GILC Alert
Volume 1, Issue 4 December 15, 1997

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 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.

       [A] FOREMOST NEWS [A1] GILC Opposes W3C PICS Recommendation [B] ROUNDUP OF GLOBAL INTERNET ISSUES [B1] Africa/Middle East [B1.1] Journalists to Fight Internet Regulation [B1.2] Nigerian Journalist Owes It All to Internet [B2] Asia/Oceania [B2.1] Mosaic Cyberporn Illegal [B2.2] Chinas IntrAnet [B3] Central/South America [B3.1] Costa Rica Set to Vote Via Internet [B4] Europe [B4.1] EU Calls for "Action" to Sanitize (read Sterilize) Internet [B4.2] Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK) Watches the Watchmen [B4.3] Belaruss Captive Press Laws [B5] North America [B5.1] Court Hears Encryption Case Appeal: Government Attorney Argues, U.S. Policy Doesn't Infringe on Free Speech, "Except on the Internet" [B5.2] New Internet Coalition Fights Backdoor Censorship [B5.3] G8ernet
  [A] FOREMOST NEWS [A1] GILC Opposes W3C PICS Recommendation

Fearing the Platform for Internet Content Selections (PICS) debate has lost sight of human rights, civil liberties and personal freedom, the Global Internet Liberty Campaign (GILC) has issued a statement opposing the W3C Proposed Recommendation "PICSRules 1.1."

GILC relied on already agreed to international covenants in rejecting the W3C proposal. For one, Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights explicitly protects freedom of expression for all and specifically the "freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media." That principle was reaffirmed in multiple international agreements, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

GILC also called W3C to task, asking it to hold fast to its mission statement: to "realize the full potential of the Web: as an elegant machine-to-machine system, as a compelling human-to-computer interface, and as an efficient human-human communications system."

In signing on to the GILC Statement, the members noted: "If these PICS rules are adopted and implemented, whole masses of people could be quarantined from information and news without even knowing they were being cut off."

"The Internet is a tremendous tool for aiding in the spread of democracy and keeping freedom alive. But in the hands of totalitarian governments, PICS could transform the Internet into another tool of propaganda and oppression."

The GILC Statement:

Imaginons un Reseau Internet Solidaire (IRIS):"Labeling and Filtering: Possibilities, Dangers, and Perspectives"

Electronic Frontiers Australia:

W3C Proposed Recommendation "PICSRules 1.1" dated 4 November 1997

  [B1] Africa/Middle East [B1.1] Journalists to Fight Internet Regulation


In Namibia, a conference (organized by the International Federation of Journalists), and attended by journalists from Botswana, Namibia, Swaziland, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe urged the African media to join the current Internet regulation debate.

Africa News quoted David Lush, chairman of the Namibia Journalists Association as saying that most of the discussion is still in the hands of the bureaucrats and technocrats. Consequently, ignoring issues such as free speech or freedom of access. "If we the media are not involved in these debates we will find ourselves with a whole lot of restrictive legislation because fundamental rights such as freedom of expression are being left out," Lush said.

Lush fears that governments will continue to do what they are doing: use old legislation from colonial times to restrict access to the Internet.

The International Federation of Journalists:


  [B1.2] Nigerian Journalist Owes It All to Internet  

The Nigerian government is not in the free speech business. Actually, its not in any freedom business. Since 1960, when Nigeria was liberated from the United Kingdom, it has only enjoyed 10 years of democratic rule, and 27 years of military tyranny. With the latter being the order of the day since 1983.

Inter Press Service relays the story of Babafemi Ojudu. In another governmental crackdown on the media, Nigeria officials seized the phone lines of Ojudus weekly paper, The News. Ojudu proceeded to "hook up [his] laptop to the phones of friends and get in touch with reporters online." The Internet has allowed the press in Nigeria to keep "one step ahead of government censorship."

It is impossible, he says, to get truthful information from the government. Therefore, he surfs the net -- reading news sources and exchanging E-mail. Because of the Internet, he is able to "blow the whistle on the regime" whenever one of his colleagues is imprisoned.

Go to the Free Nigeria Movement home page:


[B2] Asia/Oceania [B2.1] Mosaic Cyberporn Illegal  

The Okayama District Court, in Japan, recently ruled that sexual pictures with easily removed mosaic designs that cover certain pornographic body parts are obscene. Two men were sentenced to suspended prison sentences.

The defense had argued that the images, clothed in mosaic, are saved from being obscene because the only way the images could be accessed in their original form is for users to actively unclothe them.

The court dismissed those arguments. The Mainichi Daily News quoted Presiding Judge Shigeo Yamamori: "Mosaic designs . . . can be easily removed relatively simply and the images the mosaics cover are easily recognizable as being obscene. As the software that creates the mosaic is readily available, it is simple to remove the mosaic."

The paper reports the ruling may have far-reaching implications for a country that has about 400,000 personal home pages (with some 14,000 containing pornographic images). This, however, is not the first time Internet pornography was before the Japanese courts. Earlier, the Tokyo District Court ruled a man who placed mosaic-less pornography on the Internet was guilty of breaking obscenity laws.


[B2.2] Chinas IntrAnet  

After releasing a set of Internet regulations in February, China appears to be moving away from active and obvious law-based censorship. In the not so long ago "old days," subscribers registered with the Public Security Bureau if they wanted Internet access. They also had to pledge not to view banned sites or to use the Internet to "endanger national security." China blocked Reuters and CNN and installed technology that scanned the Internet for certain words. The Government also warned all users that they were being watched.

But now, according to the South China Post, Beijing has eased its grip on the Internet. Reuters and CNN are accessible. Porn is easy to find. And political dissent is available. But is this just a window cracking open before backdoor censorship slams the Internet shut?

The Agence France Presse quoted Peter Lovelock, a telecommunications researcher affiliated with Hong Kong University as saying: "China is getting away with what the West couldnt get away with -- creating a border for the Internet."

This border takes advantage of the language and technology barriers that exist in the nation. Since most of the people read only Chinese, the government will provide Chinese-language alternatives to which the Chinese will naturally turn. China is also heavily investing to develop a Chinese Intranet with "just a few, carefully selected windows onto the outside world."

With 600,000 Internet subscribers (or users -- officials dont specify) in China today (there were only 40,000 in mid-1995) and more than 100 Internet service providers, the aim is not to block out foreign Internet content, but to make it unduly burdensome for the vast majority of Chinese, who cant read English and have only basic computer skills to get to the material. While it will still be possible to access material, it will no longer be "point and click," Lovelock added.

"The China Wide Web (CWW) -- an Intranet project with heavy government backing -- appears ready to consolidate all the countrys available resources to creating a cyberspace safe for Chinas millions."

Read WebWeeks piece:

[B3] Central/South America [B3.1] Costa Rica Set to Vote Via Internet  


Come February of next year, the small Central American nation is expected to host an historical development: online elections. Costa Ricas 3.4 million citizens are required to vote, but registration requirements keep many of them from casting a ballot. All Costa Ricans are registered at the time of birth and at the city of birth; unless they re-register, they have to travel to the place where they were born to vote. The government actually subsidizes transportation for the voters.

Brett Amdur, a teaching fellow at the Villanova Law School in Philadelphia, USA, and one of the three North American coordinators of Project Costa Rica is quoted in HotSeat as saying: "That means its a huge government expense on election day, because most people in Costa Rica would admit, an atmosphere of something of a national holiday on election day, because people get to travel all over the country and return to their town of origin, and see old friends."

By January, all Costa Rican high schools and about 50% of grade schools will be equipped with computers. Therefore, instead of traveling all day to return to her hometown to vote, a mother would simply enter her childs school and cast her ballot there.

While Amdur thinks that Costa Ricans dont have a "sophisticated knowledge of the Internet," he relies on a 94% literacy rate (one of the highest in the world), to make the transition easy.

One of the difficulties, however, is ensuring privacy. AT&Ts; Lorrie Cranor said, "you never want it to be possible to link a ballot with the person who cast it. And that offers some very unique requirements, and really that was [AT&T;]s primary concern in designing this system, because with audit trails and with backups, if you should mistakingly end up in a situation where you get more votes than you were supposed to have, you can correct this. But if you somehow find out how somebodysvvote is linked back to them, its too late, you cant undo it. So this was really the most important requirement, and we think weve come up with some solutions to address that pretty well."

Another difficulty is preventing massive voter fraud. Amdur added that everything will happen locally. "Each voter will present an identification number to someone at a registration desk, and the registration clerk will enter that voters name into a machine thats local at each polling station. The Internet will then be used to verify that that voter has not actually voted before, and also to deliver the appropriate ballot for that voter. So that the Internet will serve a registration funciion to assure that the voter does not make multiple votes, and to assure that the voter is getting the proper ballot."

Originally, voters were to cast both paper and electronic ballots. Last week, however, Costa Ricas Supreme Electoral Council voted not have the experiment on election day, but on another day. If the experiment is successful, Costa Rica may have a totally Internet-based election in 2002.

For more information about the Costa Rica Project:

To read the HotSeat Transcript:

Read the NY Times article about the project: week/102297costarica.html


[B4] Europe [B4.1] EU Calls for "Action" to Sanitize Internet  

The European Commission has issued an Action Plan to keep illegal and "harmful" material off the Internet. This plan will cover the years 1998 to 2001 and cost an estimated ECU 37 million. AFX News reported the plan aims to "promote content monitoring schemes developed by access providers, content providers and network operators." According to Reuters, the Commission seeks to encourage European content providers to rate their material.

The Action Plan called for "internationally compatible and interoperable rating and filtering schemes . . . used to protect users, especially children, against undesirable content."

According to the European Report: The plan separates "illegal content" from "harmful content." "The first (for example, pornography involving children or incitement to racism) must be treated at the source by the police and judicial authorities, whose activities are directed by national statutes and legal cooperation agreements; it can also be combated through codes of conduct and self-regulation mechanisms involving the industry itself. The second category is not "illegal" but is likely to be harmful to certain categories of users. It can be dealt with by offering sensitive users filtering or classification systems.

The Commission went on to identify three targeted areas. The first area of "action" involves creating "a safe environment through hot-lines and industry self-regulation." This network of "hot-lines" gathers information and deals with illegal content. The Commissions press release states: "The Action Plan envisages to establish a European network of hot-lines, and links between this network and hotlines in third countries, develop common approaches and stimulate transfer of know-how and best practice. Furthermore, it is foreseen to develop guidelines at the European level for codes of conduct, to build consensus for their application, and support their implementation."

The second targeted area focuses on applying "effective" filtering systems to the Internet. The Commission claims that filtering systems actually "empower the user to select the content he/she wishes to receive."

Finally the Commission calls for "awareness actions." Here, it means "the dissemination of information from access providers to customers and develop material for use in educational institutions."

According to the European Report, the Action Plan is based on Article 130 of the Treaty between member-states; and the Council of Ministers, after a single consultation of the European Parliament, must approve it unanimously.

To read the EUs Press Release:

  [B4.2] Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK) Watches the Watchmen  

The United Kingdom-based civil liberties organization, and member of the Global Internet Liberty Campaign, recently released "Who Watches the Watchmen: Internet Content Rating Systems, and Privatised Censorship." In it, CR&CL; (UK) demonstrates why Internet regulation debates should be open forums involving the general public, instead of inaccessible tête-à-têtes between industry and government organizations.

Last July, one such tête-à-tête (Eurim, a UK body made up of members of parliament, industry representatives and special interest groups) concluded that the current legal structure is inadequate; the government needs new laws and new regulations to deal with the Internet. CR&CL; (UK) strongly disagrees. The report shows that the current state of UK laws are more than adequate to deal with Internet related matters.

Furthermore, "Who Watches the Watchmen" attacks the call for further Internet regulation as groundless by using a four-pronged attack: (1) There is no pressing need in fact; (2) National legislation is the wrong response; (3) There is a confusion between illegal and harmful content; (4) Adults should not be treated as children.

The distinction between children and adults is further clarified. Yaman Akdeniz, founder of CR&CL; (UK), argues: "The regulation of potentially harmful content such as pornography on the Internet and regulation of invariably illegal content such as child pornography are different in nature and should not be confused. Any regulatory action intended to protect a certain group of people, such as children, should not take the form of an unconditional prohibition of using the Internet to distribute certain content that is freely available to adults in other media."

The report also critiques Platforms for Internet Content Selections (PICS). "While apparently being voluntary and fair, this kind of system is likely to end up being a serious burden on content providers. . . . [T]he only way to deal with incorrect ratings is to prosecute content providers. That is very dangerous and an infringement on free speech."

Filtering software is not spared either. With about 15 parental blocking and filtering products available, parents feel they can keep out pornography without blocking other web sites. But thats a false sense of security. "It has been reported many times that this kind of software is over inclusive and limits access to or censors inconvenient web sites, or filters potentially educational materials regarding AIDS and drug abuse prevention."

Finally, "Who Watches the Watchmen" goes on to highlight the "Dutch Model" of fighting child pornography. The Dutch Foundation for Internet Service Providers, Dutch Internet users and others have established a hotline that takes complaints about the presence of child porn. This has led to a "substantial reduction of the amount of child pornography pictures distributed from Holland."

In comparison, the British have the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF). But the basis of that organization is riddled with problems. First, according to the IWF, only 7% of the reported cases of illegal content involving child pornography originated from the UK. Furthermore, Akdeniz states, "The Dutch Hotline started on a voluntary basis and is not predominantly industry-based (as is IWF). The problem, however, is that there are no known prosecutions following the activities of either hotlines and that is why I do question the effectiveness of these kind of hotlines at a national level with regards to a global medium such as the Internet. Finally, removing materials containing child pornography from the Internet at a UK level only is near futile as material can always be accessed by UK residents from computers located abroad."

Read CR&CL; (UK)s Report, 'Who Watches the Watchmen'

Eurim is at:

Read EPIC Censorware pages:

The ACLU "Fahrenheit 451.2: Is Cyberspace Burning?":

Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility Question Internet Filtering Agreement:


  [B4.3] Belaruss Captive Press Laws  

On October 15th, the Belarusian Parliaments House of Representatives adopted new laws dealing with the "free" press. These changes empowered Aleksandr Lukashenko to not only shut down any publications he objects to, but also to block the distribution of foreign media in Belarus.

In addition, this power over the media has been individually vested in a number of Ministries. The Current Digest of Post Soviet Press reports that Belaruss Administrative Code has been altered to allow for the easier persecution of dissidents. Now, the chairman and the vice-chairman of the State Committee on the Press will have the discretionary right to suspend the production of publications, without the involvement of any judicial agencies. The Minister of Culture and the Minister of Communications have also been vested with these same powers.

The rules for registration have also been toughened. A publisher who "commits an infraction" is stripped of the right to publish another newspaper or magazine for two years.

In the past, the laws exempted publications with circulations fewer than 500 from registration requirements. Now, even "wall newspapers" are put under the watchful eyes of the State Committee on the Press.

The Current Digest quotes, Belarussian Prime Minister Vladimir Zametalin as stating: "Independence of the media and press is a term for laboratory research."

Well, the experiment is over. Late last week, the Russian Press Digest reported that President Lukashenko stepped up his campaign against a free press, by shutting down Svoboda (Freedom), a mass-circulation newspaper published by the Belarus opposition.

But the story will not end there. In the old days of tyranny, the underground opposition had no where to run. Today, with the emerging power of the Internet, they run on to the information superhighway. Svoboda has reappeared on the Internet, in the inside pages of an economic daily.

Vassili Byaku, a prominent Belarus writer, will continue to fight. He is quoted by the Agence France Presse: "The more the regime seeks to suppress the truth, the greater the demand for truth becomes. In such circumstances, the responsibilities of the remaining independent media are all the greater."

  [B5] North America [B5.1] Court Hears Encryption Case Appeal: Government Attorney Argues, U.S. Policy Doesnt Infringe on Free Speech, "Except on the Internet"

In an on-going saga, not soon ending, a Federal appeals court heard arguments challenging the governments encryption policy. On Monday, December 8, a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit sought to review a lower courts ruling that the United States unconstitutionally restricts the "export" (including publication and other expression) of strong encryption software and source code.

Under current law it is sometimes legal to send computer source code overseas in printed form (the government has said it will disallow export even of books if they are printed in an easily-OCRable font). But if a professor (like Daniel J. Bernstein, around whom the appeal centers) puts it on a disk or sends it via E-mail, he needs to be licensed as a munitions dealer and obtain an arms-trading license.

Prof. Bernstein, while a graduate student at the University of California at Berkeley in 1995 sued the U. S. State Department when he tried to publish and teach about his software encryption program, Snuffle. The government told Bernstein he would have to submit his ideas about cryptography for review, apply for (though, he wouldnt necessarily get) a government license and register as an arms dealer.

Over 400 pages of briefs served as ammunition for the three sitting judges, who pelted both sides with questions during a grueling 45-minute hearing. Zdnet quoted Judge Betty Fletcher: "There are all kinds of communications in todays world that need encryption, and need strong encryption. In arguing that national security overrides the First Amendment, the government has a harder case to prove."

The government argues that the regulations just control the "function" of a "product" -- the ability of encryption software to keep information private. But opponents contend this argument is nonsensical, because software has no "function" other than to instruct a computer to do something -- a "function" that is expression in and of itself.

The governments attorney, Scott McIntosh, representing the U.S. Department of Commerce and Department of State and the National Security Agency, argued that the intent was not to restrict the content of the speech but rather the medium. The New York Times reported that the judges seemed skeptical when McIntosh added, "The regulation doesnt stop anyone from speaking, including Professor Bernstein, except on the Internet."

Cindy Cohn, who is representing Bernstein pro bono (with financial backing from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a GILC founding member), cited the recent Supreme Court ruling in Reno v. ACLU and legal precedent from the Pentagon Papers decision and urged the appeals court to affirm the lower courts ruling. Cohen was joined by a friend-of-the-court brief signed by many American members of GILC: Electronic Privacy Information Center; American Civil Liberties Union; Center for Democracy and Technology; Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility; Human Rights Watch; Internet Society; and Privacy International.

In August, District Court Judge Marilyn Patel ruled that computer source code (a "recipe" for software -- used to create "object code," or what most of us think of as a software program) is protected expression under the First Amendment, just like a poem or a novel. Patels ruling invalidated the governments licensing scheme as an unconstitutional prior restraint on a software authors free speech rights. The U.S. Supreme Court has held that prior restraints on free speech are the least tolerable infringement on First Amendment rights. The Court in 1976, held: "A prior restraint . . . has an immediate and irreversible sanction. It can be said that a threat of criminal or civil sanction after publication chills speech, prior restraint freezes it . . ."

Under current U.S. law, the government may impose valid time, place and manner restrictions on speech when they: (1) are not viewpoint-based; (2) are narrowly tailored to (3) serve a substantial government interest; and (4) leave open alternate channels of communication. Additionally, (5) speech may not be conditioned on obtaining a license or permit from a government official in that official's boundless discretion.

Judge Patel reasoned, "[w]hile the export of a commercial cryptographic software program may not be undertaken for expressive reasons, that same activity is often undertaken by scientists for PURELY expressive reasons." (emphasis in original).

Judge Patel went on to defend the expressive freedom of academics: "By the very terms of the encryption regulations, the most common expressive activities of scholars -- teaching a class, publishing their ideas, speaking at conferences, or writing to colleagues over the Internet -- are subject to a prior restraint by the export controls when they involve cryptographic source code or computer programs."

She also berated the governments regulation exempting most printed materials from the law. While it appears to protect some speech, it is "so irrational and administratively unreliable that it may well serve to only exacerbate the potential for self-censorship," Patel wrote in her 32-page ruling.

Finally, Patel relied on Reno v. ACLU to find the governments distinction between hard-copy and electronic publication to be "not only irrational, it may be impermissible under traditional First Amendment analysis."

Stanton McCandlish, Electronic Frontier Foundation program director, said: "The Bernstein case's outcome will probably play a crucial role in determining the future shape of privacy, free expression, and online commerce, all of which increasingly depend upon encryption. The current regulatory regime is akin to making it illegal to provide envelopes and locks or to tell people how to make their own."

The Ninth Circuit will either decide the case in favor of the Government or Bernstein, or it might return the case to Judge Patel. Either way, the case is highly likely to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Read Judge Patels ruling:

Read EFFs press release on Judge Patels ruling:

Read the governments press release:


[B5.2] New Internet Coalition Fights Backdoor Censorship    

In response to a White House-endorsed and industry-sponsored initiative (the Internet/Online Summit in Washington, D.C.) in early December, more than two dozen organizations have formed the Internet Free Expression Alliance (IFEA). IFEA is concerned with both "legal and technological" threats to freedom of expression on the Internet; and IFEA wants to guarantee that industry proposals to rate or filter online content do not interfere with "Internet speakers' [ability] to reach the broadest possible interested audience and that Internet listeners are able to access all material of interest to them."

On Monday, December 1, the IFEA coalition held a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington to address the free speech issues raised by the Internet/Online Summit. Among other organizations, the American Civil Liberties Union, Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility, Electronic Frontier Foundation, and the Electronic Privacy Information Center (members of GILC) answered questions from the press.

U.S. Vice President Albert Gore addressed the two-day Summit. He attempted to sweep aside censorship fears and warned against "a huge nationwide backlash" if the industry didn't push content rating and filtering schemes.

The chance for a "photo-op" did not get lost on the VP. Surrounded by children, Gore proclaimed that the Department of Education has issued a parents' guide to the Internet. He also called on holding a national "town meeting" in the Fall of 1998 and introduced a "Cyber-Tips Hotline" (1-800-843-5678) where people could complain about online offenses.

The online industry also promised new initiatives. Reuters reported that America Online reminded the audience that AOL already has an extensive collection of parental controls but will soon add enhancements. USA Today reported that Time-Warner will loan Fred Flintstone, the Three Little Pigs and Scooby-Doo to AOL for safety education. Both Time-Warner and Disney showed products designed to enable parents to limit access to every aspect of the Internet.

Cybertimes reported that Christine Varney, a former Federal Trade Commission member and chairwoman of the Summit, called these initiatives a "part of the ongoing effort by the private sector to create a safe medium that provides education and entertainment for American families."

Are we building a "safe medium" or a bland and incomplete one, asks IFEA. David Sobel, of Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC is a GILC founding member), spoke to the New York Times about an experiment EPIC conducted. The privacy center searched for "Thomas Edison" using the AltaVista search engine and found 11,522 references; a new "family-friendly" search engine found only nine. "If this kind of service becomes ubiquitous, then a vast amount of valuable information is going to disappear from view, and in effect the Internet as we currently know it and as the Supreme Court described it will be destroyed," Sobel argued.

That information and more can be found in EPIC's new report, "Faulty Filters: How Content Filters Block Access to Kid-Friendly Information on the Internet." In it, EPIC found that "in many cases, the [family-friendly] search service denied access to 99 percent of material that would otherwise be available without the filters. We concluded that the filtering mechanism prevented children from obtaining a great deal of useful and appropriate information that is currently available on the Internet."

Barry Steinhardt, of the American Civil Liberties Union (the ACLU is a GILC founding member) said at the IFEA news conference that, "A headlong mad rush to embrace private systems of censorship pose as great a threat to the Internet as government censorship."

Internet Free Expression Alliance:

To Read the "Parent's Guide to the Internet":

The Cyber-Tips Hotline:

The full EPIC report on "Faulty Filters":

The ACLU Press Release:


  [B5.3] G8ernet  

The cyber-sky is falling. Well, thats what a meeting of the Group of Eight will lead us to believe. Fearing a spree of "lawlessness on the Internet," Attorney General Janet Reno called a meeting of international leaders in Washington D.C. to address ways in which the nations can work together to identify and fight what she terms "cybercriminals."

With the Internet explosion that is expected to reach 268 million computers in four years, the worlds leading justice and interior ministers discussed the criminal use of the Internet. Cybercriminals threaten democracy, they say. For example, last year the San Francisco-based Computer Security Institute polled over 500 companies or government organization and found that 75% had "incurred substantial financial losses at the hands of computer criminals." The Agence France Presse cites the FBI as estimating that computer crime cost 10 billion USD a year. Even the secured halls of the United States Pentagon arent safe. 1995 hackers attacked it 250,000 times and had a 64% success rate. The Justice Department and the Central Intelligence Agency also reported hackings.

The members agreed to a 10-point plan, which includes: the need to better train personnel, quicker reaction times and conservation of data that can be later used in court; legal norms to authenticate electronic data and on cooperating with the high-tech industry.

Central to the plan is the 24 hour availability of enforcement officers with computer expertise to help with international investigations of online crimes: fraud, money laundering and child pornography. "This will enable us to more immediately track down computer criminals or lend other critical support," Reno said.

Moreover, members agreed to establish special units tracking cybercrimes, regardless of national origin.

The G8 members also agreed to preserve information on computer networks and to review domestic laws and police staffing levels to guarantee that they can adequately discover, thwart and penalize computer crimes. "In taking this step, " she said, "information will be less likely to be tampered with by criminals, or erased by routine system update procedures."

The meeting did include some disagreement, however. The Agence France Presse reported that French officials wanted governments to ensure computer network security while the Americans wanted corporations to shoulder the risk. Europeans, in general, were against any idea of a "world-Interpol-type body to fight computer crime, saying enforcement should remain in the EU." Europeans also disagreed about encryption, "with Europeans opposed to granting the FBI keys to decode private information."


Raafat S. Toss GILC Organizer Developer American Civil Liberties Union 125 Broad Street New York, New York 10004

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