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>Date: Fri, 05 Dec 1997 11:34:00 -0800
>From: "R. S. Toss" <rtoss@aclu.org>
>Subject: GILC Alert III
>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
>        [A1] GILC Goes to Geneva
>        [B1] Asia/Oceania
>          [B1.1] Malaysia: Web Watcher
>          [B1.2] Internet Censorship Protest
>          [B1.3] Burma and Human Rights
>        [B2] Europe
>          [B2.1] XS4ALL Asks for Legal Analysis
>          [B3.2] Dutch Ask for Clearer French Crypto Concessions
>        [B3] North America
>          [B3.1] US Federal Court Holds Service Provider Non-Liable
>          [B3.2] U.S. Congress Moves to Protect ISPs and Intellectual   
>          [B3.3] CDA's Younger Big Brother
>  [A1]  GILC Goes to Geneva
>On November 14th, the United Nations Office of the High Commission
>for Human Rights completed a five-day seminar on "The Role of the
>Internet With Regard to the Provisions of the International
>Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
>(ICEAFRD)."  It sought to bring together experts on the subject
>matter, governmental representatives, Internet Service Providers,
>and representatives from non-governmental organizations and find
>ways to ensure "responsible use of the Internet."  The seminar was
>the second on the Internet and the ICEAFRD.
>Working under the ICEAFRD's Article IV, which seeks to limit racist
>speech and disband organizations, which "promote and incite racial
>discrimination," the seminar rarely came to a consenus on any
>conclusions or recommendations.  No consensus was reached with
>regards to the proposal establishing an intergovernmental working
>group.  No consenus was reached about formulating a "code of
>conduct for Internet users and service providers."  No consensus
>was reached about mandating "all Internet communications indicate
>their source so that users could not anonymously distribute racist
>propaganda."  No consensus was reached on the role of existing
>national criminal laws against hate speech.  The seminar, however,
>unequivocally agreed that: "ways of increasing access to the
>Internet for under-resourced areas should be promoted"; the
>internet  should be used to educate against "racist propaganda,
>prevent racist doctrines and practices and to promote mutual
>understanding"; and UN Web sites should be strengthened.
>Members of the Global Internet Liberty Campaign attended the
>seminar.  According to Margarita Lacabe, of Derechos Human Rights,
>a GILC member, "Most came to the conclusion that Internet
>regulation would not work."  There, GILC issued this statement:
>        (1) GILC members deplore racist and hateful speech;
>but when encountering racist or hateful speech, the best remedy
>to be applied is generally more speech, not enforced silence.
>        (2) Liberty's fundamental principle is that governments
>should be prohibited from prohibiting the expression of an idea
>simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or
>        (3) While the application of existing law to the Internet
>is still in its infancy, the well-established free speech
>principles should apply with even greater force to networked speech. The
>Internet gives it users easy access to public
>discourse. It affords human rights activists and other opponents of
>racism  with an inexpensive and effective method for
>responding to racist speech.
>UN documents about this seminar:
>To read the seminar's conclusions:
>[B1] Asia/Oceania
>   [B1.1] Malaysia: Web Watcher
>"There was information on the Internet which claimed I fainted and
>that I was unable to chair the Wednesday cabinet meeting,"
>complained Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad to the Agence
>France Presse.  He further believes that such information is aimed
>at "destroying Malaysia," which recently saw its stock markets
>crash.  To aid Malaysia's critical economic health, the government
>will now punish all "rumor-mongers" under laws against "economic
>The Star Newspaper quoted deputy Home Minister, Ong Ka Ting,
>promising to "investigate whether the person [starting the rumor]
>is a foreigner or local who is used by certain parties to spread
>rumors to erode the people's confidence."
>Moreover, the Malaysian government has established a committee to
>screen all foreign reports about the country on the Internet.
>Hello, Malaysia, GILC sends you its best.  This committee, after
>reading all articles on the country, would make weekly reports to
>the prime minister.  The Star quoted Culture, Arts and Tourism
>Ministry deputy secretary-general Tenku Alaudin Tengku Abdul Majid
>as saying they would then "decide on the appropriate action to
>correct any wrong perceptions in the reports."
>The government, however, wants to make clear they are not in the
>censorship business.  In June, Malaysia's top telecommunications
>official addressed a conference in Kuala Lumpur to repeat his
>government's commitment to keeping Malaysia free from content
>regulations.  "There is no way that we can block the content that
>goes through the Internet," said Datuk Leo Moggie, the head of the
>Ministry of Energy, Telecommunications and Posts. "Instead of
>blocking [the Internet], we have to adjust how to react to it over
>  [B1.2] Internet Censorship Protest
>According to an "Action Alert" issued by the International Freedom
>of Expression Exchange Clearing House, twelve world-wide human
>rights organization have challenged Internet censorship in many
>member nations of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).  In
>a jointly signed letter (http://www.ifex.org/alert/00002561.html),
>the human rights organizations criticized China, Indonesia,
>Malaysia, Japan, Australia, Singapore, the United States,
>Philippines, and Thailand for attempting "to control the free flow
>of information and free expression on the Internet in their
>respective countries."
>Reasoning from a "slippy-slope" framework, the organizations
>reminded the APEC forum "time and time again we have seen
>governments use the existence of one restriction to justify the
>addition of further restrictions.  To think that any government can
>issue one content directive, about pornography for example, and
>stop there is folly."  The letter further discusses the
>contradiction between censorship and the international human rights
>documents, while pointing out Internet regulation is "ultimately
>This letter, however, was part of a larger voice of dissent.  The
>Jakarta Post reported that an international symposium of 100
>journalists and academics, titled "Open Media, Open Market," argued
>that improved trade relations within the APEC forum would be
>impossible without a free media.  In a statement, they called for
>APEC to "commission an independent study . . . on the relationship
>between the free flow of information and trade liberalization."
>Furthermore, APEC leaders should "recognize that freedom of
>expression and association are conditions for the expansion of
>trade."  Moreover, 2,000 people joined to add their voices to the
>protest.  Holding their own "People's Summit," protesters marched
>to denounce governmental stances on varied issues: Tibet
>independence, women's rights, labor rights, and aboriginal land
>claims.  Reuters quoted John Argue, a summit coordinator, saying,
>"APEC does not deal with real issues.  It is entirely focused on
>helping business to increase its own resources and trade, and not
>with any social concerns."  The 2,000 protesters were within
>earshot of the 18 leaders who met to discuss various economic
>When money calls, however, other voices are drowned out.  The
>Australian reported that John Howard, Australia's Prime Minister,
>reiterated that APEC's agenda should not be broadened to include
>human rights.  Since its first meeting in Seattle, USA in 1992,
>APEC has resisted demands to discuss human rights.  Following
>tradition and after completing two days of talks in Vancouver,
>Canada, APEC only called for freer trade, affirmed the region's
>economic foundations were strong and announced three new members
>would join next year.
>Reuters reported that police used pepper spray and dogs to push
>back protesters who rushed barricades.
>To read more about APEC go to their homepage at:
>  [B1.3] Burma and Human Rights
>Dissidents need strong encryption and anonymity is vital.  At least
>that's the lesson gleaned from Newsday's story of repression in
>Burma.  The newspaper recounts the tight grip the Burmese
>government has on the flow of information.  Because, the goverment
>does not let reporters into the country, reporters have to enter
>Burma disguised as tourists.  International phone calls are bugged.
>The simple ownership of a simple fax machine is dangerous and
>liable to cost the faxer a term in prison.  A few years ago, one of
>Burma's largest pro-democracy supporters languished and later died
>in jail because he was faxing without a license.
>Needless to say, Internet access is just as illegal and just as
>hazardous to one's liberty.  Newsday goes on to report that
>diplomats and foreign embassies (with illegal Internet access)
>constantly have their E-mail intercepted and read by Burmese
>officials.  Moreover, the military government has set up a system
>of informers that tigthen its technological grip on the masses.
>In rejecting international human rights documents, Foreign Minister
>Ohn Gyaw, has been quoted as saying: "There are no compulsions or
>obligation for any country to sign the U.N Convention on Human
>Rights. Like some other countries in Asia, we have to take into
>consideration our culture, ethos and the standards of development
>before accepting these declarations."
>Visit the FreeBurma homepage: http://sunsite.unc.edu/freeburma Or
>E-mail them: FreeBurma@POBox.com
> [B2] Europe
>   [B2.1] XS4ALL Asks for Legal Analysis
>GILC member, XS4ALL (pronounced "access for all") has defied a
>government order requesting that it turn over a subscriber's online
>activities.  The Dutch Ministry of Justice not only wants the
>subscriber's surfing habits, but it also wants XS4ALL to tap and
>reveal all E-mail, newsgroup and chat room communications. In a
>press release, issued last week (http://www.xs4all.n1), XS4ALL has
>stated it will protect its users and their privacy, from this
>unprecedented act.
>WiredNews reports that XS4ALL has previously submitted to police
>demands for information. This time, however, the organization
>believes the Dutch authorities have overstepped their legal bounds.
>While warranted wiretapping is legal in the Netherlands, Cnet
>reports that Maurice Wessling (of XS4ALL) argued that: "Reading
>E-mail or doing a complete Internet tap is not part of the law."
>Wessling, however believes that it is only a matter of time before
>it is.
>The organization's refusal might be a crime; but XS4ALL is hoping
>for a trial in the Dutch courts to determine if the country's 1993
>Computer Crime Act (giving judges confiscatorial power over
>computer data for court cases) applies to the Internet.
>   [B3.2] Dutch Ask for Clearer French Crypto Concessions
>CommunicationsWeek International reports the Dutch are not satisfied
>French cryptography policy and think the European Commission should not
>have been so quick to consider approving French Proposals, which would
>have liberalized France's strict laws governing encryption.
>The Netherlands has taken advantage of a European Commission technical
>procedural rule, to hold off the French legislation.  This equivalent of
>American filibustering, is expected to delay the decrees by at least
>three months.  In the meanwhile, the Dutch want to push France into a
>further easing of their policy.
>EC officials, however, believe they have already garnered significant
>compromises from the French.  For instance, France has agreed that
>foreign entities may majority own trusted-third- parties.  Furthermore,
>cryptographic products no longer have to endure a two-month waiting
>for approval.
>[B3] North America
>   [B3.1] United States FederalCourt Holds Service Provider Non-Liable
>On April 25, 1995, six days after 168 people are killed in the
>Alfred P. Murrah federal building bombing in Oklahoma City, someone
>gets on America On-Line, and posts an advertisement for "Naughty
>Oklahoma" T-shirts and bumper stickers, and keychains.  All of
>these items contain offensive slogans and cast aspersions on the
>victims and their families.  The ads asked interested parties to
>contact "Ken" and gave Kenneth Zeran's telephone number in Seattle,
>Washington.  Immediately, Zeran was deluged with angry calls after
>an Oklahoma City radio station urged listeners to call.  The death
>threats started coming and soon the FBI and police manned his
>house. Zeran was receiving abusive calls every two minutes.  As any
>good story would have it, Zeran, of course, was not the author of
>the ad.  Later that day, AOL was informed and repeatedly removed
>the ad from their service.  New ads, though, kept reappearing.
>After an Oklahoma City newspaper revealed it was a hoax and after
>the radio station made an apology, the calls ended.  Zeran later
>sued AOL, arguing that the company unreasonably delayed in removing
>the defamatory messages and failing to screen for similar postings
>thereafter.  A district court found that Section 230 of the
>Communications Decency Act barred Zeran's suit.
>Last week, a unanimous three-judge federal appeals court panel
>affirmed the lower court's ruling.  The court noted that the bill's
>plain language "creates a federal immunity to any cause of action
>that would make service providers liable for information
>originating with a third-party user . . . . Thus, lawsuits seeking
>to hold a service provider liable for its exercise of a publisher's
>traditional editorial functions -- such as deciding whether to
>publish, withdraw, postpone, or alter content -- are barred."  The
>court further stated that tort-based lawsuits would have an
>"obvious chilling effect."
>Civil libertarians, however, offer one point of contention.  While,
>the court explained that "it would be impossible for service
>providers to screen each of their millions of postings," it also
>claimed one of Section 230's purposes was to encourage service
>providers to regulate "offensive" materials.  Chris Hansen, of the
>American Civil Liberties Union, a GILC founding member, has stated:
>"The decision frees service providers to engage in censorship."
>Hansen, contends that ISPs should be given even more immunity: "No
>one would suggest that a phone company be given to power to censor
>libelous statements someone might make to someone else over the
>phone.  There are laws that prohibit phone companies from taking
>such actions."
>Another free-speech advocate, Stanton McCandlish, from the
>Electronic Frontier Foundation, a GILC member, doesn't quite see it
>that way: "I'm skeptical of the fear that this decision will chill
>free speech. It won't, standing alone, make ISP's more likely to
>censor communications among their users.  It removes a disincentive
>to monitor and restrict content, but provides no new incentive to
>actually do so."
>  [B3.2] U.S. Congress Moves to Protect ISPs and Intellectual Property
>Late on Monday, November 17, 1997, the United States Senate joined
>the House of Representatives in sending warnings to Internet
>pirates.  Under the "No Electronic Theft (NET) Act," now sitting on
>President Clinton's desk awaiting his signature, "non-profit"
>pirates would be guilty of a federal crime, if they -- in any way
>-- exchange unathorized copies of music, software, or literature
>over the Internet.  Parties guilty of a felony (material valued at
>$2,500), face five-year prison penalties and $250,000 fines if they
>"willfully" make or possess at least ten digital copies of a
>computer program, for instance.
>Fear among service providers has presumably subsided, since a
>late-minute amendment seems to have released ISPs from liability if
>they do not "willfuly" engage in copyright infringements.  New.com
>has quoted the Association of Online Professionals as saying: "The
>language of the final bill makes it clear that ISPs and online
>service providers (like AOL or Microsoft) will not be held as
>'willfuly infringing' just by doing their job, which is routing
>data across their servers."
>Late last month, a coalition of European groups voiced its concerns
>with the European Commission's copyright protection initiatives.
>TechWeb reported that the "Ad Hoc Alliance for a Digital Future," a
>group of leading telecommunications operators, and ISPs, issued
>explicit charges with Mario Monti, European Commissioner for
>internal markets.  The Alliance is angry at what they see as
>attempts by the European Commission to make ISP's liable for
>copyright infringements by end users. TechWeb quoted Claudio
>Carrelli of the European Public Telecommunications Network
>Operators Association (ETNO): "The Post Office does not open all
>the letters it delivers, and we should not expect network operators
>and ISPs to behave differently."
>The Alliance also attacked the European Commission's refusal to
>harmonize member states' law on "fair use" exemptions to copyright
>law, which lets material be used without permission for uses such
>as quotation and criticism.
>President Clinton is expected to sign the U.S. bill before the end
>of the year.
>  [B3.3] CDA's Younger Big Brother
>Last week, in another attempt to clear the Internet of pornography,
>United States Senator Dan Coats (Republican from Indiana, former
>aid to Dan Quayle, and the originator of the failed CDA) introduced
>S. 1482, which seeks to prohibit commerical Internet sites from
>distributing material considered "harmful to minors" under 17 years
>old. Violators wil be imprisoned for six months with a $50,000
>fine.  Supporters of the bill say that it's newly focused, because
>it covers only material that's "harmful to minors," and not
>material that's "indenent."  Coats's concern is over the free
>"teasers" (images of naked women and simulated sex acts) that most
>pornographic sites offer viewers.
>In a press release issued last week, Coats maintained that his new
>legislation is constitutional and "narrowly tailored to meet the
>concerns of the Court."  According to the statement, the
>legislation would simply "require the commercial distributor to
>remove the free images, or require a credit card or personal
>identification number in order to view them."
>The matter is not that simple to civil libertarians, who remind Mr.
>Coats that he wrongly thought the original CDA constitutional.  Ann
>Beeson, from the American Civil Liberties Union, a GILC founding
>member and one of the original plaintiffs in the Reno v. ACLU case,
>drew a parallel between Coats's suggestion and requiring people to
>pay a fee for browsing through a bookstore or watching a movie
>trailer.   Furthermore, opponents argue that the bill is laced with
>vague terms and overbroad and underinclusive definitions: "harmful
>to minors" is undefined, while "commercial distributor" would
>include a virtual bookstore (amazon.com), American Online and
>Microsoft but overlook sources of free pornography and ones
>international ones.  All of these aspects -- the vagueness,
>overbroadness and underinclusiveness -- would render the bill
>Contact Senator Coats with your comments (he doesn't give out his
>E-mail address): United States Senator Dan Coats, 404 Russell
>Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510 (202) 224-5623
>GILC can make a difference at this stage.  Urge the Senate to halt
>consideration of the CDA II when it reconvenes in January of 1998.
>Contact Senator Patrick Leahy with your comments:
>Senator Leahy was one of 15 Senators who voted against the original
>CDA.  He issued this statement after the Supreme Court case held
>parts of the CDA unconstitutional:
>"The Supreme Court has made clear that we do not forfeit our First
>Amendment rights when we go on-line. [Its] decision is a landmark
>in the history of the Internet and a firm foundation for its future
>growth. Altering the protections of the First Amendment for on-line
>communications would have crippled this new mode of communication.
>"The Communications Decency Act was misguided and unworkable. It
>reflected a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of the
>Internet, and it would have unwisely offered the world a model of
>online censorship instead of a model of online freedom.
>"There is no lack of criminal laws on the books to protect children
>on-line, including laws criminalizing the on-line distribution of
>child pornography and obscene materials and prohibiting the on-line
>harassment, luring and solicitation of children for illegal sexual
>activity. Protecting children, whether in cyberspace or physical
>space, depends on aggressively enforcing these existing laws and
>supervising children to ensure they do not venture where the
>environment is unsafe. This will do more -- and more effectively --
>than passing feel-good, unconstitutional legislation. "
>Raafat S. Toss
>GILC Organizer Developer
>American Civil Liberties Union
>125 Broad Street
>New York, New York 10004
>Links to all information in this alert can be found at
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>R. S. Toss                         212.549.2559 (o)
>ACLU GILC Organizer/Developer      212.549.2656  (f)
>125 Broad Street                   http://www.aclu.org
>New York, New York 10004           http://www.gilc.org/alert