Markle Foundation Commits $1.6 Million to Develop Public Interest Advocacy Clinics Specializing in Internet Issues | Markle | Advancing America's Future
Markle Foundation Commits $1.6 Million to Develop Public Interest Advocacy Clinics Specializing in Internet Issues | Markle | Advancing America's Future

Markle Foundation Commits $1.6 Million to Develop Public Interest Advocacy Clinics Specializing in Internet Issues

Publication Date: April 24, 2000 | Back to Latest News

NEW YORK, NY—The Markle Foundation today committed $1.6 million to support the development of legal and other graduate training programs that specialize in public interest advocacy related to the Internet and other new information technologies. The announcement was made by Markle Foundation President Zoë Baird, who noted the immediate need to establish such public interest training programs to keep pace with the rapid emergence of critical issues of privacy, competition, copyright law, and other new legal policy issues raised by new technologies.

The Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley will receive the first grant of $300,000 to help start the Samuelson Law, Technology and Public Policy Clinic, a public interest clinical Internet law program which will begin to represent clients this fall.

Baird said, “It is a critical time to develop advocates who can articulate the public interest in the new economy. Legal and policy questions arising from the Internet and other new technologies will have a dramatic impact on individual rights, governmental institutions, and the competitive environment for commerce—so is essential that the interests of the public are represented in all the places these questions are addressed. I am delighted that Boalt Hall has undertaken this initiative to help establish a training ground for the next generation of outstanding public advocates and look forward to developing Markle’s commitment and support in this area to other institutions as well.”

Baird also announced that the Markle Foundation will seek to support similar programs at other academic institutions. In addition to legal clinics, future grants under Markle’s initiative might fund graduate programs in areas including economics, engineering, computer science, media studies, or information sciences with clinical courses where students can gain experience in public interest advocacy under the supervision of leading academics and professionals.

Herma Hill Kay, Dean of UC Berkeley’s School of Law said, “We’re thrilled that Markle has chosen to provide funding to the Samuelson Clinic. The Boalt Hall clinic will give law students a chance to work with experienced faculty and legal practitioners on cases, administrative proceedings, and legislative and policy advocacy in a rapidly expanding and increasingly vital area of the law. We hope the clinic will get students excited about this developing field and set the stage for them to pursue public-interest advocacy as a career choice, or integrate it into their careers on a pro bono basis.” The Samuelson Clinic will afford young advocates the opportunity to work on concrete issues that might include:

  • Advising and representing individuals, non-profits and libraries in First Amendment and privacy issues;
  • Assisting community groups and other non-profits in evaluating laws, regulations and policies that adversely affect access to technology or assisting artists with copyright questions raised by new media;
  • Analyzing and commenting on prospective legislation and regulation on behalf of public interest and consumer groups;
  • Challenging web sites that engage in surveillance of user activities and make and sell profiles of users without notification;
  • Analyzing privacy issues associated with undisclosed surveillance tools on web sites or embedded in software that may report back on user activities when the user is online; or
  • Analysis of clickthrough licenses that claim to own all comments made by users in an online service’s chatroom or listserv, or shrinkwrap licenses that forbid disclosure of flaws in software or criticism of the company that made it.

Samuelson Endowment Sets An Example for Philanthropy in the New Economy

Markle’s $300,000 grant will provide startup funds for the Samuelson Clinic, which will be established by a $2 million endowment from Boalt Hall professor Pam Samuelson and her husband, Robert Glushko. Mr. Glushko was a cofounder of a Silicon Valley startup that was acquired last year by Commerce One, which went public in July and was one of the top performing IPOs of 1999. Professor Samuelson, a leading legal scholar in the areas of the Internet and intellectual property, and winner of a 1997 MacArthur Fellowship, will serve as an advisor to the Clinic.

Samuelson says that, by endowing the clinic, she and her husband hope to set an example for others who have benefited from the enormous wealth creation made possible by new technologies. “We really believe that there are people who have profited immensely from their involvement in the Internet economy and want to give something back. We hope that the Clinic will serve as an example of how beneficiaries of the new economy can direct their resources toward projects that help us make sure that the public interest doesn’t get lost as the Internet transforms society.”

Markle President Zoë Baird said, “When I’m asked about the ‘new philanthropy,’ I point to Professor Samuelson’s endowment as an ideal, and a challenge to other leaders in the Internet economy. The Clinic is a wonderful example of wealth generated by the Internet being channeled back into public interest projects that help society respond to profound transformations the Internet brings. The clinic will help ensure that the public interest is a part of the new economy while business models and public expectations are still being formed.”

This initiative is part of the Markle Foundation’s Policy for a Networked Society program, which works to enhance the public voice in the consideration and resolution of domestic and international policies that are surfacing in the new communications environment. The program is creating a body of research and a global policy network of leaders from the academy, nonprofit community, industry and government to develop principles of regulation on critical policy issues and to address the public interest as policies are developed and debated. The protection of democratic values, individual liberties, universal access and consumer interests are priorities of the program’s activities.



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