[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Fwd: FC: Germany steps up attempts to police the Net, from NYT

==================BEGIN FORWARDED MESSAGE==================

>From: Declan McCullagh <declan@well.com>
>To: fight-censorship-announce@vorlon.mit.edu
>Subject: FC: Germany steps up attempts to police the Net, from NYT
>Message-Id: <v03007814afbe478ff9d0@[]>
>Date: Fri, 6 Jun 1997 19:29:09 -0400

[I've heard that the judge has halted the case temporarily. --Declan]



June 6, 1997

Germany's Efforts to Police the Web Upset Business


RANKFURT, Germany -- With her mohawk haircut and her
activism in the successor to East Germany's old
Communist Party, Angela Marquardt has never worried
about provoking controversy.

But Friday, the 25-year-old university student will
enter a Berlin courtroom to face criminal charges that
she assumed were unthinkable in a democracy. The
charge against her: maintaining an Internet home page
that provided an electronic link to a left-wing
newspaper called Radikal.

The German authorities, alarmed by articles in the
newspaper that offered tips on making bombs and
derailing trains, said she violated government orders
to block access to Radikal.

Ms. Marquardt said she did nothing wrong, and that
people could read the German underground publication
on scores of Internet sites. "I don't see why I should
remove the link from my home page," she said in an
interview this week. "Whether I show it on my page or
not, the link exists."

Ms. Marquardt's case is not unique. German prosecutors
and politicians are pushing harder than officials in
other Western democracies to govern the seemingly
ungovernable reaches of cyberspace. They have pursued
individuals like Ms. Marquardt, they have tried to
block access to other distributors of material they
consider obscene, violent or a danger to society, they
have assigned police who surf the Net looking for
outlaw sites and they are pressing for a law that
commercial online services fear could land their
executives in jail.



---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 06 Jun 1997 08:42:40 -0400
From: David Appell <appell@together.net>
Subject: Angela Marquardt

The German government's prosecution of Angela Marquardt (NY Times,
Cybertimes section, June 6, 1997, http://www.nytimes.com) merely for her
providing a link to a leftist Web zine is one of the most frightening
stories I have read in a long time.  I hesitate to use the word
"totalitarian," but nothing else come close to describing the
overzealotry, denial of individual rights, unacceptance of free thought
and outright dismissal of all democratic principles now being
demonstrated by the German governemnet.  It is something I might instead
expect from China.

Most chilling of all is the statement by Germany's minister for science
and technology, Juergen Ruettgers (who designed the proposed law): "It
is the responsibility of the states to make clear where the boundaries
of tolerance for the society lie."  This is nothing but a prescription
for heavy-handed totalitarianism of state power.  Rather, the
establishment of moral boundaries is, of course, the responsibilty of
the people.

Beyond these egregious human rights violations, the German government
fails to understand (as do most governments, it seems, including the
United States) that the Internet cannot be regulated as other
traditional media.  It is a truly international network and not subject
to the laws of any one country.  As demonstrated in the case of
_Radikal_, information can quickly be copied to a large number of Web
servers, bypassing local attempts at censorship and avoiding national
boundaries.  Besides mirror sites, URLs can be easily and simply changed
in order to bypass filtering programs.

National governments seem to fear this (as the U.S. government also
demonstrates with its Communications Decency Act), but the Internet is
in fact the most democratic tool yet invented, one which allows the
possibility of truly-free speech and truly-free thought.  It is a great
boon to all citizens of the world.  The sooner that governments realize
this, the sooner they give up their attempts to legislate morality and
they sooner they respect the free speech which adults *demand* (and for
which they will settle for nothing else), the sooner the world will be
the better for it.

I urge my U.S. Representative Bernie Sanders, Senators Patrick Leahy and
Jim Jeffords, President Clinton and Secretary Albright to use the
influence of the U.S. to express outrage and opposition to the German
government's practices and to demand change.


David Appell
133 Franklin St.
Winooski, VT  05404

e-mail: appell@together.net

Declan McCullagh
Time Inc.
The Netly News Network
Washington Correspondent

This list is public. To join fight-censorship-announce, send
"subscribe fight-censorship-announce" to majordomo@vorlon.mit.edu.
More information is at http://www.eff.org/~declan/fc/

===================END FORWARDED MESSAGE===================