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GILC Alert
Volume 7, Issue 3

April 29, 2003


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 Tunisian Net dissident resumes hunger strike
[2] China limits Net discussions of SARS epidemic
[3] File trading software distributors win legal battle
[4] US state super-DMCA bills may curb Net free speech
[5] Record companies bully student Net file sharers
[6] Vietnamese prosecution of Net dissident draws fire
[7] Kazakhstan restricts access to news and politics websites
[8] US court throws out anti-DMCA lawsuit
[9] German gov't steps up Net censorship
[10] Australian Net blocking plan criticized
[11] cofounder faces jail time
[12] Iranian website editor arrested
[13] Intel e-mail case heads to California high court
[14] Net café chain settles copyright claims
[15] Al-Jazeera news site faces many problems


[16] Report: US gov't may make controversial spy laws permanent
[17] US high court refuses to hear foreign intelligence spy case
[18] Japan ponders cybercrime measures
[19] Austria loses surveillance costs case
[20] US gov't supports music label Net user personal info grab
[21] Cisco Systems plans spy-friendly computer hardware
[22] US gov't pushes built-in Net phone spy systems
[23] New Zealand universal Net ID system sparks privacy concerns
[24] Big Brother Awards ceremonies held in UK, US

[25] EFF Pioneer Awards handed out
[26] New GILC member: HREA

[1] Jailed Tunisian Net dissident resumes hunger strike

The proprietor of a noted Tunisian news website has begun a second hunger strike to protest the conditions of his imprisonment.

Zouhair Yahyaoui founded and edited TUNeZINE, which included coverage of political affairs in the North African nation and materials from opposition party leaders. The Tunisian government arrested, tortured, then jailed him for republishing via the Internet a letter written by his uncle that criticized the country's legal system. During his time in jail, he had to share a cell with 100 other inmates, and prison authorities have reportedly denied Yahyaoui medical treatment even though he has been suffering from a variety of serious ailments. Yahyaoui had begun a hunger strike back in January of this year but ended it in mid-February. He then resumed his hunger strike several weeks ago as a call to his supporters to keep up the pressure in order to obtain his freedom; reports indicate that he has since ended this second strike for health reasons.

These latest developments have spawned serious concern from human rights advocates, who have noted that Yahyaoui's detention is just one of a series of measures that Tunisian authorities have instituted to stifle dissent online, including recently-announced plans to restrict the number of licenses granted to cybercafes. Robert Menard, the Secretary-General of Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF-a GILC member), warned that the Tunisian government had assumed a "huge responsibility" for Yahyaoui's well-being and called "on President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali to free him immediately and unconditionally."

For more about the Yahyaoui case, click

An RSF press release on this subject is posted at

[2] China limits Net discussions of SARS epidemic

The Chinese government is trying to prevent free-ranging online discussion of a deadly illness that has infected thousands of people, even as it finally has begun to reveal more details about the disease's spread.

Beijing is vetting Internet chatroom messages that mention Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). While Chinese government officials have refused to provide any details as to what procedures they use to censor such missives, a spokesperson at one prominent Chinese web portal explained: "The main point is that positive postings can be posted, but those that are negative cannot be posted. There are regulations, if the postings have a bad influence on social stability then we can't post these kinds of things." Moreover, many Chinese mobile phone users reportedly are no longer able to receive text messages from overseas, after such transmissions became a popular way for people to find out the true extent of SARS outbreaks. Government officials in the city of Beijing have also gone so far as to shutdown all Internet cafes, even while allowing other public gathering places (such as restaurants) to remain open.

In addition, Chinese authorities have recently detained five people for speaking their minds via the Information Superhighway. Three of those people, Luo Changfu, Yuan Langsheng and Jiang Lijun, were held after expressing support for a fellow Internet dissident, Liu Di. A fourth person, Zhang Yuxiang, is under house arrest for various articles that he posted online; it is unclear whether he has actually been charged with a crime. Finally, Chinese law enforcement agents have arrested a 17-year old girl after she posted what state media called "harmful information in an Internet chatroom, causing a negative social influence and breaking the law"; however, the Chinese government officials have yet to disclose the contents of her postings.

Chinese Internet users seeking to avoid such perils may soon be helped by electronic countermeasures. The International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB), which puts out the Voice of America radio and Internet broadcasts, has commissioned new software to circumvent Chinese government censors, who have blocked citizens from visiting numerous news and human rights websites, including the homepage of Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF-a GILC member). Among other things, the program tunnels through Chinese blocking routines and includes anonymizing features to make it more difficult for Chinese authorities to hunt down individual users. The IBB's Ken Berman explained: "The Chinese government jams all of our radio broadcasts and blocks access by their people to our Web site. We want to allow the people there to have the tools to be able to have a look at it."

See Maria Siow, "Chinese police work to quell SARS rumors online," Channel, 27 April 2003 at

For more on the Beijing Internet café shutdown, see "Sars 'still on increase' in China," BBC News, 28 April 2003 at

Read "China gags SARS talk on Internet chatrooms," Agence France Presse, 6 April 2003 at

See Holly Williams, "Chinese text for virus information," BBC News Online, 8 April 2003 at

See also Shanthi Kalathil, "Battling SARS: China's silence costs lives," International Herald-Tribune, 3 April 2003 at

For further information on the arrests of various Chinese Internet dissidents, visit the Digital Freedom Network (DFN-a GILC member) website under

Additional details are available from Human Rights in China at

An RSF press release regarding China's blocking of its website is posted at

To download IBB's antiblocking software, visit the Peacefire (a GILC member) website under

Read Paul Festa, "Software rams great firewall of China," CNet News, 16 April 2003 at

For more background information on Chinese government Internet censorship efforts, read Staffan Thorsell, "The Great Firewall of China," MediaGuardian (UK), 24 April 2003 at,7496,942956,00.html

[3] File trading software distributors win legal battle

In a closely watched case, a Federal trial court in the United States has held that the makers of Internet file trading software are not liable for copyright infringement by the users of their products.

The case involved a lawsuit by several major entertainment companies against a number of organizations that distributed free Internet file-trading programs, including Grokster and Streamcast Networks (which provides Morpheus software). The plaintiffs claimed that the defendants should be held liable for copyright infringement. However, a Federal trial court in the United States disagreed and ruled in favor of Grokster and Streamcast. Presiding judge Stephen Wilson pointed out that the software provided by Grokster and Streamcast was capable of many non-infringing uses (such as "distributing movie trailers, free songs or other non-copyrighted works; using the software in countries where it is legal; or sharing the works of Shakespeare"), and compared them to videocassette recorders and other types of "copying equipment," the sale of which, according to past U.S. Supreme Court precedents, does not constitute contributory infringement. The court also relied on the fact that Grokster and Streamcast did not have the ability to control users and did little to "actively facilitate ... infringing activity" by their users. Similarly, the court refused to impose vicarious copyright liability on Grokster and Streamcast because did not have "a right and ability to supervise the infringing activity." The plaintiffs have signaled that they will appeal the decision.

Many free speech advocates have warmly embraced the trial court's ruling. Cindy Cohn, Legal Director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF-a GILC member), which represented Streamcast, explained that, "Hollywood sought to control what innovators can make available to consumers. This ruling makes clear that technology companies can provide general purpose tools without fear of copyright liability."

The text of the decision (in PDF format) is available under

An EFF press release on this subject is posted at

Read Frank Ahrens, "File-Swap Sites Not Infringing, Judge Says," Washington Post, 26 April 2003, page E1 at

See John Borland, "Judge: File-swapping tools are legal," CNet News, 25 April 2003 at

Read "Boost for web song-swappers," BBC News Online, 28 April 2003 at

See also Oliver Burkeman, "Court win for music-copying software," The Guardian (UK), 28 April 2003 at,12597,944923,00.html

Additional coverage in Spanish (Espanol) is available in "Los programas de intercambio de ficheros no vulneran los derechos de autor, segun una sentencia en EE.UU.,", 28 April 2003 at 4487.shtml

For further information in French (Francais), read "Phrase du jour: Grokster et StreamCast ne sont pas significativement differentes des societes qui vendent des magnetoscopes ou des copieurs,", 28 April 2003 at

[4] US state super-DMCA bills may curb Net free speech

A prominent film industry group is pushing for new local laws in the United States that critics say could stifle free speech online.

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) is urging various state legislatures to enact proposals that, among other things, would criminalize the possession of what the MPAA calls "unlawful communication and access devices." While the precise contours of this legislation vary from state to state, many of the bills would bar consumers from possessing or distributing software that can take music or video transmitted over the Internet and convert it to another format without the copyright holder's explicit permission. Some forms of the legislation, such as a bill currently being considered by the state of Colorado, also bar people from concealing or assisting another person "to conceal from any communication service provider, or from any lawful authority, the existence or place of origin or destination of any communication that utilizes a communication device"--a provision that may bar the use of anonymizing or other privacy-enhancing software.

In a number of respects, the bills' standards are tougher than the controversial U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which has been savaged by many free expression experts. Indeed, Fred von Lohmann from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF-a GILC member) described these "super-DMCA measures" as "special interest legislation that dramatically expands the reach of the federal DMCA, which has already put fair use, innovation, free speech and competition in peril. Communication service providers -- meaning ISPs [Internet service providers], cable companies, and providers of digital entertainment services -- can use this legislation to restrict what you can connect to your Internet connection and cable or satellite television lines and can ban a variety of tools critical to protecting the anonymity and security of Internet users." Other groups have expressed similar sentiments, such as the American Library Association, which issued a letter along with two other library groups warning that "some of the proposed amendments will undermine the ability of libraries to provide important information services."

For further information, visit the EFF website under

See Benny Evangelista, "Heading off film piracy: Movie trade group staying one step ahead in lobbying efforts," San Francisco Chronicle, 28 April 2003, page E1 at

Read Declan McCullagh, "DMCA critics decry state-level proposals," CNet News, 28 March 2003 at

For coverage in German (Deutsch), read Detlef Borchers, "Forschungsfreiheit von 'Super-DMCA' bedroht," Heise Online, 20 April 2003 at

[5] Record companies bully student Net file sharers

A major recording industry trade group has launched legal attacks against several University students over their online activities.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is suing 4 students in the United States for running file-sharing programs on campus computer networks. The RIAA claims that by doing so, they allowed other people to violate copyright laws by trading music files using the programs (named Direct Connect, Flatlan and Phynd). The file-sharing software in question did not allow access by all Internet users, but only other individuals who happened to have accounts with the respective universities (so, for example, Princeton University students could use the program installed on Princeton's computer network). Reports indicate that the RIAA did not tell the affected universities (Princeton, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Michigan Technological University) beforehand about its impending action.

Not surprisingly, the RIAA's legal assault has led to considerable concern from educators and cyber-rights experts. Among other things, there is growing fear that the trade group's actions may chill academic discourse online. Furthermore, questions remain as to whether the RIAA's methods may deter people from using various types of computer programs even if they can be used for non-copyright infringement purposes.

Read "Students sued in piracy battle," BBC News Online, 4 April 2003 at

See "Music Biz Sues Student File-Swappers,", 4 April 2003 at

For coverage in Spanish (Espanol), see "Demandos estudiantes estadounidenses por intercambio de archivos musicales,", 7 April 2003 at

Further information in German (Deutsch) is available from "US-Universitaat beklagt sich ueber Musikindustrie," Heise Online, 10 April 2003 at

[6] Vietnamese prosecution of Net dissident draws fire

Cyberliberties advocates have condemned the Vietnamese government for attempting to prosecute a human rights activist on espionage charges.

Vietnamese authorities have arrested Dr. Nguyen Dan Que after he allegedly sent information critical of the Vietnamese government through the Internet. He had only recently been released as part of a prison amnesty program after serving part of a 20-year jail sentence. Vietnamese government officials have searched his house and seized his computer as well as various written materials. He has since been charged with violating the country's espionage laws; if convicted, Nguyen could face the death penalty.

Several groups, including Human Rights Watch (HRW-a GILC member) vehemently objected to Hanoi's actions. HRW's executive director for Asia, Brad Adams, charged that although "Vietnam has signed UN treaties protecting the right to free expression ... it's locking up citizens using the Internet to express their views. This is going on while Vietnam is participating in deliberations of the United Nations' highest human rights body. Delegates should publicly call on Vietnam to cease these arrests."

An HRW press release on this subject is posted under

[7] Kazakhstan restricts access to news and politics websites

Kazakhstan apparently has restricted access to numerous Internet sites in an attempt to stifle dissent against the ruling regime.

Kazakhstani authorities are imposing these blocking restrictions on all customers of the country's sole Internet service provider (ISP), Kazakhtelecom. The list of censored materials includes the websites of various independent online news bureaus and several leading opposition party leaders. Many of these sites contained articles that criticized the President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, and a number of other prominent government officials accused of corruption. Kazakhstani citizens are only able to visit the censored webpages through overseas ISPs, but are then subject to long time delays that can last 30 minutes or so.

Free speech advocates have condemned the government's blocking campaign. Robert Menard, the secretary-general of Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF-a GILC member) complained in a letter to Kazakhstani culture and information minister Mukhtar Kul-Mukhamed that the "near-monopoly of the state-owned Kazakhtelecom as an Internet service provider ... must not be used to block independent and diverse news. We ask you to make every effort to ensure the free flow of online news and to end all censorship of news websites, whatever their editorial line."

An RSF press release on this subject is posted at

[8] US court throws out anti-DMCA lawsuit

A United States Federal trial court has thrown out a challenge to a much-maligned copyright statute.

The case centers on a blocking package manufactured by N2H2 that is used by thousands of public schools and governmental agencies in the U.S. Harvard University student Ben Edelman, who was investigating the extent to which N2H2's program prevents access to Internet sites, worried that his activities might run afoul of the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), as well as N2H2's license, which warns users that they may not "copy or make any changes or modifications to the software" or "decrypt, decode, translate, decompile, disassemble or otherwise reverse engineer the software." These fears came in light of several incidents where various industry-related groups, such as technology giant Hewlett-Packard, had threatened computer researchers with DMCA-related legal action.

He then filed papers asking a U.S. Federal court to declare that he had a right to examine N2H2's blocking program and "to share his research tools and results with others." Edelman, who was represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU-a GILC member), believed that "the public has a right to know what is being blocked, and I believe I have a right to uncover this information without being subject to a corporate lawsuit."

However, the presiding judge Richard Sterns dismissed Edelman's claims. In Sterns' opinion, "[T]here is no plausibly protected constitutional interest that Edelman can assert that outweighs" N2H2's assertions of copyright, nor was there "any pending credible threat of a criminal prosecution if" Edelman were to move forward with his project. Curiously, the judge went so far as to compare Edelman's scholarly research to "an invasive and destructive trespass."

To read the text of the court order (in PDF format), click

Read Declan McCullagh, "ACLU loses digital copyright battle," CNet News, 9 April 2003 at

For further information in German (Deutsch), read "US Gericht wehrt Angriff auf Copyright-Gesetz ab," Heise Online, 10 April 2003 at

[9] German gov't steps up Net censorship

The German government has adopted new rules to restrict various types of digital expression.

Under the "the Treaty on Human Rights & the Protection of Minors in Broadcasting and Telecommunication Media," current regulations and indexing schemes for films and videos can now be applied to computer games and the Internet. The country's Minor Protection Law also has been altered to ban electronic media and computer games that "glorify war." Furthermore, a new committee (called the Kommission fuer Juegendmedienschutz) will be created to sift through online content for possible blocking.

Questions remain as to what extent these changes will have a detrimental impact on Internet free speech. Some of these fears are due to the relatively vague wording of the new rules, such as a provision barring materials that "apparently could harm children and minors seriously."

Read "Sperrverfuegungen gegen Websites: Einer kam durch," Heise Online, 7 April 2003 at

Read "German law shields children from content," Washington Internet Daily, 3 April 2003 at

[10] Bill to restrict Aussie Net blocking system details

Cyber-liberties advocates and various political leaders are crying foul over an Australian government proposal that they say would further prevent public oversight of a controversial Internet censorship regime.

Nearly 4 years ago, the Australian government passed the Broadcast Services Amendment (Online Services) Act, which restricted Internet content based on a rating scheme previously used for films. Current exemptions in the country's Freedom of Information Act (FOI) have allowed several government agencies, most notably the Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA), to deny access (on a case by case basis) to various types of information regarding the scheme. Thus, when Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA-a GILC member) requested data regarding the government's content restriction system, the ABA blacked out details such as website addresses and names/titles of prohibited online content prior to releasing the relevant documents-a decision that was upheld by an Administrative Appeal Tribunal.

Since then, the Australian government has begun considering a new plan to create a blanket FOI exemption, thereby allowing the ABA, the Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC) and the Classification (Censorship) Boards to prevent the release of a broader range of information that does not include identifying information about, or copies of, prohibited content. Thus, documents that were previously released regarding the censorship scheme with some information blacked out would not be released at all. The move came even though the government has not provided any legitimate reason for curtailing citizens' rights to access information concerning the operations of the ABA and OFLC, or any indication, let alone evidence, that FOI law has been or can be misused. Not surprisingly, EFA issued a statement contending that the FOI amendments "should be rejected outright and the Broadcasting Services Act should be amended to require the ABA and OFLC to make freely and publicly available the same amount of information about classification decisions concerning online content as has long been made readily available about classification of movies, publications and computer games."

While the proposal has passed the Australia's House of Representatives, it is expected to receive a hostile reception in the Senate (which is in recess until mid-May 2003). The chief Federal opposition party, the Australian Labor Party (ALP) has voiced serious concern over the FOI amendments, as ALP's Shadow Minister for Communications, Lindsay Tanner, explained: "In the Senate, Labor will be seeking the support of the minor parties and Independents to remove this part of the bill. Labor will not permit the government to fundamentally undermine the freedom of information regime in this country, which is so fundamental to ensuring that we have genuine public scrutiny and accountability with respect to government agencies."

For further information, visit the EFA website under

[11] cofounder faces jail time

The cofounder of a technology news website is headed to prison after pleading guilty to violating a heavily criticized copyright law.

David Rocci, who helped found, has been sentenced to 5 months in prison as part of a plea deal. Previously, the United States Department of Justice (DoJ) had seized the website's domain name, claiming that Rocci had violated the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act by selling microchips that allow Xbox computer game console users to play games from other geographic regions as well as bootleg versions and backup copies. The DoJ is now redirecting would-be visitors to a special government webpage.

The case has drawn concern from various cyber-rights groups. Fred von Lohmann from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF-a GILC member) said it was "troubling that people are being sent to prison for selling a device that may have uses that may not be infringing to copyright at all." In addition, some observers are worried that the DoJ's tactics may allow tracking of innocent people (such as investigative journalists) whose personal information may be revealed as they are transferred to the government website.

Read "US mod chip retailer jailed and fined," The Register (UK), 9 April 2003 at

See "Microsoft cuts console cost," BBC News Online, 10 April 2003 at

For information in Spanish (Espanol), read "Sentencia en Estados Unidos por la venta de chips para la modificación de consola de videojuegos,", 10 April 2003 at

Press coverage in German (Deutsch) is available in "Haftstraf fuer Modchip-Haendler," Heise Online, 10 April 2003 at

[12] Iranian website editor arrested

Authorities in Iran have arrested a journalist over his Internet speech activities.

Sina Motallebi had previously worked a daily newspaper, Hayat-é-No, that was shut down this past January. Afterwards, as editor of the news website, he expressed support for a number of Hayat-e-No reporters who had been imprisoned, and criticized reform-minded Iranian leaders for failing to defend his former colleagues. Motallebi was then accused of "undermining national security through a cultural activity"; after having been summoned numerous times by Iranian government officials, he was apparently arrested and interrogated several days ago by a special Tehran police division dedicated to punishing "moral" offenses.

Motallebi's predicament has angered many Internet free speech groups. Robert Menard from Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF-a GILC member) called for Motallebi to be released and pointed out: "This is the second journalist to be arrested this year for running a website. It comes as the United Nations Human Rights Commission is due to issue a report on Iran. Regardless of what the report says, the Iranian regime should know that sooner or later it will have to answer for its arbitrary arrests of journalists."

An RSF press release on this subject is posted at

[13] Intel e-mail case heads to state high court

If someone sends several email messages to his colleagues complaining about his former employer's practices, should that person be held liable for trespassing?

This issue was recently debated before the California Supreme Court. The case centers around Ken Hamidi, who was fired by chipmaking giant Intel due to a disagreement over a work-related injury. He then sent a number of email messages to thousands of Intel staffers that took the company to task over the way it treated its employees. The firm eventually sued Hamidi and won a decision from California's Third Appellate District Court, which curiously held that he had trespassed on Intel's property by sending the aforementioned messages and banned him from sending any more emails. Hamidi has since appealed the ruling.

Many legal experts worry that the decision, if upheld, would seriously erode free speech rights in cyberspace. Lee Tien from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF-a GILC member) explained that the state Supreme Court "heard arguments explaining why extending the trespass to chattels doctrine to electronic communications would be very hard to justify. The court seemed unwilling to rule that anyone who sends electronic communications after having been told not to could risk a lawsuit from recipients." Similarly, Ann Brick, a lawyer with the Northern California affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU-a GILC member), called Intel's actions "censorship. This is about an employer or some other third party deciding what kind of e-mail I can send that you receive."

An EFF press release concerning this case is posted under

Read Harriet Chiang, "Ruling could redefine parameters of free speech rights in cyberspace," San Francisco Chronicle, 2 April 2003 at /MN181676.DTL

[14] Net café chain settles copyright claims

The recording industry has settled its lawsuit against a global business mogul over alleged copyright violations.

Stelios Haji-Iannou founded the EasyGroup business empire, which includes the EasyInternet Café chain as well as the European airline EasyJet. Several prominent recording industry organizations, including the British Phonographic Industry (which represents Universal, Virgin and EMI) sued EasyGroup, claiming that the company should be held liable for music that allegedly has been downloaded illegally by EasyInternet Café customers. Sony went so far as to ask the court for a "gag order" to prevent public discussion of the dispute-a request that was denied. A British trial court ruled against cybercafe chain; in response, Haji-Iannou accused the presiding judge of failing to answer one of his firm's key arguments: that downloading music was a legally permitted fair use, similar to recording a television program for later viewing.

Earlier this month, EasyInternet agreed to pay GBP 80 000 in damages as well as GBP 130 000 in legal costs. The settlement is being seen as largely a business decision, especially since, as Haji-Iannou himself explained, the payment was far smaller than the amount that was originally demanded from his company: "They came back with an attractive offer - a 92% discount on the original claim."

Read "Net café settles over music rights," BBC News Online, 9 April 2003 at

See also Owen Gibson, "Stelios settles music copyright row," Guardian Unlimited, 9 April 2003 at,12597,933707,00.html

[15] Al-Jazeera news site faces many problems

The website of a prominent independent Arabic-language news broadcaster has been beset with numerous difficulties over the past month or so.

For a time, attackers were able to redirect Internet traffic away from the English language version of Al-Jazeera homepage. Would-be visitors were instead sent to a webpage with an American flag and the slogan "Let Freedom Ring." Although the problem has since been corrected, the site has also been hit with repeated denial-of-service attacks. In addition, several companies have terminated service agreements with Al-Jazeera or otherwise let such agreements expire, notably web server giant Akamai.

Al Jazeera's difficulties have drawn considerable attention from free speech activists. The Association for Progressive Communications (APC-a GILC member) deplored the situation, saying that the "Internet must be allowed to freely perform its unique and vital role as a promoter of 'freedom of expression' and content diversity, especially in times of conflict. The computer hacks, online vandalism and the canceling of Al-Jazeera's web hosting contract all interfere with the UN [United Nations] declared right to 'receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.'"

The Al Jazeera website is located at

For the English-language version, click

The APC press release is posted at

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

See "US turns to net for war updates," BBC News Online, 8 April 2003 at

Read Sandeep Junnarkar, "Akamai ends Al-Jazeera server support," CNet News, 4 April 2003 at

For further information in German (Deutsch), see "Wirbel um Website von Al Jazeera (Update)," Heise Online, 27 March 2003 at

[16] Report: US gov't may make controversial spy laws permanent

Several United States policymakers are reportedly hoping to make permanent various controversial changes to government surveillance laws.

The measures, which were adopted in late 2001, allowed the U.S. government to make greater use of controversial spy tools such as Carnivore. Among other things, the legislation applied loose pen register protections previously used for such information as phone numbers and applied them to the Information Superhighway, rather than requiring law enforcement agents to show probable cause that a crime is being committed and get a court order. It also expanded the powers of a secret United States court, created under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), whose procedural protections are not as strong as those of other tribunals. In addition, the measures provided the government with the ability to break into houses and conduct secret "sneak-and-peek" searches. A number of these powers were scheduled to expire or "sunset" by 2005. However, U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch has reportedly drafted a proposal to remove the "sunset" language, thereby allowing the weakened standards to remain in place indefinitely.

The move comes despite growing public concern over whether the U.S. government is already abusing its powers under the 2001 changes. According to records revealed through Freedom of Information Act requests from various groups, including GILC members the Electronic Privacy Information Center and the American Civil Liberties Union, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation has sent out hundreds of "national security letters," thereby forcing businesses to turn over electronic records about finances, telephone calls, e-mail and other personal data. These letters are issued without prior judicial approval, and the recipients of such letters are barred from telling anyone (including their customers) about the FBI's requests. In addition, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft has apparently signed three times more "emergency foreign intelligence warrants" than in the past 23 years. The ACLU's Jameel Jaffer warned: "Without judicial oversight, there is simply no assurance that the Attorney General is using this authority in keeping with democratic principles and constitutional rights."

Read "GOP wants to keep anti-terror powers; Broad spying tools would become permanent," New York Times, 9 April 2003 at /MN257910.DTL

An ACLU press release regarding the increased use of spy powers is posted at

Read Dan Eggen and Robert O'Harrow Jr., "U.S. Steps Up Secret Surveillance," Washington Post, 24 March 2003 at

[17] US high court refuses to hear foreign intelligence spy case

The United States Supreme Court has decided not to review an intelligence tribunal's ruling that many experts fear will greatly erode privacy online.

Previously, the United States Justice Department had pushed revised rules that would allow investigators to conduct surveillance operations and get search warrants under the looser standards of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), even if the primary purpose of the wiretapping or search is not to collect foreign intelligence. Under this theory, law enforcement agents could make use of such standards so long as foreign intelligence gathering was merely a "significant" purpose. A Federal trial court disagreed and ordered Federal officials, among other things, to "ensure that law enforcement officials do not direct or control the use of the FISA procedures to enhance criminal prosecution."

Subsequently, in its first-ever decision, the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review essentially threw out the trial court's decision and ruled in favor of the government. The appeals court's opinion, FISA "did not preclude or limit the government's use or proposed use of foreign intelligence information, which included evidence of certain kinds of criminal activity, in a criminal prosecution." Among other things, the 3-judge panel went on to say that the trial court did not have the power under the U.S. Constitution to take prior restrictions on foreign intelligence gathering operations and impose "them generically as minimization procedures."

Several organizations (including GILC members the Center for Democracy and Technology, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Open Society Institute) who had previously filed legal papers urging the appeals panel to uphold the lower court's ruling then called on the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the appeals panel's decision. However, the high Court rejected their request. Ann Beeson of the ACLU expressed frustration over this setback but vowed to fight on: "We will continue to press Congress and the courts to curb abuse of government spy powers."

An ACLU press release on this subject is posted at

[18] Japan ponders cybercrime measures

The Japanese government is considering new cybercrime measures that may have a significant impact on Internet privacy.

Although specifics regarding the proposal are still hard to come by, among other things, the plan would apparently require Internet service providers (ISPs) to retain e-mail and other information up to 90 days without subscribers' knowledge. ISPs who refuse to comply with these retention requirements could face heavy penalties. In addition, creating a computer virus or providing it to others would be made punishable by up to three years in prison, even if it has not caused any damage. Proponents of the legislation claim that it is necessary in order for Japan to join the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime, despite the fact that the Convention does not actually require data retention.

The entire proposal is expected to be debated in the Diet (Japanese parliament) sometime in the next few months. However, a number of observers expect the proposal to engender serious opposition, due to the potentially great privacy implications. Industry groups, including many ISPs, are also expected to voice objections over portions of the bill, such as a provision that would force providers to retain data to aid the investigation of certain acts even if they are not considered criminal in Japan.

For further details on the data retention proposal, see "Stiffer e-data rules eyed," Asahi Shimbun, 17 March 2003 at

[19] Austria loses surveillance costs case

Telecommunication companies in Austria have won an important court case against the federal government regarding a controversial surveillance law.

The case revolved around two subsections of Austria's Telecommunications Law (Telekommunikationsgesetz or TKG). Taken together, those subsections essentially required telecom companies to implement surveillance measures on behalf of law enforcement agents and pay for these measures themselves. The technical requirements for such spyware (which may change every year) are not specifically provided in those provisions and must be provided through secondary legislation. Several communications firms challenged the TKG subsections in court, charging that those provisions were unconstitutional under various legal theories, including vagueness and proportionality grounds.

The Austrian Federal Constitutional Court ruled that the statute "imposes a significant burden on third parties [that] may only be justified for exceptional circumstances." More specifically, the judges held that the two contested TKG subsections violated the right of property and the liberty of profession or business guaranteed under the Austrian Constitution because the provisions were not proportional and did not meet the principle of clarity. The court ordered that, starting in 2004, the government would have shoulder the economic burden by reimbursing communications companies for implementing wiretapping measures, unless the "exceptional circumstances" mentioned earlier exist.

To read the verdict (in PDF format), click

For an English-language outline of the decision and commentary, visit the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC-a GILC member) website under

[20] US gov't supports music label Net user personal info grab

The United States government is backing a recording industry trade group in its efforts to collect personal information about an alleged Internet file trader.

Several months ago, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) requested data concerning a subscriber of telecom giant Verizon. The RIAA claimed that the individual in question had engaged in copyright infringement through peer-to-peer music file trading over the Internet. The Association argued that it had the power to gather such information under the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) even though it has not actually filed a lawsuit yet. The cited DMCA provision essentially says that copyright owners can request a U.S. Federal court to subpoena "information sufficient to identify the alleged infringer" from a "service provider." Verizon refused, claiming that this power can only be used when infringing material is stored or controlled on the service provider's network. A number of privacy groups, including GILC members the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility (CPSR) and the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), filed legal papers expressing opposition to the RIAA's demands. A trial court in the U.S. subsequently agreed with the RIAA and has now ordered Verizon to turn over the requested information within 14 days; Verizon is in the process of appealing the trial court's decision.

In the meantime, the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) has filed papers with the appeals court siding with the RIAA. Among other things, the DoJ essentially claimed that the release of personal information about the Verizon customer would not have a negative impact on ordinary people who communicate through the Internet because "the DMCA's subpoena provision targets the identity of alleged copyright infringers, not spoken words or conduct commonly associated with expression." Verizon Vice President Sarah Deutsch was dismayed by the government's decision: "We would have expected they would have recognized there are important privacy and safety issues beyond the narrow copyright claims here."

To read the text of the trial court's order (in PDF format), visit the website of the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT-a GILC member) under

For the latest details, read John Borland, "Verizon gets 14 days to ID file-swapper," CNet News, 24 April 2003 at

See also "Verizon Must Reveal Song Swappers," Associated Press, 24 April 2003 at,1412,58620,00.html

See "Fed favors record labels over Verizon," Reuters, 18 April 2003 at

For information in German (Deutsch), read "US-Justizministerium: Preisgabe der Identitaet eines Kazaa-Nutzers richtig," Heise Online, 20 April 2003 at

To read a friend-of-the-court brief filed by various privacy groups (including EPIC, EFF and CPSR) in PDF format, click

[21] Cisco Systems plans spy-friendly Internet hardware

A leading telecommunications hardware maker is planning to redesign its products to make it easier for government agents to spy on Internet users.

Cisco Systems has unveiled a proposal published to build "lawful interception" features into its devices. While many of the details have still yet to be worked out, under the proposal, wiretapping "must be undetectable," and various government agencies could simultaneously spy on the same person without being aware of each other's operations. Internet service providers (ISPs) would also decrypt customers' messages and hand the information over to law enforcement agents, assuming that the ISPs have access to the relevant encryption keys.

Cisco's apparent attempt to appease would-be wiretappers has alarmed cyber-rights experts. Marc Rotenberg, the executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC-a GILC member), wondered "why the technical community should hardwire surveillance standards and not also hardwire accountability standards like audit logs and public reporting. The laws that permit 'lawful interception' typically incorporate both components--the (interception) authority and the means of oversight--but the (Cisco) implementation seems to have only the surveillance component. That is no guarantee that the authority will be used in a 'lawful' manner."

Read Declan McCullagh, "Inside Cisco's eavesdropping apparatus," CNet News, 21 April 2003 at

[22] US gov't pushes built-in Net phone spy systems

A number of recent events regarding phone calls made over the Internet have led to questions about the future of privacy online.

On one front, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) wants the Federal Communications Commission to rule that the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) applies to phone calls made over the Internet, including transmissions using the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). CALEA, which was passed in 1994, generally requires telecom companies to build surveillance capabilities into their networks, but exempts information services, most notably the Internet. The FBI has pushed for this authority even though it has failed to cite in public any case where wiretapping efforts were thwarted by VoIP.

The FBI's stance has caused anxiety among privacy advocates and industry leaders. David Sobel from the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC-a GILC member) worries that, among other things, if the FBI gets its way, the use of surveillance tools to spy on Internet phone calls could be used for unnecessary government spying on other types of Internet transmissions, such as surfed webpages and private email messages. Additionally, Internet service providers are concerned about who will be forced to pay for installing such spy devices. Further complicating matters is the fact that there are no universal standards for such wiretapping operations, in part because no universal standards exist even for creating VoIP networks.

In addition to the FBI's efforts, Vonage DigitalVoice, the biggest provider of VoIP service, is apparently partnering with another company, Intrado, to provide automatic locational tracking of people who make Internet phone calls. Reports indicate that Vonage's customers (which number in the tens of thousands) will be required to give their address, city, state and postal code to be stored in Intrado's databases. While the system is supposed to be used for tracking of emergency 911 calls, questions remain as to whether this system eventually will be used for other purposes, such as geolocational mass marketing.

Read Ben Charny, "Net phone services get 911 capability," CNet News, 22 April 2003 at

See also Anick Jesdanun, "Tapping Into Web Telephony," Associated Press, 4 April 2003 at

[23] New Zealand universal Net ID system sparks privacy concerns

Public concern is rising over efforts in New Zealand that may lead to a national online identification system.

During the past month, there have been a number of developments suggesting that such a system may not be far off. For one thing, the country's Inland Revenue Department (IRD) inaugurated its first password-protected service, which allows members of the public to access various government databases. Soon afterwards, New Zealand State Services Minister Trevor Mallard publicly hinted that he wants one agency to handle password authentication for all online Government services. Some observers subsequently calling for this comprehensive authentication system to be expanded and used for surfing the World Wide Web, sending and receiving email, reading electronic documents, and using instant messaging systems. The New Zealand State Services Commission is now preparing a report on this issue that apparently will be released in the middle of 2003.

However, a number of groups have expressed serious reservations about these ideas. One industry spokesperson suggested that "there are too many privacy implications," and that such a widescale system, if implemented, might make identity fraud a "damn sight easier." There are also worries over the potential costs of implementing the proposal as well as providing customer support.

Read Richard Wood, "Fears over public ID system to access Govt services online," New Zealand Herald, 22 April 2003 at

[24] Big Brother Awards ceremonies held in UK, US

Privacy International (PI-a GILC member) recently held its annual Big Brother Awards ceremonies for 2003 in Britain and the United States. These prizes are designed to publicize some of the most serious threats to individual privacy.

United Kingdom winners included London Mayor Ken Livingstone (the year's Worst Public Servant for "his obsession with travel and transport surveillance"), Capita (deemed the Most Invasive company for being "behind many of the government's most controversial surveillance and data management schemes"), the Piu Data Sharing Report (the British "government's discredited Entitlement Card proposal," which was termed the year's Most Appalling Project), the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) (the Most Heinous Government Organisation for having "recently gone beyond merely being a patsy for bad government policy," and taking "a more active role in developing and promoting invasive schemes"), and British Prime Minister Tony Blair (a Lifetime Menace because of "his active involvement in the government's attack on civil liberties"). A new "Dog Poo on a Stick" Award was given to British Home Secretary David Blunkett for being "so odious and contemptible" that the organizers were "reluctant to agree to spending scarce money on an expensive gold award for the villain." Five Winston awards were given out to defenders of individual privacy, including Dr. Roger Needham (posthumous), Teri Dowty (Joint national coordinator, Childrens Rights Alliance for England and Wales), Marion Chester (Legal Director, Association of Community Health Councils of England and Wales), STAND (a volunteer organization that has fought strenuously against various privacy-invasive proposals and legislation), Richard Norton-Taylor and Stuart Millar (from the British newspaper the Guardian), and the video activist group Undercurrents.

Meanwhile, the United States government received several of the year's American Big Brother awards, including Most Invasive Proposal (for the Total Informational Awareness project) and Worst Public Official (to Assistant Attorney General Viet Dinh, who "was the architect of the PATRIOT Act and of the Attorney General's Guidelines, which now allow the FBI [Federal Bureau of Investigation] to engage in searches and monitoring of chat rooms, bulletin boards, and websites without evidence of criminal wrongdoing"). Other winners included Osama Bin Laden, who received an Admiral John M. Poindexter Lifetime Menace for "giving [U.S.] Attorney General Ashcroft the excuse he needed to pass the USA PATRIOT Act and the Homeland Security Act, and the gall necessary to formulate PATRIOT II, new draft legislation designed to push police power even further" and Delta Airlines, which was dubbed the Greatest Corporate Invader for helping to test the U.S. government's Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System II-a system that "relies heavily on the commercial information brokers to provide personal data on individuals." The list of Brandeis recipients (for their support of privacy rights) included consumer advocate Ed Mierzwinski, North Dakota state representative Jim Kasper ("a business leader and tireless advocate of opt-in privacy laws"), Charlene Nelson ("a North Dakota farmer who led a successful referendum in her state to reestablish opt-in privacy rules) and bookseller Joyce Meskis (who "led an important battle for book buyer privacy").

The U.S. Big Brother Awards were handed out at the Computers, Freedom and Privacy (CFP) 2003 Conference, which also featured the first-ever presentation of the Stupid Security Awards. The Australian government garnered a Most Egregiously Stupid Award "for a litany of pointless, irritating and self-serving security measures," such as creating a "suspicious" activity hotline without explaining what activities should be considered "suspicious." Philadelphia International Airport got a Most Inexplicably Stupid Award "for over-reaction to a bottle of cologne," including issuing a code-red hazardous materials alert, quarantining an entire hospital emergency room and shutting down 2 shops. The British arm of phone giant T-Mobile won a Most Annoyingly Stupid Award "for pointless and idiotic financial security measures," such as forcing customers to send in two credit card bills along with the details of their phones in order to pay for services by credit card. The Delta Airlines terminal at New York's John F. Kennedy airport received a Most Flagrantly Intrusive Award "for forcing a nursing mother to drink her own breast milk," and San Francisco General Hospital won a Most Stupidly Counter Productive Award "for blind idiocy in its identity checking procedures," including turning away homeless potential patients because they did not have photo identification cards. A special Dishonourable Mention award was given to the hotel that hosted the CFP 2003 conference, the New Yorker Hotel, "after a series of absurd security measures." These included demanding and photocopying photo ID's, refusing to loan a guest a pair of scissors "because of security," and threatening another guest with a visit from the anti-terrorism squad of NY police if he continued to refuse to provide photo ID."

For more on the 2003 British Big Brother Awards, click

Further details regarding the 2003 U.S. Big Brother Awards are available under

Read "Mayor Ken named Big Bad Brother," BBC News Online, 25 March 2003 at

Additional information concerning the Stupid Security competition is posted at

See also "Security by stupidity," BBC News Online, 10 April 2003 at

The official CFP 2003 website is located at

[25] EFF Pioneer Awards handed out

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF-a GILC member) honored its newest Pioneer Awards laureates. These awards are given out each to "individuals who have made significant and influential contributions to the development of computer-mediated communications or to the empowerment of individuals in using computers and the Internet."

The winners for 2003 are David Sobel, Eben Moglen and Amy Goodman. Mr. Sobel is general counsel for the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC-a GILC member) and has worked for years to defend privacy rights and open information laws. Mr. Moglen, who is a professor at the Columbia University School of Law and has served for years as general counsel for the Free Software Foundation, was applauded "for campaigning to reformulate copyright, patent, and privacy laws to fit the digital age." Amy Goodman has hosted the Pacifica Radio Network's award winning news show Democracy Now, was honored "for her long-term commitment to freedom of expression."

An EFF press release regarding the 2003 Pioneer Awards is posted under

[26] New GILC member: HREA

The Global Internet Liberty Campaign recently added a new member: Human Rights Education Associates (HREA). Aside from running the "Huridocs-Tech" listserv on the use of information and communication technology for human rights work since 1998 (currently a little over 800 subscribers from 90 or so countries), HREA has been promoting debate and training around human rights and the Internet. The organization offers a broad range of distance learning courses via the Internet for human rights advocates, including two annual courses on Using the Internet for Human Rights Work (both Introductory and Advanced). Currently, HREA is assisting HURIDOCS in implementing a search engine dedicated to human rights information (HURISEARCH) and the Martus project in providing training in their encrypted database software for human rights organizations (

Visit HREA's homepage at


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

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