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FYI: People for Internet Responsibility

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Date: Wed, 17 Nov 1999 06:35:40 -0600
From: Marsha Woodbury <marsha-w@uiuc.edu>
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Subject: [@] People For Internet Responsibility (pfir.org) (@)
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               PFIR: "People For Internet Responsibility"


November 16, 1999

PFIR is a global, grassroots, ad hoc network of individuals who are
concerned about the current and future operations, development,
management, and regulation of the Internet in responsible manners. The
goal of PFIR is to help provide a resource for individuals around the
world to gain an ability to help impact these crucial Internet issues,
which will affect virtually all aspects of our cultures, societies, and
lives in the 21st century.  PFIR is non-partisan, has no political
agenda, and does not engage in lobbying.

PFIR has been founded (in November, 1999) by Lauren Weinstein of Vortex
Technology in Woodland Hills, California and Peter G. Neumann of SRI
International in Menlo Park, California.  Both have decades of continual
experience with the Internet and its ancestor ARPANET, Lauren originally
at the UCLA lab which was the ARPANET's first site, and Peter at the
net's second site, located at SRI.

Peter is the chairman of the ACM (Association for Computing Machinery)
Committee on Computers and Public Policy, and the creator and moderator
of the Internet RISKS Forum.  Lauren is a member of that same committee,
and he is the creator and moderator of the Internet PRIVACY Forum.

With the rapid commercialization of the Internet and its World Wide Web
during the 1990's, there are increasing concerns that decisions
regarding these resources are being irresponsibly skewed through the
influence of powerful, vested interests (in commercial, political, and
other categories) whose goals are not necessarily always aligned with
the concerns of individuals and the people at large.  Such
incompatibilities have surfaced in areas including domain name policy,
spam, security, encryption, freedom of speech issues, privacy, content
rating and filtering, and a vast array of other areas.  New ones are
sure to come!

While corporate, political, and other related entities most certainly
have important roles to play in Internet issues, it is unwise and
unacceptable for their influences to be effectively the only significant
factors affecting the broad scope of Internet policies.

There are numerous examples. While e-commerce can indeed be a wonderful
tool, it is shortsighted in the extreme for some interests to treat the
incredible creation that is the Internet as little more than a giant
mail order catalog, with ".com" associated hype on seemingly every ad,
billboard and commercial.  Protection of copyrights in a global Internet
environment, without abusive monitoring, is a challenge indeed. The
Internet can be a fantastic tool to encourage the flow of ideas,
information, and education, but it can also be used to track users'
behaviors and invade individuals' privacy in manners that George Orwell
never imagined in his "1984" world.

PFIR is a resource for discussion, analysis, and information regarding
Internet issues, aimed at providing a forum for *ordinary people* to
participate in the process of Internet evolution, control, and use,
around the entire world.  PFIR is also a focal point for providing media
and government with a resource regarding Internet issues that is not
controlled by entities with existing major vested financial, political,
or other interests.  This is accomplished through the PFIR Web site, the
handling of telephone and e-mail queries, and through digests,
discussion groups, reports, broadcast and Internet radio efforts, and
other venues.

For full details about People For Internet Responsibility, including
information regarding how you can participate in or keep informed about
PFIR activities (including the PFIR Digest mailing list), please visit
the PFIR Web site at:


Individuals, organizations, media, etc. who are interested in more
information regarding PFIR or these Internet issues are invited to

Phone, Fax, or E-mail:

Lauren Weinstein
TEL: +1 (818) 225-2800
FAX: +1 (818) 225-7203

Please send any physical mail to:

PFIR c/o Peter G. Neumann
Principal Scientist
Computer Science Lab
SRI International EL-243
333 Ravenswood Ave.
Menlo Park, CA 94025-3493 USA