I did a few searches, and looked around the EFF site to get an idea of where their money comes from. I did not find the information, except in a general sense, that a percentage comes from foundations, some from companies, and some from individuals.
I’m sure they try to represent all of us, and they have done a great job, except now, when it comes to the NSA revelations, it seems to me that they, like a lot of the pundits in tech, have a conflict, unless little or none of their funding comes from the tech industry.
As Bruce Schneier observes, the tech industry is now clearly subordinate to the US government. How long this has been going on is in dispute. Schneier believes it’s recent. I think it’s deeply ingrained in the structure of the tech industry. There’s a revolving door between government and the industry, as with every other industry. Tech is younger so it’s less developed, but it’s catching up quickly.
Foundations like the EFF may be conflicted as well. Until we know where their money comes from, we won’t have a good picture of whether or how conflicted they are.
There has been some discussion. Bruce Sterling wrote a piece that was critical of the EFF without naming them, criticism that I thought was fair. There was a response from Cory Doctorow on Boing Boing and one by Danny O’Brien who currently works at EFF.
Doctorow is a former staffer at EFF and a current EFF fellow.
The discussion so far has been superficial and some of it disappointingly personal. It would be better to get an overall sense of who we’re dealing with. Is EFF repping Google, Apple, Amazon, etc? Or the users of the Internet? Can’t really represent both now, because the interests are in conflict, imho. And if EFF doesn’t represent the people, who does?
- John Perry Barlow, co-founder of EFF, offers in a tweet: “Please give us a sense of how you’d like #EFF’s income stream to be broken down and we’ll do it.”
— John Perry Barlow (@JPBarlow) August 13, 2013
- Thanks, that would be great. Any way that answers this question — how much of EFF’s funding comes from the tech industry. And to be complete, how much comes from governments, although I’m pretty sure that’s close to nil. 😉