sturm,
Ruger, and Co.) decided that limits on "assault rifles" were not so bad,
and the NRA followed suit. (This may be the reason today why NRA is mostly
silent on the new bans on import of low-cost Chinese, Russian, and East
Bloc rifles: such imports hurt Ruger, and Colt, and other American

NRA is still a mostly member-driven organization (lots of dues flowing in),
and yet it bends to industry wishes. I shudder to think what the NRA would
be supporting if it were mainly _industry_-driven.

Which is what I'm sure CDT and EPIC are.

--Tim May

There's something wrong when I'm a felon under an increasing number of laws.
Only one response to the key grabbers is warranted: "Death to Tyrants!"
Timothy C. May              | Crypto Anarchy: encryption, digital money,
tcmay@got.net  408-728-0152 | anonymous networks, digital pseudonyms, zero
W.A.S.T.E.: Corralitos, CA  | knowledge, reputations, information markets,
Higher Power: 2^1398269     | black markets, collapse of governments.
"National borders aren't even speed bumps on the information superhighway."