January 30, 1998
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 firstname.lastname@example.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.
[A] FOREMOST NEWS [A1] GILC Issues Human Rights Statement [B] ROUNDUP OF GLOBAL INTERNET ISSUES [B1] Africa/Middle East [B1.1] Internet to Come to Saudi Arabia [B2] Asia/Oceania [B2.1] Japan Seeks to Regulate Internet Pornography [B2.2] China's Dissidents Find Refuge on Internet [B3] Central/South America [B3.1] Costa Rica Holds Off On Online Election Test [B4] Europe [B4.1] EU Supports Police-Access to Encryption Keys [B5] North America [B5.1] Navy Enlists AOL in Hunt for "Gay" Sailor [B5.2] US Senator Links Funding With Internet Blocking
New York Law School to host Internet Symposium: "Should Cyberspace be a Free Speech Zone? Filters, 'Family Friendliness' & The First Amendment," on March 4th from 8:30a.m. to 1p.m. Visit www.nyls.org for more information.
ELEBRATE THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE SIGNING OF THE UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS BY GOING TO THE AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS CARAVAN SITE AND JOINING THE THOUSANDS WHO'VE SIGNED THE DOCUMENT. THE CYBER"BOOK" OF SIGNATURES WILL BE CARRIED AROUND THE WORLD AND SIGNED BY DIGNATARIES, CELEBRITIES, POLITICIANS AND OTHERS. REAFFIRM THE WORLD'S DEDICATION TO HUMAN RIGHTS AND CIVIL LIBERTIES!!! http://www.rights.amnesty.org/english/signup/index.html
[A] FOREMOST NEWS
[A1] GILC Issues Human Rights Statement
Several members of the Global Internet Liberty Campaign attended and testified at a one day briefing for Members of the European Parliament on the 27th of January 1998, in Brussels. GILC issued a statement which was presented at the briefing, highlighting the following issues as important with respect to Human Rights and the Internet: "Human Rights protection on the Internet is important, particularly freedom of speech and privacy. The Internet is also important to those working for Human Rights, as it can provide a secure means of communicating between and coordinating the work of Human Rights groups." The world-wide group of international human rights organizations appealed to widely recognized international human rights documents. "The European Convention and international human rights law enshrine the rights to freedom of expression and access to information. These core documents explicitly protect freedom of expression without regard to borders, a phrase especially pertinent to the global Internet." Furthermore, the GILC Paper highlights examples of how non-governmental organizations have benefited from using the Internet. GILC also argued: "By enabling early access to information, immediate dissemination of calls for campaigns, and the organization of wide international pressure, the Internet greatly increases [NGO's] lobbying capacities." GILC also detailed the importance of strong encryption availability to human rights organizations around the world. The Paper argues that a breach in privacy could endanger lives and turn back the clock on human rights developments: "Sending an e-mail message is thus the equivalent of sending a postcard. In the human rights arena especially, many matters discussed among NGOs are extremely confidential. Names of witnesses to human rights violations, for example, need to be kept from those who would harm them. Repressive governments commonly use their intelligence services to tap the phone communications of human rights groups and intercept their mail. It is very likely that they are also intercepting electronic mail." The following policy recommendations were made:
To read the full GILC Paper: http://www.gilc.org/news/gilc-ep-statement-0198.html
[B1] Africa/Middle East
[B1.1] Internet to Come to Saudi Arabia
Due to "technical difficulties," Saudi Arabia has delayed introducing the Internet to its citizens. Before the "difficulties" arose, the Middle East Business Intelligence, reported that the Saudi Council of Ministers recently approved the Internet after an April 1997, royal decree sanctioned its use in Saudi Arabia. Among, other things, the paper reports that the Internet will be used for telemedicine and Internet banking. "A recent seminar held under the auspices of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency confirmed a growing interest in the Kingdom, in Internet Banking, and the Saudi market was categorized as the biggest market for Internet banking in the Arabia Gulf." However, because of the combined forces of bureaucratic problems, cultural problems and infrastructural problems, the country has lagged behind most other Gulf states in the field of electronic commerce. The paper also reports the King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology and the Prince Sultan Charity Foundation were assigned to put the Kingdom online and provide filtering and blocking software to screen out "culturally sensitive material." That material will most likely censor religion, politics, and sexually expressive information.
[B2.1] Japan Seeks to Regulate Internet Pornography
In a country with more than 14,000 personal home pages containing pornographic images, the Japanese police want to revise the laws regulating the adult entertainment industry in order to better control pornography. The Agence France Presse reported that the police plan to propose bills to parliament by early March. These revised laws would be the first to regulate adult pages. The bills would change the law in two ways: (1) domestic providers of adult pages must register with "local safety commissions"; (2) providers may no longer have subscribers under 18 years of age.
[B2.2] China's Dissidents Find Refuge on Internet
Shortly after the US State Department issued its annual report on human rights in China claiming has "taken positive steps in human rights," Chinese security police scoured through and sacked the homes of four dangerous subversives: the China Cultural Renaissance. The young poets, who argued how art can thrive outside of governmental indoctrination have not been seen by the their families since January 26. The Sunday Times reports that "although the plight of the poets showed the prevalence of China's state repression, it also highlighted the astonishing persistence of dissent and a growing underground network of intellectuals and even party officials who are daring to call for change." And where are these cries for change resonating? On the Internet, of course. The Internet is protecting and sustaining dissent. The dissidents often communicate "by e-mail and [are] in constant contact with the outside world that can no longer be kept behind and electronic great wall." According to the State Department, overseas Chinese dissidents have succeed in sending volumes of e-mail to sympathizers inside the country. The Times adds, "power may no longer come out of the barrel of a gun . . ., but from a computer keyboard, and while demonstrators can be shot on the streets, hackers lurk in any office, creating an authoritarian nightmare."
[B3] Central/South America
[B3.1] Costa Rica Holds Off On Online Election Test
A few months ago, the GILC Alert reported that Costa Rica was planning on testing a plan that would have paved the way for the first-ever online elections this February. That has been postponed. CyberTimes reported that the reasons for the delay are unclear. For one, the government fears the losing party might use the Internet as an excuse to contest the elections. Another reason cited was the lack of time: the project had only gotten underway in August and the government may not have had garnered the necessary resources to devote to the undertaking. Project coordinators stressed that the project had not been abandoned. "The group still hopes to hold a test and get a system in place to see if it's viable for the country to hold its national election, in 2002, online." Read the latest CyberTimes article on the Costa Rica Project: http://www.nytimes.com/library/cyber/week/013098costarica.html Visit the Costa Rica Project page: http://www.vclip.org/costa
[B5] North America
[B5.1] Navy Enlists AOL in Hunt for "Gay" Sailor
Another Timothy McVeigh has a problem with the federal government. This one, though, is not related to the Timothy McVeigh who blew up the Edward Murro Federal Building in Oklahoma City. This one used America Online and posted a self-description of "gay." While the convicted mass murder incited racial hatred in the Army, this one was had a spotless and distinguished 17-year record. While the convicted mass murderer spread racist and anti-Semitic literature during in the Gulf War, this one was reviewed by his superiors as an "outstanding role model" and leader. While the military looked the other way with the soon-to-be-mass baby killer, it immediately sought to have this one dishonorably discharged. But this Tim McVeigh - who has never officially stated his sexual orientation - has filed suit in federal court claiming that both AOL and the Navy violated his rights and broke the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986, which is two-edged: (1) government agents must identify themselves and present a court order to access online subscriber information; and (2) an online service provider must demand a court order before releasing any information. Both failed to happen, here. The Navy received a "tip" from another officer's wife; and the Navy just called AOL to verify. AOL, violating both the law and their own policy, simply turned over the name. Soon thereafter, the Navy charged McVeigh with violating the government's "donít ask, donít tell" policy. David Sobel, legal counsel to the Electronic Privacy Information Center (a GILC founding member), wrote, in a letter to John Dalton, Secretary of the Navy: "Under the unusual and troubling facts of this case, the only appropriate course of action is to postpone the proposed discharge of Mr. McVeigh and closely examine the circumstances surrounding the Navy's prosecution of this matter. Fundamental fairness and the rule of law require nothing less." Judge Stanley Sporkin of U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., in a 15 page opinion, ordered the Navy to re-instate McVeigh. He wrote the Navy conducted an unjustified "search" and "out" mission against the sailor. The Washington Post reported the ruling "marked the first time a court has found military officials exceeding their authority under the Pentagon's 'don't ask, don't tell' rules on homosexuality." The decision also carries " important consequences outside the military, reinforcing electronic privacy rights at a time that the availability of personal information on computer networks is expanding rapidly." The Navy has said it will appeal the judge's decision. Read the EPIC letter: http://www.epic.org/privacy/internet/dalton_ltr_1_14_98.html Read the Judge's decision granting the permanent injunction: www.epic.org/privacy/internet/aol/navy_decision.html
[B5.2] US Senator Links Funding With Internet Blocking
Republican Senator from Arizona and Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, John McCain, plans on introducing legislation that would demand schools seeking Internet subsidy funds from the government have a policy prohibiting students from accessing "indecent material." He made his proposal in anticipation of the impending Federal Communications Commission hearings on Internet "decency." McCain claims he has two objectives: (1) supply Internet connections to schools that most need them; and (2) ensure that students do not use federal funding to peek at pornography. To guarantee the latter, Communications Daily reports McCain intends to have school districts certify with the School and Library Corporation (which distributes universal serve subsidies). Both civil liberties groups and educational organizations have warned against the measure, however. First, educators are worried that the Senator has other motives. Communications Daily quotes Leslie Harris, a lobbyist for the Coalition for School Networking as saying: "McCain has never liked universal service. By concentrating on Internet indecency, McCain will divert attention from making certain that technology is provided to schools, with all of the benefits that access can bring." Second, civil libertarians think the proposal is unconstitutional. Ann Beeson, a staff attorney with the ACLU (a GILC founding member), argued: "This is nothing less than Big Brother in the classroom. We believe that educators, not Congress, should be the ones making decisions about what students can learn on the Internet." The ACLU believes schools could promote content-neutral rules about how and when students use the Internet. "For instance, schools could require that Internet access be limited to school-related work." The ACLU Press Release: http://www.aclu.org/news/n012898c.html