GILC Protest of the Denial-of-Service Attacks on the Institute for Global Communications

(Also available in Spanish)

8 August 1997

The undersigned member organizations of the Global Internet Liberty Campaign (GILC) lend their support to the Institute for Global Communications in its attempts to give alternative political organizations a voice. We condemn the orchestrated campaign to shut down IGC services because one Web site they hosted was promoting Basque independence.

GILC takes no stand on the Basque question and does not support the use of violence by the ETA. We simply support the rights of organizations to carry on electronic communications without deliberate disruption, and the right to freedom of expression. While the ETA undertakes violent acts, the supportive web site was a non-violent act.

We understand that a large segment of the Spanish public feel outrage toward the recent assassination of Miguel Angel Blanco by the Basque separatist organization Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA). However, the presentation of political viewpoints is a matter of free speech, independent of the physical actions of an organization. Governments can and do prosecute for acts of violence without suppressing the defendant's right to discuss political viewpoints. We note that:

  1. IGC was not hosting the ETA itself, but another Basque separatist organization (the Basque Congress for Peace), which was based in the United States of America and carried some material complimentary to the ETA. If organizations are subject to de facto censorship over such tenuous connections to an organization that people find objectionable, all political discussion is threatened.

  2. IGC provides services to hundreds of organizations around the world, all of whom were effectively deprived of online access by attacks meant to protest one organization.

  3. Apart from legitimate protest messages, attacks were carried out on IGC Web and electronic mail servers with the goal of shutting them down. This is a well known (and in many countries, prosecutable) type of disruption that falls in the category of "denial-of-service" attacks.

  4. Many people sending huge numbers of mail messages ("electronic mail-bombs") disguised the messages so that they could not be traced back to the perpetrators.

  5. Several individuals on the Internet and at least one Spanish newspaper reported the attacks and asked readers to send their own mail messages, thus forming a campaign to disrupt IGC. This campaign goes beyond protest to become a form of censorship and should be criticized by anyone concerned with freedom of speech.

We also condemn denial-of-service attacks in general. They are an undemocratic way of trying to censor a particular speaker, and they misuse the Internet by weighing down an Internet provider and the networks through which the attacks pass, thus forcing "innocent bystanders" across the Internet to pay for the attack and suffer some of its consequences.

GILC is a collaborative association of organizations around the world that defend freedom of expression on electronic networks.

Fronteras Electrónicas España (FrEE, Electronic Frontiers Spain) -
ALCEI (Electronic Frontiers Italy) -
Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility -
Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK) -
Derechos Human Rights -
Digital Citizens Foundation Netherlands (DB-NL ) -
Electronic Frontier Foundation -
EFF-Austin -
Electronic Frontiers Australia -
Electronic Frontier Canada: -
Electronic Privacy Information Center: - Forum InformatikerInnen für Frieden und gesellschaftliche Verantwortung (FIFF) -
Förderkreis Informationstechnik und Gesellschaft (FITUG, Germany) -
NetAction -
Privacy International -
Quintessenz (Austria) -
XS4ALL Foundation (Netherlands) -