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GILC Alert
Volume 4, Issue 3

March 23, 2000


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.

Free Expression

[1] French Leonardo name war
[2] Spanish webpage censorship stirs debate
[3] Proposal: separate protest webpage names
[4] Thousands join domain name commission
[5] Internet fuels Korean activism
[6] China: ban Internet's "unhealthy things"
[7] helps global free speech
[8] Court battle over humorous US webpage
[9] Upcoming Oxford free speech conference

Privacy and Encryption

[10] DoubleClick backs down
[11] US Gov't wants less anonymity
[12] EU ECHELON report causes furor
[13] UK surveillance scheme criticized
[14] New US & EU data privacy pact
[15] China backs down on encryption rules
[16] Web phones forward private info
[17] Sony website leaks customer info
[18] Poll: US net users concerned about privacy
[19] CMGI: DoubleClick-lite?
[20] Upcoming Toronto privacy conference

[1] French Leonardo name war

A nasty legal battle has erupted in Europe over who may use the name "Leonardo".

Leonardo is the name of an arts and sciences network, which includes various non-profit organizations as its members. This network, which is based in France, was formed in 1967; its website was created in 1994. However, Transasia Corporation, a major risk capital firm, has sued the association for trademark infringement. Transasia recently registered the Leonardo name for use in advertising its products and divisions (including Leonardo, Leonardo Finance, Leonardo Partners, and Leonardo Invest). Transasia was particularly concerned that Internet search engines might send users to Leonardo, the arts and science network, rather than the Leonardo, the finance company.

Several groups have raised concerns that Transasia's lawsuit may jeopardize free speech on the Internet, under the guise of commercialization and intellectual property rights. The French cyberliberties group, Imaginons un Reseau Internet Solidaire (IRIS-a GILC member) issued a statement objecting to Transasia's apparent attempt to monopolize the Leonardo name. IRIS has collected some 1400 signatures in its campaign against the financial company's actions. These efforts have also received strong support from the Spanish group Fronteras Electronicas Espana (FrEE-a GILC member).

For an IRIS press release on this subject, see

Read more about the Leonardo arts and sciences network by visiting

The Leonardo Finance website is located at

[2] Spanish webpage censorship stirs debate

Law enforcement officials may force a Spanish webpage to shut down.

The site is operated by Asociation contra la tortura (ACT), which is dedicated to exposing and investigating police brutality cases in Spain. The group listed the names of several prison guards who were accused of mistreating prisoners. This list was posted on the ACT website. Afterwards, the Agency for Data Protection, moving without a court order, went to ACT's Internet service provider (ISP) and got copies of the website's files (as well as a copy of ACT's contract with its provider). In addition, the Agency threatened to take down the website, a move that may occur within the next few days.

A copy of the ACT website can be seen at

[3] Proposal: separate protest webpage names

Two major consumer groups are pushing a new proposal for protest website domain names.

Essential Information and the Consumer Project on Technology have suggested several new URL categories. Among the proposals was a ".sucks" class for websites that criticize or condemn other organizations. Under this plan, the money from registering such names would be used to promote free speech on the Internet, through "The Dot Sucks Foundation".

The International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which currently handles domain name registration, has not decided whether to incorporate Nader's ideas.

For more on this proposal, see Declan McCullagh, "A Ralph Nader Plan That 'Sucks'", Wired News, March 2, 2000, at,1294,34691,00.html

See also Brock N. Meeks, "New domain names on the horizon", MSNBC, Mar. 10, 2000, at

[4] Thousands join domain name commission

The organization that administers the Internet domain name system has swelled with new members.

The International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) recently created an "at-large" category, in the hopes of attracting greater public participation. Under this system, "at-large" members will be able to vote for ICANN board members, but otherwise have no direct say on how the organization is run. Other benefits include reports on various ICANN related activities.

The plan spurred more than 3,500 applicants, from all over the globe, including Latin America, Africa, the Caribbean and Asia. A number of groups, including the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT-a GILC member), had previously urged ICANN to open up the debate and increase public accountability. These suggestions were renewed during a recent ICANN meeting in Egypt.

For more on these developments, read Martyn Williams, "Thousands Joining ICANN", The Industry Standards, March 1, 2000, at,1151,12433,00.html

or more on CDT's recommendations to ICANN, visit

[5] Internet fuels Korean activism

The Information Superhighway has helped many South Korean groups in their attempts to attract new members and advocate change.

Hundreds of political action groups have joined the call to oust corrupt Korean officials. Some of these organizations work under a coalition known as Citizens' Solidarity, and are hoping to alter the balance of political power in the upcoming Korean elections, currently scheduled for April. As part of this effort, many of these associations are using the Internet to draw attention to their cause. While a few organizations have set up their own webpages, others have started massive e-mail campaigns to officials and political party operatives.

These initiatives have led to considerable public interest. Park Byung Ok, who heads the Citizens' Coalition for Economic Justice, noted his group's website have received so many visitors that there have been service disruptions.

For more on the popularity of the Internet in Korea, read Doug Struck, "Asia's New Money Trumps Old Ideas", The Washington Post, Mar. 17, 2000, page A1, at

Further information is available from Howard W. French, "The Internet Recharges Reformers in Korea", The New York Times, February 29, 2000.

[6] China: ban Internet's "unhealthy things"

Mainland Chinese authorities will allow citizens to access the Internet, but with a big catch.

That was the message after Beijing formulated a plan to increase Internet accessibility in Shanghai. This experimental project will allow residents to go on-line through a combined telecommunications network, which will also provide cable television transmissions. However, Shanghai mayor Xu Kuangdi noted that any computer files that were deemed to be "unhealthy things" would not be tolerated. China heavily censors Internet content, and has banned the websites of many foreign news services, including those of CNN and the New York Times. Worse still, Communist Chinese authorities may issue new restrictions on Internet free expression within the next few weeks.

For more on China's possible new censorship schemes, read James Kynge, "Beijing to set up net curbs", Financial Times, Mar. 21, 2000, at

See also Terry McCarthy, "China Dot Now", TIME Asia, February 28, 2000, at

For additional information on the Shanghai Internet experiment, see "China Taps Shanghai for Internet Project", Reuters, February 24, 2000, at

[7] helps global free speech

A new website is helping dissidents voice their beliefs without fear of government censorship. sells books in electronic form. What makes the company special is that it allows authors to post their writings anonymously. In the past, the website has featured controversial publications such as Savasan Yurtserver's "The Bible or The Koran", which critiques Christian and Moslem religious texts. Many of the manuscripts submitted to are political in nature, according to the company's founder, Angela Adair-Hoy.

A number of cyberliberties groups have applauded's initiatives. Bobson Wong, executive director of the Digital Freedom Network (DFN-a GILC member), noted that "In many countries if you say anything that criticizes the government or the state religion you're screwed." Similarly, Alex Fowler of the Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF-a GILC member) pointed out the fact that many digital dissidents fear discovery. He continued, "A government set up with the right technological infrastructure can get access to all communications over the Net whether their residents are Web surfing, sending email, or uploading and downloading files."

The company will soon launch Booklocker Jr., "a special category dedicated to the works of young authors" as well as improving children's literacy.

Visit's homepage at

Read more about under Joyce Slaton, "Publishing Without Perishing", Wired News, Feb. 25, 2000, at,1294,34500,00.html

[8] Court battle over humorous US webpage

Watch what you post on your website. You just might end up in court, at least if you live in Kent (a suburb of Seattle, Washington).

That is apparently the message school officials tried to give to Nick Emmett. Emmett is a senior at Kentlake High School and the proprietor of a satirical website, the "Unofficial Kentlake High Home Page". Several months ago, a friend asked Emmett to write a mock obituary about him. After Emmett composed and posted the article, his webpage grew increasingly popular, and he received numerous requests from other students for similar treatments. However, after a television report drew attention to Emmett's writings on the Internet (and claimed Emmett had a "hit list" on his webpage), school officials gave the student a five day suspension.

Afterwards, Emmett contacted the local affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU-a GILC member). The ACLU of Washington went to court on behalf of the high school senior, and received a favorable ruling, thereby preventing the suspension from taking effect.

An ACLU press release on this subject can be seen at

[9] Upcoming Oxford free speech conference

The Humanities Computing Unit of Oxford University will be holding a colloquium about the future of Internet free speech. Entitled "Beyond Control or Through the Looking Glass", the event will take place on April 28, 2000 at the Oxford Union Debating Chamber. The meeting will feature leaders of several GILC member organizations, including Nadine Strossen of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Avedon Carol from Feminists Against Censorship, and Yaman Akdeniz of Cyber-Rights and Cyber-Liberties (UK), which is co-organizing the event.

For more details, including registration information, visit

[10] DoubleClick backs down

DoubleClick has retreated from its prior proposals after a hail of criticism from privacy advocates.

Previously, the advertising firm had admitted to tracking computer users through the Internet. It apparently placed digital identification numbers in files known as "cookies" on a user's hard drive, which it matched with name and address information that had been collected by its partners. Recently, DoubleClick expressed its intention to match this data with more extensive information contained in millions of files maintained by its merger partner Abacus Direct. When DoubleClick purchased Abacus Direct last year, it said it would not engage in this form of computer matching.

However, the disclosure of these plans led to public uproar and close scrutiny. Several organizations have filed complaints against DoubleClick with US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), including a number of GILC members, such as the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT), and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Several government agencies, including the FTC, have launched inquiries as to whether DoubleClick's actions violated the law.

Subsequently, DoubleClick shelved its newest data-matching scheme, at least for the time being. DoubleClick CEO Kevin O'Connor admitted he "made a mistake by planning to merge names with anonymous user activity across Web sites in the absence of government and industry privacy standards. Let me be clear: DoubleClick has not implemented this plan, and has never associated names, or any other personally identifiable information, with anonymous user activity across Web sites." However, the firm held out the possibility that it may yet go ahead with the data-matching plan, pending a future "agreement between government and industry on privacy standards".

In addition, computer experts discovered several websites were leaking personal information to DoubleClick. These websites, including (run by Intuit Corp.) and, forwarded such things as personal financial data and customer video title searches to the data collection firm. DoubleClick says it is still investigating the problem.

For further press coverage, read "It's Time for Rules in Wonderland", Business Week, Mar. 20, 2000, at

DoubleClick's press release concerning its reversal is located at

EPIC's FTC complaint is available (in PDF format) under

The statement of additional facts and grounds for relief filed by CDT, ACLU, and other groups can be seen at

For more on the DoubleClick "data leak" problem, read Glenn R. Simpson, "Intuit acts to curb Quicken leaks", The Wall Street Journal, March 2, 2000, at

[11] US Gov't wants less anonymity

If US Government officials have their way, it may get a lot harder to surf the World Wide Web in private.

A top-level working group (commissioned by President Clinton) recently issued a report entitled "The Electronic Frontier: The Challenge of Unlawful Conduct Involving the Use of the Internet". Among other things, the group called the anonymity of the Internet a "thorny issue". The report seemed to suggest that current laws be changed to strip away personal privacy protections, making it easier for law enforcement to track Internet users.

The report caused great concern among observers. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU-a GILC member) sent a letter to US Attorney General Janet Reno, saying that the report's suggestions might undermine individual rights in cyberspace. The letter reminded Reno that "Anonymity on the Internet is not a thorny issue; it is a Constitutional right." The letter also expressed fears that the report's proposals could harm journalists by unmasking the identities of confidential sources.

The Working Group's report is located at

The ACLU's response letter can be seen at

[12] EU ECHELON report causes furor

A report about a global surveillance system has led to a barrage of accusations and counter-claims.

On February 23, the Civil Liberties Committee of the European Parliament is discussed a new report about ECHELON, a highly classified system designed to intercept communications from around the world. ECHELON is reportedly operated by the US National Security Agency (NSA), in conjunction with several other intelligence agencies, including Great Britain's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), and Australia's Defence Signals Directorate (DSD). According to experts, ECHELON is capable of intercepting e-mail messages, faxes, and telephone conversations. The European Parliament report, known as "Intelligence Capabilities 2000", was written by Duncan Campbell, a Scottish investigative journalist. It describes in great detail how ECHELON captures satellite feeds, Internet data packets, and undersea cable transmissions through a variety of elaborate methods.

The release of the report sparked accusations from the French government that the US was using ECHELON to give American companies an advantage over rival firms. French Justice Minister Elisabeth Guigou suggested that the surveillance network conducted "economic espionage and surveillance of competitors". In response, R. James Woolsey, former head of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), charged that the French government was using bribes to get lucrative deals around the world, and that US surveillance networks were used simply to level the playing field. Woolsey addressed European critics in a recent opinion piece (published in the Wall Street Journal), tell them to "[s]top blaming us and reform your own statist economic policies. Then your companies can become more efficient and innovative, and they won't need to resort to bribery to compete. And then we won't need to spy on you."

To read "Intelligence Capabilities 2000" in HTML format, click

For more on the war of words between France and the US about ECHELON, see David Ruppe, "Snooping on Friends?", (US), Feb. 25, 2000, at

For more on Woolsey's countercharges, read R. James Woolsey, "Why We Spy on Our Allies", Wall Street Journal, March 17, 2000, at

[13] UK surveillance scheme criticized

British government plans to expand the powers of law enforcement in cyberspace have met with a firestorm of controversy.

The Regulation of Investigatory Powers (RIP) bill would authorize more government agencies to conduct electronic surveillance. The bill would also expand the types of data that can be intercepted, including "traffic data" such as passwords and lists of visited websites. Additionally, the proposal would force cybernauts to either provide encryption keys to the police when requested, or prove in court that they don't have such keys.

A number of cyberliberties groups warned that this legislation might further erode privacy in cyberspace. Yaman Akdeniz of Cyber-Rights and Cyber-Liberties UK (a GILC member) noted that law enforcement already has the power to access stored e-mails. Malcolm Hutty from the Campaign Against Censorship of the Internet in Britain (CACIB-a GILC member) added that the new bill would allow police to get traffic data without the need for a warrant. In addition, the Foundation for Information Policy Research (FIPR) noted that the RIP bill might lead to "an unprecedentedly serious corrosion and chilling of civil liberties, particularly the freedoms of association and expression."

For more information, visit FIPR's RIP Information Centre at

See also Jenny Matthews, "Big Brother delves into your inbox", BBC News Online, March 8, 2000, at

[14] New US & EU data privacy pact

The US-EU war over data privacy standards may have ended in a truce, but no one seems sure what has been agreed upon.

Over the past two years, the United States had feuded with the European Union over how personal data would be protected. The two sides recently came to a tentative agreement. The pact includes "safe harbor" provisions, meaning intermediate countries taking part in an exchange of private information must protect that data to the same degree as the EU. American companies reportedly would have to get the consent of consumers before transferring personal data into the United States. Furthermore, these same companies would have to disclose how they would use such information. Ironically, this deal may give European citizens greater data privacy protection from American firms than US citizens, according to several privacy experts in the United States.

For more information, visit "US, EU reach accord on electronic personal data protection", AFP, March 14, 2000, at /headlines/000314/technology/afp/US__EU_reach_accord_on_electronic_personal_ data_protection.html

See also "A Privacy Pact Is Short on Detail", New York Times, February 24, 2000, page C2.

[15] China backs down on encryption rules

The People's Republic of China (PRC) is trying to assuage critics after launching a complex system for regulating encryption use.

Previously, the mainland Chinese government had tried to crack down on devices that might jeopardize its ability to conduct surveillance. Toward this end, Communist authorities had required Internet users to register their software products, as well as give backup copies to government officials. These moves led to considerable protest from a variety of sources, but particularly from foreign companies doing business in China. Afterwards, Beijing sent a letter saying that the restrictions "only limit specialized hardware and software for which encryption and decoding operations are core functions". Furthermore, despite rumors to the contrary, the Chinese State Encryption Management Commission approved Microsoft's plans to sell Windows 2000 throughout the PRC.

See Matt Pottinger, "China Eases Rules on Encryption Software", Reuters, March 13, 2000, at

[16] Web phones forward private info

Do you use your cellular telephone to visit the World Wide Web? Your phone company may be secretly sending extra personal information about you.

AT&T and Sprint PCS have admitted that they forward the private phone numbers of their customers through their cellular phone network. This process occurs every time a customer visits a webpage. These revelations led to fierce rebukes from consumer advocates, some of whom have suggested that the practice may be illegal. Several US laws require telecommunications companies to provide customers with someway to block the disclosure of their private phone numbers, in many instances.

For more information, see Todd Wallack, "Sprint to Hide Web Surfers' Phone Numbers; AT&T says it also transmits users' numbers to Net sites", San Francisco Chronicle, March 8, 2000, page B1, at /BU106575.DTL

[17] Sony website leaks customer info

Sony has admitted leaking personal data about its customers.

The problem centered on a Sony website which receives online orders for the popular PlayStation2 gaming console. Several visitors were able to discover purchaser "order numbers" and get a variety of personal information about customers, including their names, addresses, and quantity of consoles ordered. A spokesperson for Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. said that several hundred customer files were compromised in this way.

See "Leaky Web", Reuters, March 2, 2000, at

[18] Poll: US net users concerned about privacy

A new survey indicates Americans are worried about privacy on the Internet.

According to recent Gallup poll, more than half of all Internet users in the United States say they are less likely to give out personal information along the network, or have been dissuaded from using the Internet altogether. This result comes despite the fact that the number of Americans who use the Internet has grown-from 47% in November 1998 to 54% in February 2000. Interestingly, these apparent fears about privacy threats come despite the fact that few of the people surveyed (9%) said they personally affected by recent hacking attacks.

A press release on this subject is available at

[19] CMGI: DoubleClick-lite?

A major Internet company tracks millions of computer users, and its name is not DoubleClick.

CMGI Inc. owns several firms, including AltaVista and Engage Technologies. What few people know is that the Boston area based firm (through Engage) uses special programs to chart the preferences of some 35 million Internet users. However, CMGI claims that its tactics are different from DoubleClick's because it does not collect personal information. Specifically, the corporation says it will never take the extra step that its rival tried to carry out by matching cookie-harvested information to databases full of real names and addresses.

There is no doubt that this process can be extremely lucrative. Over the past few months, the market value of Engage alone has risen to over $7 billion US.

See Hiawatha Bray, "Matching ads to eyeballs", Boston Globe, Feb. 22, 2000, page D1, at

For a profile of Engage Technologies, visit

[20] Upcoming Toronto privacy conference

The Computers, Freedom and Privacy (CFP) 2000 Conference will take place on April 4-7 in Toronto. The event is designed to encourage debate about a variety of cyberspace policy-related issues. The list of featured speakers includes Austin Hill of Zero Knowledge Systems, US Federal Trade Commissioner Mozelle Thompson, and Duncan Campbell, the author of the recent EU report on ECHELON known as "Information Capabilities 2000".

The list of events includes the 2000 US Big Brother Awards, presented by Privacy International (a GILC member). This ceremony is designed to draw attention "to the government agencies, companies and initiatives which have done most to invade personal privacy." Prizes will also be given to those who "have done exemplary work to protect and champion privacy."

Find out more about the CFP 2000 Conference by clicking

For more details on the 2000 US Big Brother Awards, visit


The GILC News Alert is the newsletter of the Global Internet Liberty Campaign, an international coalition of organizations working to protect and enhance online civil liberties and human rights. Organizations are invited to join GILC by contacting us at To alert members about threats to cyber liberties, please contact members from your country or send a message to the general GILC address.

To submit information about upcoming events, new activist tools and news stories, contact: GILC Coordinator, American Civil Liberties Union 125 Broad Street 17thFloor, New York, New York 10004 USA. email:

More information about GILC members and news is available at You may re-print or redistribute the GILC NEWS ALERT freely. To subscribe to the alert, please send an mail to with the following message in the body: subscribe gilc-announce