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GILC Alert

Volume 2, Issue 4
March 24, 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 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 Statement on Internet Content and Conduct [B] ROUNDUP OF GLOBAL INTERNET ISSUES [B1] Africa [B1.1] Sudan's Muslim Sects Want Internet Ban [B1.2] Ghana Brings Internet to People [B2] Asia/Oceania [B2.1] Singapore Requires ISPs to Install Internet Filters [B2.2] Malaysia Warns Against Technology Without Morality [B2.3] Australia Concerned Over US Domain Name Proposals [B2.4] Hong Kong Labels Candy Site "Objectionable" [B3] Europe [B3.1] UK Calls on EU Members to Allow Police to "Tap" Encrypted Messages [B3.2] Russia Considers Amendment to Protect Internet From New "Mass Media" Law [B3.3] Kosovo Atrocities Posted to Internet [B3.4] EU Critiques US Over Domains [B4] North America [B4.1] Senate Approves Two Internet Bills [B4.2] FBI Chief Freeh Warns Against "Uncrackable Encryption" [B4.3] FBI Rethinks Encryption Position, For Now [B4.4] New Mexico Censors Internet [B4.5] 100 Companies Join to Fight Encryption Controls  
[A] FOREMOST NEWS   [A1] GILC Issues Statement on Internet Content and Conduct   Preparing for an OECD one day meeting on "International Co-operation Concerning Content and Conduct on the Internet", 25th March 1998, in Paris, members of the Global Internet Liberty Campaign issued "Content and Conduct on the Internet: The Impact of Self-Regulation and Filtering on Human Rights to Freedom of Expression." Among other things, the statement noted: "Global rating or labeling systems squelch the free flow of information: Efforts to force all Internet speech to be labeled or rated according to a single classification system distorts the fundamental cultural diversity of the Internet and will lead to domination of one set of political or moral viewpoints. Such systems will either be easy to use and not have enough categories for all cultures or it will have so many categories to cater for all cultures that it will be unusable. These systems are antithetical to the Internet and should be rejected."   Read the entire statement:  
  [B] ROUNDUP OF GLOBAL INTERNET ISSUES   [B1] Africa [B1.1] Sudan's Muslim Sects Want Internet Ban   Islamic clerics, in recent calls, have focused their ire on Sudan's single Internet Service Provider, Sudanet. Inter Press Service quotes Mohamed Salih Hassan, a cleric of the influential Ansar Muslim sect, who sees the Internet as "pollutive" and fears that Sudanese youth are in jeopardy: "The Muslim people should respect the faith, and not allow such information to reach their families. If an uncontrollable system like the Internet is introduced in society it will be very difficult for us to preach the Kingdom of Allah." The battle to ban the Internet will be difficult, however. The newspaper interviewed people already connected to the Internet; one, who used an alias because he feared repercussions, said: "The Internet is not against anybody. It is a new information system that feeds the world with information . . . The Internet will bring peace to all of us. It makes me feel like I am living in a world without borders."  
[B1.2] Ghana Brings Internet to People   While most people in Ghana do not have access to their own computers (because of the combined problems of illiteracy, poverty and weak electrical supplies), they will soon have access to the Internet. Several Internet Service Providers are looking for ways to bring the Internet to the average Ghanaian, through channels that people are already familiar with: communication centers that offer secretarial, word-processing, telephone and fax services. Inter Press Service reports "Africa Online will create a domain for each of the participating communications centers. The center, in turn, will be free to create E-mail addresses for its customers, who can then send and receive messages from their address at fixed costs." ISPs are also looking to provide access to school children. Network Computer Systems, another ISP, has recently offered to provide free Internet connections for a year to 100 high schools around the country.   Visit the Network Computer Systems homepage:   Visit Africa Online:  
    [B2] Asia/Oceania [B2.1] Singapore Requires ISPs to Install Internet Filters   Singapore, which already censors the Internet, books and movies will require its Internet Service Providers to install, at the server level, software that filters "inappropriate material." Reuters quoted Information and Arts Minister George Yeo's address to parliament where he said that Netnanny was "in the interest of cleaner, more sanitized internet service." A few days after that speech, Bill Gates said, during a one-day trip to the country: "I have no doubt Singapore, given it is a forward-looking country . . . will avoid doing something that will be a major roadblock."   Read   Read  
  [B2.2] Malaysia Warns Against Technology Without Morality   With Internet cafes springing up in suburbs all over Malaysia, students are beginning to send E-mail, chat in chat rooms, and eventually view sexually explicit material. To officials in the predominantly Moslem country, this presents problems. The nation's censors already take pains to keep movies free from "sex scenes" and magazines bare-breastless. The Associated Press quotes Junid Megat Ayob, Consumer Affairs Minister, who wants stricter controls on the Internet because he sees his mission as keeping youth from "poisoning their minds with filth." To aid in his mission, Cybercafes must now post with authorities US$5,100 to ensure that their computers remain free from pornography. If the Cafes allow access to sexually explicit material, the government would confiscate the money.   Read   Read dx.html  
  [B2.3] Australia Concerned Over US Domain Name Proposals   The United States has recently proposed a centralized plan to regulate Internet issues. Besides changing the way persons register Internet Domain Names, a US-based corporation would administer the names and subject any disputes to US law. Fears are that the plan would "effectively ensure US jurisdiction over trademark issues and dispute resolution processes," said Senator Richard Alson, the Minister for Communications, the Information Economy and the Arts, in a press release. He added: "We need to ensure that the views of Australian stake holders, and the Australian Government, are fully considered in decisions to reform the international system."   Read the Press Release:   Go to the Electronic Frontiers Australia for more news on related issues:  
  [B2.4] Hong Kong Labels Candy Site "Objectionable"   In another attempt to block "objectionable material" from the Internet, Hong Kong has censored a Hershey's candy Web site. The Television and Licensing Authority (TLA) put the "Smarties" candy site on a list of 1,000 sites which it deemed unfit for children. CNET quoted Raymond Yip, of TLA: "We need to investigate the case. It is probably a typing error on our part."   Read,25,20039,00.html?pfv   The "unfit" Web site is:   Read EPIC's "Faulty Filters" report:    
  [B3] Europe [B3.1] UK Calls on EU Members to Allow Police to "Tap" Encrypted Messages   The European Voice reported that the officials from the UK issued a statement which pleaded that, in particular situations, government officials should be authorized to tap encrypted E-mail messages sent through the Internet. Citing concerns with terrorists, the Mafia, and other criminal organizations, the UK report warned: "Where an encryption key is used for confidentiality purposes, it may be necessary for law enforcement agencies to have lawful access . . . . either overt[ly] or covert[ly]." The European Voice went on to quote a statement issued by the Business Software Alliance: "Without strong encryption, businesses and individuals will not entrust their valuable proprietary information, creative content, and sensitive information to electronic networks. The result will be that the full potential for electronic commerce, personal growth and government efficiency and other benefits of the information society will be delayed or lost altogether."   Read the GILC Statement on possible UK Cryptography Policy:   Read GILC's Cryptography and Liberty: An International Survey of Encryption Policy, February 1998, at   Read Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK), "First Report on UK Encryption Policy" is available at   Read "Scrambling for Safety" Conference Web site is at   Read the Walsh Report, "Review of policy relating to encryption technologies":   Read Kryptographie, Cryptography resources in German from FITUG, at  
  [B3.2] Russia Considers Amendment to Protect Internet From New "Mass Media" Law   The Moscow Times reported that the Russian Duma has recently proposed a new law on "mass media that could place a roadblock in the path of Russia's fledgling web publishers, from individuals with personal home pages to large corporations blazing the trails of electronic commerce." Duma deputy, Y.M. Nesterov, however, suggested an amendment excluding any mention of "computer information" from the bill. Furthermore, the chair of the committee preparing the bill, displayed some interest in the Internet question. The Communication Committee will examine that and other amendments to the "mass media" bill, and draft a second bill for final hearing. As of yet, nothing has been announced.  
  [B3.3] Kosovo Atrocities Posted to Internet   In the remote parts of Yugoslavia, unreliable links to the outside world and the tight-lipped state news agency, Tanjug, have made a journalist's job difficult. But in many situations, the Internet continues to provide detailed and timely reports. The Scotsman reports that Web sites proceed, without the "benefit" of censorship, to post eyewitness accounts and pictures of "men, women, and children with eyes gouged out, throats cut, and grenade and gunshot wounds." The Internet stories guarantee that traditional sources of information will not dictate the spread of complete and accurate information; therefore, "there can be no doubt whatsoever of the veracity of claims made by Albanians in Kosovo."   Visit:   Visit:   Read the GILC Statement on Human Rights and the Internet:    
  [B3.4] EU Critiques US Over Domains   The battle against the US Domain Name proposals is also being waged on European soil. The European Commission has accused the US of desiring to keep the international network of computers under domestic control, and thereby, creating a monopoly. The European Report announced that "the EU and its Member States are calling for a rebalancing of interest and responsibilities in recognition of the Internet's international character." They want balanced and fair participation by the private sector in Internet management. In a "green paper" published in January, the US suggested that the private sector begin controlling essential pieces of the system, instead of the US government. The "essential pieces" are "generic top-level domains": for example, ".net," ".org," and ".com." The Deutsche Presse-Agentur quotes Professor of Computer Science, Werner Zorn of the University of Karlsruhe in Germany: "The U.S. government is trying to prevent foreign dominance on the Internet." Another motive, says Zorn, is retaining a lucrative source of income. Today, US-based Network Solutions charges $100 per domain name registered.   Read the International Council of Registrars' response to the US "Green Paper":   Read the CATO Institute's "INTERNET DOMAIN NAMES: Privatization, Competition, and Freedom of Expression":    
  [B4] North America [B4.1] Senate Approves Two Internet Bills   The Senate Commerce Committee approved on a voice vote two bills that restrict speech on the Internet. The first was Senator John McCain's (limiting student access to constitutionally protected speech in schools and libraries) and the other was Senator Dan Coats's (censoring legitimate adult speech). McCain's bill requires schools and libraries, which receive federal subsidies for Internet connections, to install filtering software. Senator Conrad Burns, however, offered an amendment that would not require the use of filtering software, but would require that schools have some kind of Internet policy which shields students from sexually explicit material. Senator Coats's bill would censor commercial distribution of "harmful material" to people under 17 years of age. Senator Dan Wyden, the sole dissenter on the Coats bill, criticised Coats's attempt as a "one size fits all" model.   Read the ACLU Press Release:   Go to the Internet Free Expression Alliance for more news on the bills:   Go to the EPIC site for the text of the bills:   Read EFF's Press Release: /19980312_eff.statement   Go to CDT's site for more information:  
  [B4.2] FBI Chief Freeh Warns Against "Uncrackable Encryption"   Before a Senate Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, State and Judiciary on March 3rd, Louis Freeh, director of the FBI, argued that online anonymity imperiled FBI criminal investigations and put children in danger: "We would encourage the Internet provider industry to maintain subscriber and call information. We certainly hope it would be done, even on a voluntary basis." Freeh added: "Uncrackable encryption allows, and will continue to allow with increasing regularity, drug lords, terrorists, and even violent gangs to communicate about their criminal intentions with impunity."   The ACLU challenged these scare tactics with "Big Brother in the Wires":  
  [B4.3] FBI Rethinks Encryption Position, For Now   The FBI has had a long history of arguing against strong encryption. Nevertheless, on March 17th, a Justice Department official, Robert Litt, the deputy assistant attorney general of the criminal division, remarked to a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing on the constitutional issues raised by government encryption controls: "We are not looking for any mandatory controls domestically at this time." The CyberTimes reported that, for now, he/the FBI/the Clinton administration is "retreating from legislation that would give 'law enforcers access to encrypted computer data and communications.'"   CyberTimes: l   CNET's article:,4,20149,00.html   For a full transcript of the congressional testimony:   Legal scholars respond to Litt:   ACLU's "White Paper" on Clinton's encryption policy:  
  [B4.4] New Mexico Censors Internet   The Electronic Frontier Foundation will challenge New Mexico's "Net Indecency Law." Earlier this month, Governor Gary Johnson signed a bill that suffers from the same constitutional defects that caused the Supreme Court to strike down the Federal Communications Decency Act in June of 1997. In a letter to Johnson, Barry Steinhardt, president of EFF (a GILC founding member) wrote, "the bill is patently unconstitutional and represents a threat to freedom of expression, not only in New Mexico, but across the country."   EFF's letter: ip_bills/1998/19980307_eff_sb127.letter   CNET article:,25,19859,00.html?pfv   Reno v. ACLU:    
  [B4.5] 100 Companies Join to Fight Encryption Controls   Americans for Computer Privacy (ACP) has begun an advertisement campaign urging citizens to stop their politicians from limiting encryption. In a press release, ACP stated that it "will implement a multi-million dollar campaign to demonstrate to members of Congress and administration officials that a fair encryption policy is not just a computer issue. It's a privacy issue. It's a consumer issue. It's a medical records issue. It's a taxpayer protection issue. It's a crime deterrent issue. It's a jobs issue. It's a competitive issue." The Washington Post quotes Ed Gillespie, who heads the new group (and was a key strategist behind the Republican's "Contract With America"): "the message is aimed at getting out to America and back to Congress." In an open letter, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Electronic Privacy Information Center -- said that they support "the efforts of the industry-led coalition to foster an informed public debate on encryption policy. . . . We believe that the ACP will be an important ally in the ongoing effort to protect personal privacy in the digital age," the letter says, "and we look forward to working together towards a complete and unrestricted repeal of the current controls on the export of strong cryptography and to resist any domestic restrictions on the use of encryption."   The Washington Post article: .html   ACP can be found at   The American Civil Liberties Union, The Electronic Frontier Foundation, and the Electronic Privacy and Information Center issued this joint letter:
  Raafat S. Toss GILC Organizer Developer American Civil Liberties Union 125 Broad Street New York, New York 10004  
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