to announce nation's first high-tech law clinic to provide public
conscience for Silicon Valley, voice for consumers
Gilmore, Media Relations
- The creation of a first-of-its-kind law clinic that aims to
establish a moral voice and public conscience for Silicon Valley
in emerging high technology issues will be announced this morning
(Monday, April 24) by the University of California, Berkeley,
School of Law (Boalt Hall).
Law, Technology and Public Policy Clinic will provide the first
program in the country to bring the public's voice forward.
Its unique focus will combine expertise in the fields of high
technology law, public policy and consumer rights.
is catalyzing the emergence of a global society in which ways
of doing business, of using information and of participating
in community life are fundamentally altered," said Pamela Samuelson,
a Boalt Hall professor and a world-renowned expert on cyberlaw
and intellectual property. "The time to address the public's
interest in this new society is now, before crucial policy decisions
are made by industry and governments and the public's voice
is lost." Samuelson, with her husband, Robert Glushko, PhD,
a director at Commerce One, which provides electronic commerce
services, donated $2 million to endow the clinic.
a strong sense that, in the area of high-technology law and
public policy, the wider public interest remains under-represented,
in fact, almost invisible," said Samuelson.
voice is scarcely heard on a number of issues including:
surveillance: Some firms use surveillance technology to track
a user's activities on the Internet. Firms may build profiles
based on a user's activities and sell that data to other companies.
Such technology may also be secretly embedded in computer software
access to confidential files: Governmental encryption rules
might require individuals to provide a governmental agency or
third party with a key to their private computer files or Internet
* Free speech
restrictions: Comments made in Internet chat rooms or other
commentary sites on Web pages may spur lawsuits against the
operator of the Web site. This could include a school's Web
site, where students comment about other students.
* Libel lawsuits
and Internet commentary: Consumers and former employees could
face legal battles for writing critical Internet messages about
companies and their products. * Restrictions on personal Web
site content: Individuals may be prevented from creating celebrity
fan pages, using their own names in Web addresses and freely
linking to other sites on the Internet.
Internet access in public institutions: Some public schools
and libraries have decided to use filtering software that prevents
Internet users from accessing Internet sites that contain "adult"
of Internet discussions: Some firms claim that their Web sites
own all the comments a user makes in an online service's chat
room or on a listserv.
products: Some firms attempt to forbid users from disclosing
flaws in a software program or from criticizing the company
that made it.
fought for the public interest in digital media and cyberspace
for nearly 20 years, and we are fortunate to be able to create
an institution that can enable more people to fight with her,"
will provide a moral voice for not only Silicon Valley, but
all of cyberspace, Glushko said. It is scheduled to open during
the 2000-01 school year, following a national search for a clinic
in the new clinic will file friend-of-the-court briefs, write
model legislation, comment on proposed legislation and provide
legal assistance to individuals filing lawsuits against corporations
or governmental entities. Areas of focus will include anti-trust,
copyright, privacy and encryption policy.
is part of Boalt Hall's Center for Clinical Education, which
also houses the Federal Practice Law Clinic and the International
Human Rights Law Clinic.
guidance of the clinic director, students at the new Samuelson
clinic could be involved in any matters in which new technology
affects consumers and the general public, said Charles Weisselberg,
director of the Center for Clinical Education.
Kapor, the founder of Lotus Development Corp., was so impressed
with the clinic's mission that he pledged $300,000 to support
"It is vital
that commercial interests in the high tech industry be balanced
along with the interest of the general public," said Kapor.
"This new law clinic will serve an incredibly important role
of providing a strong public voice on complex public policy
The New York-based
Markle Foundation, headed by Boalt Hall alumna Zoe Baird, also
is donating $300,000. The foundation, established in 1927 with
a major interest in social welfare issues, now focuses its attention
on communications media and information technologies.
and Gluskho provided their $2 million endowment following the
initial public offering of Commerce One stock, which went public
in July 1999 and was the year's top performing IPO. Glushko
was a cofounder of a Silicon Valley startup firm that was acquired
by Commerce One.
Valley is full of people who care about the kind of information
society we are creating," said Glushko, "but there aren't many
institutions or organizations that can take advantage of their
energy - or their new money from their Internet stock options.
We are creating the Samuelson Clinic to provide a channel for
their energy and to set an example for their money."
Kay, dean of Boalt Hall, said UC Berkeley is the ideal setting
for the Samuelson clinic. She cited the university's strong,
long-standing commitment to the public trust; the proximity
of the campus to the Silicon Valley; and the technology-related
work already underway at the law school.
is among the top law schools in the country. The clinic will
enhance the reputation of Boalt Hall's Center for Law & Technology,
which this year was ranked the foremost intellectual property
program in the United States. Samuelson is co-director of that
Clinic is the first to combine intellectual property and public
policy," said Kay, "and it is sure to provide a model for others
to the $2 million donated to the Samuelson center, the couple
donated $1 million to fund graduate student fellowships at UC
Berkeley's School of Information Management & Systems (SIMS).
Samuelson has a joint appointment at the law school and at SIMS.
SIMS was created in 1995 to train a new generation of information
professionals skilled in organizing, manipulating and communicating
The new Samuelson
clinic is expected to have ties to SIMS and Boalt Hall's Center
for Law & Technology, drawing on the talents of students and
faculty in those programs.
hopes the Samuelson clinic will create new lawyers who will
carry sensitivity to the public interest into law careers in
corporate legal affairs, government, private firms or public
will combine sophisticated technical knowledge with a real understanding
of the substantive law as it relates to critical high-tech issues,"
Weisselberg said. "In our Internet-driven society, that is a