Jon Lebkowsky

As Interviewed by David SoucieGarza, March 16th, 2016
"There was a potential for law enforcement and government to misunderstand technologies and make bad policy. They realized that all sorts of wrong turns were possible in the future of computer networks as they evolved - and they were clearly going to evolve."
Jon Lebkowsky

Introductory Profile: Jon Lebkowsky and the Founding of EFF-Austin

For my project, I interviewed Jon Lebkowsky, co-founder and current president of EFF-Austin, a non-profit civil liberties organization whose mission is to protect digital rights and educate the public about emerging technologies and their implications. He is also the CEO of Polycot Associates, a mission-driven digital development co-op. Mr. Lebkowsky has a 25 year+ history as an activist, journalist, blogger, and web developer, co-hosts the ongoing Virtual Communities Conference, the Blog Conference, and the public Inkwell Conference at the seminal online community, the WELL. He is a sought after public speaker on the development and future of digital freedom and serves as an adviser to the SXSW Interactive Conference.

I contacted him independently to request that he share his personal experience on the formation of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) in Austin. The interview includes his personal knowledge of the events and people involved in the 1990 Secret Service raid of Steve Jackson Games in Austin and how that influenced the formation and early social justice initiatives of the EFF.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is an international non-profit foundation whose mission is the support and protection of digital rights for all. Now based in San Francisco, the organization’s first local chapter was created in Austin, Texas. EFF funds legal defense for individuals and new technologies that are threatened by government abuses and organizes a multitude of political actions that promote personal freedoms and online civil liberties.

The interview felt like a history lesson and a witness account rolled into one as Jon Lebkowsky shared both his personal experiences and those of his close colleagues who served as the founders of the EFF both nationally and in Austin.