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GILC Alert
Volume 6, Issue 1

January 17, 2002


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] Jailed Chinese Net activist goes on hunger strike
[2] India & Pakistan curb Internet access
[3] Norway charges teen DVD programmer
[4] US plan would ease Net copyright rules
[5] Russian Ebook programmer to go home under deal
[6] Euro Net hate speech ban to be unveiled
[7] New anonymous Net speech battles
[8] Australian state Net censor plans stalled
[9] Narco News ruling protects Net journalists
[10] US shutdown of Somalian Internet continues


[11] US gov't creating computer spy viruses
[12] More security flaws problems dog Microsoft
[13] New cybercrime plans for Australia, Europe
[14] DoubleClick backs off cookie tracker
[15] Concern grows over geolocational software
[16] US bill would set weak privacy standards

[17] New GILC member: FIPR

[1] Chinese Net activist goes on hunger strike

A leading Chinese online critic has begun a hunger strike over the conditions of his confinement.

Wang Jinbo had published various essays on the Internet, including a missive that called on the country to undergo more soul-searching in regards to the 1989 Tienanmen Square massacre. He was then arrested and sentenced to four years in jail on subversion charges. Last week, Wang went on a hunger strike to protest the government's refusal to allow his family to visit him.

The confinement of Wang Jinbo constitutes just one of several recent attempts by Beijing to stifle dissent along the Information Superhighway. Chinese authorities have reportedly condemned Lu Xinhua to a 4 year prison stay after he posted an article arguing for various government reforms and criticized the ethical theories of the country's president, Jiang Zemin. Beijing has also shutdown some 17 000 cybercafes because they allegedly failed to block sites with banned content (including webpages that were deemed subversive by the ruling elite). An additional 28 000 cybercafes were forced to install surveillance equipment that will allow the government to monitor customers.

Besides these developments, Chinese officials are developing new technological and economic initiatives to deter citizens from speaking freely online. A recently issued report entitled "China's Golden Shield" describes how corporations such as Nortel Networks have allowed the Chinese government to create "a more sophisticated system of content filtration at the individual level" via "a massive, ubiquitous architecture of surveillance." In addition, Beijing has started an awards program to benefit sites that engage in self-censorship.

For more on the cases of Lu Xinhua and Wang Jinbo, visit the Digital Freedom Network (DFN-a GILC member) website under

Additional information on Wang's hunger strike is available from "Outlawed party activists jailed for subversion," South China Morning Post, Jan. 15, 2002 at

Read "Chinese internet dissidents jailed," BBC News Online, Jan. 14, 2002 at

For more on the Chinese shutdown of cybercafes, read Dong Liu, "Authorities Shut Down 17,000 Internet Bars," China News Digest, Nov. 22, 2001 at

The Golden Shield report is available via

See also "Chinese government gives awards to non-porn websites," Ananova, Oct. 26, 2001 at

[2] India & Pakistan curb Internet access

Officials in India and Pakistan have barred many of their citizens from entering the Information Superhighway.

In Pakistan, officials have sealed off all telecommunications links, including Internet access, in several regions, especially those near the Indian-Pakistani frontier. Authorities have also gone so far as to close all cybercafes in those areas. Meanwhile, across the border, India has launched a similar ban in the state of Kashmir, which is claimed by both nations. Each country has tried to justify its ban on security grounds, as a possible military confrontation looms.

The edicts have angered countless Internet users on either side of the conflict. One Pakistani user fumed that despite lodging numerous "complaints with our respective ISPs [Internet Service Providers] ... no sufficient answers were being provided in order to resolve the problem." Unfortunately, there is no word yet on when these restrictions will be lifted.

Read Munawar Hasan, "Internet in border areas banned," The Nation (Pakistan), Jan. 11, 2002, available via

[3] Norway charges teen DVD programmer

An 18 year old Norwegian is facing criminal charges over a controversial DVD program that he wrote when he was 15.

Back in 1999, Jon Johansen created DeCSS--a primitive computer program that was meant to help users of the Linux operating system view DVDs on their machines. In January 2000, Norwegian authorities arrested him for these actions but let him go soon afterwards. However, he has been arrested again on the theory that by creating DeCSS, he violated a Norwegian law against break-ins. Robin Gross from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF-a GILC member) called the prosecution of the boy "an incredible stretch. He was just trying to access his own property."

The move comes after a United States Federal appeals court upheld a ruling against 2600 magazine that, among other things, bars the publication from even linking to other websites that contain DeCSS. 2600 magazine provided information about DeCSS information on its website, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) sued the publication under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Free speech advocates have savaged the decision; the magazine's publisher, Emmanuel Goldstein, stated that he "will carefully consider whether to take it to the U.S. Supreme Court."

Additional information on the Johansen case is available from the EFF website under

For more on protests in Norway over Johansen's arrest, see Eugene Brandal Laran, "'Vi vil se-DVD'," Dagbladet, Jan. 11, 2002 at

For German (Deutsch) language coverage, see Janko Rottgers, "Proteste gegen Johansen-Anklage," Heise Telepolis, Jan. 15, 2002 at

For English language coverage of these events, read Michael Bartlett, "Norwegian Authorities Charge Teen DVD Software Author," Newsbytes, Jan. 10, 2002 at

Read Lisa M. Bowman, "DVD cracker indicted for DeCSS program," ZDNet News, Jan. 11, 2002 at,4586,5101559,00.html

The appeals court ruling the 2600 case is posted at

To read an EFF media release on the latest developments in the 2600 case, click

See Steven Bonisteel, "2600 Magazine Seeks Another Opinion In N.Y. DeCSS Case," Newsbytes, Jan. 14, 2002 at

For legal commentary and background, read Chris Sprigman, "Lockware: The Promise And Peril of Hollywood's Intellectual Property Strategy For the Digital Age," Writ News, Jan. 3, 2002, at

For audio and text coverage of the 2600 decision, see "Website silenced over DVD secrets," BBC News, Nov. 29, 2001 at

See Robert Lemos, "Free speech shrinking on the Net?" ZDNet News, Nov. 30, 2001 at,4586,5100154,00.html

See also Michael Bartlett, "DVD CCA Appeals Ruling to Calif. Supreme Court," Newsbytes, Nov. 30, 2001 at

[4] US plan would ease Net copyright rules

New legislation is in the works to reform a controversial United States copyright law.

U.S. Representative Rick Boucher is drafting a bill to curtail various provisions within the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). While the precise details of the plan have yet to be revealed, the legislation would alter section 1201 of the DMCA to allow individuals to circumvent copy protection schemes for legitimate purposes. He explained: "What do you say to the guy who only wants to use that code so the CD he bought will play on his computer? That's harmless activity, yet under section 1201 he's guilty of a crime."

The DMCA has been criticized as a severe restriction on Internet free speech. Section 1201, in particular, had previously been used to prosecute Russian computer scientist Dmitry Sklyarov after he presented a paper on electronic book encryption codes (see item [5] below). In addition, several major entertainment conglomerates, such as Universal, are rolling out new copy-protected compact discs that often cannot be played on personal computers. While Boucher expects serious resistance to this proposal, he expressed optimism over several other copyright bills that he has submitted, including a measure that would permit people to make archival copies of music that they have legally bought and downloaded.

Read "Lawmaker: Legalize home CD burning," Reuters, Jan. 7, 2002 at,4586,5101325,00.html

See Brian Krebs, "Glacial Progress Expected On Digital Music Legislation," Newsbytes, Jan. 7, 2002 at

See also Patti Waldmeir, "Technology switches sides," Financial Times, Jan. 9, 2002 at

For more on copy-protected CDs, see Brad King, "Online CD Sales May Suffer Static," Wired News, Jan. 9, 2002 at,1294,49539,00.html

For commentary on Universal's new copy-protected CDs, read Rob Pegoraro, "Labels Have The Wrong Music Mission," Washington Post, Dec. 21, 2001 at

See also John Borland, "Sites keep tabs on copy-protected CDs," ZDNet News, Nov. 13, 2001 at,4586,5099529,00.html

[5] Russian Ebook programmer goes home under deal

The United States government has allowed a Russian computer scientist to return to his home country under a special agreement.

Dmitry Sklyarov had developed a program that circumvents the copy protection scheme contained on Adobe Systems electronic books. He created the program while working for Elcomsoft as part of an effort to allow Ebook readers to view such products on whatever computers they like. After writing a paper on the subject and presenting it to the public at a Las Vegas computer convention, United States government agents arrested him on charges of violating the controversial Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which restricts the right of computer users to circumvent any program that "effectively controls access" to copyrighted works. If convicted, he could have faced a 5 year prison sentence and a US $500 000 fine. In early December, U.S. prosecutors agreed to drop the charges against Sklyarov, allowing him to visit his home country in time to ring in the New Year. However, as part of this deal, he will have to testify against his former employer.

Skylarov's case had drawn fierce protests from Internet users around the world who feared that his prosecution under the DMCA would threaten free expression, particularly in the scientific community. Shari Steele, Executive Director of Electronic Frontiers Foundation (EFF-a GILC member), noted that Sklyarov's conditioned release was in part due to the "tremendous outpouring of grassroots support for Dmitry and against the current U.S. copyright law. ... I'm disappointed, however, that the government has decided to string this along instead of admitting its mistake in bringing these charges against Dmitry in the first place."

Read "Russian programmer charged with violating copyright law in U.S. returns to Moscow," Interfax, Dec. 31, 2001.

An EFF media release regarding these developments is posted at

See Carrie Kirby, "Charges dropped in copyright case: Russian programmer to be set free," San Francisco Chronicle, Dec. 14, 2001, page B1 at

Read "Deal to free Russian programmer," BBC News Online, Dec. 14, 2001 at

For further information, visit

[6] Euro Net hate speech ban to be unveiled

Undeterred by recent legal setbacks, European politicians are drafting a new measure that may significantly curb Internet speech.

The Council of Europe is developing a special protocol that would, among other things, force signatory nations "to adopt the necessary legislative measures to criminalise the use of information technology to produce, supply and disseminate material of a hateful, racist or discriminatory nature." Another section "would require states to do everything in their power to ensure that binding rules were not circumvented by dissemination, via servers located on their territory, of hate messages aimed exclusively at an audience in a less permissive state (for example by ordering the deletion of messages hosted unlawfully)." The second provision is meant "to prevent the dissemination of hate propaganda by offering the United States, which cannot afford to criminalise it, a legal instrument to do away with such unscrupulous messages."

This attempt to restrict online speech after a court in the United States refused to enforce a French order that banned Internet portal giant Yahoo from hosting hate-related material. Federal Judge Jeremy Fogel held that the French ruling would force Yahoo "to undertake efforts that will impermissibly chill and perhaps censor protected speech." Fogel heeded the warnings of various cyberliberties groups, including GILC members, the Center for Democracy and Technology, the Digital Freedom Network and the American Civil Liberties Union, who had previously argued that enforcement of the foreign decision would have created "an international regime in which any nation would be able to enforce its legal and community 'local community standards' on any speakers in all other nations." Two French groups have appealed the US ruling.

The text of the CoE Parliamentary Assembly recommendation is posted under

The memo describing the upcoming hate speech protocol is available at

A CoE press release on this subject is available under

Read Matt Beer, "Back to court for Yahoo Nazi Case," Agence France Presse, Dec. 6, 2001 at,7204,3384201%5E15319%5E%5Enbv%5E15306,00.html

See also Steve Gold, "French Groups Appeal Yahoo's Nazi Lawsuit Victory," Newsbytes, Dec. 6, 2001 at

The text of Judge Fogel's decision is available (in PDF format) at

[7] New anonymous Net speech battles

Defenders of anonymous online speech have met with mixed fortunes over the past few weeks.

In one case, a judge in New Jersey has held that various local officials did not have the right to find out personal information about their online critics. The court also went on to bar the officials' lawsuit against the person who created the bulletin board where the comments were made. The New Jersey ruling was greeted with praise from free speech advocates; Public Citizen's Paul Levy stated that the "judge's decision protects citizens' right to participate in anonymous debate about their public officials, without fear of being dragged into court."

On the other hand, a California state court has allowed Ampex, a major data storage device manufacturer, to retrieve personal information about a former worker who (using the name "Exampex") criticized the company through a Yahoo electronic bulletin board. Court Commissioner Judith Sanders backed off a prior ruling she had made that would have forced the company to prove that the state was actually defamatory before considering whether to unveil the speaker's identity. Instead, she held that the Ampex could discover who the poster was before letting a jury determine whether the statements were libelous.

See Bill Workman, "Ampex wins a round in its online slander lawsuit," San Francisco Chronicle, Jan. 8, 2002 at

Additional information on the New Jersey case is available from Robert MacMillan, "Judge Bars Town Brass From Learning Detractors' IDs," Newsbytes, Jan. 3, 2002 at

[8] Australian state Net censor plans stalled

An Australian state plan to restrictions on Internet content has been delayed due to heavy opposition.

The government of New South Wales had been considering a measure that would have made it a crime to provide online information deemed unsuitable for children, even if the information was only made available to adults. The legislation also contained procedural rules (including a shift in the burden of proof to defendants in Internet cases) which might have led to harsher treatment of online artists than their offline counterparts.

Growing concern over the bill's impact on free speech has led officials to refer the measure to a Parliamentary Committee for further review. A report from this committee may not appear for several months; public submissions may be made on this topic until February 8, 2002. The move was applauded by many cyberlibertarians; Irene Graham, executive director of Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA-a GILC member), said her group was "pleased to observe that NSW has referred its legislation to an inquiry. We believe there is now an improved prospect of more reasonable legislation."

For more on the New South Wales bill, visit the EFA website under

Read Simon Hayes, "Media protests net censorship," Australian IT, Dec. 18, 2001 at,7204,3450958%5E15319%5E%5Enbv%5E15306,00.html

See also "New Internet laws on hold," Sydney Morning Herald, Dec. 6, 2001 at

[9] Narco News decision protects online journalists

A court in the United States has rejected a cross-border attempt by a Mexican bank to silence an Internet news site.

The battle centers on Mexican newspaper articles that were republished on the World Wide Web by New York-based Narco News. The articles raised drug trafficking allegations against Roberto Hernandez Ramirez, the executive director of Mexican banking conglomerate Banamex. Banamex then launched a defamation action against Narco News in a US court. The move came even though Mexican courts had thrown out 3 previous Banamex lawsuits based on the same writings.

Presiding judge Paula Onansky dismissed the bank's claims, saying that the Narco News' materials were protected under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution (which guarantees freedom of speech) to the same extent as their offline counterparts. "A careful review of defendants' submission on Narco News's Web site indicates that the Narco defendants' format is similar to a regularly published public news magazine or newspaper, except for the fact that the periodical is published online, or electronically, instead of being printed on paper. The fact that the Narco News Web site can accept readers' comments, or letters to the editor, via a separate e-mail address only strengthens the need for First Amendment protections for the medium."

For further information (including the text of the decision), visit the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF-a GILC member) website under

Read Kevin Featherly, "In Key Decision, Judge Tosses News Site Libel Suit," Newsbytes, Dec. 11, 2001 at

See also Mark K. Anderson, "Court: Online Scribes Protected," Wired News, Dec. 11, 2001 at,1294,48996,00.html

[10] US shutdown of Somalian Internet continues

Thanks to the United States government, nearly all of Somalia remains offline.

Back in November 2001, U.S. officials shut down several companies, including al-Barakaat and the Somalia Internet Company, based on allegations that the firms were aiding the al Queda terrorist network. The Somalia Internet Company, which is a part owner of al-Barakaat, was the East African nation's only Internet service provider, and closures left most Somalians with no way with which to access the Internet. Many institutions throughout the country have had to suspend their services, including government agencies, cybercafes and even the local United Nations office.

An al-Barakaat spokesperson criticized these moves, calling the U.S. government's accusations "lies" while asking for "mercy and justice." However, despite these denials, these services still have yet to be restored.

For commentary on these developments, see Hussein Ali Soke, "Is Somalia a Safe-haven for Terrorists?", Jan. 7, 2002 at

For more information, visit the Digital Freedom Network (DFN-a GILC member) website under

For further background, see "US shuts down Somalia Internet," BBC News, Nov. 23, 2001 at

See also Ishbel Matheson, "Somalia pushed to brink of disaster," BBC News Online, Dec. 28, 2001 at

[11] US gov't creating computer spy viruses

According to published reports, the United States government is developing a new way to spy on Internet users, through the use of computer viruses.

The US Federal Bureau of Investigations has confirmed that it is working on Magic Lantern technology to help spy on computer users. While precise details have been hard to come by, the system allegedly includes a special virus that allows the attacker to log each and every keystroke that is typed into a target machine. The technique could be used to steal passwords and read private documents stored on a targeted person's computer. The use of viruses would make it easier for law enforcement agents to install keylogging devices on individuals' machines without having to physically break into people's homes or offices, which the U.S. government has done in the past (as mentioned in the recent case of Nicodemus Scarfo).

Not surprisingly, these revelations have been met with condemnation from many experts, who worry that the system may not only allow unnecessary government intrusions into cyberspace, but may also undermine general computer security. In addition, questions have been raised as to whether the anti-virus software manufacturers would comply with the U.S. government's requests for assistance by leaving users unprotected against Magic Lantern attacks. Several of these companies have said that they would need a court order before going along with any such FBI demands.

In the latest development, U.S. Representative Ron Paul is pressuring the FBI to provide more details about Magic Lantern. Paul noted in a letter to the Bureau that his "legislative director attempted to obtain information on this project from the FBI and was told such information was classified." He warned that if "media reports are accurate, the Magic Lantern project could greatly impact the privacy and civil liberties of all Americans who communicate via e-mail," and that he was "disturbed" by the FBI's stonewalling. The congressman insisted that the agency release information about the project or at least provide him "with written justification for the FBI's refusal to share information on this crucial issue."

See Robert MacMillan, "Lawmaker Wants Magic Lantern Information From FBI," Newsbytes, Jan. 14, 2002 at

For an editorial regarding Magic Lantern, see David Corn, "The FBI's Black Magic?", Jan. 4, 2002 at

Read "FBI confirms Net spying tool exists," Reuters, Dec. 13, 2001 at,4586,5100652,00.html

For more on the Scarfo case, read Declan McCullagh, "Judge OKs FBI Keyboard Sniffing," Wired News, Jan. 4, 2002 at,1294,49455,00.html

To read the text of the judge's preliminary decision in the Scarfo case (allowing many details on FBI keylogging equipment to remain secret), click

[12] More security problems dog Microsoft

Over the past few months, security experts have discovered flaws in a variety of Microsoft products.

Some of these breaches were quite serious. One such defect in Windows XP could have permitted scam artists to make use of the operating systems' Universal Plug and Play feature to take over victims' computers. Another major flaw, this time in Microsoft's Internet Explorer 6, would have allowed an attacker to access private files, steal cookies and even redirect the targeted user along the World Wide Web. Additionally, privacy guru Richard M. Smith demonstrated how a hole within Windows Media Player can be used to track users of IE6, even if they have Microsoft's vaunted P3P (Platform for Privacy Preferences) technology on a high setting. The software giant has released patches for most but not all of these vulnerabilities, and Smith has criticized Microsoft's approach to fixing the Media Player hole in particular as inadequate: "There are many people who have never run Windows Media Player yet they are still vulnerable to the problem."

These discoveries have made many observers wonder whether the company is doing enough to protect the privacy of its customers. Indeed, several organizations, including GILC members the Electronic Privacy Information Center, Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and NetAction, had made similar points in a series of complaints to the United States Federal Trade Commission. Meanwhile, a few insurance companies have taken the unusual step of charging policyholders who use a large number of Microsoft products higher premiums.

For more on the P3P/Media Player flaw, see Stefanie Olsen, "Privacy flaw continues to dig IE hole," CNet News, Jan. 15, 2002 at

Read Robert Lemos, "Microsoft failing security test?" ZDNet News, Jan. 11, 2002 at,4586,5101593,00.html

See also "Software security law call," BBC News Online, Jan. 16, 2002 at

For more on the Microsoft FTC privacy complaints, click

[13] New cybercrime plans for Australia, Europe

Controversy continues to surround new cybercrime laws that have been adopted in various parts of the globe.

In Australia, the Federal government has approved a Cybercrime Act that will greatly expand the power of government agents to conduct surveillance along computer networks. It will require Internet users to hand over their private encryption keys, and criminalizes several types of online activity, such as impairment of electronic communications. Greg Taylor from Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA-a GILC member) warned that the law could have an adverse effect on innocent behavior, and that his organization had "major concerns about gung-ho prosecutions based on insufficient knowledge on the part of law enforcement agencies."

The measure bears certain similarities with a Council of Europe Cybercrime Convention that was recently signed by representatives from 30 nations, including Japan, South Africa and the United States. Among other things, the Convention would require countries to authorize government agents to install spytools on the servers of Internet service providers (ISPs) and thereby intercept all Internet transmissions that come through the servers. The treaty requires signatory nations to comply with foreign investigators, even when they are investigating activities that are not crimes on domestic soil. The CoE pact has received harsh criticism from many quarters, including privacy advocates and business groups. The treaty will now be sent to certain individual states for ratification.

For more on the Australian cybercrime proposal, read Simon Hayes, "Lobbyists slam cybercrime laws," Dec. 21, 2001 at,7204,3476612%5E15306%5E%5Enbv%5E,00.html

The final text of the Council of Europe Cybercrime Convention is available via

See "European Union Holds Cybercrime Conference-Update," Newsbytes, Nov. 27, 2001 at

Read Denes Albert, "Bad News for Hackers," Reuters, Nov. 21, 2001 at,1597,318911-412,00.shtml

[14] DoubleClick backs off cookie tracker

A controversial major online advertising company has stopped selling a product that logged the web habits of ordinary Internet users.

DoubleClick has ended its "Intelligent Targeting" program, which contained nearly 100 million user profiles. DoubleClick sold this information to corporate clients at the rate of US $10-12 for one thousand profiles. The system was designed to permit companies to discover users' web surfing preferences, ostensibly for ad-tailoring purposes. A DoubleClick spokesperson claimed that the decision had nothing to do with concerns over the company's commitment to user privacy.

The decision came almost two years after the company admitted that it tracked viewers through the Internet by placing digital identification numbers in files known as "cookies" on a users' hard drives. Under this procedure, the numbers were matched with name and address information that had been collected by its partners. Despite initial claims to the contrary, DoubleClick expressed its intention to match this data with more extensive information contained in millions of files maintained by its merger partner Abacus Direct. Subsequently, DoubleClick shelved its data-matching plan after a storm of public protests.

Read Stefanie Olsen, "DoubleClick turns away from ad profiles," CNet News, Jan. 8, 2002 at

See "DoubleClick Drops 'Intelligent Targeting' Product," Newsbytes, Jan. 9, 2002 at

[15] Concern grows over geolocational software

The development of software to determine the geographic location of people along the Information Superhighway is raising important questions about the future of individual liberty online.

Several companies, such as Quova and InfoSplit, are now offering programs to track Internet users down to their home country and city. These products are being marketed to a number of organizations, including broadcasting conglomerates who want to restrict viewership due to licensing agreements. At present, these devices are far from perfect, and have particular difficulty finding people who live outside of a major metropolitan area. In addition, cybercitizens can fool geolocational software using web anonymizing software.

Nevertheless, there are growing fears that these tracking systems will undermine Internet privacy and deter people from accessing content from other countries. Lee Tien from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF-a GILC member) noted that because of the emergence of geolocational programs and other technologies, "[i]t's likely that the Internet of tomorrow will look radically different from different parts of the world."

See Ariana Eunjung Cha, "Rise of Internet 'Borders' Prompts Fears for Web's Future," Washington Post, Jan. 4, 2001, page E1 at

[16] US bill would set weak privacy rules

The United States Congress may soon consider a bill that critics will stifle the development of strong Internet privacy rules.

The proposal is being drafted by U.S. Representative Cliff Stearns. Although the text of the bill has yet to be released, it would put the burden on customers to object when companies pass along sensitive information about them. These individuals would also be prevented from suing violators in court. In addition, the measure would bar individual state governments from enacting tougher online privacy standards than the Federal government.

These plans have received negative reviews from numerous privacy experts, many of whom have pushed for laws that would require companies to get their customers' permission before giving out personal data. Chris Hoofnagle from the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC-a GILC member) scoffed: "One could reasonably look at the Stearns proposal and say 'we'd be better off without legislation.'"

Read David McGuire, "Tauzin Wants To Pass Privacy Bill Early Next Year," Newsbytes, Dec. 4, 2001 at

[17] New GILC member: FIPR

The Global Internet Liberty Campaign welcomes a new member: the Foundation for Information Policy Research (FIPR).

Based in London, FIPR promotes public understanding and dialogue between technologists and policy-makers in the UK and Europe. It has fought strenuously against several surveillance initiatives over the past few years, including the controversial British Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIP). It has also issued numerous policy papers and analyses on such topics as digital signatures, secure e-commerce and computer encryption laws. FIPR was honored at the UK Big Brother Awards 2000 for its outstanding contributions to the protection of privacy.

For more information about FIPR, 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:

Christopher Chiu
GILC Coordinator
American Civil Liberties Union
125 Broad Street, 17th Floor
New York, New York 10004

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