A Computer and Information Technologies Platform

Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility
Berkeley Chapter
Peace and Justice Working Group



As computer and information technologies become all pervasive, 
they touch more and more on the lives of everyone. Even so, their 
development and deployment remains unruly, undemocratic and 
unconcerned with the basic needs of humanity. Over the past 20 
years, new technologies have dramatically enhanced our ability to 
collect and share information, to improve the quality of work, and 
to solve pressing problems like hunger, homelessness and disease. 
Yet over the same period we have witnessed a growing set of 
problems which are eroding the quality of life in our country. We 
have seen the virtual collapse of our public education system. 
Privacy has evaporated. Workplace monitoring has increased in 
parallel with the de-skilling or outright disappearance of work. 
Homelessness has reached new heights. Dangerous chemicals poison 
our environment. And our health is threatened by the growing 
pandemic of AIDS along with the resurgence of 19th century 
diseases like cholera and tuberculosis.

As a society, we possess the technical know-how to resolve 
homelessness, illiteracy, the absence of privacy, the skewed 
distribution of information and knowledge, the lack of health 
care, environmental damage, and poverty. These problems persist 
only because of the way we prioritize research and development, 
implement technologies, and distribute our social wealth. 
Determining social priorities for research, development, 
implementation and distribution is a political problem.

Political problems require political solutions. These are, of 
course, everyone's responsibility. As human beings, we have tried 
to examine these problems, and consider possible solutions. As 
people who design, create, study, and use computer and information 
technologies, we have taken the initiative to develop a political 
platform for these technologies. This platform describes a 
plausible, possible program for research, development, and 
implementation of computer and information technologies that will 
move towards resolving our most pressing social needs. This 
document also unites many groups and voices behind a common call 
for change in the emphasis and application of these technologies. 

This platform addresses Computer and Information Technologies, 
because we work with those technologies, and we are most familiar 
with the issues and concerns related to those technologies. We do 
not address other key technologies like bioengineering or 
materials science, although some issues, for example, intellectual 
property rights or research priorities, apply equally well to 
those areas. We would like to see people familiar with those 
fields develop platforms as well.

Finally, we do not expect that this platform will ever be 
"finished." The rate of scientific and technical development 
continues to accelerate, and new issues will certainly emerge. 
Likewise, our understanding of the issues outlined here will 
evolve and deepen. Your comments are necessary for this document 
to be a relevant and useful effort.

We encourage candidates, organizations and individuals to adopt 
the provisions in this platform, and to take concrete steps 
towards making them a reality.

Peace and Justice Working Group
Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility, Berkeley Chapter

August, 1992



The goals of this platform are:

*  To promote the use of Computer and Information Technologies to 
improve the quality of human life and maximize human potential.

*  To provide broad and equal access to Computers and Information 
Technology tools.

*  To raise consciousness about the effects of Computer and 
Information Technologies among the community of people who create 
and implement these technologies.

*  To educate the general public about the effects Computers 

and Information Technologies have on them.

*  To focus public attention on the political agenda that 
determines what gets researched, funded, developed and distributed 
in Computer and Information Technologies.

*  To democratize (that is, enhance the public participation in) 
the process by which Computer and Information Technologies do or 
do not get researched, funded, developed and distributed.




  1.  Universal access to education
  2.  Elimination of barriers to access to public information
  3.  An open National Data Traffic System
  4.  Expansion of the public library system
  5.  Expansion of public information treasury
  6.  Freedom of access to government data
  7.  Preservation of public information as a resource
  8.  Restoration of information as public property


  1.  Education on civil liberties, privacy, and the implications 
      of new technologies
  2.  Preservation of constitutional civil liberties
  3.  Right to privacy and the technology to ensure it
  4.  Community control of police and their technology


  1.  Guaranteed income for displaced workers
  2.  Improved quality of work through worker control of it
  3.  Emphasis on health and safety
  4.  Equal opportunity to work
  5.  Protection for the homeworker
  6.  Retraining for new technologies


  1.  Environmentally safe manufacturing
  2.  Planning for disposal or re-use of new products
  3.  Reclamation of the cultural environment as public space


  1.  Replacement of "national competitiveness" with "global 
  2.  Global distribution of technical wealth
  3.  An end to the waste of technical resources embodied in the 
      international arms trade
  4.  A new international information order
  5.  Equitable international division of labor


  1.  New emphasis in technical research priorities
  2.  Conversion to a peacetime economy
  3.  Socially responsible engineering and science



The body of human knowledge is a social treasure collectively 
assembled through history. It belongs to no one person, company, 
or country. As a public treasure everyone must be guaranteed 
access to its riches. We must move beyond the division between 
information "consumer" and "provider" -- new information 
technologies enable each of us to contribute to the social 
treasury as well. An active democracy requires a well-informed 
citizenry with equal access to any tools that facilitate 
democratic decision-making. This platform calls for:

1. UNIVERSAL ACCESS TO EDUCATION: "23 Million adult Americans 
cannot read above fifth-grade level."[1] We reaffirm that quality 
education is a basic human right. We call for full funding for 
education through the university level to insure that everyone 
obtains the education they need to participate in and contribute 
to the "Information Age." Education must remain a public resource. 
Training and retraining to keep skills current with technology, 
and ease transition from old technologies to new technologies must 
be readily available. All people must have sufficient access to 
technology to ensure that there is no "information elite" in this 
society. Computers should be seen as tools to accomplish tasks, 
not ends in themselves. The public education system must provide 
students with access to computers, as well as the critical and 
analytical tools necessary to understand, evaluate and use new 
technologies. Staffed and funded computer learning centers should 
be set up in low-income urban and rural areas to provide such 
access and education to adults as well as children. Teachers 
require an understanding of the technology to use it effectively, 
and to communicate its benefits and limitations to students. These 
skills must be an integral part of the teacher training 
curriculum, and must also be available for teachers to continue to 
upgrade their skills as new tools become available. Finally, to 
learn, children need a nurturing environment, including a home, an 
adequate diet, and quality health care. Pitting "welfare" versus 
"education" is a vicious prescription for social failure. We call 
for adequate social services to ensure that our children have the 
environment in which they can benefit from their education.

Democracy requires an informed public, with generous access to 
information. However, access to information increasingly requires 
tools such as a computer and a modem, while only 13% of Americans 
own a personal computer, and of them, only 10% own a modem.[2] In 
addition, requiring fees to access databases locks out those 
without money. We must assure access to needed technology via 
methods such as a subsidized equipment program that can make basic 
computer and information technologies available to all. We call 
for the nationalization of research and public information 
databases, with access fees kept to a minimum to ensure access to 
the data. In many cases, the technology itself is a barrier to use 
of new technologies. We strongly encourage the research and 
development of non-proprietary interfaces and standards that 
simplify the use of new technology.

generates and uses massive amounts of information. It requires an 
infrastructure capable of handling that information. It also 
determines how we communicate with each other, how we disseminate 
our ideas, and how we learn from each other. The character of this 
system will have profound effects on everyone. The openness and 
accessibility of this network will determine the breadth and depth 
of the community we can create.

We call for a "National Data Traffic System" that can accommodate 
all traffic, not just corporate and large academic institution 
traffic, so that everyone has access to public information, and 
has the ability to add to the public information. This traffic 
system must be accessible to all. The traffic system will include 
a "highway" component, major information arteries connecting the 
country. We propose that the highway adopt a model similar to the 
federal highway system -- that is, a system built by and 
maintained publicly, as opposed to the "railroad" model, where the 
government subsidizes private corporations to build, maintain and 
control the system. The "highway model" will guarantee that the 
system serves the public interest. At the local level, the 
existing telephone and cable television systems can provide the 
"feeder roads", the "streets" and the "alleys" and the "dirt 
roads" of the data network through the adoption of an Integrated 
Services Digital Network (ISDN) system, along the lines proposed 
by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The features proposed by 
EFF include affordable, ubiquitous ISDN; breaking the private 
monopoly control of the existing communication networks; short of 
public takeover of the networks, affirmation of "common carrier" 
principles; ease of use; a guarantee of personal privacy; and a 
guarantee of equitable access to communications media.[3]

system represents a public commitment to equal access to 
information, supported by community resources. Yet libraries, in 
the era of Computer and Information Technologies, are having their 
funding cut. We call for adequate funding of public libraries and 
an extension of the library system into neighborhoods. Librarians 
are the trained facilitators of information access. As such, 
librarians have a unique, strategic role to play in the 
"information society." We call for an expansion of library 
training programs, for an increase in the number of librarians, 
and for additional training for librarians so that they can 
maximize the use of new information-retrieval technology by the 
general public. Every public library must have, and provide to 
their clientele, access to the national data highway. 

encourages the production of those commodities that the largest 
market wants. As information becomes a commodity, information that 
serves a small or specialized audience is in danger of not being 
collected, and not being available. For example, the president of 
commercial database vendor Dialog was quoted in 1986 as saying "We 
can't afford an investment in databases that are not going to earn 
their keep and pay back their development costs." When asked what 
areas were not paying their development costs, he answered, 
"Humanities."[4] Information collection should pro-actively meet 
broad social goals of equality and democracy. We must ensure that 
the widest possible kinds of social information are collected (not 
just those that have a ready and substantial market), while 
ensuring that the privacy of the individual is protected.

economic data are public resources. We must ensure that the 
principles of "Freedom of Information" laws remain in place. 
Government agencies must comply with these laws, and should be 
punished for non-compliance. Government records that are kept in a 
digital format must be available electronically to the general 
public, provided that adequate guarantees are in place to protect 
the individual.

seen a dangerous trend in which the Federal government sells off 
or licenses away rights to information collected at public 
expense, which is then sold back to the public at a profit. Access 
to public data now often requires paying an information-broker 
look-up fees.[5] Public resources must be public. We call for a 
halt to the privatization of public data.

information technology includes easy ways of reproducing 
information, the existence of these [intellectual property] laws 
effectively curtails the widest possible spread of this new form 
of wealth. Unlike material objects, information can be shared 
widely without running out."[6] The constitutional rationale for 
intellectual property rights is to promote progress and 
creativity. The current mechanisms -- the patent system and the 
copyright system -- are not required to ensure progress. Other 
models exist for organizing and rewarding intellectual work, that 
do not require proprietary title to the results. For example, 
substantial and important research has been carried out by 
government institutions and state-supported university research. A 
rich library of public domain and "freeware" software exists. Peer 
or public recognition, awards, altruism, the urge to create or 
self-satisfaction in technical achievement are equally motivators 
for creative activity.

Authors and inventors must be supported and rewarded for their 
work, but the copyright and patent system per se does not ensure 
that. Most patents, for example, are granted to corporations or to 
employees who have had to sign agreements to turn the ownership 
over to the employer through work-for-hire or other employment 
contracts as a condition of employment. The company, not the 
creating team, owns the patent. In addition, in many ways, patents 
and copyrights inhibit the development and implementation of new 
technology. For example, proprietary research is not shared, but 
is kept secret and needlessly duplicated by competing companies or 
countries. Companies sue each other over ownership of interfaces, 
with the consumer ultimately footing the bill. Software developers 
must "code around" proprietary algorithms, so as not to violate 
known patents; and they still run the risk of violating patents 
they don't know about. We call for a moratorium on software 
patents. We call for the abolition of property rights in 
knowledge, including algorithms and designs. We call for social 
funding of research and development, and the implementation of new 
systems, such as public competitions, to spur development of 
socially needed technology. 



Advances in Computer and Information Technologies have facilitated 
communications and the accumulation, storage and processing of 
data. These same advances may be used to enlighten, empower and 
equalize but also to monitor, invade and control. Alarmingly, we 
witness more instances of the latter rather than of the former. 
This platform calls for:

NEW TECHNOLOGIES: New technologies raise new opportunities and new 
challenges to existing civil liberties. In the absence of 
understanding and information about these technologies, dangerous 
policies can take root. For example, police agencies and the news 
media have portrayed certain computer users (often called 
"hackers") as "pirates" out to damage and infect all networks. 
While some computer crime of this sort does take place, such a 
demonization of computer users overlooks actual practice and 
statistics. This perception has led to an atmosphere of hysteria, 
opening the door to fundamental challenges to civil liberties. 
Homes have been raided, property has been confiscated, businesses 
have been shut down, all without due process. Technology skills 
have taken on the quality of "forbidden knowledge", where the 
possession of certain kinds of information is considered a crime. 
In the case of "hackers", this is largely due to a lack of 
understanding of the actual threat that "hackers" pose. We must 
ensure that legislators, law-enforcement agencies, the news media, 
and the general public understand Computer and Information 
Technologies instead of striking out blindly at any perceived 
threat. We must also ensure that policy caters to the general 
public and not just corporate and government security concerns.

Constitution provides an admirable model for guaranteeing rights 
and protections essential for a democratic society in the 18th 
century. Although the new worlds opened up by Computer and 
Information Technologies may require new interpretations and 
legislations, the freedoms guaranteed in the Bill of Rights must 
continue no matter what the technological method or medium. Steps 
must be taken to ensure that the guarantees of the Constitution 
and its amendments are extended to encompass the new technologies. 
For example, electronic transmission or computer communications 
must be considered as a form of speech; and information 
distributed on networked computers or other electronic forms must 
be considered a form of publishing (thereby covered by freedom of 
the press). The owner or operator of a computer or electronic or 
telecommunications facility should be held harmless for the 
content of information distributed by users of that facility, 
except as the owner or operator may, by contract, control 
information content. Those who author statements and those who 
have contractual authority to control content shall be the parties 
singularly responsible for such content. Freedom of assembly 
should be automatically extended to computer-based electronic 
conferencing. Search and seizure protections should be fully 
applicable to electronic mail, computerized information and 
personal computer systems.

Computer and Information Technologies make data collection, 
processing and manipulation easier, guaranteeing citizen privacy 
rights becomes problematic. Computer and Information Technology 
make the job of those who use data en-masse -- marketing firms, 
police, private data collection firms -- easier. We need to 
develop policies that control what, where, whom and for what 
reasons data is collected on an individual. Institutions that 
collect data on individuals must be responsible for the accuracy 
of the data they keep and must state how the information they 
obtain will be used and to whom it will be made available. 
Furthermore, we must establish penalties for non-compliance with 
these provisions. Systems should be in place to make it easy for 
individuals to know who has information about them, and what that 
information is. 

We must ensure that there is no implementation of any 
technological means of tracking individuals in this country 
through their everyday interactions. Technology exists that can 
ensure that electronic transactions are not used to track 
individuals. Encrypted digital keys, for example, provide the 
technical means to achieve anonymity in electronic transactions 
while avoiding a universal identifier. Where government financial 
assistance is now provided electronically, we must ensure that 
these mechanisms help empower the recipient, and do not become 
sophisticated means of tracking and policing behavior (e.g., by 
tracking what is bought, when it is bought, where it is bought, 

The technology to effectively ensure private communications is 
currently available. The adoption of a state-of-the-art standard 
has been held up while the government pushes for mandatory "back-
doors" so that it can monitor communication. (Computer technology 
is treated differently here; for example, we do not legislate how 
complex a lock can be.) We must ensure that personal communication 
remains private by adopting an effective, readily available, de-
militarized encryption standard.

technologies have expanded the ability of police departments to 
maintain control over communities. The Los Angeles Police 
Department is perhaps an extreme example: they have compiled 
massive databases on African-American and Latino youth through 
"anti-gang" mass detainments. These databases are augmented by FBI 
video and photo analysis techniques. "But the real threat of these 
massive new databases and information technologies is... their 
application on a macro scale in the management of a criminalized 
population."[7] With new satellite navigational technology, "we 
shall soon see police departments with the technology to put the 
equivalent of an electronic bracelet on entire social groups."[8] 
We call for rigorous community control of police departments to 
protect the civil liberties of all residents. 



Computer and Information Technologies are having a dramatic effect 
on work. New technologies are forcing a reorganization of work. 
The changes affect millions of workers, and are of the same level 
and magnitude as the Industrial Revolution 150 years ago. The 
effects have been disastrous -- the loss of millions of 
manufacturing jobs, a fall in wages over the past 15 years, the 
lengthening of the work week for those who do have jobs, a rise in 
poverty and homelessness. Employed Americans now work more hours 
each week that at any time since 1966, while at this writing 9.5 
million workers in the "official" workforce are unemployed, and 
millions more have given up hope of ever finding work.[9] Too 
often, products and profitability are given priority over the 
needs and health of the workers who produce both. For example, 
research is done on such matters as how humans contaminate the 
clean room process,[10] not on how the chemicals used in chip 
manufacturing poison the handlers. Or new technologies are 
implemented before adequate research is carried out on how they 
will affect the worker. This misplaced emphasis is wrong. This 
platform calls for:

an end to scarcity. Producing goods to meet our needs is a 
conscious human activity. Such production has been and is 
currently organized with specific goals in mind, namely the 
generation of the greatest possible profit for those who own the 
means of production. We can re-organize production. 

With production for private profit, corporations have implemented 
robotics and computer systems to cut labor costs, primarily 
through the elimination of jobs. Over the last ten years alone, 
one million manufacturing jobs have disappeared in the U.S. 
Workers at the jobs that remain are pressured to take wage and 
benefits cuts, to "compete" in the global labor market made 
possible by digital telecommunications and modern manufacturing 
techniques. Most new jobs have been created in the low-pay service 
sector. As a result, earnings for most workers have been 
falling.[11] The corporate transfer of jobs to low-wage areas, 
including overseas, affects not only low-skill assembly line work 
or data entry, but also computer programming and data analysis. 

Wages and benefits must be preserved in the face of automation or 
capital flight. Remaining work can be spread about by shortening 
the work week while maintaining the weekly wage rate. At the same 
time, steps must be taken to acknowledge that the nature of work 
is changing. In the face of the new technologies' ever-increasing 
productivity utilizing fewer and fewer workers, the distribution 
of necessities can no longer be tied to work. We must provide for 
workers who have lost their jobs due to automation or job flight, 
even if no work is available, by guaranteeing a livable income and 
retraining opportunities (see #6 below).

work boring, undignified jobs as a direct result of computer and 
information technology. Work is often degraded due to de-skilling, 
made possible by robotics and crude artificial intelligence 
technology; or by job-monitoring, made simple by digital 
technology. (Two-thirds of all workers are monitored as they 
work.[12]) Workers face greater difficulties in organizing to 
protect their rights. Technologies are often foisted on the 
workers, ignoring the obvious contributions the workers can make 
to the design process. The resulting designs further deprive the 
worker of control over the work process. In principle, tools 
should serve the workers, rather than the workers serving the 

But new technologies could relieve humans of boring or dangerous 
work. Technology enables us to expand the scope of human activity. 
We could create the possibility of "work" becoming leisure. We 
call for the removal of all barriers to labor organizing as the 
first step toward giving workers the power to improve the quality 
of their work. Workers must be protected from intrusive monitoring 
and the stress that accompanies it. We must ensure worker 
involvement in the design process. We must also improve the design 
of user interfaces so that users can make full use of the power of 
the technology. 

Furthermore, it is not enough just to "participate" in the design 
process -- worker involvement must correspond with increased 
control over the work process, goals, etc. In other words, we must 
ensure that there is "no participation without power." Computer 
and Information Technologies facilitate peer-to-peer work 
relationships and the organization of work in new and challenging 
ways. Too often, though, in practice we see a tightening of 
control, with management taking more and more direct control over 
details on the shop floor. We must ensure that new technologies 
improve rather than degrade the nature of work.

3. EMPHASIS ON HEALTH AND SAFETY: Technologies are often developed 
with little or no concern for their effect on the workers who 
manufacture or use them. 

Electronics manufacturing uses many toxic chemicals. These 
chemicals are known to cause health problems such as cancer, birth 
defects and immune system disorders. Workers are entitled to a 
safe working environment, and must have the right to refuse unsafe 
work without fear of penalty. Workers have the right to know what 
chemicals and processes they work with and what their effects are. 
We call for increased research into developing safe manufacturing 
processes. We call for increased research into the effects of 
existing manufacturing processes on workers, and increased funding 
for occupational safety and health regulation enforcement. 

The rate of repetitive motion disorders has risen with the 
introduction of computers in the workplace -- they now account for 
half of all occupational injuries, up from 18% in 1981.[13] 
Musculo-skeletal disorders, eyestrain and stress are commonly 
associated with computer use. There is still no conclusive study 
on the harmful effects of VDT extremely low frequency (ELF) and 
very low frequency (VLF) electromagnetic field emissions.[14] 
Together these occupational health tragedies point to a failure by 
manufacturers, employers and government to adequately research or 
implement policies that protect workers. We call for funding of 
major studies on the effects of computers in the workplace. We 
call for the immediate adoption of ergonomic standards that 
protect the worker. We must ensure that pro-active standards exist 
before new technologies are put in place. Manufacturers and 
employers should pay now for research and worker environment 
improvement rather than later, after the damage has been done, in 
lawsuits and disability claims. We must ensure that worker safety 
always comes first, not short-sighted, short-term profits that 
blindly overlook future suffering, disabilities and millions in 
medical bills.

4. EQUAL OPPORTUNITY TO WORK: Computer and Information Technology 
institutions are overwhelmingly dominated by white males. Programs 
must be adopted to increase the direct participation of under-
represented groups in the Computer and Information Technology 

5. PROTECTION FOR THE HOMEWORKER: Computer and Information 
Technologies have enabled new patterns of working. "Telecommuting" 
may be preferred by many workers, it may expand opportunities for 
workers who are homebound, and it would reduce the wastefulness of 
commuting. At the same time, homework has traditionally increased 
the exploitation of workers, deprived them of organizing 
opportunities, and hidden them from the protection of health and 
safety regulations. We must guarantee that crimes of the past do 
not reappear in an electronic disguise. Computer and Information 
Technologies make possible new forms of organization for work 
beyond homework, such as neighborhood work centers: common spaces 
where people who work for different enterprises can work from the 
same facility. Such alternative structures should be supported.

6. RETRAINING FOR NEW TECHNOLOGIES: As new technologies develop, 
new skills are required to utilize them. Workers are often 
expected to pay for their own training and years of schooling at 
no cost to the employer. Training workers in new skills must be a 
priority, the cost of which must be shared by employers and the 
government, and not the sole responsibility of the worker. 



We share one planet. While our understanding of the environment 
increases, and the impact of previous technologies and neglect 
become more and more apparent, too little attention is paid to the 
effects of new technologies, including Computer and Information 
Technologies, on the environment, both physical and cultural. The 
creation of a global sustainable economy must be a priority. This 
platform calls for:

electronics technology is among the most unhealthy and profoundly 
toxic human enterprises ever undertaken.[15] The computer and 
information technology industries must be cleaned up. 
Manufacturers cannot continue their destruction of our environment 
for their profit. They must be made to pay the actual cost of 
production, factoring in environmental cleanup costs for 
manufacturing methods and products that are environmentally 
unsafe. Priority must be placed on developing and implementing new 
manufacturing techniques that are environmentally safe, such as 
the "no-clean" systems which eliminate ozone-shredding 
chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) from the production of electronic 
circuit boards.[16] We must ensure that these standards are 
adopted globally, to prohibit unsafe technologies from migrating 
to other countries with lax or non-existent environmental 
protection laws. No manufacturing technique should be implemented 
unless it can be proven to be environmentally safe. We must ensure 
industry's responsiveness to the communities (and countries) in 
which they are located. Neighborhoods and countries must 
participate in the planning process, and must be informed of the 
environmental consequences of the industries that surround them. 
They must have the right to shut down an enterprise or require the 
enterprise to cleanup or change their manufacturing processes.

technologies become commodities with a finite life-cycle, new 
questions loom as to what happens to them when they are discarded. 
Little is known about what happens to these products when they hit 
the landfill. We must ensure that manufacturers and designers 
include recycling and/or disposal in the design and distribution 
of their products. Manufacturers must be responsible for the 
disposal of commodities once their usefulness is exhausted. 
Manufacturers must make every effort to ensure longevity and re-
use of equipment. For example, product specifications might be 
made public after a specified period of time so that future users 
could continue to find support for their systems. Or manufacturers 
might be responsible for ensuring that spare parts continue to be 
available after a product is no longer manufactured. Manufacturers 
could sponsor reclamation projects to strip discarded systems and 
utilize the components for training projects or new products, or 
they could facilitate getting old equipment to people who can use 

live not only in a natural environment, but also in a cultural 
environment. "The cultural environment is the system of stories 
and images that cultivates much of who we are, what we think, what 
we do, and how we conduct our affairs. Until recently, it was 
primarily hand-crafted, home-made, community-inspired. It is that 
no longer."[17] Computers and information technologies have 
facilitated a transformation so that our culture is taken and then 
sold back to us via a media that is dominated by a handful of 
corporations. At the same time, new technologies promise new 
opportunities for creativity, and new opportunities for reaching 
specific audiences. But both older (e.g., book and newspaper 
publishing) and newer (e.g., cable television and computer games) 
media throughout the world are controlled by the same multi-
national corporations. We advocate computer and information 
technology that fights the commodification of culture and nurtures 
and protects diversity. This is only possible with a rigorous 
public support for production and distribution of culture. We must 
use new technologies to ensure the diverse points of view that are 
necessary for a healthy society. We must ensure a media that is 
responsive to the needs of the entire population. We must ensure 
true debate on issues of importance to our communities. We must 
ensure that our multi-faceted creativity has access to an 
audience. And we must also recognize that in many cultural 
instances computer and information technology tools are intrusive 
and inappropriate.[18] 



Historically, information flow around the world has tended to be 
one-way, and technology transfer from developed countries to 
underdeveloped countries has been restricted. These policies have 
reinforced the dependency of underdeveloped countries on the U.S., 
Japan and Western Europe. As international competition for markets 
and resources intensifies, "national competitiveness" has become a 
negative driving consideration in technology policy. This platform 
calls for:

COOPERATION": The most popular rationale for investing in high 
technology in the United States is "national competitiveness." 
This is an inappropriate rhetoric around which to organize 
technology policy. It ignores the fact that the largest economic 
enterprises in the world today are international, not national. 
"National competitiveness" is also inappropriate in a world of 
increasing and accelerating global interdependence and a detailed 
division of labor that now routinely takes in the entire planet's 
workforce. Finally, "national competitiveness" is inappropriate in 
a world in which two-thirds of the world's population lives in 
abject poverty and environmental collapse -- the rhetoric of 
"national competitiveness" should be replaced by a rhetoric of 
"global cooperative development."

labor is fostering a "brain drain" of scientists and engineers, 
transferring badly-needed expertise from the developing world to 
the industrialized world. Fully 40% of the engineering graduate 
students in American universities are from foreign countries, 
typically from countries with little or no advanced technological 
infrastructure. A large majority of these graduate students stay 
in the U.S. when they complete their studies. American immigration 
laws also favor immigrants with advanced scientific or technical 
education. This intensifies the disparity between the advanced 
countries and those with widespread poverty. This concentration of 
technical expertise reinforces a global hierarchy and dependence. 
Expertise on questions of international import, such as global 
warming, toxic dumping, acid rain, and protection of genetic 
diversity becomes the exclusive domain of the developed countries. 
With so much of the world's scientific and technical expertise 
located in the monoculture of the industrialized world, the 
developing world has the disadvantage not only of meager financial 
resources and dependence on foreign capital, but the added 
disadvantage of living under the technical domination of the rich 
countries. This platform calls for a conscious policy of 
distributing scientific and technical talent around the world. For 
example, incentives can be given to encourage emigration to 
countries in need of technological talent.

INTERNATIONAL ARMS TRADE: The world currently spends about $1 
trillion annually on weapons. This is a massive transfer of wealth 
to arms-producing countries, and especially the United States, the 
world's largest arms exporting nation.[19] Weapons of interest to 
all countries are increasingly high tech, so a continuing 
disproportion of international investments in high technology will 
be in weapons systems. Weapons sales not only increase 
international tensions and the likelihood of war, but they also 
reinforce authoritarian regimes, deter democratic reform, support 
the abuse of human rights, divert critical resources from urgent 
problems of human and environmental need, and continue the 
accelerating disparity between rich and poor nations. We call for 
a complete and permanent dismantling of the global arms market.

between "information rich" and "information poor" is by no means 
limited to the U.S. Disparities within industrialized countries 
are dwarfed by international disparities between the 
industrialized countries and the developing world. A global 
telecommunications regime has developed that favors the rich over 
the poor, and the gap is growing steadily. As a simple example, 
rich countries are able to deploy and use space-based technologies 
such as earth-surveillance satellites and microwave 
telecommunications links to gather intelligence and distribute 
information all over the globe. The concentration of information 
power in single countries is even more advanced when viewed 
internationally. We call for the placement of international 
information collection and distribution under international 

communication and coordination made possible by Computer and 
Information Technologies has accelerated the development of a new 
global division of labor where dirty manufacturing industries are 
moved to developing countries, and "clean" knowledge industries 
are promoted in the developed countries. This pattern of 
development ensures that underdeveloped countries remain 
underdeveloped and turns them into environmental wastelands. We 
must ensure a truly new world order that equitably distributes 
work, and ends the destruction and enforced underdevelopment of 
vast sections of the world's population. 



Computer and Information Technologies were born of the military 
and to this day are profoundly influenced by the military. People 
often talk of the "trickle down" or "spin-off" effect, in which 
money spent on military applications yields technology for 
general, non-military applications. This makes little sense when 
the military pursues absurd or irrelevant technology such as 
computer chips that will survive a nuclear war. There are very 
few, if any, cases of military technology producing tangible 
commercial breakthroughs. At the same time, various studies have 
shown that money invested in non-military programs creates more 
jobs than money invested in military hardware. Also, new 
technologies are developed with little or no public discussion as 
to their social consequences. Technologies are developed, and then 
their developers go in search of problems for their technology to 
solve. Pressing social needs are neglected, while elite debates 
about technology focus on military applications or consumer 
devices like high definition television (HDTV). Or pressing social 
problems are approached as "technical" problems, fixable by new or 
better technology. This platform calls for:

planning is either in private hands, or closely controlled by 
government agencies. As a result, research priorities are often 
shielded from public discussion or even knowledge. New 
technologies are often developed as "tools looking for uses, means 
looking for ends"[20] or to serve destructive rather than 
constructive goals. HDTV and the Strategic Defense Initiative 
(SDI) are examples. Substantial university research on new 
technologies is still financed and controlled by the Department of 
Defense. While military-based research has occasionally led to 
inventions which were of general use, this effect has been mostly 
coincidental, and the gap between the interests of military 
research and the needs of society has widened to the point that 
even such coincidental "public good" from military controlled 
technology research now seems unlikely. These misguided research 
priorities not only waste financial resources, but drain away the 
intellectual resources of the scientific community from pressing 
social problems where new technological research might be 
particularly useful such as in the area of the environment. We 
must ensure that Computer and Information Technology research is 
problem-driven and is under the control of the people it will 
affect. We must ensure that new technologies will not be harmful 
to humans or the environment. We must ensure that human and social 
needs are given priority, as opposed to support for military or 
police programs. We must ensure that technical research is 
directed toward problems which have a realistic chance of being 
solved technically rather than blindly seeking technical solutions 
for problems which ought to be addressed by other means.

2. CONVERSION TO A PEACETIME ECONOMY: There is no justification 
for the power the Pentagon holds over this country, particularly 
in light of recent international developments. We must dismantle 
our dependency on military programs. We must realign our budget 
priorities to focus on social problems rather than on exaggerated 
military threats. The released research and development monies 
should be redirected toward solving pressing social and 
environmental problems. We must move towards the goal of the 
elimination of the international market in weapons. Job re-
training in socially useful skills must become a priority.

technological projects should be closely examined to reveal the 
covert political conditions and artifact/ideas their making would 
entail. It is especially important for engineers and technical 
professionals whose wonderful creativity is often accompanied by 
appalling narrowmindedness. The education of engineers ought to 
prepare them to evaluate the kinds of political contexts, 
political ideas, political arguments and political consequences 
involved in their work."[21] To this list we can add developing an 
appreciation for the interconnectedness of the environments -- the 
natural, social and cultural -- we work in. We call for an 
increased emphasis on training in social education in the 
engineering and science departments of our schools and 
universities, public and private research laboratories and 
manufacturing and development facilities in order to meet these 
goals. Engineers must be exposed to the social impact of their 
work. This could be done through work-study projects or special 
fellowships. We need to also expand the body of people who "can do 
technology", that is, not only "humanize the hacker", but 
"hackerize the humanist" or "engineerize the worker." 



1. Patricia Glass-Schuman, "Reclaiming Our Technological Future." 
Whole Earth Review. Winter, 1991. p. 76.

2. Ibid, p. 76.

3. See the Kapor, Berman, and Weitzner article in the Further 
Reading section, also available electronically from info@eff.org.

4. Roger Summit, Information Today, May, 1986, as cited in 
Schiller, Culture, Inc., p. 81.15. Hayes, p. 65.

5. New York Times, December 26. 1991.

6. Michael Goldhaber,  Reinventing Technology: Policies for 
Democratic Values. Routledge, 1986.

7. Mike Davis, CovertAction Information Bulletin. Summer, 1992. p. 

8. Ibid, p. 19.9. San Francisco Examiner, June 28, 1992.

10. Dennis Hayes, Behind the Silicon Curtain. South End Press. 
1989. p. 79.

11. U.S. Bureau of Census, Statistical Abstract of the United 
States 1991. p. 413.

12. VDT Coalition, Berkeley, CA.

13. New York Times, December 16, 1989.

14. Macworld, May, 1990.

15. Hayes, p. 65.

16. New York Times, December 18, 1991.16. New York Times, December 
18, 1991.

17. George Gerbner, "The Second American Revolution." Adbusters. 
Vol. 2, Number 1.

18. E.g., a CD-ROM rendition of a Shoshone ritual can never 
substitute for the ritual itself.

19. With the end of the Cold War, there will be increasing 
interest in the sale of weapons to developing nations because of 
the decline of the U.S. defense budget. 

20. Langdon Winner, Whole Earth Review. Winter, 1991. p. 24.

21. Ibid.



Alice Carnes and John Zerzan, Eds. Questioning Technology. Left 
Bank, 1988.

Michael Goldhaber, Reinventing Technology: Policies for Democratic 
Values. Routledge, 1986.

Dennis Hayes, Behind the Silicon Curtain. South End Press, 1989.

Mitch Kapor, Jerry Berman, and Daniel Weitzner, "We Need a 
National Public Network." Whole Earth Review. Spring, 1992.

Roger Karraker, "Highways of the Mind." Whole Earth Review. 
Spring, 1991.

League for Programming Freedom, "Against Software Patents." LPF, 

League for Programming Freedom, "Against User Interface 
Copyright." LPF, 1991.

Vincent Mosco and Janet Wasko, Eds. "The Political Economy of 
Information." University of Wisconsin Press, 1988.

Herbert Schiller, Information and the Crisis Economy. Oxford 
University Press, 1986.

Herbert Schiller, Culture, Inc.: The Corporate Takeover of Public 
Expression. Oxford University Press, 1989.

Whole Earth Review, "Questioning Technology" special issue, 
Winter, 1991.



This version of the platform was compiled by:

The Peace and Justice Working Group
Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility/Berkeley Chapter
P.O. Box 40361
Berkeley, CA 94704
(415) 398-2818

Write to the above to for more information on the platform, or to 
obtain printed copies ($4 each, postage paid).

We have relied on the work of many other people for ideas and 
assistance, including Gary Chapman of the 21st Century Project, 
Jim Warren's work on computers and civil liberties, the authors of 
the works cited in the Further Reading section, and the very 
helpful and willing participants of the various workshops that we 
held in Berkeley over the past year.


Copyright (c) 1992 by Computer Professionals for Social 
Responsibility/Berkeley Chapter. You may use, share or reproduce 
all or any part of this, but may not restrict others from doing 
the same.