[AMA] Should SP/IT (aka VCC and Civic Hacking) and the space join the Electronic Frontier Alliance?

It seems we could help the Civic Hacking group here at the space by contributing to the EFA


The EFF alliance is a good fit for our MakerSpace ideals. We would need clarification regarding our non-profit status and taking political views to be certain we are free to engage before pursuing this further.

The EFF would be a good source to ask :grin:


Agreed. Do not endanger our non-profit status.


My thoughts behind this is that EFF alliance would be a good resource for the Civic hacking group. Which after reading up on “Civic hacking” does lead to a separate discussion of if it should be Civic hacking (ie EFA and progressive grass root activism for issues faced by technology) or Civic Tech (ie using technology to democratize data and empower the community).

On the one hand I can see it as “cyber army for good” kind of thing while the other would be “build tech to support our grass roots community builders”. I’m more in favor of the build tech kind but also advocating for Net neutrality and in the wake of Equifax; Better Security Protections for (sorry for the term) the 99% not mega corporations.

@Team_Civic_Hacking any thoughts you would like to add?

I agree a competent attorney’s opinion on the subject would be a good idea; however, a straight forward reading of the relevent IRS rules


would indicate that non-partisan politiking is perfectly acceptable. Further it appears as if that is the kind of politicking that the EFF practices.

The big issue though, is the use of any DMS funded resources for any political action not universally supported by the membership. Our membership seems to cover the full range of political beliefs, and it is likely some would oppose having any of their dues spent on just about any political activity. Do we need the additional friction this could cause?


additional friction this could cause?

I’m sensing that’s why Civic Hacking hasn’t really been an active committee nor would be a successful SIG.

What if the approach was not to any party or directive campaigning but one of awareness towards the issues and open discussion no matter one’s view or party affiliation?

I routinely donate to EFF, but I don’t think any official (committee sponsored) support of any kind is a good idea. In my opinion, DMS, should remain completely apolitical.

That said, I have, and any member can, post to the off topic forum about any issue they want. This is where I believe such ‘advocacy’ should occur.


I agree, before any DMS Organization provides funds to outside organization, it should be approved first as there can be consequences for such acts as you mentioned.

We currently do not have a process in place for such review but probably should. Good point.

I am guessing it is probably because it’s not generally clear what the term “civic hacking” really means, what the C/H committee actually does, or what purpose it really serves the membership, i.e. how it supports the primary Makerspace activities of making and educating members on making.

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My direction of Civic Hacking at DMS has been to spread awareness of government open data and support its existence and maintenance, and assist other non-profits or government entities with expertise & resources in mostly the software development space.

When I first started, we ran a hackathon to try to see what kind of clever ways people could devise to help with emergency management / keeping track of your friends & loved ones in a low-bandwidth way / staying on top of inclement weather in an era when the live meteorologist broadcast can’t jump ahead of your Netflix / etc.

Two years ago, we paired up with Maptime Dallas to help spread literacy around really convenient ways to make geological datasets and display that information through OpenStreetMaps, Google Maps, Leaflet.js, and various other platforms.

Lately we have been dialing into the meetings of the Dallas Innovation Alliance Data Committee and offering assistance through that venue, but they still seem to be in the early stages of project planning and aren’t doing any serious development we can be of assistance with now.

I’m with Walter that we should stay out of politics. I see this as more of a Civic Tech group, more like software with focus on doing something for the civic good, rather than trying to perform any kind of activism or stirring the pot. People can feel free to do that at DMS, but not with the resources nor direction from Civic Hacking at DMS.


I think we should NOT use DMS as a vehicle to engage in politics of any flavor.

As noted above, our membership covers the spectrum of political ( and likely other ) beliefs.

Do not presume.

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@mrcity. Given your description above, I strongly suggest working with the local HAM clubs that are focused on public service.

Four that I am most aware of are Dallas Radio Club, Carrollton Radio Club, Plano Radio Club, and the McKinney Radio Club

These organizations already have the connections and experience to help government and private entities for emergencies and public events (think charity bike rides and plano baloon festival). Their current focus is on providing communications, both voice and data networking. HAMS are working on providing high speed TCP/IP networking on HAM radio bands to allow for the provision of data services during emergencies when the normal connections are down. The data and support you describe is precisely what they will need.

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I agree, and thanks @mrcity for clearing that up that its more about the Civic Tech/Big Data/Open Data type stuff than so much “hacktivism (minus the black hat DDoS crap)”.

So maybe as a committee/SIG project instead of collaborating with EFF or local community leadership in DFW we could just do some data modelling of say Voting statistics doing the 2016 Election using Tensor Flow and Hadoop FS on the VCC Community Grid then publishing the results online for anyone to utilize as they see fit?


6 posts were split to a new topic: Wireless WAN communications for Civic Tech