A Little EFF/CDT History

I learned this from Alan Davidson while he was working at CDT, but here it is from a CNet article published while I was out of the country last week: EFF reaches out to D.C. with new office

Opening an office inside the nation’s capital comes as something of a surprise because EFF suffered an internal schism when it was based there in the early 1990s.

When the FBI was pressing for the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) in 1994, other privacy groups, such as the American Civil Liberties Union and EPIC, remained steadfastly opposed to the measure. CALEA requires telecommunications companies to design their networks to be explicitly wiretap-friendly.

EFF Policy Director Jerry Berman, a longtime Washington hand, let EFF endorse what he described as a compromise proposal that was more privacy-sensitive. “A number of procedural safeguards are added which seek to minimize the threats to privacy, security and innovation,” Berman told a House of Representatives panel in September 1994. (Twelve years later, CALEA is causing new headaches for broadband providers and Internet telephony services.)

Many of EFF’s supporters viewed that as an example of an advocacy group that had been led astray by Washington, and the group moved to its current home of San Francisco the following year. Berman and EFF’s policy arm left and created the Washington-based Center for Democracy and Technology.