|Dear Committee Managers:
I am writing to nominate myself as a member of your Advisory Committee on Online Access and Security, operating this coming spring. I believe this committee will play an important, timely role in an important, timely issue, and I hope I can help contribute to guiding it in the right direction. (I hope I have followed the correct procedures in nominating myself; please let me know if I need to send hard copy, separate files or anything else. )
Here are some comments in support of my candidacy, followed by a more formal biography.
To be frank, I am not yet sure what "the right direction" is. I have long been an advocate in the free-market approach to privacy regulation, whereby *individuals* would regulate their own privacy (i.e. not "self-regulation" by industry), but the rise of individuals and of the market (including tools consumers can use to protect their privacy) has been disappointing. I would welcome the chance to work with some of the country's most involved, committed people to determine how we can either encourage the market to work, or regulate it into doing so....or both. Thus I hope I would bring a balance of points of view within a single person, because at this point I have an open -even confused! - mind on these issues. However, I understand that we must now move forward with some specific policies even though a consensus may be hard to reach.
However, I do bring a lot of expertise/activity to bear in this field. I was chairman of the Electronic Frontier Foundation at the time it co-founded TRUSTe, and I have followed it closely since without the benefit/responsibility of sitting on its board. (I remain a director of EFF.) I have been an active participant in policy discussions on privacy issues, including meetings with USG representatives, many speeches and conferences and also a couple of chapters in my book, Release 2.0. FWIW, I believe one approach may involve coordination between the FTC and the SEC, requiring disclosure of privacy policies in financial statements as well as on Websites..... I have also spent a fair amount of time with European officials and companies on these issues. They bring a viewpoint quite different from that in the US, but one that we will need to work with somehow in this global medium.
Additionally, I am an active investor/board member in a variety of IT/Internet start-ups in the US and Europe. With the exception of one, called Obongo, which provides a user passport/registration/ID/data service (a "wallet" of sorts), none is directly related to privacy protection, but many of them deal with consumers, are TRUSTe licensees and would be subject to any US laws on personal data protection. I am also on the board of WPP group, which owns Ogilvy & Mather and J. Walter Thompson and which operates in the advertising/marketing space. Thus I also bring a variety of small and large business perspectives to the privacy issue.
Finally, it is worth noting - as *ir*relevant - that I am chairman (until September 2000) of ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, which is taking over oversight of the Domain Name System from the US Department of Commerce. ICANN is *not* concerned with personal privacy (except as it concerns domain-name registration information). Any positions I would take with respect to data issues would be independent of ICANN, and also would not bind it in any way.
I hope that provides enough context for the formal bio below. I would be happy to answer any questions, and I would welcome the opportunity to serve on this committee!
Esther Dyson, 48, is chairman of EDventure Holdings, a company focused on emerging informa-tion technology worldwide, and on the emerging computer markets of Central and Eastern Europe. In 1997, Dyson published her first book, Release 2.0: A design for living in the digital age. Release 2.1. the paperback upgrade, is now available. Publishers in 19 languages include Broadway in the United States, Viking/Penguin in the United Kingdom, Droemer Knaur in Germany and Shueisha in Japan.
She is also chairman of Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the new inde-pendent non-profit body that sets consensus policy for the Internet's Domain Name System and other technical infrastructure. Her role is to guide the establishment of this new international organization representing the will of the Internet's many and diverse interest groups. By ICANN's own statutes, she must leave this (unpaid) post by October 2000.
Dyson spends most of her time on EDventure itself and on its portfolio of start-ups, but she is also active in industry affairs in addition to ICANN:
She is a member of the board of the Elec-tronic Frontier Foundation and a member of the President's Export Council Subcommittee on Encryption. She co-chaired the U.S. National Information Infrastructure Advisory Council Information Privacy and Intellectual Property subcommittee, and is now involved in advising various government figures and organizations on a less formal basis, both in the US and else-where.
Dyson is the 1999 recipient of the Women in Communications Matrix award and the 1996 recipient of Hungary's von Neumann Medal, awarded for "distinction in the dissemination of computer culture." Naming her Number 12 in its Elite 100, Upside magazine wrote that Dyson's "stature is based entirely on her ability to influence others with her ideas rather than directly control companies or huge amounts of capital." Fortune Magazine recently named Dyson one of the 50 most powerful women in American business. She also holds honorary degrees from Clarkson University and George Washington University, and received Barnard College's Medal of Distinction in 1999.
Founded in 1982, EDventure Holdings, majority-owned by Dyson, is managed by president and ceo Daphne Kis. It publishes Release 1.0, a monthly newsletter, and sponsors two annual conferences, PC (Platforms for Communication) Forum, and EDventure's High-Tech Forum in Europe. Release 1.0 focuses on new developments in software and software design, text-based applications, intellectual property issues, wide-area networking, electronic communities and infrastructure, and the changing legal and technical telecommunications infrastructure. Release 1.0 is widely quoted and known for its witty commentary and early insight into industry trends. As editor of Release 1.0, Dyson guides its coverage and oversees managing editor Kevin Wer-bach; she still contributes occasionally.
EDventure's PC Forum is now in its 22nd year, and routinely attracts 650 of the computer / communications industry's leading players. The 23rd annual PC Forum will take place March 12 to 15, 2000, in Scottsdale, Arizona. EDventure's next High-Tech Forum in Europe will take place next October in Barcelona.
EDventure Holdings also manages EDventure Ventures, a venture capital fund dedicated to active investment in software and information start-ups in Central and Eastern Europe. The fund's goal is to foster companies that service local markets with local value-added. Its invest-ments include New World Publishing, publisher of the Budapest, Warsaw and Prague Business Journals; Poland Online, an Internet-based information services company recently sold to Po-land's Softbank; and ERP vendor Scala Business Solutions.
Outside her own business, Dyson is a frequent public speaker at industry events and active in advising other organizations. She sits on the boards of WPP Group and wpp.com, Scala Busi-ness Solutions, New World Publishing, Uproar.com, Thinking Tools, languageWare.net, Graphi-soft (Hungary), Key System, Medscape, APP (Prague), PRT Group, TrustWorks (Amsterdam), IBS (Moscow) , and on the advisory boards of the Internet Capital Group and Perot Systems. (She has investments in all of them.) She also has direct investments in other start-ups including Aurigin, PocketScience, Cambridge Display Technology, DPI and TerraLink (both in Russia), Obongo, Stockpower, Orchestream (UK), Prediction Company, Stagecast, FEED, Bright Light, and BrunswickDirect. She is a limited partner of Mayfield Software Partners. Also, she has written articles on various topics for the Harvard Business Review, The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, Wired Magazine, Forbes Magazine, Brill's Content, Business 2.0, Transition and Russia's CompuTerra magazine, among others.
On the public-service side, in addition to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Dyson sits on the boards and executive committees of the Santa Fe Institute, the EastWest Institute and the Eurasia Foundation. She serves on the advisory boards of the Software Entrepreneurs Forum (Silicon Valley), the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, the Russian Internet Technology Center, the Soros Medical Internet Project and The After-School Corporation.
Dyson spent five years learning the dynamics of the computer and software businesses as a securities analyst (New Court Securities, 1977-80; Oppenheimer & Co., 1980-82). She began her serious career -- and got her business education -- as a reporter for Forbes Magazine (1974-77).
Dyson graduated from Harvard in 1972, with a BA in economics. Instead of going to classes, she spent much of her time there working on The Harvard Crimson, a daily newspaper. At Harvard she picked up the habit of swimming for an hour every morning, which she does still.
To do all this, Dyson travels widely; she studies airline schedules the way some people study restaurant menus. She has been featured in full-length interviews in Upside Magazine and Micro Times, and profiled in Wired Magazine, The New York Times, Vanity Fair, The Washington Post and The New York Times Magazine. The San Jose Mercury's Sunday magazine included her in a feature on Silicon Valley's 100 most influential people, while Russia's Who's Who in the Computer Market lists her as Number 23 of the most influential people in Russia's computer industry -- quite a coup considering that she lives in New York City!
NOTE: I will be off e-mail through next Monday, Jan 3. If you need to reach me urgently, please try me in the office on Sunday at 1 (212) 924-8800. (PS - If you notice these things, yes, the date is off by four days as a protective measure....)
Esther Dyson -- Always make new mistakes!
PC Forum: 12 to 15 March 2000, Scottsdale (Phoenix), Arizona