[Owasp-board] [Owasp-leaders] [Owasp-community] IAB Statement on the Trade in Security Technologies

Jim Manico jim.manico at owasp.org
Mon Jun 22 01:42:16 UTC 2015

And in the interest in fairness, here is the counter-point as to why we 
should do MORE lobbying at OWASP.


          1. 501(c)(3)s cannot lobby and will lose their tax exemption
          if they engage in lobbying.

Absolutely not. 501(c)(3) organizations can, and often should, lobby at 
all levels of government. Federal tax law has always permitted some 
lobbying by nonprofits. The 1976 lobbying tax law passed by Congress 
made that expressly clear. The Internal Revenue Service ("IRS") followed 
with implementing regulations. The federal government clearly supports 
lobbying by 501(c)(3) organizations. Together, the law and regulations 
provide wide latitude for 501(c)(3) organizations to lobby.

The law makes it very clear how much a 501(c)(3) organization can spend 
on lobbying - up to $1 million depending on the size of the organization 
- if the 501(h) election is made. The law also makes it clear which 
activities are lobbying and which are not. For example, lobbying occurs 
only when there is an/expenditure of money/by the 501(c)(3) for the 
purpose of attempting to influence legislation. Where there is no 
expenditure by the organization for lobbying (such as lobbying by 
members or volunteers), there is no lobbying by the organization.

The right of citizens to petition their government is basic to our 
democratic way of life, and associations, including 501(c)(3)s, are one 
of the most effective vehicles for making use of citizen participation 
in shaping public policy. Fortunately, the legislation passed by 
Congress in 1976 makes it possible for 501(c)(3)s to lobby freely for 
the causes, communities and constituencies they serve.

Generally, organizations that make the 501(h) election under the 1976 
lobbying law may spend 20% of the first $500,000 of their annual 
expenditures on lobbying ($100,000), 15% of the next $500,000, and so 
on, up to $1 million dollars.

Finally, by not engaging in lobbying, your organization may be failing 
to employ a very important activity that could be enormously helpful in 
carrying out its mission.

On 6/21/15 3:32 PM, Jerry Hoff wrote:
> Agreed - but I was under the strong impression this entire discussion 
> was on putting out a statement similar to the IAB.  Apologies if I 
> misunderstood. I was voicing support on that specific action.
> I didn't see anywhere in the thread (though I may have missed it) 
> anyone advocating political campaigning or to change the OWASP charter 
> such that influencing legislation would be a substantial activity.
> -- 
> Jerry Hoff
> jerry at owasp.com <mailto:jerry at owasp.com>
> @jerryhoff
> On Jun 21, 2015, at 21:25, Jim Manico <jim.manico at owasp.org 
> <mailto:jim.manico at owasp.org>> wrote:
>> Jerry,
>> I'm a fan of OWASP taking technical stands such as the IAB Statement 
>> on Internet Confidentiality 
>> https://www.iab.org/2014/11/14/iab-statement-on-internet-confidentiality/ 
>> and similar.
>> What our 501(c)(3) foundation needs to to steer clear of from my 
>> understanding is...
>> 1) ... not to engage in political campaigning
>> 2) ... not to attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part 
>> of our activities
>> I am no fan of NACL's but this is a very important topic.
>> The exact quote from the IRS is 
>> (http://www.irs.gov/Charities-&-Non-Profits/Charitable-Organizations/Exemption-Requirements-Section-501(c)(3)-Organizations)
>> "...it may not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part 
>> of its activities and it may not participate in any campaign activity 
>> for or against political candidates..."
>> So as long as our "official foundation statement" on this matter 
>> steers clear of these issues, I will support it.
>> We will be discussing this at the June 24th meeting, I hope you can 
>> make it.
>> https://www.owasp.org/index.php/June_24,_2015
>> Aloha,
>> Jim
>> On 6/21/15 3:16 PM, Jerry Hoff wrote:
>>> I believe this debate is based off wrong assumptions - for example 
>>> the EFF is 501(c)(3) and that does not prevent them from taking a 
>>> position on relevant issues as an organization.
>>> -- 
>>> Jerry Hoff
>>> jerry at owasp.com <mailto:jerry at owasp.com>
>>> @jerryhoff
>>> On Jun 21, 2015, at 21:05, Jim Manico <jim.manico at owasp.org> wrote:
>>>> With respect, I disagree with your take on this Jeff. Official 
>>>> OWASP public statements should be done with care.
>>>> Also, this issue is not resolved yet and I am simply stating *my 
>>>> opinion* on the matter backed by research and references to IRS 
>>>> guidelines discussing this matter. And again I've stated that this 
>>>> is a nebulous area even by IRS regulation.
>>>> _*We are discussing this at the June 24 board meeting*__*- a 
>>>> meeting in which I hope that you and the community attend.*_
>>>> Making a big statement like this as an official message of the 
>>>> OWASP foundation - especial since it's political in nature - does 
>>>> in my opinion require board discussion. I know you want us to "jump 
>>>> on this" immediately - and we are Jeff - in just a few days.
>>>> In fact, if the language is crafted in a way that keeps clear of 
>>>> specific legislation, I will likely vote to push this out. I agree 
>>>> with it 100%, I am only concerned if it's the right thing for OWASP 
>>>> to be making such a public statement.
>>>> It is critical for all of us in OWASP leadership to be aware of the 
>>>> limits of what a 501(c)(3) should be doing, and when I hear that 
>>>> the members of foundation want OWASP to make a public and 
>>>> politically charged statement of intent, I think it's crucial for 
>>>> the board to be a part of it since the board holds legal 
>>>> responsibility for the operations of the foundation.
>>>> See you June 24th?
>>>> https://www.owasp.org/index.php/June_24,_2015
>>>> Aloha,
>>>> Jim
>>>> On 6/21/15 2:47 PM, Jeff Williams wrote:
>>>>> This is a false dichotomy -- OWASP can and should do both. The 
>>>>> Board should work to assist and support *any* idea consistent with 
>>>>> our mission...even if...especially if... you don't think it will work.
>>>>> You can't let *your* judgement influence the decision to support a 
>>>>> project. If you do, then all we will ever get is Board ideas. 
>>>>>  And, respectfully, I don't trust you or any other individual to 
>>>>> think up the next great AppSec idea.
>>>>> The Board shouldn't interfere at all unless somebody is doing 
>>>>> something harmful to the organization or the mission. And even 
>>>>> then should try to figure out a productive path for that energy.
>>>>> Again respectfully, you should get out of the way.
>>>>> --Jeff
>>>>> On Sun, Jun 21, 2015 at 5:27 PM -0700, "Jim Manico" 
>>>>> <jim.manico at owasp.org> wrote:
>>>>>     Jeff,
>>>>>     My take on this is that "talk is cheap" and that "actions are
>>>>>     more powerful words". I'd rather keep out of legislation and
>>>>>     focus on making important projects like ESAPI, ASVS, Security
>>>>>     Shepard and others more powerful.
>>>>>     I am sorry you are disappointed in current board action, but
>>>>>     there is good reason behind the perspective I am stating.
>>>>>     Also, this is my opinion alone, not the entire boards.
>>>>>     Again, take a look at Whisper Systems. They are providing
>>>>>     incredibly well created and well assessed open source projects
>>>>>     for secure communications. These open source projects are now
>>>>>     being integrated into various Operating Systems and other
>>>>>     projects.
>>>>>     If ESAPI was not a abandoned, it could have been serving our
>>>>>     mission - planet level. I want to see it and other key
>>>>>     projects revived and well funded.
>>>>>     The power of a well built security project is worth more than
>>>>>     a thousand words. Talk is cheap. Actions that change the world
>>>>>     take sweat, blood and staying the course even when it's no
>>>>>     longer financially beneficial to do so.
>>>>>     Respectfully,
>>>>>     --
>>>>>     Jim Manico
>>>>>     Global Board Member
>>>>>     OWASP Foundation
>>>>>     https://www.owasp.org <https://www.owasp.org/>
>>>>>     Join me at AppSecUSA <http://appsecusa.org/> 2015 in San
>>>>>     Francisco!
>>>>>     On Jun 21, 2015, at 2:12 PM, Jeff Williams
>>>>>     <jeff.williams at owasp.org> wrote:
>>>>>>     For the record, the IAB is part of the IETF, which *is* a
>>>>>>     501c3.  Even though 501c3 organizations *can* do some
>>>>>>     lobbying (as long as expenditures are not substantial), the
>>>>>>     IAB is careful not to talk about legislation or urge anyone
>>>>>>     to contact representatives about legislation.
>>>>>>     As the creator and longtime Chair of the OWASP Board, I'm
>>>>>>     frustrated that the current Board isn't falling over
>>>>>>     themselves to support efforts like this.  IMO the whole
>>>>>>     purpose of the Board is to create a great platform to support
>>>>>>     and amplify the efforts of anyone willing to contribute to
>>>>>>     our important cause. Does't matter the topic, but instead of
>>>>>>     saying no or criticizing ideas or projects, figure out a way
>>>>>>     to make it work or make them better.
>>>>>>     In this case, and a million other topics, it would be
>>>>>>     incredibly easy to stick to the technical realities and
>>>>>>     feasibility of any approaches being discussed in the news.
>>>>>>      No need to mention legislation.
>>>>>>     --Jeff
>>>>>>     Jeff Williams | CTO
>>>>>>     Contrast Security
>>>>>>     410.707.1487 <tel:410.707.1487> | @planetlevel @contrastsec
>>>>>>     _____________________________
>>>>>>     From: Jim Manico <jim.manico at owasp.org
>>>>>>     <mailto:jim.manico at owasp.org>>
>>>>>>     Sent: Sunday, June 21, 2015 7:37 PM
>>>>>>     Subject: Re: [Owasp-leaders] [Owasp-community] [Owasp-board]
>>>>>>     IAB Statement on the Trade in Security Technologies
>>>>>>     To: McGovern, James <james.mcgovern at hp.com>
>>>>>>     Cc: <owasp-community at lists.owasp.org
>>>>>>     <mailto:owasp-community at lists.owasp.org>>, OWASP Board List
>>>>>>     <owasp-board at lists.owasp.org
>>>>>>     <mailto:owasp-board at lists.owasp.org>>, owasp-leaders
>>>>>>     <owasp-leaders at lists.owasp.org
>>>>>>     <mailto:owasp-leaders at lists.owasp.org>>
>>>>>>     I will - for sure - put this on the June 24th Board meeting
>>>>>>     agenda. My opinion (based on research over the years trying
>>>>>>     to understand my duty to the foundation) is to keep AWAY from
>>>>>>     any even slight attempt to influence legislation.
>>>>>>     In general I see projects, documentation efforts and
>>>>>>      conferences doing much to unite us in our shared mission.
>>>>>>     But start discussing politics and it will go a long way to
>>>>>>     divide us as a community.
>>>>>>     I suggest that we focus on •doing something• vs •saying
>>>>>>     something•.
>>>>>>     Imagine funding open source projects similar to Whisper
>>>>>>     Systems or enhancing our documentation projects to be much
>>>>>>     more up to date and relevant our building professional open
>>>>>>     source training material? This is how I think the foundation
>>>>>>     can best face these issues while at the same time serve our
>>>>>>     mission while at the same time keep away from influencing
>>>>>>     legislation. :)
>>>>>>     And for what it's worth, I strongly dislike the fact that I'm
>>>>>>     bringing these things up. I'm not trying to ruin anyones
>>>>>>     party here. But I do feel it's my duty as your elected board
>>>>>>     member to do so.
>>>>>>     Aloha,
>>>>>>     -- 
>>>>>>     Jim Manico
>>>>>>     Global Board Member
>>>>>>     OWASP Foundation
>>>>>>     https://www.owasp.org
>>>>>>     Join me at AppSecUSA <http://appsecusa.org/> 2015 in San
>>>>>>     Francisco!
>>>>>>     On Jun 21, 2015, at 1:23 PM, McGovern, James <
>>>>>>     james.mcgovern at hp.com> wrote:
>>>>>>         Jim, while you are going to the board for legal
>>>>>>         clarification, please inquire:
>>>>>>         1. 501c3 is a US thing. Can we influence non-US
>>>>>>         government and still comply?
>>>>>>         2. Understanding the US political issues sometimes will
>>>>>>         put us on a partisan path. For example, in CT I have
>>>>>>         commented in the past in a political context on why smart
>>>>>>         guns are just plain stupid. This particular issue leans
>>>>>>         more conservative/libertarian than it does Liberal.
>>>>>>         Therefore, we must attempt to understand the flow of
>>>>>>         politics on any given Sunday.
>>>>>>         3. Maybe we could somehow solve this by having a policy
>>>>>>         that encourages legislators of all parties to reach out
>>>>>>         to their local chapter leader for an informed opinion.
>>>>>>         -----Original Message-----
>>>>>>         From: owasp-community-bounces at lists.owasp.org
>>>>>>         <mailto:owasp-community-bounces at lists.owasp.org>
>>>>>>         [mailto:owasp-community-bounces at lists.owasp.org] On
>>>>>>         Behalf Of Jim Manico
>>>>>>         Sent: Saturday, June 20, 2015 4:37 PM
>>>>>>         To: Kevin W. Wall
>>>>>>         Cc: OWASP Board List; owasp-community at lists.owasp.org;
>>>>>>         owasp-leaders
>>>>>>         Subject: Re: [Owasp-community] [Owasp-board] IAB
>>>>>>         Statement on the Trade in Security Technologies
>>>>>>         I agree with you Kevin. Even the IRS is cagey about this
>>>>>>         topic.
>>>>>>         However, this is an organization risk that I feel we
>>>>>>         should be aware of before charging to far into policy. It
>>>>>>         would behoove is to get legal review before going to far.
>>>>>>         I'll bring this up at the next board meeting.
>>>>>>         Aloha,
>>>>>>         -- 
>>>>>>         Jim Manico
>>>>>>         @Manicode
>>>>>>         (808) 652-3805 <tel:%28808%29%20652-3805>
>>>>>>             On Jun 20, 2015, at 9:47 AM, Kevin W. Wall
>>>>>>             <kevin.w.wall at gmail.com> wrote:
>>>>>>             Jim,
>>>>>>                 On Sat, Jun 20, 2015 at 2:55 PM, Jim Manico
>>>>>>                 <jim.manico at owasp.org> wrote:
>>>>>>                 That is fair Michael.
>>>>>>                 But I do want to warn the community that this is
>>>>>>                 a slippery slope, we
>>>>>>                 are being watched, and trying to influence
>>>>>>                 legislation is one of the
>>>>>>                 few ways OWASP can lose it's charitable status.
>>>>>>                 And if that happens,
>>>>>>                 the debate about what to do with our funds will
>>>>>>                 quickly change for the worse.
>>>>>>             I don't think that it is impossible for charitable
>>>>>>             organizations to
>>>>>>             comment on public possible without loosing their
>>>>>>             501(c)(3) status, but
>>>>>>             it just has to be done in the right way. (However,
>>>>>>             IANAL, so I don't
>>>>>>             even begin to know the details of what that "right
>>>>>>             way" would entail.)
>>>>>>             As a case in point, the ACM has a 501(c)(3)
>>>>>>             not-for-profit status, and
>>>>>>             yet their public policy arm--the USACM--has certainly
>>>>>>             tried to
>>>>>>             influence public policy. (Recall the crypto debate
>>>>>>             from the late
>>>>>>             1990s? The USACM and IEEE wrote a letter to Sen. John
>>>>>>             McCain to try to
>>>>>>             influence the US legislation not to pass laws to
>>>>>>             mandate weak
>>>>>>             encryption. E.g., see
>>>>>>             <http://usacm.acm.org/privsec/details.cfm?type=Letters&id=18&cat=8&Pri
>>>>>>             vacy%20and%20Security>.)
>>>>>>             So I'm guessing that the devil is in the details of
>>>>>>             how it is done.
>>>>>>             In fact, according to Spaf's blog at
>>>>>>             <https://www.cerias.purdue.edu/site/blog/post/deja_vu_all_over_again_t
>>>>>>             he_attack_on_encryption/> the USACM is going through
>>>>>>             this same this
>>>>>>             this again. Like I said, I am not a lawyer and maybe
>>>>>>             this attempt to
>>>>>>             influence public policy doesn't strictly qualify as
>>>>>>             "lobbying" in the
>>>>>>             eyes of the IRS. But it certainly doesn't seem
>>>>>>             impossible.
>>>>>>             Also, we can--and should--all speak out strongly
>>>>>>             against things that
>>>>>>             we believe are against the OWASP mission, but we
>>>>>>             don't have to do it
>>>>>>             in a manner as representing OWASP. Do that on your
>>>>>>             personal blogs or
>>>>>>             social media instead of OWASP mailing lists and there
>>>>>>             shouldn't be an
>>>>>>             issue, especially if you add a short disclaimer as to
>>>>>>             how your opinion
>>>>>>             does not necessarily affect the opinion of OWASP
>>>>>>             overall (in the cases when there might be some doubt).
>>>>>>             So perhaps if we decide that we officially want to
>>>>>>             speak out on
>>>>>>             certain public policy as an organization in order to
>>>>>>             influence public
>>>>>>             policy in accordance with our mission statements,
>>>>>>             then someone who
>>>>>>             understands the nuances of the 501(c)(3) IRS
>>>>>>             regulations could help
>>>>>>             OWASP navigate these waters.
>>>>>>             -kevin
>>>>>>             -- 
>>>>>>             Blog: http://off-the-wall-security.blogspot.com/
>>>>>>             NSA: All your crypto bit are belong to us.
>>>>>>         _______________________________________________
>>>>>>         Owasp-community mailing list
>>>>>>         Owasp-community at lists.owasp.org
>>>>>>         <mailto:Owasp-community at lists.owasp.org>
>>>>>>         https://lists.owasp.org/mailman/listinfo/owasp-community
>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>> OWASP-Leaders mailing list
>>>> OWASP-Leaders at lists.owasp.org <mailto:OWASP-Leaders at lists.owasp.org>
>>>> https://lists.owasp.org/mailman/listinfo/owasp-leaders

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.owasp.org/pipermail/owasp-board/attachments/20150621/e7f784ac/attachment-0001.html>

More information about the Owasp-board mailing list