ACLU of Massachusetts Announces Technology for Liberty & Justice for All Initiative

March 12, 2013 10:34 am

Media Contact
125 Broad Street
18th Floor
New York, NY 10004
United States

Local technology and biotechnology industry leaders back multi-million-dollar efforts to confront new threats to civil liberties created by digital technologies and to defend civil rights and justice for all.

Million-dollar matching grant challenge also unveiled.

March 12, 2013

CONTACT: (212) 549-2666;

BOSTON — The ACLU Foundation of Massachusetts today announced it is launching a multi-million dollar Technology for Liberty & Justice for All initiative backed by local technology industry leaders Joshua Boger and Paul Sagan. Together, Sagan and Boger are making a lead investment of $1 million, and are offering an additional challenge match of up to $1 million more to encourage new supporters, for a total of up to $2 million in initial funding to launch the related projects.

The initiative will enable the ACLU of Massachusetts to bring business leaders and entrepreneurs together with civil liberties advocates, to ensure that the law keeps pace with rapidly changing technologies and to model new ways for technology to be used to safeguard equal justice for all.

“Massachusetts has always been a center of liberty, education, and innovation, so it makes sense that the Commonwealth also should help lead the nation in defending civil rights and civil liberties in the Internet era,” said Mr. Sagan, who is Executive Vice Chairman of Akamai Technologies, the Cambridge-based Internet services company. “This initiative seeks to engage the business and technology communities in developing systems, policies and programs for protecting and promoting liberty and democracy — and to share those advances nationwide through the ACLU network.”

Dr. Boger, who founded Vertex Pharmaceuticals and led successful efforts to find a cure for hepatitis C and breakthrough treatment for cystic fibrosis, noted, “The Bill of Rights is the best of all possible economic development plans. Businesses and society in general need ground rules to make it clear that opportunity is open for all, and that the power of the majority can never be used to cut some of us out of the herd. The beauty of the Bill of Rights is its protection for all of us — all 100% of us — but we must work to ensure that this safeguard remains in place in the face of rapid developments in science and technology that give government and businesses unprecedented new capabilities.”

Carol Rose, Executive Director of the ACLU Foundation of Massachusetts, announced the new initiative, noting, “The ACLU of Massachusetts is excited to work with both progressive business leaders and traditionally underserved communities to pilot new ways to empower all people, particularly those among us who are targets of oppression and discrimination, and to ensure that new technologies are used to protect rather than limit liberty.”

The initiative will utilize an “integrated advocacy” approach that combines litigation, public education, online and traditional media, and field mobilization to build a broad constituency for privacy and equal justice, including scientists and technologists, doctors and lawyers, labor and business leaders, students and teachers, writers and artists, academics and activists — around issues of privacy, liberty and equality.

“We are grateful to Joshua and Paul for giving the ACLU this opportunity to innovate new approaches to protecting civil rights and civil liberties,” said Rose. “We hope their leadership gifts and matching challenge will inspire other leaders in Massachusetts and nationwide to join this effort, to ensure that the 21st century is a time in which we expand the frontiers of liberty — as well as science and technology.”

Background on the Technology for Liberty & Justice for All Initiative

The initiative is comprised of two parts. The goal of the Technology for Liberty Project is to ensure that expressive, associational, and privacy rights are strengthened rather than compromised by new technology, and to protect these core liberties against intrusive corporate and government practices that rely on new technology to undermine basic rights. The initial focus of the Technology for Liberty Project will be on ensuring government transparency and effective warrant requirements for government location tracking, surveillance, data-mining, and eavesdropping, as well as reining in the deployment of military weapons and surveillance technology, including drones, by local city and town police departments.

The goal of the Justice for All Project is to ensure that equal protection and due process protections guaranteed by the Constitution and Massachusetts Declaration of Rights are extended to all people in the Commonwealth, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity. The initial focus of the Justice for All Project will be on racial justice issues, particularly closing down the school-to-prison pipeline and protecting the human rights of immigrants.

Background on Initiative Founders

Dr. Joshua Boger is the founder of Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated. He retired as Vertex’s Chief Executive Officer in May 2009, after more than 20 years with the company, and continues to serve on the Vertex Board. He is the author of over 50 scientific publications, holds 32 issued U.S. patents in pharmaceutical discovery and development, and has lectured widely in the United States, in Europe and in Asia on various aspects of drug discovery and development. He was named one of forty “Technology Pioneers” worldwide for the 2003 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Dr. Boger is the subject of the book The Billion-Dollar Molecule, by author Barry Werth.

Paul Sagan is the Executive Vice Chairman of Akamai Technologies. He joined the company in 1998 as chief operating officer and became president the following year. He became CEO in April 2005 and served as chief executive until 2013. Mr. Sagan was named a Global Leader for Tomorrow in 1996 by the World Economic Forum, where he served as senior advisor from 1997 to 1998. President Obama appointed him in 2010 to the National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee. Mr. Sagan is a three-time Emmy Award winner for broadcast journalism in New York, the 2009 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in the technology category, and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.

Founders’ $1 Million Challenge Details

In addition to helping to found the ACLU of Massachusetts’ Technology for Liberty & Justice for All initiative with significant upfront gifts, Mr. Sagan and Dr. Boger announced they will also match significant new investments from donors up to a maximum of $1 million, as follows:

  • Any new donor’s commitment of $50,000 or more, made by 12/31/2013 and payable within five years, will be eligible for the match; and
  • Any amount of a commitment that is funded by a donor in calendar year 2013 will be matched by the founders with combined gifts to be made by them next year.

For more information about the ACLU of Massachusetts, go to:

Sign up to be the first to hear about how to take action.

Learn More About the Issues in This Press Release