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[FYI] (Fwd) GILC Alert

------- Forwarded message follows -------
From:           	Chris Chiu <CCHIU@aclu.org>
To:             	"GILC announce (E-mail)" <gilc-announce@gilc.org>
Subject:        	GILC Alert
Date sent:      	Mon, 22 Apr 2002 16:51:13 -0400

GILC Alert
Volume 6, Issue 3
April 22, 2002

Welcome to the Global Internet Liberty Campaign Newsletter.

Welcome to GILC Alert, the newsletter of the Global Internet Liberty
Campaign. We are an international organization of groups working for
cyber-liberties, who are determined to preserve civil liberties and
human rights on the Internet. We hope you find this newsletter
interesting, and we very much hope that you will avail yourselves of
the action items in future issues. If you are a part of an
organization that would be interested in joining GILC, please contact
us at <gilc@gilc.org>. If you are aware of threats to cyber-liberties
that we may not know about, please contact the GILC members in your
country, or contact GILC as a whole. Please feel free to redistribute
this newsletter to appropriate forums.

Free expression
[1] Vietnam jails 3 over web articles
[2] US Supreme Court strikes down virtual images ban
[3] European Parliament rejects Net blocking
[4] Cuba reportedly bans computer sales
[5] Spanish LSSI bill provokes Net speech worries
[6] New report warns against Australian Net censor proposal
[7] Controversial crippleware bill finally unveiled
[8] Bahrain gov't censors opposition webpages
[9] New Chinese rules against "sensational" Net reporting
[10] ICANN faces more criticism, lawsuit
[11] Google Scientology weblinks controversy
[12] BT weblinks lawsuit runs into trouble 
[13] Swedish newspaper site fined for chatboard comments
[14] Indian gov't plans ID-based web restrictions
[15] Study: most of world's population still offline

[16] US gov't holds off regulation of Verichip implant trackers
[17] New Japanese Net tapping case renews privacy fears
[18] Yahoo, Ebay privacy policy moves spark criticism
[19] New Zealand plan would mandate spyware installations
[20] D.I.R.T. spyware endangers Net privacy 
[21] US gov't keylogging case ends without disclosure
[22] New Windows Media Player spies on users
[23] Big Brother Awards ceremonies held in UK, US 
[24] EFF picks 3 new Pioneer Awards winners

[25] New GILC member: TEA (Hungary)

[1] Vietnam arrests 3 over web articles
The Vietnamese government recently has detained three people for their
online activities.

Son Hong Pham allegedly wrote and translated various pro-democracy
papers that were then posted on the Information Superhighway.
Vietnamese authorities had initially questioned him on this subject
and confiscated various personal items, including computer equipment
and numerous documents. When the government denied his requests to
reclaim his belongings, he posted an open letter on the Internet to
protest their decision. Subsequently, Vietnamese officials threw him
in prison; no trial date has been announced yet.

Meanwhile, the government is keeping at least two other online
dissidents behind bars. Tran Khue, a scholar and anti-corruption
activist, had posted a letter on the Internet that called on Chinese
leader Jiang Zemin to reassess portions of various Chinese-Vietnamese
treaties. He was later placed under house arrest by Vietnamese
authorities, and local police seized a number of his possessions,
including his computer, cell phones and several papers. Meanwhile, Le
Chi Quang, a computer instructor, was accused of passing along
"dangerous information" across borders, and has been sent to a
detention camp in northern Vietnam. This came not long after the
online appearance of "Beware of the Northern Empire"-an essay he wrote
that described the political environment in which the aforementioned
treaties were signed.

The arrests have drawn strong protests from free speech advocates.
Robert Menard, the general secretary of Reporters Sans Frontieres
(RSF), said that the arrest of Son Hong Pham, "the third in just over
a month, is a callous confirmation of the Vietnamese authorities'
intention to censure freedom of expression on the Internet." Similar
concerns have been expressed by other groups, including the Committee
to Protect Journalists (CPJ-a GILC member), which has issued a letter
condemning the Vietnamese government for its "efforts to silence
individuals who criticize official policies." 

An RSF statement regarding the three arrested dissidents is available
at http://www.rsf.fr/article.php3?id_article=1288

The CPJ letter is posted at

[2] US Supreme Court strikes down virtual images ban
The United States Supreme Court has ruled that a law against
computerized images that are mere figments of the imagination is

The case involved the so-called Child Pornography Protection Act
(CPPA), which included a strict ban on any image that "appears to be"
or "conveys the impression" of someone under 18 engaged in sexually
explicit conduct. This ban applied even in instances where no model
was used and the given picture was completely fictitious. The CPPA had
drawn heavy fire from free speech advocates, who have argued that law
essentially punishes thought. 

The Supreme Court agreed with these advocates and ruled that the Act
violated the right to freedom of expression guaranteed under the U.S.
Constitution. In particular, the Court was troubled by the fact that
the CPPA "prohibits speech despite its serious literary, artistic,
political, or scientific value. The statute proscribes the visual
depiction of an idea-that of teenagers engaging in sexual
activity-that is a fact of modern society and has been a theme in art
and literature throughout the ages." The Court suggested that the
Act's broad language could cover such works as "a Renaissance painting
depicting a scene from classical mythology," a picture in a psychology
manual, as well as numerous films, including "Traffic," "American
Beauty" and many adaptations of William Shakespeare's "Romeo and
Juliet". In short, the statute was unconstitutional because it
abridged "the freedom to engage in a substantial amount of lawful

The text of the Court's decision is available under

An ACLU press release regarding this case is posted at

[3] European Parliament rejects Net blocking
European politicians have voted against blocking access to websites as
an effective way to regulate Internet content. 

Earlier this month, the European Parliament approved a resolution (460
to 0, with 3 abstentions) stating that parents and legal guardians
should be primarily responsible for protecting children online. The
governing body also expressed concern over efforts to block user
access to various questionable sites, saying that such moves could
fragment cyberspace and prevent people from being able to view
non-controversial online content. 

The decision has been met with applause from cyberliberties groups and
industry leaders. Louisa Gosling, president of the European Internet
Service Providers Association, said that her group was "very pleased
that the Parliament has come out strongly against blocking, which is
not only a technically disastrous solution, but also raises
significant free speech and democratic concerns." 

Indeed, the EP vote came soon after attempts in several European
states to block offensive Internet content were met with scorn and
derision. In Switzerland, several of the country's biggest Internet
service providers (ISPs) accidentally denied access to websites hosted
by a foreign competitor; ironically, the intended target, a neo-Nazi
portal, had already disappeared from the World Wide Web. Many
individuals and organizations, including the Swiss Internet User Group
(SIUG-a GILC member), contended that the incident was further evidence
of how Internet blocking could cause serious "collateral damage" to
freedom of expression online. Meanwhile, in Germany, the local
government of Dusseldorf is trying force ISPs to prevent users from
reaching selected foreign sites. In protest, a coalition of groups and
politicians, including the Chaos Computer Club (CCC-a GILC member),
launched street demonstrations and a petition drive to defend free
speech along the Information Superhighway.

An SIUG press release regarding blocking attempts by Swiss Internet
service providers is posted under

For more on protests against Dusseldorf Internet blocking initiatives,
visit the CCC website under

Additional information regarding the EP resolution is available via

Further background information is available from the European
Parliament's website under

See Joris Evers, "European Parliament says no to Web site blocking,"
IDG News, April 12, 2002 at
_STO70 115-,00.html

Read Tim Richardson, "Europe elbows Internet content 'blocking'," The
Register (UK), April 11, 2002 at

For press coverage in German (Deutsch), read Stefan Krempl,
"EU-Parlament gegen Webzensur und Site-Sperrung," Heise Online, April
12, 2002 at http://www.heise.de/newsticker/data/jk-12.04.02-004/

[4] Cuba reportedly bans computer sales
For years, Cuba has limited the ability of its citizens to express
themselves online. Now Cuban authorities have apparently gone a step
further by barring nearly all sales of computers.

While details are still somewhat sketchy, several sources have
indicated that the Cuban government has issued a new directive making
it illegal to sell "computers, offset printer equipment, mimeographs,
photocopiers, and any other mass printing medium, as well as their
parts, pieces and accessories." The ban apparently covers sales to
"natural born citizens" as well as "associations, foundations, civic
and nonprofit societies." The directive reportedly goes on to mention
that the Ministry of Internal Commerce may make exceptions in cases
"where the acquisition of this equipment or parts, pieces and
accessories is indispensable."

Cuban government spokespeople have given few straight answers when
asked about the new rule. For example, after a reporter queried
whether computer sales to the public were banned in Cuba, one official
responded: "If we didn't have an embargo, there could be computers for
everybody." However, several observers have suggested that the measure
is designed to silence criticism of Cuba's leaders, especially through
the Internet. Marta Roque from the Cuban Institute of Independent
Economists, explained out that the government "knew that dissidents
were buying computers and constructing Web sites." Even before the
ban, individuals in Cuba who wished to speak freely online had faced
numerous obstacles, including access restrictions, blocking of
anti-government websites, surveillance and possible jail sentences.

For further information, visit the Digital Freedom Network (DFN-a GILC
member) website under http://dfn.org/news/cuba/sales-banned.htm

See Thembi Mutch, "Cuba's PC dilemma," BBC News Online, April 6, 2002

Read Julia Scheeres, "Cuba Bans PC Sales to Public," Wired News, March
25, 2002 at http://www.wired.com/news/print/0,1294,51270,00.html

[5] Spanish LSSI bill provokes Net speech worries
Many politicians and cyberlibertarians have denounced a Spanish
proposal that they say will seriously erode human rights on the

The LSSI bill (short for La Ley de Servicios de la Sociedad de la
Informacion y de Comercio electronico) would essentially allow a
"competent administrative authority" within the government to shut
down websites unilaterally--a power that until now required court
approval. The proposal's vague definitions would allow the Spanish
officials to close sites for a wide variety of reasons, including
economic factors (i.e. the site's owner uses the web for profit but
don't pay any taxes) and public security reasons. Spanish government
officials already have signaled that they plan to use these broad
powers to control content along the Information Superhighway.

The bill has drawn heavy fire from opponents based on its potentially
damaging impact on civil liberties (particularly freedom of speech).
These critics have pointed out that although the LSSI proposal
includes language stating that the act will not be used against
Constitutionally protected civil rights, it does not require any
specific measures be taken to prevent possible abuse. 

The text of the LSSI bill (in PDF format) is available under

See "La oposicion denuncia que la Ley de Internet es inconstitucional
e intervencionista," El Pais, April 11, 2002 at
net_1& type=Tes&anchor=elpepupor

[6] New report warns against Australian Net censor proposal
A new comparative law study has raised public concern over an
Australian state proposal to restrict Internet content.

The project, which was performed by Electronic Frontiers Australia
(EFA-a GILC member), compared a Net censor bill currently being
considered by the government of New South Wales (NSW) with Internet
speech laws in other countries. The bill would make it a crime to
provide online information deemed unsuitable for children, even if the
information was only made available to adults. The legislation also
contained procedural rules (including a shift in the burden of proof
to defendants in Internet cases) that might lead to harsher treatment
of online artists than their offline counterparts.

After extensive research, EFA was "unable to find any indication that
any country broadly comparable to Australia (in terms of democratic
political systems and cultures) has, or intends to introduce, Internet
censorship laws as restrictive as the provisions of the NSW Bill, nor
as restrictive as existing Commonwealth legislation. While numerous
countries have laws of general application applicable to Internet
content such as child pornography or incitement to racial hatred, they
do not prohibit or otherwise restrict provision of 'matter unsuitable
for minors' on the Internet." Moreover, the report found a great deal
of evidence that demonstrated "the ineffectiveness of national
censorship laws to protect children (or adults) on the Internet."

EFA had initiated the study in response to a request from NSW
parliamentary leaders. According to EFA Executive Director Irene
Graham, it is now likely that the proposal's language will be changed:
"We're hoping they decide to just disappear this bill into the wide
blue yonder... but I'd be very surprised if they don't at least
recommend amendments to it."

The EFA report is posted under

See Kate Mackenzie, "Censor laws 'in their own world'," Australian IT,
April 3, 2002 at

[7] Controversial crippleware bill finally unveiled
After months of speculation, a United States politician has introduced
a bill that critics say will jeopardize free speech online.

The proposal, submitted by U.S. Senator Ernest Hollings, would force
the installation of copy protection routines within new consumer
electronic products. Under this scheme, within a year of the bill's
passage, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission would start a
process to require the implementation of anti-copying "security system
standards." According to various legal experts, the bill's broad
definition of "digital media devices" could cover a wide variety of
hardware items (from high definition television sets to cellular
phones) as well as software. The proposal would also force interactive
computer services to implement such security standards for any
copyright material stored or transmitted through their networks and
ban the sale or trafficking of "nonconforming digital media devices."
Moreover, the bill would essentially make it a crime to "knowingly
remove or alter any standard security technology" or to "knowingly ...
make available to the public any copyrighted material where the
security measure associated with a standard security technology has
been removed or altered, without the authority of the copyright
owner." Violators could face jail time and heavy fines. 

The so-called "crippleware" bill (officially titled The Consumer
Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act) is already receiving a
hostile reception from a variety of groups, ranging from electronics
makers to cyberliberties organizations. One concern is that proposal
will not provide sufficient protection for the ability of individuals
to make legitimate use of copyrighted works; Joe Kraus of
DigitalConsumer.org warned that the proposal "allows Hollywood to
pursue a policy of taking away consumers' fair use rights." In
addition, Robin Gross from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF-a
GILC member) argued that the bill "would basically give Hollywood veto
power over the design of new technologies." Several industry trade
groups have also come out against the proposal, including the
Information Technology Association of America and the Business
Software Alliance. These concerns have led at least one politician,
U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy, to express his opposition to the measure.
Meanwhile, a nearly identical bill may soon be introduced in the U.S.
House of Representatives.

The text of the Hollings bill is available under

Read "Net users out to sink anti-piracy bill," Reuters, April 10, 2002
at http://zdnet.com.com/2102-1106-879629.html

See Brad King, "Slagging Over Sagging CD Sales," Wired News, April 17,
2002 at http://www.wired.com/news/print/0,1294,51880,00.html

Read Mike Musgrove, "Hollings Proposes Copyright Defense," Washington
Post, March 22, 2002, page E3 at

See also Declan McCullagh, "Anti-Copy Bill Slams Coders," Wired News,
March 22, 2002 at http://www.wired.com/news/print/0,1294,51274,00.html

For coverage in German (Deutsch), read Florian Rotzer,
"Kopierschutztechnik in alle digitalen Gerate," Heise Telepolis, March
22, 2002 at http://www.heise.de/tp/deutsch/special/copy/12147/1.html

[8] Bahrain gov't censors opposition webpages
Bahrain officials have barred access to a number of websites in
advance of local and national elections.

Reports indicate that the list of targeted groups includes several
organizations, such as the British-based Bahrain Freedom Movement,
that are opposed to the current government regime. Bahrain's
Information Minister, Nabeel Yacoub al-Hamer, stated that while he and
fellow government officials "welcome and are open for criticism, ...
we don't accept offences or inciting sectarian strife." The Ministers'
statement was an apparent reference to the fact that Bahrain's ruling
family and the majority of the kingdom's population come from
different religious sects. 

The move came as the country prepares for elections within the next
few months. One opposition spokesperson charged that this act of
censorship "stains the good image of Bahrain," and demanded that the
ban be lifted. However, Yacoub al-Hamer has said that the restrictions
will stay in place, at least until the contents of the sites in
question are altered. 

See "Bahrain blocks opposition websites," BBC News Online, March 26,
2002 at
005.st m

The Bahrain Freedom Movement homepage is located at

[9] New Chinese rules against "sensational" Net reporting
Authorities in mainland China have issued a new set of legal
directives that may further chill free speech online.

The Chinese government has issued new guidelines that, among other
things, bar press coverage of several issues. Chinese officials
discouraged reporting on such subjects as Taiwan, AIDS outbreaks and
racial tensions. Beijing also warned journalists not to propagate
Western perspectives and values, disclose internal government
information, encourage people to sue ruling party leaders or write
sensational articles. The rules were contained in a report that
specifically criticized members of the press for posting news items on
the Information Superhighway. 

The commandments represent just the latest in a series of moves by
mainland Chinese authorities to stifle dissent over the Internet.
Indeed, the new regime reiterates some of the points made by past
Chinese speech restrictions. For example, private websites cannot
publish "news" about high-ranking Chinese officials or their families
without prior approval from the government. In addition, all reports
on important official policies are required to use standardized
language provided by the state Xinhua news agency.

Read "Beijing reins in media with new rules," Straits Times, February
25, 2002 at

[10] ICANN faces more criticism, lawsuit
The organization tasked with running the Internet domain name system
is facing added criticism and even a lawsuit over its inner workings.

Many observers have savaged a decision by the Internet Corporation for
Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) not to hold public elections. The
decision was made at a March 2002 meeting in Ghana, where ICANN's
Board of Directors passed a resolution that failed to set a date for a
new electoral cycle. The measure simply suggested that Internet users
should self-organize, without explicitly providing for direct
participation in ICANN decision-making through voting. Moreover, the
resolution suggested that ICANN should be reorganized along the lines
of proposals such as the one espoused by the organization's President,
M. Stuart Lynn. Lynn has pushed a scheme that would, among other
things, permanently eliminate ICANN At-Large public elections. Rob
Courtney from the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT-a GILC
member) said his group "was disappointed and genuinely disheartened by
the board's continued failure to commit itself to public
representation," adding that ICANN had refused "to take what we
thought were relatively reasonable steps to ensure public
participation on the board."

The Lynn proposal, which had been publicly released in late February
2002, has received particularly strong condemnation from around the
world. A coalition of Japanese non-profit organizations, labor
unionists, academics and reporters issued a joint statement arguing
that the scheme "wipes out all the efforts made over the last couple
of years to realize a global democracy on ICANN issues." European
domain name registrars have also expressed their vehement disapproval
of the plan. In addition, several ranking United States Congressmen
issued a letter charging that proposals such as the Lynn plan "will
make ICANN even less democratic, open, and accountable than it is
today," and that ICANN management should not be allowed "to retreat on
any future prospects for open, democratic, private sector-led
management of certain limited technical Internet functions." The U.S.
Congress now plans to hold oversight hearings on this subject.

Meanwhile, ICANN is being sued by one of its own publicly elected
Board members. Karl Auerbach, who is being represented in this action
by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF-a GILC member), alleges
that the domain management body has violated California laws, as well
as its own rules, by restricting his access to ICANN corporate

An EFF press release on the Auerbach lawsuit is available under
200203 18_eff_icann_pr.html

See "Net body sued by own official," BBC News Online, March 20, 2002

The text of the aforementioned ICANN resolution is posted at

Read David McGuire, "Lawmakers Criticize Net Governance Restructuring
Plan," Newsbytes, March 14, 2002 at

See also Declan McCullagh, "Congress to Enter ICANN Fray," Wired News,
March 14, 2002 at http://www.wired.com/news/print/0,1294,51041,00.html

The Japanese statement opposing the Lynn proposal is available under

For German (Deutsch) coverage of protests from European domain
registries against the Lynn proposal, see "RIPE an ICANN:
Selbstverwaltung ist machbar," Heise Online, March 4, 2002 at

[11] Google Scientology weblinks controversy
Faced with legal threats, one of the world's most popular Internet
search engines took down, then partially restored links to a website
that protests a controversial religious organization. 

The site in question, Xenu.net contains materials that criticize the
Church of Scientology.  A lawyer representing the Scientologists sent
a letter to Google claiming that Xenu.net's activities violated the
United States Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and demanded
that the search engine remove any links to the site. At first, Google
complied with the Church's demand and deleted links to numerous
Xenu-related webpages. However, at least some of the Xenu.net listings
reappeared on Google several days later.

Free speech advocates have expressed concern over this apparent
attempt to silence online criticism through claims of copyright
infringement. Robin Gross from the Electronic Frontier Foundation
(EFF-a GILC member) noted that the Google controversy was not the
first time this had happened: "A lot of the cases using copyright to
quell critics are Church of Scientology cases."

For the latest details, see David McGuire, "Google Provides
Scientology Warnings To Free Speech Site," Newsbytes, April 12, 2002
at http://www.newsbytes.com/news/02/175863.html

Read "Google restores Scientology links," Reuters, March 22, 2002 at

See Declan McCullagh, "Google Yanks Anti-Church Sites," Wired News,
March 21, 2002 at http://www.wired.com/news/print/0,1294,51233,00.html

For coverage in German (Deutsch), see "Google hat Scientology-Kritiker
wieder im Index," Heise Online, March 22, 2002 at

[12] BT weblinks lawsuit runs into trouble 
An attempt by a major British conglomerate to establish intellectual
property rights over all weblinks has hit a serious snag.

A Federal judge in the United States has issued a preliminary ruling
that casts doubt on whether a British Telecom (BT) patent covers
Internet linking technology. BT alleged that it possessed intellectual
property rights over all weblinks, based on a patent it filed nearly
thirty years ago. The communications giant is now attempting to
collect licensing fees from American Internet service provider
Prodigy. BT hopes that, pending a successful outcome in this case, it
will be able launch more lawsuits in the hopes of amassing additional

However, Judge Colleen McMahon expressed misgivings about many of BT's
arguments. For example, portions of her ruling suggest that BT's
patent actually applies to centralized computer systems, rather than
decentralized networks such as the Internet: "In this patent, the
computer is a single device, in one location. It is referred to as
'central' because it is connected to numerous physically separate
stations, called 'remote terminals,' by the telephone lines of a
telephone network. So there is a computer, connected to many remote

Read Matt Loney, "BT hit with ruling in patent case," CNet News, March
14, 2002 at http://news.com.com/2100-1033-860407.html 

The text of BT's patent is posted under
S=PN/4 873662

[13] Swedish newspaper site fined for chatboard comments
A court ruling against Sweden's largest newspaper may have serious
implications on Internet free speech.

AftonBladet republishes many articles from its print edition on its
website. The site includes a chatboard feature allowing readers to
post their own comments online. In October 2000, four user comments
were posted to an AftonBladet chat area on the Middle East that
allegedly contained neo-Nazi sentiments. Although the comments were
quickly removed, a Swedish court nevertheless held the newspaper
liable for violating national laws against hate speech, and fined the
site's editor, Kalle Jungkvist.

A number of experts are worried that the verdict may have a
detrimental impact on freedom of expression through the Information
Superhighway. Specifically, the ruling sets a precedent allowing
website operators to be punished for speech activities over which they
have little or no control. Indeed, some observers believe that the
decision will force unmoderated online chat areas, at least in Sweden,
to shutdown for fear of liability. 

Read Drew Cullen, "It's bloody hard to run a forum," The Register
(UK), March 8, 2002 at

[14] Indian gov't plans ID-based web restrictions
Want to surf the web? Please show us your ID card first.

That's apparently the approach being suggested by a committee in
India. The panel, which was created by the Mumbai High Court, has
recommended a series of measures to prevent the viewing of
controversial content. These measures include forcing cybercafe
customers to show photo identification cards and retaining personal
information about them. The committee also is urging such
establishments to track their users' online activities, so that law
enforcement agents can hunt them down. These recommendations could be
adopted by the High Court within a month or so.

Opponents of the proposal fear that ordinary Internet users will be
intimidated from participating in online discussions. One cybercafe
owner complained that, should the panel's recommendations be
implemented, "[e]ven those who want to just check their mails will
think twice before entering my cafe. Nobody wants to share his
personal details or telephone numbers with some stranger in a cafe."  

See Manu Joseph, "Café Owners or Porn Police," Wired News, February
25, 2002 at http://www.wired.com/news/print/0,1294,50615,00.html 

[15] Study: most of world's population still offline
Recent estimates suggest that less than ten percent of the world's
population can log on to the Information Superhighway.

According to a survey by Nielsen NetRatings, approximately 500 million
people worldwide have home Internet access. While this represents an
increase from several months ago, it pales in comparison to the total
number of people living on the planet, which stands at over 6 billion,
according to United Nations estimates.

The same survey also indicated that the level of Internet penetration
varies greatly from region to region. The number of Internet users in
Canada and the United States together (over 191 million) still exceeds
the number of users in Europe, the Middle East and Africa combined
(around 134 million). Other geographical areas are even further
behind; despite recent surges, Latin America's Internet population
currently stands at a mere 20 million people. 

Read Dick Kelsey, "Global Net Population At Half-Billion -
NetRatings," Newsbytes, March 6, 2002 at

For more information from the United Nations concerning world
populations statistics, click

[16] US gov't holds off regulation of Verichip implant trackers
A controversial biometric device that may allow children to be tracked
via the Internet is one step closer to implementation.

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has decided for
the time being not to regulate Verichip. This device, manufactured by
Applied Digital Systems (ADS), can carry individualized data (such as
a person's name, current condition, medical records and unique
identification number) and is designed to be imbedded under a person's
skin. When a special external scanner is pointed at a Verichip, "a
number is displayed by the scanner" and the stored information is
transmitted "via telephone or Internet." The company is marketing its
product for such purposes as "identification, various law enforcement
and defense uses and search and rescue." ADS hopes to begin testing
the device on a U.S. family, including a 14-year-old boy.

The FDA said that ADS does not need its approval to being implanting
Verichips, so long as they are used for identification purposes. The
FDA suggested that it might step in pending future developments; one
agency spokesperson explained that "if they put medical records in, we
would be concerned about the use." ADS now plans to issue Verichips
that only contain identification numbers-a move that may still have
serious privacy implications (such as the possible use of such numbers
to collect and access massive personal information databases
concerning affected individuals). Nor did the FDA specifically address
concerns from several experts as to the practicality of the entire

See "US accepts 'Big Brother' chip implant," BBC News Online, April 4,
2002 at

See also "Company to Sell Implantable Chip," Associated Press, April
4, 2002 at http://abcnews.go.com/wire/Business/ap20020404_1210.html

[17] New Japanese Net tapping case renews privacy fears
A new case has heightened public doubts over a relatively new Japanese
wiretapping law.

Enacted in August 2000, the statute allowed Japanese law enforcement
officials to intercept various forms of communication, including
private email messages. The law was highly controversial due to its
apparently detrimental impact on individual privacy as well as its
lack of procedural safeguards against abuse. Indeed, privacy advocates
noted that the measure contained no restrictions on the use of these
records for database purposes and no real restriction on the types of
devices can be used for wiretapping (which some experts say will allow
the unchecked use of unnecessarily intrusive surveillance tools).

Recently, the Japanese Metropolitan Police Department brought a case
that highlighted the government's first use of the powers granted to
it under the Wiretapping law. Japanese authorities intercepted mobile
phone conversations and gained access to messages stored on a
particular website as part of a criminal drug investigation. However,
Japanese privacy groups have criticized this move for a variety of
reasons, including the fact that wiretapping was not actually
necessary in this particular instance. Moreover, these organizations
have expressed disapproval over the government's use of surveillance
for comparatively minor offenses, rather than exercising greater
discretion and reserving such invasive powers for more serious crimes.

Read "Controversial wiretapping law nets first victims," Mainichi
Shimbun, March 30, 2002 at

See "Wiretaps lead to first arrests," Asahi Shimbun, April 1, 2002 at

For further information on Japanese government Internet spying
devices, click http://www.jca.apc.org/privacy/wiretap-mbox/

[18] Yahoo, Ebay privacy policy moves spark criticism
Attempts by several major Internet companies to alter the way they
handle personal information have drawn fire from consumer advocates.

For example, Internet portal giant Yahoo has revised its privacy
policy, making it easier for the firm to give out customer data. Under
these changes, among other things, Yahoo could give up personal
information if it is bought out by another business; such information
would be handled under the buyer's data handling rules, whatever those
rules may be. In addition, Yahoo now is automatically assuming that
its users want advertising from the company's many divisions;
customers have 60 days to say otherwise. 

Yahoo's changes come not long after Ebay tried to alter its main
privacy policy. The redrafted statement would have permitted the
company to overrule privacy statements it made elsewhere, even on
other parts of the website ("If there is a conflict between the terms
and conditions in this privacy policy and other privacy
representations that may appear on our site ... you agree that the
terms and conditions of this privacy policy shall control."). A number
of privacy experts raised red flags over the amendment; Jason Catlett
of Junkbusters complained: "It's unfair of companies to put up rosy
pictures of their privacy practices in one place or in their PR
materials, and then disclaim them in their fine print. This would have
eroded consumer rights." Since then, Ebay has further revised the
document, telling users to refer to its main privacy statement if they
have any questions as to the company's personal data practices.

Meanwhile, a recent study indicates that the failure of corporations
to provide sufficient protection for individual privacy is having a
significant negative economic impact. The report, entitled "Privacy,
Consumers, and Costs," suggests that "Internet retail sales lost due
to privacy concerns may be as much as [U.S.] $18 billion. ... The
privacy toll includes costs associated with higher prices, stopping
junk mail and telemarketing calls, avoiding identity theft and
protecting privacy on the Internet.  A privacy sensitive family could
spend between $200 and $300 and many hours annually to protect their
privacy." The document goes on to suggest that "privacy cost studies
sponsored by the business community suffer from a variety of defects,"
and that the "absence of privacy rules imposes expenses on businesses
that many industry-sponsored studies ignore when calculating the costs
of privacy."

Read Michelle Delio, "Yahoo's 'Opt-Out' Angers Users," Wired News,
April 2, 2002 at http://www.wired.com/news/print/0,1294,51461,00.html

See Jim Hu, "Yahoo revises privacy policy," CNet News, March 28, 2002
at http://news.com.com/2100-1023-870270.html

For information in German (Deutsch), read "Unerwunschte Anrufe von
Yahoo!?" Spiegel Online, April 3, 2002 at

Read Michael Bartlett, "Ebay Backs Down On Privacy Policy Clause,"
March 20, 2002 at http://www.newsbytes.com/news/02/175359.html

See also "EBay backs down on privacy charges," Associated Press, March
20, 2002 at
bv%5E, 00.html

"Privacy, Consumers, and Costs" is posted at

[19] New Zealand plan would mandate spyware installations
The government of New Zealand is drafting a proposal to force the
installation of surveillance devices into computer networks.

The exact language of the Telecommunications (Interception Capability)
Bill has yet to be revealed. However, it will apparently force
Internet service providers and other telecom companies to make their
systems "interception-capable." The scheme would make it easier for
government agents (such as the police, the New Zealand Security
Intelligence Service and the Government Communications Security
Bureau) to capture private emails and voice messages. Assuming the
bill is approved, these standards would have to be implemented within
a time window of 18 months to 5 years.

New Zealand Associate Minister of Justice Paul Swain claimed that the
new legislation would bring his country "into line with legal
requirements already in place in a number of different countries
including the United States." Indeed, the general outlines of the bill
bear a certain resemblance to the controversial U.S. Communications
Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, which has been savaged by many
privacy advocates.

Read Adam Creed, "New Zealand 'Interception' Laws To Cover ISPs,"
Newsbytes, March 21, 2002 at

See Kate Mackenzie, "ISPs forced to spy on email," Australian IT,
March 22, 2002 at
bv%5E, 00.html 

For further background on CALEA, visit the Electronic Privacy
Information Center (EPIC-a GILC member) website under

[20] DIRT spyware endangers Net privacy 
Several documents have appeared regarding a secretive program that
utilizes computer viruses to help spy on Internet users.

According to these documents, the Data Interception by Remote
Transmission system (DIRT) works by sending the targeted person a
virus that is hidden within an innocent-looking file, such as a
Microsoft Word document or Excel spreadsheet. Once the virus enters
the person's computer, it quietly monitors all keystrokes and
transmits the information back to the attacker via email. The system
has apparently been offered to several government agencies, including
authorities in Ukraine, Egypt and the United States.

The program is apparently similar to several other surveillance tools
that are currently being developed. A couple months ago, the U.S.
government confirmed that it was in the process of creating a new
Magic Lantern Internet spy system that worked in virtually the same
fashion as DIRT. Revelations about Magic Lantern have caused concern
among politicians and cyberliberties experts over the device's
potential impact on individual privacy.

See Thomas C. Greene, "Super DIRT Trojan to infect indiscriminately,"
The Register (UK), March 18, 2002 at

Read Kevin Poulsen, "D.I.R.T. Spyware Exposed on Web," Security Focus,
March 14, 2002 at http://online.securityfocus.com/news/354

For more on Magic Lantern, read Robert MacMillan, "Lawmaker Wants
Magic Lantern Information From FBI," Newsbytes, January 14, 2002 at

[21] US gov't keylogging case ends without disclosure
The end of a closely watched case that involved a secret United States
government surveillance technique has left many questions unanswered.

Nicodemo Scarfo is an alleged mobster who was targeted by the U.S.
Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) for wiretapping purposes. FBI
agents decided to go beyond traditional surveillance methods and
installed a device on the keyboard of Scarfo's home computer that
apparently recorded every letter and character he typed. The exact
nature and capabilities of these taps is unclear; at the behest of the
presiding judge, the government provided the defense with only an
unclassified summary of the keylogging method. The court later held
that the government had broken no laws in using this technique, and
refused to suppress any evidence gathered through its use. Eventually,
Scarfo pled guilty as part of an arrangement with Federal authorities
and no further information about the keylogging system were released.

David Sobel from the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC-a
GILC member) warned that the Scarfo episode "gave us the first glimpse
of very sophisticated government investigative techniques that are
likely to become more common. Increasingly, the courts are going to be
confronted with the privacy and constitutional issues raised by the
use of these advanced new techniques. What the Scarfo case shows is
that the techniques are going to be classified, which makes a full
examination of how they work much more difficult."

Further information on this case is available from the EPIC website
under http://www.epic.org/crypto/scarfo.html

Read "Plea turns legal heat off PC surveillance," Reuters, February
28, 2002 at http://news.com.com/2100-1023-848173.html

[22] New Windows Media Player spies on users
Recent research suggests that the newest version of Microsoft's Media
Player logs information about its users' playing habits and transmits
the data to the company's headquarters.

Security expert Richard M. Smith documented this tracking routine.
Previously, he had discovered that early versions of Windows Media
Player could send out unique digital identification markers over the
Internet. Further investigations revealed that the latest edition,
version 8, sends an analogous marker to Microsoft's website whenever a
given user tries to read DVD chapter information on the person's
computer. Microsoft then provides information on the particular DVD
chapter and notes this in a log file stored on the user's machine. The
corresponding Microsoft privacy policy does not mention this specific
practice, although it does allude to a similar scheme regarding
compact discs.

It is unclear whether this collection of data is illegal. Smith
pointed out that the "Video Privacy Protection Act of the United
States prevents video rental stores from using movie titles for direct
marketing purposes. The letter of this law does not apply to Microsoft
because they are not a video rental store. However, clearly the spirit
of the law is that companies should not be using movie title
information for marketing purposes." A Microsoft spokesperson has
since claimed: "No personally identifying information is ever
transferred to Microsoft as a result of DVD playback, and any
information that is transferred cannot be combined with any other
sources of information to identify users."

See Steven Bonisteel, "Privacy Watchdog Says Windows XP Software Logs
DVD Play," Newsbytes, February 21, 2002 at

See also D. Ian Hopper, "Windows spies on musical taste," Associated
Press, February 21, 2002 at
bv%5E, 00.html 

[23] Big Brother Awards ceremonies held in UK, US  
Privacy International (PI-a GILC member) recently held its Big Brother
Awards in Britain and the United States. These prizes are designed to
publicize some of the most serious threats to individual privacy.
Simon Davies, the groups' leader, commented: "During the judging
process, it has become clear that government agencies and companies
have stooped to an all-time low in the wilful violation of our
privacy. We have been almost overwhelmed this year by a flood of new
entries, many of which involve technologies and techniques that are
beyond the control of law, and outside of the comprehension of policy

United Kingdom winners included a proposal by the British National
Criminal Intelligence Service to retain all user communications data
(deemed the Most Appalling Project). A scheme to force the nationwide
adoption of citizen identification cards (complete with a massive
personal data sharing system) was branded a Lifetime Menace. The
Norwich Union insurance company garnered a Most Invasive Organisation
Award for a project designed to follow vehicles using satellites,
while the Most Heinous Government Organisation, the British Department
for Education and Skills, had created a special system to track
students. Finally, British Cabinet Secretary Sir Richard Wilson was
labeled the Worst Public Servant for "his long standing commitment to
opposing freedom of information, data protection and ministerial
accountability." On the other hand, five Winstons were given out to
defenders of individual privacy, including included Ilka Schroeder for
her efforts to expose the global communications surveillance network
known as ECHELON.

Meanwhile, the United States government received the lion's share of
this year's American Big Brother awards, including Most Invasive
Proposal (for the Expanded Computer Assisted Passenger Screening
Program's plan to profile and spy on travelers), Worst Public Official
(to Attorney General John Ashcroft for attacking privacy and freedom
of information) and Lifetime Menace (to Admiral John Poindexter and
the new Office of Information Awareness). Oracle CEO Larry Ellison won
an Orwell as the Greatest Corporate Invader for pushing a National ID
Card plan using his software. The list of Brandeis recipients (for
their support of privacy rights) included California state senator
Jackie Speier, Warren Leach and the editorial page of the San
Francisco Chronicle. 

The Big Brother Awards UK 2002 homepage is located under

See "Net monitoring scheme under fire," BBC News Online, March 4, 2002

Read Matt Loney, "Big Brother Awards highlight digital privacy
threats," ZDNet UK, March 5, 2002 at

For coverage in German (Deutsch), read Manu Luksch, "Big Brother
Awards UK 2002," Heise Telepolis, March 7, 2002 at

The Big Brother Awards US 2002 homepage is located under

See "The 'Big Brother' Awards," CBS News, April 19, 2002 at

[24] EFF picks 3 new Pioneer Awards winners
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF-a GILC member) recently chose
its newest Pioneer Awards laureates. These awards are given out each
to "individuals who have made significant and influential
contributions to the development of computer-mediated communications
or to the empowerment of individuals in using computers and the

The winners for 2002 are Dan Gilmore, Beth Givens and Jon Johansen.
Mr. Gilmore writes for the San Jose Mercury News and has been
commended for his ability "to spot a story and begin to cover it weeks
before other reporters see its importance" while explaining "the
intricacies of the complex and often esoteric conflicts facing
cyberspace today." Ms. Givens is "the founder and director of the
Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, a nonprofit advocacy, research, and
consumer education program," which "maintains a complaint/information
hotline on informational privacy issues - the only one of its kind in
the country - and publishes a series of guides on a variety of
informational privacy issues." Jon Johansen wrote DeCSS-a program
designed to help Linux users play DVDs on their computers; the program
has since become the focus of several high-profile Internet free
speech cases.

Further information is available from the EFF website under

[25] New GILC member: TEA (Hungary)
The Global Internet Liberty Campaign recently welcomed a new member
into the fold: TEA (Technika az Emberert Alapitvány-Technology for
People Group). Founded in January 2001, this Hungarian organization
has worked to raise public awareness regarding online privacy issues.
Among other things, it publishes a weekly Hungarian-language privacy
newsletter and sponsored the first-ever Hungarian Big Brother Awards.
It is currently planning a scientific study of privacy problems in
Eastern Europe.

For more information on TEA's activities, click

========================================================= The GILC
News Alert is the newsletter of the Global Internet Liberty Campaign,
an international coalition of organizations working to protect and
enhance online civil liberties and human rights.  Organizations are
invited to join GILC by contacting us at gilc@gilc.org.

To alert members about threats to cyber liberties, please contact
members from your country or send a message to the general GILC

To submit information about upcoming events, new activist tools and
news stories, contact:

Christopher Chiu
GILC Coordinator
American Civil Liberties Union
125 Broad Street, 17th Floor
New York, New York 10004

Or email:

More information about GILC members and news is available at

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