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GILC Alert
Volume 4, Issue 4

April 24, 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] UK lawsuits endanger Net free speech
[2] Cyberpatrol war threatens mirror sites
[3] Hollywood wants end to links
[4] French proposal: end web anonymity
[5] Japanese software ruling hurts free speech
[6] Possible Russian Internet restrictions
[7] Study: kids & parents upbeat about Net
[8] Bertelsmann censorship proposal attacked
[9] China bans MP3s, monitors dissidents on-line
[10] Saudi women's Net cafe shutdown
[11] New web forum for Chinese women
[12] New Report on Net Access in Central & Eastern Europe

Privacy and Encryption

[13] US gov't wants mini-ECHELON tracking systems
[14] Report: Microsoft and IBM helped US snoops
[15] Virgin net appliance has privacy flaws
[16] EU-US privacy pact stalls
[17] Ireland relaxes crypto rules
[18] Turkish gov't wants new Net taps
[19] New Dutch surveillance scheme
[20] Zimbabwe net tracking bill criticized
[21] Yahoo investigated over privacy abuses
[22] Canadian privacy conference held
[23] Internet privacy bunker built
[24] Russian Internet freedom conference held

[1] UK lawsuits endanger Net free speech

A heated debate has arisen over British libel laws that may endanger free speech on the Internet.

The debate arose after Dr. Laurence Godfrey launched a defamation lawsuit against Demon Internet, one of the biggest Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the UK. Godfrey charged that a particular website hosted by Demon contained libelous statements about him. In March, Demon settled with Godfrey and paid him an estimated 300,000 in damages and costs.

Since then, the doctor's latest complaints have forced at least one group to move its website offshore. The Campaign Against Censorship of the Internet in Britain (CACIB-a GILC member) had commented on the Demon-Godfrey dispute in an article entitled "Web Site Suppressed: Godfrey's First Victim." Subsequently, Godfrey complained to CACIB's ISP, Instant Web, that the article was defamatory. Strangely enough, the doctor argued that CACIB's comments were libelous because they seemed to suggest that he had personally threatened the organization. Faced with the threat of a potentially ruinous lawsuit, Instant Web shut down CACIB's website. Afterwards, CACIB moved its homepage to an American server while warning that current British defamation standards may seriously jeopardize free speech in cyberspace. The group called Godfrey a "serial litigant" and noted that under British laws, "most ISPs would quail before even a veiled insinuation for fear of facing legal costs."

Indeed, a recent BBC investigation showed how easy can be to censor the Internet using UK defamation standards. The investigation revealed the fact that "for an ISP, having received a complaint about a site it is hosting, by far the safest and easiest course of action is to pull the plug." The report further noted that "[f]or those who still like to think of the internet as the great extender of freedom of speech, it may come as a nasty shock."

Read CACIB's statement about its move offshore is located at

For more information, read Giles Wilson, "Gagging the net in 3 easy steps," BBC News Online, April 13, 2000, at

[2] Cyberpatrol war threatens mirror sites

A ruling from a United States Federal Judge threatens to stamp out a widespread Internet practice.

The case centers around Cyberpatrol, a popular program for blocking controversial webpages. Cyberpatrol uses an encrypted catalog of Universal Resource Locators (URLs) to screen out certain types of Internet content. The roster, which includes the websites of several free expression groups, is updated from time to time. Recently, a pair of computer cryptography experts obtained a copy of the program and, with relative ease, discovered the complete list. They later published their findings on the Internet and included a program that they had written called "Cphack." The program allows owners of Cyberpatrol to decrypt the list and read it for themselves. Other groups, including Peacefire (a GILC member), mirrored the site, hoping to increase public awareness of this issue.

Afterwards, Microsystems Software, Inc., which produces Cyberpatrol and is a Mattel subsidiary, launched a federal lawsuit against the two scientists. In the suit, the software manufacturer claimed its intellectual property rights had been violated, and asked for a preliminary injunction. Furthermore, Declan McCullagh, a reporter for Wired News who had written several articles about this subject that have been posted on the Internet, received a subpoena from the makers of Cyberpatrol. The subpoena ordered him to reveal the name of "each and every person who produced, received, viewed, downloaded or accessed" the decoding program from his site." The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU-a GILC member), which represents Peacefire, argued vehemently against Microsystems' actions. In its court papers, the ACLU said that the case was "premised on a flawed reading of U.S. copyright law" and was "a thinly-veiled attempt to stifle legitimate examination and criticism of a controversial Internet filtering product."

Since then, the original two defendants settled with Microsystems by giving Microsystems the rights to "cphack" and agreeing not to post the program on the Internet. Afterwards, the judge who presided over the case issued an injunction forbidding "all persons in active concert" with the original defendants from posting "cphack" on the Internet. The apparently broad wording of the injunction may prevent anyone on-line from mirroring the original website with the "cphack" program, even if that person had no contact with the original programmers and wanted to use "cphack" merely for discussion purposes. An appeal is expected shortly.

The text of the injunction is available at

See Declan McCullagh, "ACLU's Filter Appeal Rejected," Wired News, April 14, 2000, at,1294,35660,00.html

Also see "Settlement With a Twist", (US), March. 28, 2000, at

[3] Hollywood wants end to links

The motion picture industry's attempts to stamp out a DVD-related computer program may stifle Internet free expression through links.

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has sued to prevent Internet users from linking to websites that have DeCSS. DeCSS was a primitive program to help users of the Linux operating system play DVDs on their computers. A court in New York has decided to begin the trial in December. Previously, the court had issued a preliminary injunction that barred computer users from posting DeCSS on their websites. Many experts have expressed concern, however, that a ban on links could stifle free speech, because it would make Internet users liable for the content of other people's websites.

See Andy Patrizio, "MPAA Sues to Stop DeCSS Linking," Wired News, April 5, 2000 at,1294,35394,00.html

[4] French proposal: end web anonymity

Want to say something on the Internet? If the French government has its way, you'll have to identify yourself first.

The French parliament is considering a bill that would force Internet users to register their identity with their service providers before they place any content on the Information Superhighway. Many members of the Internet community companies are outraged because of the plan's intrusive nature. EuroISPA, the European Internet Service Providers Association, warned that the proposal's broad wording might chill numerous forms of Internet speech, including chat rooms, discussion groups and webpages.

What is more, as a EuroISPA spokesperson noted that the proposal may start a dangerous trend of international proportions, saying: "It's possible that if and when the bill is introduced, the French may put pressure on counterparts to implement similar legislation."

For press coverage of this proposal, see Claire Woffenden, "French to outlaw anonymous web posting,", March 27, 2000, at

See also Tim Richardson, "EuroISPA slams French Net privacy plans," The Register (UK), March 28, 2000 at

[5] Japanese software ruling hurts free speech

A recent Japanese court decision concerning a computer graphics program may have severe free speech consequences.

The program, known as FLMASK, can be used to edit computerized JPEG image files. The creator of FLMASK, Mr. Kiuchi, not only made the software available on the Internet, but also included links to various websites with photographic images. The idea was for interested FLMASK users to go to other websites, download JPEG files, and the test the editing software for themselves.

The legal battle arose when it was discovered that some of the websites Kiuchi linked to happened to contain pornographic materials. Moreover, FLMASK had the theoretical capability to remove photographic blurs and other methods required by the Japanese government to block out sensitive portions of such images. Subsequently, the Osaka District Court ruled that it was against the law to link to websites containing illegal material. The decision would hold Internet users liable even if they were unaware that the linked webpage had questionable content. Under this theory, the court found Kiuchi guilty of encouraging the spread of pornography, and even accused the programmer of endangering public morality. Oddly enough, despite these censorial overtones, Judge Masayuki Kawai held that his decision was not an attack on free speech.

Read the Osaka District Court's decision (in Japanese) at

Technical information on FLMASK is available at

An editorial supporting the judge's decision is available (in English) under

[6] Possible Russian Internet free speech curbs

A newly drafted Russian proposal may facilitate state censorship and restrict the free flow of information on the Internet.

The Russian Duma has worked out a draft law to provide a general legal framework for the regulation of Internet services. If passed, the draft will require individuals along the Information Superhighway to register with the authorities, thereby providing the government with a database of all Internet users. Furthermore, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will be held responsible for the information they have disseminated if they have initiated the transmission, have chosen the recipients or have selected or changed the information. ISPs can also be held responsible for the storage of this information that is later deemed unlawful if they have not removed it or blocked the access to it. Experts believe that the term "storing information" will include the hosting of web-sites.

The bill theoretically does provide special protections of personal data and privacy on the Internet. Personal data may be used only with the agreement of the person affected. The companies using the data are required to take some technical measures to prevent access to it and to destroy it after the time it has been gathered for expires. Nevertheless, a number of observers fear that the bill's potentially damaging impact on free speech may outweigh its supposed benefits in the area of data privacy.

In the latest development, an alternative draft, prepared by Mikhail Yakushev, is being discussed within the Open Forum of Russian ISPs. Several commentators have suggested that Yakushev's proposal may be more acceptable to the Internet community than the Duma's version.

For further information (in Russian) see

For an English translation, visit

The original draft regulations (from the State Duma's Committee for information policy) are available (in Russian) under

For an English translation of the original draft regulations, visit

For an English translation of the Yakushev proposal, click

[7] Study: kids & parents upbeat about Net

According to a recent study, "Despite recent negative headlines about online violence, pornography, predators and commercialism, parents and children generally are upbeat and favorable about their own Internet experiences."

The survey was commissioned by the National School Boards Foundation, with the support from the Children's Television Workshop and Microsoft Corporation. The Foundation asked school children (up to 17 years old) and their parents about their feelings toward the Internet and how the digital revolution had influenced their lives. The results of the study showed that "[p]arents and children alike view the Internet as a positive new force in children's lives." The report found that "[p]arents, in fact, are even more positive than children-they believe the Internet is a powerful tool for learning and communicating within families, and they want their children to be on the Internet."

To read the report (along with a brief overview of its findings), click

[8] Bertelsmann censorship proposal attacked

A proposal to rate and block controversial Internet content is drawing fire from free expression advocates.

The plan, which is being spearheaded by the Bertelsmann Foundation, would create a regime where websites would rate themselves based on content. Blocking software would then be used to screen out certain webpages based on their ratings. The scheme has provoked strong objections from several experts, who fear that the Foundation's proposal would change "the architecture of the Internet to make censorship possible," in the words of Barry Steinhardt, associate director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU-a GILC member). Steinhardt's remarks came at the Computers, Freedom and Privacy conference held in Toronto April 6, where others compared the Foundation's system to medieval attempts by the Catholic Church to stop printing presses, in order to prevent the publication of materials that might be deemed immoral.

Moreover, a number of observers fear that these self-regulatory schemes may be codified into law and used by government officials to stifle free expression. Indeed, the Irish Minister of State for Children, Mary Hanafin, recently chided Internet service providers (ISPs) for failing to promote self-regulatory schemes. Hanafin went further and argued that the Government should offer extra funding for various Internet blocking initiatives.

For more on this story, visit Doug Brown, "Privacy Activists Blast Bertelsmann Proposal," Inter@ctive Week, April 6, 2000 at,4164,2522940,00.html

For more on Hanafin's remarks, read Padraig O'Morain, "Minister warns Internet firms on child porn," Irish Times, March 15, 2000 at

[9] China: ban MP3s, monitor dissidents on-line

Think MP3 files are a problem? Communist Chinese authorities have a solution: ban them outright, then track Internet users to make sure they stay in line.

The Chinese Ministry of Culture has now made it illegal for MP3s to be downloaded in China. In addition, the Ministry's new rules prevent imported music, videos, and other similar forms of entertainment from being sold via the Internet. The Communist Chinese government claims that these standards will somehow "develop a healthy market."

These moves come after the release of a new study that documents the growing activity of mainland Chinese Internet censors. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), citing reports from various reliable sources, noted that "China's secretive Ministry of State Security now has an entire department devoted to tracking dissidents online." Furthermore, in the past few months, Chinese authorities "installed monitoring devices on the computers used by Internet service providers in Beijing to allow them to track individual e-mail accounts." CPJ also mentioned the fact that new Chinese regulations which "required Internet cafes to register with the police, while several locally-based Internet bulletin boards were banned during the year for posting oppositional content. Dissident use of the Internet has provoked stern reactions from the state." In a recent move, Communist Chinese authorities established a new "Internet Information Management Bureau" to prevent the "infiltration of harmful information" from foreign news services and other sources.

The CPJ's report on Chinese censorship can be seen at

See also "China Bans MP3s," Associated Press, March 25, 2000, at

For more on China's Internet Information Management Bureau, see "China's 'Standardized' Web News," Wired News, April 21, 2000 at,1294,35825,00.html

[10] Saudi women's Net cafe shutdown

A Saudi Arabian Internet cafe for women has been shutdown on morality grounds.

Officials in Mecca claimed that the cafe had been used for "immoral purposes." Brigadier Yousuf Matter of the civil police further alleged that the establishment conducted activities that were "against both our religion and our traditions." However, Matter failed to explain just what illegal or immoral activities had happened inside. Indeed, the cyber-cafe's clientele included many postgraduate students who needed some way to get on-line. Nevertheless, Brigadier Matter asserted that he had the authority to close other such shops throughout Mecca.

See "Internet clampdown in Mecca," BBC News Online, April 17, 2000 at

[11] New web forum for Chinese women

Chinese women may have a new forum to voice their concerns. is a new venture founded by Blanca Li and Samuel Chen. The two entrepreneurs are hoping their new website will foster online Chinese language discussions that include women from Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, and the United States. As Li pointed out, "Chinese women tend to be more conservative and shy, so the internet really provides a good communication channel for them." However, Li also voiced concerns over possible censorship of mainland Chinese users, noting that on the Mainland, "[a] lot of things are still censored and prohibited, so it's kind of risky to go in there without knowing what will be censored first."

See Terence Chea, "A Community for Chinese Women," Wired News, April 3, 2000, at,1294,35296,00.html

Visit's website at

[12] New Report on Net Access in Central & Eastern Europe

A new survey documents the digital divide separating Central and Eastern Europe from the rest of the on-line world.

The study, entitled "Bridging the Digital Divide: Internet Access in Central & Eastern Europe," was principally written by the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT-a GILC member) in conjunction with the Global Internet Liberty Campaign. This recently updated and expanded report included an analysis of the telecommunications policies and systems of some 17 countries. Among other things, the investigation revealed that the poor quality of phone connections and other elements of the telecommunications infrastructure in the region were "[a] major barrier to Internet usage." Furthermore, the study suggested that "privatization and competition" have not been completely successful in fostering the growth of the Internet throughout the area. According to the report, these and other difficulties underlined the "urgent need for the EU and other international and regional bodies to adopt more effective measures to bring affordable access to non-commercial users."

To read the report, visit

[13] US gov't wants mini-ECHELON tracking systems

New proposals from the United States government may make it even easier for authorities to monitor activity on-line.

One of these plans, known as "Digital Storm," comes from the US Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI). According to reports, Digital Storm would expand the government's technical capabilities to allow greater interception of telephone conversations. The FBI is also seeking "the foundation for an up-to-date, flexible digital collection infrastructure," as well as an "enterprise database" for agents to search through such data more easily. Meanwhile, the US Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) wants to create somewhat a similar automated search program, in the hopes of stemming on-line fraud.

Privacy advocates have been skeptical of these proposals. James Dempsey from the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT-a GILC member) noted that "Digital Storm" would essentially "reduce if not eliminate the practical constraints that have up to now limited the volume of information that the government can intercept," and that the plan highlighted the need for greater privacy protections.

These schemes have reminded many observers of 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, and is supposed to be capable of intercepting e-mail messages, faxes, and telephone conversations. Concerns about ECHELON's potentially invasive nature were heightened by a recent Congressional hearing, where the directors of both the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and NSA refused to provide details on the legal standards by which ECHELON operates.

For coverage of the FBI's proposals, read Robert O'Harrow Jr., "'Digital Storm' Brews at FBI," Washington Post, April 6, 2000, page A1, at

To read Dempsey's comments on "Digital Storm", see

Additional details on the SEC's plans can seen under March Gordon, "SEC Creating System to Fight Online Fraud," Associated Press, March 28, 2000, at

For more on the ECHELON hearing, visit

See also:

[14] Report: Microsoft and IBM helped US snoops

According to a recent report, Microsoft and IBM helped American intelligence agents by weakening privacy protections in their products.

The report, entitled "Cryptography & Liberty 2000," was written by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC-a GILC member). In the report, EPIC discussed an apparent agreement between the United States National Security Agency (NSA) on one hand and IBM and Microsoft on the other. This deal, which was disclosed by US Congressman Curt Weldon, allowed the NSA "access to encrypted data." Experts had previously suggested that Microsoft Windows contains built-in "backdoors" that might allow government surveillance agents to get copies of private keys used to encrypt sensitive computer files. Microsoft has already admitted that its employees had included secret passwords into some of its programs to allow unauthorized access of Internet sites.

For more information, visit Graham Lea, "Gates, Gerstner helped NSA snoop-US Congressman," The Register, April 12, 2000, at

Additional details on Microsoft security flaws is available from Ted Bridis, "MS admits planting secret password," Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition, April 14, 2000 at,4586,2543490,00.html

For more on obtaining EPIC's report, visit

[15] Virgin net appliance has privacy flaws

Virgin is offering people a new way to get on the Internet, at the cost of personal privacy.

Under the Virgin Connect program, users pay $50 per year for an appliance that includes a web browser and e-mail program. However, to get these services, applicants must first provide a wealth of personal information, such as their income levels, mothers' maiden names, credit card information, and ages as well as their own names, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses. Virgin even requires users to provide elaborate details about their hobbies and areas of interest. Furthermore, Virgin monitors Internet users while they use their appliances through cookies and other software mechanisms. In addition, users are not permitted to see and correct the files that have been compiled about them.

The firm's Privacy Policy also allows third parties to track Virgin Connect members and send advertisements, although these materials must be sent through Virgin first.

Virgin Connect's Privacy Policy can be seen at

See also Christopher Jones, "Net Appliance Not Quite Free," Wired News, April 11, 2000 at,1282,35584,00.html

[16] EU-US privacy pact stalls

Efforts to standardize European-American privacy protections have been delayed once again.

Over the past few 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 European 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.

However, hopes for quick approval of the measure were soon dashed. EU member countries are worried that the Safe Harbor agreement does not provide sufficient remedies to deter potential privacy violators. Based on these and other issues, the EU postponed further consideration of the plan. Some observers worry that this lack of progress might cause a trade war between the Union and the United States.

See Ayla Jean Yackley, "Safe Harbor Vote Delayed," Wired News, April 17, 2000 at,1294,35406,00.html

[17] Ireland relaxes crypto rules

It may be getting easier to use computer encryption in the Emerald Isle.

The Irish government has announced a new "simplified licensing procedure" that may foster greater use of digital cryptography. Under this procedure, software companies in Ireland will not have to apply for export licenses for individual products or nations. According to Ireland's deputy prime minister, Mary Harney, these measures will help ensure that the country remains "the world's largest exporter of software."

Read Thomas Molloy, "Ireland Eases Restrictions on Encryption Export Procedures," Bloomberg News, April 19, 2000

[18] Turkish gov't wants new Net taps

The government of Turkey is considering new invasive Internet measures in the name of national security.

The plan calls for a new agency to patrol the Internet and search for possible subversives. The proposal, entitled "Bill on the National Information Security Organization and Its Duties," is designed to promote "[p]rotection of the information base ... against those with evil intentions, terrorist activities and disasters." The Bill contains language that allows the government to gather all types of Internet transmissions, including private e-mail, "at any level of secrecy." Moreover, "[t]hose who do not fulfill their obligations will be punished with one to five years in jail."

See Elif Unal, "Turkey Debates Cyberspace Controls," Reuters, April 16, 2000 at

[19] New Dutch surveillance scheme

The Dutch parliament is considering a proposal to expand the government's surveillance powers.

Under the "Act on the intelligence and security agencies" (known as WIV), the Dutch Intelligence Agency BVD would be allowed to scan all communications that are not cable bound, which apparently would include Internet transmissions. Furthermore, the bill would apparently give BVD the power to intercept such communications (including private e-mails) wholesale, then siphon out pertinent material using keywords. BVD could then store collected transmissions for a full year. The Act also gives BVD other powers, including the right to conduct surveillance for economic purposes and the right to intercept satellite communications.

See Jelle van Buuren, "Echelon in Holland," Heise Telepolis, April 11, 2000, at

[20] Zimbabwe net tracking bill criticized

A new surveillance bill in Zimbabwe may undermine the privacy of Internet users.

Under the Posts and Telecommunications Bill, the president has the power to force Internet service providers to "intercept or monitor communications or suspend services to individuals in the interests of national security or the maintenance of law and order." These broad provisions, coupled with the largely authoritarian rule of current President Mugabe, have provoked considerable fear among opposition leaders and the Internet community. Some opponents have promised lawsuits in order to prevent the Bill from taking effect.

Read Grant Ferrett, "Outcry at Zimbabwe internet bill," BBC News Online, March 20, 2000, at

[21] Yahoo investigated over privacy abuses

Yet another major dot-com is being investigated for privacy abuses.

The United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is conducting a probe into whether Yahoo improperly revealed personal information about its users to third parties. Yahoo confirmed that the investigation was ongoing when it filed its annual report with the US Securities Exchange Commission, as required by law. The FTC's interest was particularly piqued by a recent report which cited Yahoo's apparent failure to "guarantee the privacy of individuals' information," particularly with regard to health-care related websites.

See Cliff Edwards, "FTC Investigating Yahoo!", Associated Press, March 31, 2000, at

[22] Canadian privacy conference held

In early April, the Computers, Freedom, and Privacy (CFP) conference was held in Toronto to foster discussion of various cyberliberties issues.

Among the conference's many events was the second annual Big Brother Awards ceremony, sponsored by Privacy International (a GILC member). These awards were designed to spotlight some of the biggest threats to individual privacy online. DoubleClick won the corporate invader award for its plans to match its profiles of tracked Internet users with database information from its recently acquired subsidiary, Abacus. United States Secretary of Commerce, William Daley, won the worst government official award.

Another highlight of the conference was the Pioneer Awards ceremony, sponsored by the Electronic Frontiers Foundation (EFF-a GILC member). This year's award winners included Tim Berners-Lee and Phil Agre. Berners-Lee has been one of the primary forces behind the development of the World Wide Web. Agre, who is an associate professor at the University of California/Los Angeles, was honored for his activities with the Red Rock Eater News Service, which documents many of the social and political issues faced by the computing community. EFF also honored "librarians everywhere" for their efforts to promote "the public's right to free expression in cyberspace."

The CFP gathering also included panel discussions about a variety of Internet-related subjects, ranging from domain name disputes to on-line voting.

Press coverage of this event (including the Big Brother Awards) is available via Declan McCullagh, "DoubleClick Wins for Losing," Wired News, April 6, 2000, at,1283,35432,00.html

For more about the 2000 EFF Pioneer Awards, read

Visit the official CFP 2000 website at

[23] Internet privacy bunker built

Many people want shelters to protect their privacy on-line. It's just that very few people have built a shelter with concrete and steel...until now.

A California company named Equinix has created a heavily fortified bunker with the goal of providing complete privacy protection for Internet companies. The bombproof facility, which includes sophisticated anti-personnel devices and geometric hand-scanners, seems to provide strong physical protection for computers housed inside. However, considerable doubts have been raised about whether the facility will provide the same level of protection against hackers as it does against hand grenades. Moreover, there are concerns about the cost of these Doomsday redoubts; while Equinix plans to build some 30 Internet forts around the world, the price tag is estimated at $1 billion US.

See Todd Wallack, "Web Makes It Hard to Hide 'Secret' Facility Equinix's Internet bunker listed on San Jose's site," San Francisco Chronicle, April 11, 2000, page C1, at /BU60610.DTL

[24] Russian Internet freedom conference held

On April 19-21, the "Outlook for Freedom - 2000" conference was held in Moscow. The event was organized by several GILC member organizations (including the Russian Human Rights Network and the American Civil Liberties Union) and was sponsored by the Ford Foundation and the Open Society Institute. Discussions at the conference centered on such topics as online privacy, computer cryptography, surveillance systems (such as the Russian government's SORM initiative) and recent Russian Internet draft regulations. The list of attendees included human rights activists, Internet experts, lawyers and journalists. Sergei Smirnov of the Russian Human Rights Network noted that the event was particularly important because it was "the first time in Russia [that] we came together in one hall to discuss online privacy issues."

For more details about the conference, 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