[This was lawyer Jonathan Wallace's initial message to the ACLU trying to arrange ACLU defense for my censorware decryption research. There was no reply to it. Posted with Jonathan Wallace's permission.
My concern regarding legal representation proved to be prescient. Years later, two programmers were sued, in fact in Boston, for publishing reverse-engineering about Cyberpatrol.
Note there is a small error below, in that I was not a student at the time, I was a computer system administrator.

From: Jonathan Wallace <jw@pencom.com>
To: sethf@MIT.EDU
Subject: Re: congratulations
Date: Tue, 2 Jul 1996 11:01:23 -0400 (EDT)
Message-Id: <9607021101.aa15092@accnt.pencom.com>

Forwarded by jw with comment:


From: Jonathan Wallace <jw@pencom.com>
To: [SF edit - ACLU lawyer's name removed to protect the guilty]
Subject: Re: congratulations
Cc: jw@pencom.com
Date: Tue, 2 Jul 1996 10:58:07 -0400 (EDT)
Message-ID: <9607021058.aa15033@accnt.pencom.com>

Thanks for the good word (no need to thank me for the thanks for the thanks :{) )

On an unrelated issue: a student I have been in touch with reverse engineered the databases for three of the Internet blocking products (Surfwatch, Cyberpatrol, etc.) and discovered that they block radical political sites, MIT Censorship archive, even an anti-software patent site. He wrote an article that I was all set to publish in The Ethical Spectacle when the 7th circuit case came down upholding the enforceability of shrinkwrap licenses. Each of the products has a shrinkwrap license banning reverse engineering. Now he has asked me not to run the article, because he is afraid of being sued.

Personally, I am quite willing to take the risk, but he is not unless he knows he has representation. I think there is a significant free speech issue here as to whether companies can use shrinkwrap licenses and the courts to stifle discussion and criticism of their products. To me, the case is no different than if I bought a toaster and it blew up. The thought of the manufacturer using a piece of paper pasted to the outside of the toaster as a legal basis to keep me from writing an article about its design flaws is pretty astonishing.

What is the process for finding out if the local ACLU affiliate (he's in Boston) would help him out? Any insight you can give would be greatly appreciated.

[SF edit - quoted material from the ACLU lawyer's previous message removed here]

Jonathan Wallace
V.P. Operations
Pencom Systems Incorporated