GILC Alert
Volume 2, Issue 6 May 11, 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.

  [A] FOREMOST NEWS [A1] GILC Issues Comments on Canadian Cryptography [B] ROUNDUP OF GLOBAL INTERNET ISSUES [B1] Asia/Oceania [B1.1] Singapore Plans to Create Internet Commerce Laws [B2] Europe [B2.1] UK Releases Secure Electronic Commerce Statement [B2.2] Report Asks Ireland to Self-Regulate [B3] North America [B3.1] Daley Calls U.S. Cryptography Policy a Failure [B3.2] "Expansion of Controls Would Cause Economic Dislocation, Legal Challenges, and a Political Firestorm" [B3.3] New Web Site Helps Dissidents  

[A1] GILC Issues Comments on Canadian Cryptography

In response to Industry Canada's request for comments on the document "A Cryptography Policy Framework for Electronic Commerce -- Building Canada's Information Economy and Society," members of the Global Internet Liberty Campaign issued comments that highlight GILC's "firm opposition to any policy or legislation that would limit or prohibit the manufacture, import/export, or use of strong encryption (without key recovery) for stored data or real-time communications." GILC explained why such a policy would be "contrary to international human rights treaties, harmful to Canadian society, detrimental to the Canadian economy, and, in the end, simply unenforceable." Following that same line of thought, Cnet News quoted, in an article entitled, "Encryption Regulation Pointless, Experts Say," David Jones, president of Electronic Frontier Canada (a GILC founding member): "If the government places restrictions on the use of cryptography, it would do more harm than good."

GILC's statement:

Industry Canada's document:

Electronic Frontier Canada:

The OECD Cryptography Policy Guidelines, March 1997,

The Cnet article:

Hamilton Spectator article:


[B2] Europe
[B2.1] UK Releases Secure Electronic Commerce Statement

The Department of Trade and Industry issued a statement that concluded "electronic commerce offers tremendous opportunities to us all; but unless we harness those opportunities in policies that are both balanced and internationally compatible then trust and security will be the losers." In response, Yaman Akdeniz, head of the Leeds-based Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK) (a member of GILC), wrote: "Although the new government proposals claim that the policy is fully compatible with the OECD Guidelines, the issue of privacy is carefully left out again, and there is not even a mention of the word 'privacy' anywhere in the new statement." While the organization welcome Britain's undertaking to promote online commerce, it is not satisfied: some of the more important issues, such as a right to private communications and questions related to the system of judicial warrants, are not clearly explained or justified. In a press release, Akdeniz reminded the UK that "a right to privacy will soon be created within the United Kingdom under the Human Rights Bill and 'a right to respect for a private life' will be part of the British law for the first time." Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK) urged that any "national developments which have significant importance on the use of strong encryption should be respected and considered with any forthcoming policy."


Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK) statement at:

Department of Trade and Industry, "Proposals For Secure Electronic Commerce Bill Published," PN/98/320, 27 April, 1998

Department of Trade and Industry, Secure Electronic Commerce Statement 

Cnet News article:,25,21538,00.html?pfv

GILC's February Statement on UK Encryption Policy:

GILC's "Cryptography and Liberty: An International Survey of Encryption Policy"

OECD Cryptography Policy Guidelines: Recommendation of the Council Concerning Guidelines for Cryptography Policy, 27 March 1997,

[B2.2] Report Asks Ireland to Self-Regulate

The Irish Times reported that the government is expected to urge self-regulation instead of legislation to curb distribution of child pornography on the Internet. The report of the "Working Group on Illegal or Harmful Uses of the Internet" is before the Minister for Justice, Mr O'Donoghue, and is expected to be published shortly. The Times understands the report to favor voluntary codes of conduct, partnership and co-operation among Internet service providers (ISPs) and other relevant bodies, rather than statutory regulation. The report will offer four guidelines. The first is a system of ISP self-regulation. The second establishes a hotline. The third would set up a national advisory board; "This body would be responsible for running the complaints hotline, as well as promoting a safe Internet environment, and would include members from ISPs, the Government, education and child protection bodies, the Information Society Commission and Internet users." Finally, the report calls for a public awareness program.

Read GILC's Statement: "Impact of Self-Regulation and Filtering on Human Rights to Freedom of Expression" presented to the OECD on 25 March 1998,


[B3] North America

[B3.1] Daley Calls U.S. Cryptography Policy a Failure

In a surprising development, Department of Commerce Secretary William M. Daley, in a speech on April 15th, called the US's current cryptography policy a failure. He is quoted as saying: "We have not been able to agree amongst ourselves or with the business community on how to reach a balanced policy. We have not been able to agree on what products can be exported or on how to implement the policies that we have announced, such as that concerning financial institutions. And we have not been able to agree on what we want to encourage companies to do or on what we want Congress to do." So far, however, Daley's turnaround has not resulted in a change in the Clinton administration's course.

Read GILC's survey on global cryptography policies:


[B3.2] "Expansion of Controls Would Cause Economic Dislocation, Legal Challenges, and a Political Firestorm"

In a related concession, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC is a GILC founding member) obtained an internal government memorandum using the Freedom of Information Act, where another high-ranking US official acknowledged that "key-escrow" encryption is "more costly and less efficient" than non-escrowed products. In a memo to a group of high-ranking government officials, William A. Reinsch, Undersecretary of Commerce for Export Administration, highlighted the consequences of continuing the administration's cryptography policy. One of his major concerns involves the crippling effects on industry a protracted Clinton policy would have: "Consumers will stop buying US products now because they see our producers will be limited in their capacity to upgrade and expand their markets. Foreign manufacturers. . . are ready to replace us in the market. The effect will be not only to damage U.S. firms but to subsidize (by ceding market share and revenue) the foreign production of non-key recovery products. . . ." Reinsch noted that attempts to limit companies upgrades of software would "cause serious economic dislocation, legal challenges, and a political firestorm." Reinch also underscored the problems of the administration's current policy: "Police forces are reluctant to use 'escrowed' encryption products (such as radios in patrol cars). . . . There can be long gaps in reception due to the escrow features - sometimes as long as a ten second pause. Our own police do not use recoverable encryption products; they buy the same non-escrowable products used by their counterparts in Europe and Japan."

Read the full memo:

OECD Cryptography Policy Guidelines: Recommendation of the Council Concerning Guidelines for Cryptography Policy, 27 March 1997,

[B3.3] New Web Site Helps Dissidents

Wired reports that the Digital Freedom Network has setup an Internet forum for dissidents from around the world. Recognizing the Internet's importance to the human rights struggle, DFN will start hosting 200 banned works: newspaper articles, fiction, poems and drawings from authors like China's Bao Ge, Algeria's Salima Ghezali, Pius Njawe of Cameroon, Cuba's Raul Rivero and Koigi wa Wamwere of Kenya. The group's director, Bobson Wong, said the Internet site "is a powerful tool in the fight against censorship. The Internet is the most significant invention in mass communication since the printing press. It gives people unprecedented reach. One person with Internet access can instantly contact millions of people around the world."

The Digital Freedom Network:

GILC's Statement on the Internet and Human Rights:

Read the Wired story:

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

Links to all information in this alert can be found at

You are welcome to pass the GILC ALERT to all who may be interested. And you have permission to re-print GILC ALERT and distribute it.

If you are not a subscriber but would like to be, please send an email to with the following message in the body:

Subscribe gilc-announce