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February 6, 2002

Dear Council of Europe Secretary-General Walter Schwimmer:

We are non-governmental organizations from Council of Europe member and observer nations who share a common desire to protect human rights on the global Internet. Many of the undersigned organizations had previously sent you two letters as members of Global Internet Liberty Campaign (dated Oct. 18 and Dec. 12, 2000) that raised a number of concerns regarding the Convention on Cybercrime.

We understand that a discussion draft protocol on Racism and Xenophobia (to be considered in connection with the Council of Europe cybercrime treaty) has either been completed or is nearing that final stage. This protocol apparently will require the criminalization of certain forms of Internet speech that some might find offensive, and an additional provision related to "abusive hosting".

We are writing to ask for the public release of this discussion draft as soon as it is completed. If this document has, in fact, already been completed, we ask that you release it immediately. The protocol is likely to raise critical questions regarding freedom of expression and human rights. Given the potentially serious ramifications of the protocol, we believe its text must be disclosed to allow vigorous and wide-ranging debate over its merits. While the signatories to this letter may differ on the specific provisions of the protocol once we learn its contents, we are of the unanimous view that its development should conform with principles of transparency and democratic decision-making.

For these reasons, we urge you to release the discussion draft to the general public if it is finished, or to release the document as soon as it is completed.


American Civil Liberties Union (US)

Article 19-The Global Campaign for Free Expression

Association for Progressive Communications

Associazione per la Liberta nella Comunicazione Elettronica Interattiva (IT)

Bits of Freedom (NL)

Bulgarian Institute for Legal Development (BG)

Center for Democracy and Technology (US)

Chaos Computer Club (DE)

Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK)

Derechos Human Rights (US)

Digital Freedom Network (US)

Digital Rights (DK)

Electronic Frontiers Australia (AU)

Electronic Frontier Foundation (US)

Electronic Privacy Information Center (US)

Equipo Nizkor (ES)

Feminists Against Censorship (UK)

Förderverein Informationstechnik und Gesellschaft

Foundation for Information Policy Research (UK)

Human Rights Network (RU)

Human Rights Watch

Imaginons un Réseau Internet Solidaire (FR)

Liberty (UK)

The Link Centre, Wits University, Johannesburg (ZA)

Networkers against Surveillance Taskforce (JP)

Online Policy Group (US)

Privacy International (UK)

Privacy Ukraine (UA)

Quintessenz (AT)

Swiss Internet User Group (CH)

Verein für Internet Benutzer (AT)