Every Friday, we choose an alum who has been making headlines—for better or for worse.
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2/18/11: Eben Moglen ’85JD, ’93PhD

While many of us liberal-arts types were cheering the people power that toppled Egypt’s dictatorship this month, tech geeks were worried.

If President Hosni Mubarak had been quicker and more ruthless in cutting off protest organizers’ internet access, he might have stayed in power, Eben Moglen ’85JD, ’93PhD, told the New York Times. “We have to aim our engineering more directly at politics now.”

Moglen, a Columbia University law professor, is not just worrying; he’s also organizing. Author of “The dotCommunist Manifesto” and chairman of the Software Freedom Law Center—which advances such concepts as “copyleft,” as opposed to copyright—Moglen is promoting something he calls the Freedom Box. That’s a charger-sized personal server, with a price he predicts will fall to $29, that will allow individual internet users to decentralize information and power by ending their dependence on Facebook and other mammoth servers.

To spread worldwide, the Freedom Box needs free software. Moglen this month launched a foundation to help develop it. “When is Freedom Box?” the foundation’s website asks. The answer: “We don’t know yet. But all around us, we can see that it needs to be soon.”

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