1001 G St. NW, Ste. 950 E
Washington DC 20001 USA
+1 202 347 5400 (voice)
+1 202 393 5509 (fax)

From: John Perry Barlow
Date: Saturday, July 21, 1990

Good people,

Greetings.  Some of you who read Crime and Puzzlement when it first
went digital and offered immediate help in dealing with the issues
raised therein.  It's been five weeks since I promised to get back to
you "shortly."  It is now clear that we are operating on political
rather than electronic time.  And political time, though not so
ponderous as geologic time or, worse, legal time, is hardly swift.  The
Net may be instantaneous, but people are as slow as ever.

Nevertheless, much has happened since early June.  Crime and Puzzlement
rattled all over Cyberspace and has, by now, generated almost 300
unsolicited offers of, physical, and virtual.  At
times during this period I responded to as many as 100 e-mail messages
a day with the average running around 50.  (The voice of Peter Lorre is
heard in the background, repeating, "Toktor, ve haf created a

Well, we have at least created an organization.  Lotus founder Mitch
Kapor and I have founded the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an
endeavor for which we have immodest ambitions.  Descending from the
Computer Liberty Foundation mentioned in Crime and Puzzlement, the EFF
has received initial (and extremely generous) funding from Mitch, Steve
Wozniak, and another Silicon Valley pioneer who wishes to remain
anonymous.  We have also received many smaller offers of support.

As you will see in the accompanying press release, we formally
announced the EFF at a press conference in Washington on July 10.  The
press attention was lavish but predictable...KAPOR TO AID COMPUTER
CRIMINALS.  Actually, our mission is nothing less than the civilization
of Cyberspace.

We mean to achieve this through a variety of undertakings, ranging from
immediate legal action to patient, long-lasting efforts aimed at
forming, in the public consciousness, useful metaphors for life in the
Datasphere.  There is much to do.  Here is an abbreviated description
of what we are already doing:

*       We have engaged the law firms of Rabinowitz, Boudin, Standard,
Krinsky & Lieberman and Silverglate & Good to intervene on behalf of
Craig Neidorf (the publisher of Phrack) and Steve Jackson Games.  (For
a digest of the legal issues, please see the message following this
one.)  We became involved in these particular cases because of their
general relevance and we remain alert to developments in a number of
other related cases.

Despite what you may have read, we are not involved in these legal
matters as a "cracker's defense fund," but rather to ensure that the
Constitution will continue to apply to digital media.  Free expression
must be preserved long after the last printing press is gathering
museum dust.  And we intend an unequivocal legal demonstration that
speech is speech whether it finds form in ink or in ascii.

*       We have funded a significant two-year project on computing and
civil liberties to be managed by the Computer Professionals for Social
Responsibility.  With it, we aim to acquaint policy makers and law
enforcement officials of the civil liberties issues which may lie
hidden in the brambles of telecommunications policy.  (A full
description of this project follows.)

*       During the days before and after the press conference, Mitch
and I met with Congressional staffers, legal authorities, and
journalists, as well as officials from the White House and Library of
Congress.  Thus we began discussions which we expect to continue over a
period of years.  These informal sessions will relate to intellectual
property,  free flow of information, law enforcement training and
techniques, and telecommunications law, infrastructure, and

Much of this promises to be boring as dirt, but we believe that it is
necessary to "re-package" the central issues in more digestible, even
entertaining, forms if the general public is to become involved in the
policies which will fundamentally determine the future of American

*       Recognizing that Cyberspace will be only as civilized as its
inhabitants, we are working with a software developer to create an
"intelligent front end" for UNIX mail systems.  This will, we hope,
make Net access so easy that your mother will be able cruise around the
digital domain (if you can figure out a way to make her want to).  As
many of you are keenly aware, the best way, perhaps the only way, to
understand the issues involved in digital telecommunications is to
experience them first hand.

These are audacious goals.  However, the enthusiasm already shown the
Foundation indicates that they may not be unrealistic ones.  The EFF
could be like a seed crystal dropped into a super-saturated solution.
(Or perhaps more appropriately, "the hundredth monkey.")  Our
organization has been so far extremely self-generative as people find
in it an expression for concerns which they had felt but had not

In any case, we are seeing a spirit of voluntary engagement which is
quite a departure from the common public interest sensation of "pushing
a rope."

You, the recipients of this first e-mailing are the pioneers in this
effort.  By coming forward and offering your support, both financial
and personal, you are doing much to define the eventual structure and
flavor of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

And much remains to be defined.  We are applying for 501(c)3 status,
which means that your contributions to the Foundation will be tax
deductible at the time this status is granted.  However, tax-exempt
status also places restrictions on the ability to lobby which may not
be consistent with our mission.  Like many activist organizations, we
may find it necessary to maintain two organizations, one for lobbying
and the other for education.

We are in the process of setting up both a BBS in Cambridge and a Net
newsgroups.  None of this is as straightforward as we would have it
be.  We have also just received an offer of production and editorial
help with a newsletter.

What can you do?  Well, for starters, you can spread the word about EFF
as widely as possible, both on and off the Net.  Feel free, for
example, to distribute any of the materials included in this or
subsequent mailings, especially to those who may be interested but who
may not have Net access.

You can turn some of the immense processing horsepower of your
distributed Mind to the task of finding useful new metaphors for
community, expression, property, privacy and other realities of the
physical world which seem up for grabs in these less tangible regions.

And you can try to communicate to technically unsophisticated friends
the extent to which their future freedoms and well-being may depend on
understanding the broad forms of digital communication, if not
necessarily the technical details.

Finally, you can keep in touch with us at any of the above addresses.
Please pass on your thoughts, concerns, insights, contacts,
suggestions, and, and most importantly, news of relevant events.  And
we will return the favor.


John Perry Barlow
for The Electronic Frontier Foundation