PARIS July 30, 1996 -- The
Global Internet Liberty Campaign said today that it would
oppose efforts to regulate privacy technology and free
speech on the Internet. The announcement follows a meeting
of G-7 leaders in Paris where plans were announced to
regulate the Internet in ways that threaten the Free Speech
and Privacy rights of it users. The G-7 countries include
the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Canada
and Japan. Russia also participates in the meetings of the
The G-7 proposal, while couched in
careful diplomatic terms, appears to endorse a U.S.
Government inititiated plan to require key escrowed
encryption on the Internet -- a scheme where the keys for
decryption would be accessible to governments. There is also
language which suggests plans to restrict the electronic
publication of information by unpopular political
Earlier attempts by officials in the US
Administration to pass similar measures through Congress
Barry Steinhardt, Associate Director of
the ACLU, said "The US government may not accomplish through
an international endrun what the US Congress and the US
Courts have rejected."
The ACLU was lead plaintiff in the
successful challenge to the Communications Decency Act. In
that case, a US federal court held that the government may
not regulate speech on the Internet.
Simon Davies, director general of Privacy
International, said that the human rights community must not
permit national governments to seize control of privacy
enhancing technologies. "National governments will use the
horrendous incidents in the States to build a international
web of surveillance to the detriment of their citizens."
Marc Rotenberg, director of the
Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington, said
that the proposals would meet with fierce opposition from
the Internet community. "Net users will simply not allow
governments to trample on the rights of citizens. Our rights
to privacy and free speech are clearly protected by
EPIC organized the Internet petition
against the Clipper encryption scheme.
Cynthia Brown, program director of Human
Rights Watch, said, "Free speech on the Internet is already
under attack from states like Saudi Arabia, China and
Singapore, and with this agreement, the G7 countries are
only reinforcing that negative trend.
Human Rights Watch has produced a report
on threats to Liberty on the Internet.
The GILC was formed at the annual meeting
of the Internet Society in Montreal. Members of the
coalition include the American Civil Liberties Union, the
Electronic Privacy Information Center, Human Rights Watch,
the Internet Society, Privacy International, the Association
des Utilisateurs d'Internet, the Electronic Frontier
Foundation and other civil liberties and human rights