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  LATEST NEWS (May 5, 2003)

New GILC Member: HREA. The Global Internet Liberty Campaign recently added a new member: Human Rights Education Associates (HREA). Aside from running the "Huridocs-Tech" listserv on the use of information and communication technology for human rights work since 1998 (currently a little over 800 subscribers from 90 or so countries), HREA has been promoting debate and training around human rights and the Internet. The organization offers a broad range of distance learning courses via the Internet for human rights advocates, including two annual courses on Using the Internet for Human Rights Work (both Introductory and Advanced). Currently, HREA is assisting HURIDOCS in implementing a search engine dedicated to human rights information (HURISEARCH) and the Martus project in providing training in their encrypted database software for human rights organizations.

2003 UK Big Brother Awards Announced. On March 25, 2003, Privacy International (a GILC member organization) announced the winners of the 5th Annual UK "Big Brother" awards to the government and private sector organisations that have done the most to invade personal privacy in Britain. Four "Big Brother" awards were presented to the individuals, organizations, and departments which have done most to invade personal privacy. A "lifetime menace" award was given to an invader with a long history of attacking privacy. A new award: "Dog Poo on a Stick" was also given. "Winston" awards were also given to individuals and organisations which have made an outstanding contribution to the protection of privacy, as well as to people who have been victims of privacy invasion.

GILC Welcomes New Member: Statewatch. Founded in 1991, Statewatch encourages the publication of investigative journalism and critical research in the fields of the state, civil liberties and openness in Europe. It has received numerous awards for its efforts to gain public access to European government documents, including papers regarding telecommunications surveillance initiatives. Statewatch is a non-profit volunteer group comprised of lawyers, academics, journalists, researchers and community activists; its European network of contributors is spread across 12 countries.

GILC Welcomes New Members: EFFI and AEL. The Global Internet Liberty Campaign recently added two new members: Electronic Frontier Finland and Association Electronique Libre (Belgium). EFFI has made numerous efforts to protect computer users' civil liberties; among other things, the group organized the Finnish Big Brother Awards to spotlight some of the country's greatest threats to individual privacy. AEL is dedicated to promoting fundamental rights in the information society and cyberspace; towards that end, it has campaigned heavily against various government data retention proposals.

GILC Welcomes New Member: RSF. The Global Internet Liberty Campaign has welcomed a new member into the fold: Reporters Sans Frontières. Founded in 1985, RSF has worked intensively over the past several years to defend press freedom throughout the world, including online journalism. They have launched several projects to document attacks on the press, including "Enemies of the Internet," which contains country-by-country descriptions of how governments in many parts of the world have tried to limit free speech along the Information Superhighway. In addition, RSF has fought against censorship of journalists through such methods as sending protest letters, systematically reproducing censored articles, and hosting banned newspapers.

GILC Welcomes New Member: stop1984. The Global Internet Liberty Campaign has added a new member: stop1984. This Germany-based group is dedicated to supporting "informational self determination, data protection and freedom of speech." Towards that end, it has engaged in web-based initiatives to increase public awareness of various cyberliberties issues. In one such campaign, stop1984 garnered over 16,000 signatures for an open letter protesting the European Union's approval of a controversial data retention directive.

Socialist MEP Comments on GILC Letter. In a letter addressed to all GILC members, Mrs. Elena Paciotti, Shadow rapporteur of the Party of European Socialists ("PES"), answered to the open letter that GILC sent on May 22 to all European Parliament Members and other important officials of the European Commission, the Council of the European Union and the European Union Council of Ministers. Her letter explains why her party endorsed the Council's position in favor of data retention. The PES recently rallied the center-right European People's Party ("EPP") to back up the Council and EU Member States' governments' pro-data retention stance. GILC, IRIS, Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties and Statewatch have issued responses to the comments.

Coalition Asks European Parliament to Vote Against Data Retention. In an open letter sent to all Members of the European Parliament, 40 civil liberties organizations from 15 countries strongly recommended that Members vote against general data retention of communications by law enforcement authorities. The vote, scheduled for May 29 in Brussels, is critical, as it constitutes the major step before the final adoption of the new EU Telecommunications Directive. It may have serious consequences on the manner in which data retention is currently regulated in the United States and other countries around the world. Over 16,000 individual endorsements were also received. View a GILC press release.

GILC Welcomes New Member: TEA (Hungary). Technika az Emberert Alapitvány (TEA), or "Technology for People Foundation," is a Hungarian group that successfully organized the first annual Hungarian Big Brother Awards last November. TEA also publishes a weekly privacy newsletter, "Privacy Hírlevél," to inform the Hungarian people about privacy issues. See their home page for a summary of the group's other activities.

NGOs Request Release of Cybercrime Protocols. On February 6, several GILC members and related non-governmental organizations from Council of Europe member and observer nations sent a letter (also available in French and Spanish) to Council of Europe Secretary-General Walter Schwimmer. The letter requests that the CoE release the draft protocol on "Racism and Xenophobia," which is currently under discussion to be considered in connection with the Council of Europe Cybercrime Treaty. Update: the draft protocol and other documents are now available through the CoE website. A French listing of documents is available here. Also, on February 28, NGOs sent a letter (also in French and German) to Schwimmer requesting the release of a second draft protocol and preliminary meeting documents.

Denmark Holds First Big Brother Awards. On January 21, the first Danish Big Brother Awards were awarded in a ceremony at the Danish Parliament in Christiansborg. Next week, the second French Big Brother Awards will take place in Paris. A list of nominees (in French) is available at The Netherlands will hold their Awards in February, the United Kingdom in March, and the United States Big Brother Awards will be held at CFP2002 in April. See for an overview.

GILC Welcomes New Member: FIPR. Based in London, the Foundation for Information Policy Research (FIPR) promotes public understanding and dialogue between technologists and policy-makers in the UK and Europe. It has fought strenuously against several surveillance initiatives over the past few years, including the controversial British Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIP). It has also issued numerous policy papers and analyses on such topics as digital signatures, secure e-commerce and computer encryption laws. FIPR was honored at the UK Big Brother Awards 2000 for its outstanding contributions to the protection of privacy.

Australian Internet Censorship Bill Stalls. Although new Internet censorship laws under consideration by New South Wales (NSW) Parliament in Australia cleared both houses of Parliament, the proposal has not passed into law. NSW Attorney General Bob Debus referred the legislation to a committee for review yesterday after writing a letter illustrating his decision that the legislation needed further consideration. The decision was made largely due to the large number of concerned citizens and groups that contacted Debus. Electronic Frontiers Australia had warned on November 17 that the laws, which would criminalize Internet material unsuitable for children, were too restrictive, and suggested that the Bill be suspended pending the addressing of its full ramifications. See EFA's comprehensive reference source on the NSW Bill, including links to the Bill and a detailed analysis, here. The Standing Committee on Social Issues has been asked to report on the legislation by June 2002.

International Coalition Urges EU to Safeguard Privacy. On November 12, an international coalition of consumer and privacy organizations wrote a letter (available in both English and French) to Guy Verhofstadt, President of the European Union Council of Ministers, expressing their concerns about President Bush's recent letter requesting that the proposed EU Directive on the protection of privacy in the electronic communications sector be altered to allow for data retention of telephone calls and Internet messages. EU lawmakers voted on the issue the next day, and chose not to act on President Bush's requests. More information on the vote is available here (in French. Choose Strasbourg, "November 13"), and New York Times coverage of the issue is available here.

Council of Europe Approves Cyber-Crime Convention. On November 8, the Council of Europe approved the Convention on Cyber-crime, an international treaty designed to harmonize laws against crimes committed via the Internet. The convention was drafted as an attempt to set some level of legal and ethical standards for online activity. The treaty will go into effect when five countries have ratified it. The convention will be open for signature at an international conference on cyber-crime in Budapest on November 23rd. For more information, see Brian Krebs, "Council of Europe Adopts Global Cyber-Crime Treaty," Newsbytes, Nov. 8, 2001.

Civil Society Meeting at ICANN. On November 13, the Internet Democracy Project will host a special Civil Society meeting in Los Angeles, CA. This coincides with the weeklong meetings of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). Topics to be discussed include the future of .org, recent events concerning civil liberties in cyberspace (with a special focus on privacy issues), a dialog with ICANN At-Large Directors, network privatization, and a roundtable on ICANN At-Large membership. No pre-registration is required for this meeting, and attendance is free.

Web Restrictions for Singapore Election. In light of the upcoming snap elections on November 3, Singapore's electoral office warned political parties to follow strict Web-posting rules. For example, non-party political websites registered with the industry regulator, the Singapore Broadcast Authority, cannot post items that constitute campaigning for any political party or candidate. Breaches of the law carry a fines and the possibility of a year in jail. See Gag on web for elections, Australian IT, October 30, 2001.

Cyberliberties Groups Lobby for Privacy Protection. Seven cyberliberties groups have issued a joint letter urging the European Council "to refrain from new and extended communications interception and lawful access powers for police forces and intelligences services." The organizations also urged leaders not to implement legislation mandating that internet and telecommunication service providers retain traffic data for law enforcement purposes. GILC members participating in this effort include Bits of Freedom, Digital Rights (Denmark), Quintessenz, FITUG, the Chaos Computer Club, and Privacy International. Civil society groups in several other countries, including France, have issued similar letters.

FITUG Urges Political Leaders to Defend Freedom. In wake of the recent terrorist attacks on the United States, Förderverein Informationstechnik und Gesellschaft (FITUG) , a GILC member, has released a statement urging the leaders of all open societies to protect the freedoms enjoyed by their citizens, as well as a similar statement dealing specifically with recommendations for cryptography policy (also available in PDF).

European Parliament Rejects Data Retention Requirement. The European Parliament rejected an EU directive that would have allowed Irish and member-state law enforcement agencies to retain personal communications information. The decision was called "a victory for the protection of civil liberties and the right to privacy." Had the directive passed, law enforcement agencies would have been able to access private email and website addresses; the location of Internet newsgroups accessed, and the times and duration of land and mobile phone calls. See Parliament Rejects Use of Personal Communications, Irish Times, September 7, 2001.

Court Forces New Round in DVD Weblinks Case. Matthew Pavlovich, one of the defendants in a high profile copyright case centering around DeCSS (a computer program that unscrambles the copy protection scheme used in DVDs) had posted DeCSS on a DVD player development mailing list that he operated. He has now suffered a serious court setback: after the initial lawsuit was filed, a court ruled that Pavlovich can be forced to answer charges in California, largely because "California is commonly known as the center of the motion picture industry" and that he somehow should have known that posting DeCSS was "injuriously affecting the motion picture and computer industries in California." See the text of the ruling and an EFF press release on the ruling.

Russian Hacker Indicted. Dmitry Sklyarov, who helped create software that permits Adobe eBook owners to translate from Adobe's secure eBook format into Portable Document Format (PDF), has been indicted on five counts of trafficking and conspiracy to traffic in a copyright circumvention device. Sklyarov faces over $2 million USD in fines and up to 25 years in jail. See and for details.

Protest Excessive Copyright Protection. The Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) nation-signatories are negotiating language for an international treaty between 34 countries in the Western Hemisphere, including the U.S., that would make nations pass anti-circumvention provisions similar to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), except it would grant even greater control to publishers. To express disapproval and work to correct this trend in copyright law, contact the U.S. Trade Representative (or your country's representative) and urge the removal of the anti-circumvention measures from incorporation into the final FTAA treaty. Comments, to be received by the FTAA organization by August 20, should be submitted to:

Gloria Blue, Executive Secretary, Trade Policy Staff Committee
Attn: FTAA Draft Text Release
Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
1724 F. St., NW, Fifth Floor
Washington DC 20508 USA

Non-US writers should also send a copy to their own country's intellectual property government officials. A list is available at

Opposition to South African Internet Censorship Bill. Privacy International has submitted comments to the South African Parliament in opposition to the Internet Censorship and Monitoring Act. The bill would allow for increased surveillance to protect national security, monitoring of web browsing without a court order, and requires communications technologies to be wiretap-capable.

Fight Online Censorship in Korea. Recent changes to Korean law will result in mandatory Internet content rating and restrictions on online organizing. Help support the efforts of Korean activists.

Coalition Releases Statement Against Stealth Blocking. The Global Internet Liberty Campaign (GILC) and the Internet Free Expression Alliance (IFEA) have released a statement opposing stealth blocking. Stealth blocking is the practice of some Internet service providers (ISPs) to block Internet access to particular hosts without the knowledge of end users.

Study Identifies Enemies of the Internet. Reporters Sans Frontiers and have released "Enemies of the Internet: Obstacles to the free flow of information on the Internet" [fr], a report examining threats to freedom on the Internet. The study looks at fifty-nine democractic and non-democratic countries and possible threats to cyber-liberties.

Public Voice Releases Report on Digital Divide. The Public Voice, a project of EPIC that facilitates public participation in the development of Internet policy, has submitted a report to the Digital Opportunities Task Force - a G-8 Digital Divide initiative. "The Public Voice and the Digital Divide: A Report to the DOT Force" (PDF) assembles comments and proposals from the public and urges the G-8 to incorporate more public participation in future consultations.

Journalism Group Releases Report on Free Speech in China. The Committee to Protect Journalists has published a report on the state of free speech in China. Entitled the "Great Firewall", the study examines the impact of the Internet on the future of free speech and access to information.

GILC Members Maintain Opposition to Cyber-Crime Treaty. Responding to the latest version of the Council of Europe's Convention on Cyber-Crime, twenty-one GILC member organizations have drafted a new letter arguing that the treaty's current provisions will continue to violate the rights of Internet users. The letter from the groups also points out the lack of public input in the drafting process.

GILC Members Release Letter Opposing Cyber-Crime Convention. Twenty-eight GILC member organizations from around the world have urged the Council of Europe to reject the current version of its Convention on Cyber-Crime. The letter from the organizations states that provisions of the treaty runs contrary to internationally accepted human rights norms and would infringe on the free speech and privacy rights of all Internet users.

Declaration of Internet Actors. Several GILC member organizations have joined French organizations in opposing the Liberty of Communication Act pending in the French Parliament. The bill would have a detrimental impact on the free speech and privacy of Internet users. See the statement and background materials produced by Imaginons un Réseau Internet Solidaire (IRIS).

G-8 Cyber-Crime Meeting Ends Without Significant Progress. The Group of 8 (G-8), the eight largest economies in the world, met in Paris to discuss a possible resolution on cyber-crime. Industry and governments agreed to cooperate more to fight cybercrime. Controversial suggestions to mandate that ISPs gather and keep more information about users were opposed. See Privacy International's new Cyber-Crime page for more information.

New Report on Internet Access in Central and Eastern Europe. "Bridging the Digital Divide: Internet Access in Central & Eastern Europe" has been released in updated and expanded version. The report, while offering a snapshot of the state of the Net in a single region, addresses one of the most fundamental Internet policy issues worldwide -- the challenge of affordable access -- and includes a discussion of the universal service principle and policies that promote wider Internet access.

GILC Releases Statement Opposing DVD Suit. Twenty-three GILC member organizations have signed onto a statement opposing the DVD Copy Control Association's (CCA) suit against people who have posted information about the DVD Content Scrambling System (CSS). The suit claims to protect trade secrets surrounding DVD CSS, but the letter points out that the controversial DeCSS software is legal reverse-engineering needed to provide interoperability of DVDs on different computer systems. The statement also explains that DeCSS does not enable the practical duplication DVDs and that DVDs can already be copied through other available means.

Public Interest Policy Forum Releases Internet Recommendations. Two years in a row, representatives from a number of "groups, associations, and trade unions" have met in Paris under IRIS to discuss policies that would create and preserve an "Internet that promotes non-commercial interests and solidarity." The final motion passed by the second forum, which took place on November 27, 1999, approved the document "85 recommendations for a democratic Internet in the year 2000." This document should interest people around the world who are concerned with access to information for all, even though a few of the statements touch on particular French laws. Supplementary statements are available in French.

EPIC Sues for NSA Interception Documents. On December 3, EPIC asked a federal court to order the release of controversial documents concerning potential government surveillance of American citizens. EPIC's lawsuit (PDF) seeks the public disclosure of internal National Security Agency (NSA) documents discussing the legality of the agency's intelligence activities. See the press release for more details, and EPIC's Former Secrets page for examples of other government documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

No Licensing of ISPs in Bulgaria. On November 18, the Bulgarian government announced that it would not require Internet Services Providers (ISPs) to obtain licenses. By avoiding a governmental role in Internet access, Bulgaria managed to avoid a potential obstacle in the availability of online information. For more information, see the Internet Society (ISOC) Bulgaria.

Website on ECHELON Launched. Echelon Watch, a new website administered by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) along with the Omega Foundation and the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), provides news and materials on Project ECHELON. ECHELON is a worldwide surveillance system run by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) with the cooperation of intelligence agencies in the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. While the existence of ECHELON has remained largely unknown to the general public, recent proceedings by the European Parliament and an upcoming hearing in the U.S. Congress will shed light on the scope of the project.


For other current news stories, see the GILC Presswire
For other GILC actions, see the GILC Activities Page