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GILC Alert
Volume 3, Issue 7
November 3, 1999

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] Haiti's Internet in danger
[2] War of words intensifies over Australian net censorship plans
[3] More discussion of Bertelsmann Internet filtering scheme
[4] Chinese dissident jailed for distributing Net newsletter
[5] AOL selects, then removes Burma junta page
[6] Bulgarian government to expand Internet restrictions
[7] Third World struggles to get Internet access

Privacy and Encryption
[8] Attempts made to Jam Echelon
[9] UK Police to get power to tap e-mail
[10] US changes policies on encryption and Net surveillance
[11] New US rules on child privacy
[12] Government officials meet in Moscow over Internet surveillance
[13] EU temporarily shelves net tapping scheme
[14] Privacy, consumer protection top OECD conference agenda
[15] Big Brother Awards events held
[1] Haiti's Internet in danger
For the time being, much of Haiti is cut off from the rest of the on-line

Several weeks ago, the Haitian government closed down Alpha Network
Communications (ACN). ACN had been the first and largest provider of
Internet access in the Caribbean nation. The government gave no advance
notice, nor did it seek prior judicial approval of its actions. As a result,
nearly 80% of the Internet users in Haiti have lost access to the network.

The national telephone monopoly, Telecommunications d'Haiti -- also known as
Teleco, and the National Telecommunications Council (CONATEL) have alleged
that ACN was illegally selling international telephone cards and providing
international telephone service. However, many observers suspect that this
move is an attempt by the government to silence dissent and consolidate
power. This action comes only a few months before Haiti's national
elections, which were scheduled to happen sometime in the year 2000.

Letters of protest can be sent to:

For further information, see:

[2] War of words intensifies over Australian Net censorship plans
The ugly debate over Australian Internet content controls has gotten even

In the latest development, Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA), a GILC
member, has been allowed to table a statement in the Australian Senate. The
statement came in response to vicious attacks from Senator Alston, the
Minister for Communications. Alston had previously labeled EFA and fellow
cyberliberties organizations as "maniacs" who were "not in the slightest bit
interested in the welfare of the community". He suggested that they were
making it difficult for the Internet Industry Association and the Government
to negotiate a code of practice.

EFA hotly contested Alston's remarks, saying that his claims were
"incorrect, unjustified and utterly without foundation." The organization
pledged to continue making a "big noise" in order to highlight the potential
problems his proposed legislation would create.

The debate centers over The Broadcast Services Amendment (Online Services)
Act, which would restrict Internet content based on a rating scheme
previously used for films.

Alston had previously suggested that there was strong support within the
industry for such legislation, but there are now strong indications to the
contrary. The Senator had cited Yahoo and Lotus in one of his speeches, in
which he said, "The industry itself accepts there should be these codes of
practice in the
form of regulation." However, spokespeople from both Yahoo and Lotus firmly
denied that their companies had endorsed Alston's proposal. Indeed, Labor
Senator Kate Lundy suggested that the bill might hurt the IT business by
driving talented programmers out of Australia.

Similarly, Tony Hill, the Executive Director of the Internet Society of
Australia (ISOC-AU), warned that "Thousands of unsuspecting Australian
businesses using the Internet may find they have to comply with the
provisions of the Broadcasting Services Amendment (Online Services) Act".
Hill's comments came after ISOC-AU and the leading technology law firm
Phillips Fox analyzed the provisions of the bill. Their analysis revealed
that the definitions of Internet Service Provider (ISP) and Internet Content
Host (ICH) are much broader than previously thought.

In a related story, Australian State & Territory Governors are considering a
proposal that would criminalize mistakes made when labeling Internet
content. EFA's Irene Graham pointed out that this vague plan would
essentially force content providers to "in effect, rate their speech by
guessing/foreseeing how a majority of the members of the government
Classification Board would rate it. The Board would/will
effectively become a jury but without the need for unanimity." Graham added
that the bill "criminalises material online that is not illegal offline in

For a copy of EFA's latest release on this subject, see:

For ISOC-AU's analysis of the bill, see:
Are You an ISP? Ambiguity in the Internet Censorship Legislation

  Who is an ICH or an ISP (and how is the ABA going to notify them)?

For info about numerous flaws in the proposed legislation, see EFA's
submission in response (being sent to all 8 State/Territory Govs).

The draft IIA Code is available at:

EFA's direct response to the draft Code is available at:

Kate Lundy's home web site is located at:

For Senator Alston's website, see:

For more discussion of this issue, go to:

[3] More discussion over Bertelsmann Internet rating scheme
A storm of criticism and concern has continued to swirl as various European
plans for Internet content regulation continues to take shape.

INCORE (Internet Content Rating for Europe), a European Union sponsored
project, has now set forth a consultation paper, ostensibly to "open up the
consultation with Internet users and content providers". INCORE is
attempting to create "a generic rating and filtering system suitable for
European users."

This comes after a September meeting in Munich, which was organized by the
Bertelsmann Foundation in cooperation with INCORE. At the meeting, the
Bertelsmann Foundation issued a memorandum which called for the
establishment of rating and filtering schemes, a global network of hotlines
and private self-regulatory agencies to deal with potential user complaints.

The Foundation's proposals at the Munich conference ignited a wave of fierce
criticism. A number of these critics have noted that similar schemes, while
described as "self-regulation", have been converted into law and enforced by
governments in several countries. The voices of dissent included the leaders
of several GILC member organizations, such as Esther Dyson of Electronic
Frontiers Foundation (EFF), Yaman Akdeniz of Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties
(UK), and Nadine Strossen of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU),
among many others. It remains to be seen whether the general public or
industry will fully accept these content controls.

The Foundation's consultation paper may be seen at:

For Ms. Dyson's comments on the Foundation's Munich memorandum, see:

For Mr. Akdeniz's cautions against Internet content regulation, see:

For more on Ms. Strossen's critical remarks, see:

[4] Chinese dissident arrested for disseminating Net newspaper
Printing out e-mail in mainland China can get you thrown in jail.

That's what Qi Yanchen discovered several weeks ago. The Chinese dissident
had printed out a copy of a pro-democracy e-mail magazine, "V.I.P.
Reference" (also known as "Dacankao"). Soon afterwards, Communist Chinese
authorities not only arrested him, but also ransacked his home and
confiscated his computer, along with copies of the magazine. According to
reports, he is likely to be charged with the bizarre offense of unauthorized
"contacts with foreign hostile organizations or individuals."

For further information, go to:

[5] AOL selects, then takes down Burma junta page
Just how does AOL select webpages, anyhow?

That's the question a number of observers are asking after America Online
(AOL) decided to link "www.myanmar.com" to its Asia Forum. As it turned out,
the website is owned by the Burmese ruling junta, which is one of the most
notorious forces for Internet censorship in the world. The Burmese secret
police even sent a letter to AOL thanking them for their efforts.

Pro-democracy groups condemned AOL for its actions. The Free Burma Coalition
noted in its press release that the Burmese government imprisons citizens
for "unauthorized" use of copying machines, modem-equipped computers, and
faxes. In addition, Burmese authorities deny most citizens from obtaining
Internet access, except for "authorized" supporters of the regime. Not
surprisingly, free speech groups such as Reporters Sans Frontieres have
labeled the Burmese government as one of the world's "real enemies" of the

Apparently bowing to political pressure, AOL subsequently removed the
website from its International Country Pages.

For more information, visit:

[6] Bulgarian government to expand Internet restrictions
Internet users in Bulgaria are bracing for potentially ruinous government

These restrictions came in an executive order from the Bulgarian Committee
of Posts and Telecommunications (CPT). The order contains proposals to
require general licensing of local Internet service providers (ISPs), as
well as requiring ISPs to pay hefty fees. In addition, the authorities could
even obtain private information, including passwords and user names, by
walking into ISP offices at any time they wish.

Not surprisingly, Bulgarian Internet users promptly denounced these plans.
The Internet Society-Bulgaria (ISOC-Bulgaria, a GILC member) suggested that
the scheme "would bring Bulgaria closer to the less-than-democratic Internet
clubs of
Russia, Iran, Iraq, Cuba, China..." ISOC-Bulgaria sued in the Bulgarian
Supreme Court, claiming that "the decision to
license ISPs violates existing telecom legislation in Bulgaria, the
Constitution and art. 10 of the European Convention on Human rights." The
Court issued an interim order which halted
ISP licensing for the time being.

Meantime, the Commission on Monitoring (CoM) from the Parliamentary
Assembly of the European Council (PACE) wrote a report which discussed this
heated issue. The CoM warned that the proposed licensing would severely
retard the growth of democracy in Bulgaria.

For further details can be found at

[7] Third World struggles to get Internet access
Only 2 percent of the world's population is online.

That is according to United Nations (UN) statistics, which suggest that
attempts to turn the earth into one big electronic global village have long
ways to go. This problem is especially serious in Third World nations, which
often lack the economic and political resources to allow easy, inexpensive
Internet access. Raul Zambrano, an information technology specialist for the
development, project noted that in cyberspace, "the gap
between the haves and have-nots is widening."

Some countries have no Internet service providers (ISPs) of their own, and
must depend on ISPs of other nations to get access to the Internet. In other
instances, the lack of infrastructure such as reliable phone lines hinders
the growth of cyberspace, even when there are websites to view. That is the
case in Somalia, where violence and high cost have also been major problems
as its first domestic ISP is about to begin operations.

Further details on the global Internet situation can be seen at:

For more coverage of Somalia's attempts to join the online world, see Greg
Barrow, "Africa gathers to bridge technology gap", BBC News, October 26,
1999, at

Also, see "Somalia to go online", BBC News Online, September 27, 1999, at

[8] Attempts made to Jam Echelon
Numerous Internet users recently attempted to jilt a secret spy network, but
it is not clear whether they were successful.

The event did raise public awareness about ECHELON, a highly confidential
surveillance system. The system is operated by the government intelligence
agencies of 5 countries, including the United States National Security
Agency (NSA), the United Kingdom's Government Communications Headquarters
(GCHQ), the Australian Defense Signals Directorate (DSD), Canada's
Communications Security Establishment (CSE), and New Zealand's Government
Communications Security Bureau.

In this effort, Internet users sent numerous e-mail messages containing
words which might trigger Echelon's attention, such as NSA, TERRORISM, BOMB,
and so on. Many experts, including Wayne Madsen of the Electronic Privacy
Information Center (EPIC--a GILC member), raised doubts as to whether this
spam attack could succeed. However, as Simon Davies of Privacy International
(a GILC member) noted, it may never be clear if this effort had any impact
on Echelon's workings.

For more press coverage of Jam Echelon day, see Ted Bridis, "NSA Spammed",
ABCNews.com, October 22, 1999, at

Also see James Glave, "Hackers Ascend Upper 'Echelon'", Wired News, October
6, 1999, at
[9] UK police to get power to tap e-mail
A heated debate has arisen over British government plans to expand the power
of law enforcement in cyberspace.

These measures are packaged together in a new Electronic Communications
Bill. Under this scheme,
computer users who refuse to divulge their passwords to the authorities can
be sent to jail for up to two years. Other provisions would allow companies
easier access to employees' phone calls and e-mails. In addition, the police
will give the police newfound ability to tap mobile phone calls, pager
messages and e-mail. The proposal would require Internet service providers
(ISPs) to keep daily records on senders and recipients of data.

These plans have generated a firestorm of criticism. In a recent analysis
done on behalf of the Foundation for Information Policy Research (FIPR) and
Justice, legal scholars blasted the new legal standards. The report was
written by Jack Beatson QC, a former Law Commissioner, and Tim Eicke, a
barrister specializing in human rights and communication. Beatson and Eicke
warned that the proposal would trample on personal liberties, particularly
the right to a fair trial and the right against self-incrimination, which is
guaranteed under Article 6 of the European Convention. The opinion also
reproached government officials for essentially turning the principle of
'innocent until proven guilty' on its head. Furthermore, the analysts
suggested that the bill went too far in terms of the number and type of
transmissions that could be intercepted. Worse still, barristers believed
that the plans did not provide enough safeguards against potential
government abuse.

The FIPR's opinion is available at

More background information, see Richard Reeves, "Police power to read
e-mails 'is breach of rights'", (London) Observer, October 24, 1999, at

[10] US changes policies on encryption and Internet surveillance
The United States government has made a number of alterations to its policy
on computer encryption and the interception of Internet transmissions.

On one hand, the Clinton administration proposed legislation which, among
other things, would make it easier for law enforcement to seize and decrypt
Internet communications. Under this new version of the Cyberspace Electronic
Security Act (CESA), government investigators would no longer have to show
probable cause in order to obtain decryption information from third parties.
Instead, the bill would use a newly minted, four-prong test that is far more
nebulous. The bill would also permit the government to get court orders
preventing the disclosure of government surveillance techniques.

CESA has drawn fire from a number of sources, including such GILC members as
the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT), the American Civil Liberties
Union (ACLU) and the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC). CDT noted
in its initial analysis that "critical details" of the bill were "ambiguous
or objectionable". In particular, the CDT report pointed out that CESA
failed to provide "adequate privacy standards", and that the new test for
government access to decryption materials fell "far short of [U.S.
Constitutional] privacy protections". For its part, in a recent memorandum
on the subject, the ACLU said that CESA's "peculiar exercise in semantics
conflicts with the requirements of the [U.S.] Constitution and might open
the door to greater government intrusion in cyberspace." EPIC voiced similar
concerns in a statement issued the day CESA was announced; EPIC's General
Counsel, David Sobel, noted that the new proposal provides "less security
than advertised, with hidden vulnerabilities the government can exploit."

Another Clinton Administration move lifted export restrictions on most types
of encryption technology. However, under this new policy, programming
companies would be required to clear their products for export (a procedure
known as "one-time review"). While many observers applauded the lifting of
restrictions, a number of groups (including CDT and the ACLU) believed that
"one-time review" might give U.S. officials extra leverage to pressure
private companies into creating "back door" security flaws. Additionally,
this apparent reversal in Clinton Administration policy does not seem to
alleviate restrictions on  the exportation of raw encryption code (as
opposed to finished or compiled encryption software products).

The proposal has already hit stormy weather in Congress. House Majority
Leader Dick Armey has written a letter to Attorney General Janet Reno, where
he expressed "very serious concerns" about the Clinton Administration's
plans. These concerns included questions over "special protections for
decryption keys" and the extent of export clearance review.

For the full text of CESA, visit

For the Clinton Administration's official analysis of the bill, click

For CDT's analysis of CESA, see

To see an ACLU press release about these events, see

For EPIC's press release on the subject, visit

For Armey's letter on CESA, visit

For more press coverage of the Clinton Administration's new proposals, see
Ted Bridis, "Encryption Export Rules Ease", ABCNews.com, September 17, 1999,

[11] New US rules on child privacy
New regulations from the United States would restrict the collection of
private information from children online.

The new rules, which were issued by the United States Federal Trade
Commission (FTC), would require most websites to get parental consent before
obtaining information from their children (13 and younger).
The type of information that is covered includes e-mail addresses and dates
of birth. The FTC regulations do not apply to non-US websites.

Opposition has already arisen in response to these new legal standards.
Small business owners and several Congressional leaders have suggested these
rules might place a severe economic burden on certain websites, which may
lack the economic resources to comply with the FTC's requirements. These
groups have suggested that the Commission moved too swiftly in drafting the
new regulations. Some free speech groups, while generally praising the
regulations, have also raised several questions about a provision that may
require parental consent for a child to take part in a chat room, even if
the operators do not ask for personal information.

For more information, see Declan McCullagh, "FTC Weighs In on Kid Privacy",
Wired News, October 20, 1999, at

[12] Government officials meet in Moscow over Internet surveillance
Prosecutors from around the world were to meet to hatch new plans for
tapping the Internet.

The meeting was scheduled to occur on October 19-20 in Moscow. Attending the
meeting were to be Ministers of Interior and Justice of the G-8 nations,
including the United States, Japan, and Canada. Among the proclaimed goals
of these leaders is an obligatory agreement with European Union member
states and
so-called observer countries. These member states want greater international
cooperation and greater powers to perform transnational computer searches
for major criminal offenses. These powers would be "subject to specific
hedge clauses for appropriate protection of the sovereignty of other

Perhaps the most notable proposal was an attempt to standardize the length
of time for which Internet service providers would have to keep copies of
their subscribers' e-mail messages. In March, the G-8 Ministers had
suggested Internet service providers should freeze and store suspect
communication data immediately on request of investigators. Under this
procedure, known as "Freeze and Preserve", the police could seize and
evaluate the suspect data and evaluate, assuming they had a judicial order
or other suitable legal basis. The European Union data-security
commissioners recommended that telecommunications operators should be
allowed to keep data for up to three months.

Other proposals would force computer manufacturers to install a "Black Box"
to allow investigators easier access to privately held computers. It remains
to be seen what possible safeguards will be included to prevent unnecessary
government intrusion in cyberspace.

The event was shrouded in secrecy, and no details were released as to what
happened at the meeting.

For more information, in German, see Christiane Schulzki Haddouti, "Hunt for
the log files", Spiegel Online, October 8, 1999 at

For an English translation, visit

[13] EU temporarily shelves Net tapping scheme
The European Union has decided not to create a new Internet surveillance
system, at least for the time being.

Prior plans for such a system, known as ENFOPOL, were abandoned after
repeated protests. These protests came from European industry groups,
including European Internet Services Providers Association (EuroISPA), as
well as the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. The plans would have made
much easier for law enforcement to tap transmissions along the Internet and
other "new technologies". However, it is distinctly possible that the
proposal may yet be resurrected in the near future.

For more information, see Tim Richardson, "EU scraps global Net tapping
plans...for now", The Register, October 12, 1999, at

[14] Privacy and consumer protection top agenda at OECD conference
Participants at a forum organized by nongovernmental organizations called
for greater privacy and consumer protection measures.

The "Public Voice on Electronic Commerce" forum was sponsored by GILC, and
was organized by two GILC members, the Electronic Privacy Information Center
(EPIC) and  Imaginons un Reseau Internet Solidaire (IRIS). At the October 11
meeting, many speakers expressed certain hopes, such as more widespread
access to the Internet, consumer rights, governance in cyberspace and
privacy protection. Interestingly, a number of observers accepted the
possibility that co-regulation of the Internet might be inevitable.
Nevertheless, as Theresa Amato, of the United States-based Citizen Advocacy
Center noted, few were convinced by the "the argument in favor of a purely
self-regulatory regime" was "persuasive".
The Public Voice participants urged government to take a stronger regulatory
stance in several key areas, particularly in the case of consumer rights and

The consumer-oriented and business-led events led up to a two-day Electronic
Commerce forum on Oct. 12-13.

OECD Forum on Electronic Commerce is available on the World Wide Web
at http://www.oecd.org/dsti/sti/it/ec/act/paris--ec/index.htm.

Information on the Public Voice forum is available on the
organization's World Wide Web site at http://www.thepublicvoice.org.

The full text of the business-led Global Action Plan can be found on
the International Chamber of Commerce's World Wide Web site at

Also see
http://www.thepublicvoice.org (English only), and
http://www.iris.sgdg.org/actions/publicvoice99 (French and English)

[15] Big Brother Awards events held
Several organizations, including GILC members ARGE Daten and quintessenz
e-zine, held a Big Brother Awards Austria Party on October 26. The event was
designed to spotlight the most shameless intruders into individual privacy
spheres from Austrian government, institutions and business. The special
guests to the party included Simon Davies (from Privacy International--a
GILC member) and cryptography-specialist Mike Auerbach (from Network
Associates). The gala was cybercast on the Internet, through the official
Awards website.

The event attracted 1350 people. Among the winners was the Austrian Minister
of the Interior, who received the "Big Brother Lifetime Achievement Award."

The Austrian event was inspired by similar ceremonies held in the United
Kingdom (on October 19) and the United States (on April 7). The British and
American Big Brother Awards were both held by Privacy International. In the
UK, Gold Awards (for the greatest threats to privacy) were presented this
year to UK Home Secretary Jack Straw, as well as the credit bureau firm
Experian. Among the Winston winners (given to supporters of privacy) this
year was investigative journalist Duncan Campbell, who has extensively
profiled the activities of the United States National Security Agency (NSA)
and the super-secret surveillance network known as ECHELON.

For more details on the Austrian Big Brother Awards, see

For more information on the UK Big Brother Awards, see


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 address.

To submit information about upcoming events, new activist tools and news
stories, contact:  GILC Coordinator, American Civil Liberties Union, 125
Broad Street, 17th
Floor, New York, New York 10004  USA.  email: gilc-edit@aclu.org

More information about GILC members and news is available at
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