Welcome to the Global Internet Liberty Campaign Newsletter
Welcome to the first edition of 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.
Since this is the first edition, it is likely to reach a
number of people who may be unaware of GILC's activities,
therefore, this issue focuses on what we have done to date.
Future issues will include action alerts, in depth articles
providing analysis on international cyber-liberties issues,
and short summaries of events in the field.
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
firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
WHAT IS GILC?
[A] FOREMOST NEWS
[A1] European Commission Issues
[B] ROUNDUP OF GLOBAL INTERNET
[B1] Africa/Middle East
[B1.1] Censorship News From Arabian
[B1.2] Egypt and Anti-Islamic Web
[B1.3] South Africa's Telkom Forced to
[B2.1] Australia Threatens Free Speech
[B2.2] Chinese Internet Censorship
[B3.1] Ireland Establishes Internet
[B3.2] German Prosecution
[B3.4] Rexrodt Urges Strong Encryption
[B3.6] AOL Alerts British Users to
[B3.7] EuroISPA Formed in Brussels
[B4] North America
[B4.1] Canadian Tribunal Hears Internet
[B4.2] United States Judiciary Upholds
[B4.3] FBI Rebuffed
WHAT IS GILC?
There are no borders in cyberspace
Individual governments and multi-national organizations
can have profound effects on the rights of citizens around
the world. Therefore, users of the Global Internet must
cooperate to protect freedom of speech and the right to
In 1996, the Global Internet Liberty Campaign was formed
at the annual meeting of the Internet Society in Montreal.
Members of the coalition include the American Civil
Liberties Union, the Electronic Privacy Information Center,
Human Rights Watch, the Internet Society, Privacy
International, the Association des Utilisateurs d'Internet,
and other civil liberties and human rights organizations.
The Global Internet Liberty Campaign advocates...
- Prohibiting prior censorship of on-line
- Requiring that laws restricting the content of
on-line speech distinguish between the liability of
content providers and the liability of data carriers.
- Insisting that on-line free expression not be
restricted by indirect means such as excessively
restrictive governmental or private controls over
computer hardware or software, telecommunications
infrastructure, or other essential components of the
- Including citizens in the Global Information
Infrastructure (GII) development process from countries
that have currently unstable economically, have
insufficient infrastructure, or
lack sophisticated technology.
- Prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race,
color, sex, language, religion, political or other
opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or
- Ensuring that personal information generated on the
GII for one purpose is not used for an unrelated purpose
or disclosed without the person's informed consent and
enabling individuals to review personal information on
the Internet and to correct inaccurate information.
- Allowing on line users to encrypt their
communications and information without restriction.
Links to the Principles in Arabic, German, Spanish and
French can be found at
- Associazione per la Libertanella Comunicazione
Elettronica Interattiva (ALCEI)
- American Civil Liberties Union
- Amnesty International USA
- Arge Daten
- Association des Utilisateurs d'Internet
- Bevcom Internet Technologies
- Centre for Applied Legal Studies, University of the
Witwatersrand School of Law.
- Center for Democracy and Technology
- CITADEL-EF France
- Committee to Protect Journalists
- CommUnity - The Computer Communicators Association
- Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility
- Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK)
- Derechos Human Rights
- Digital Citizens Foundation Netherlands
- engagierte Computer ExpertInnen (eCE)
- Electronic Frontiers Australia
- Electronic Frontier Canada
- Electronic Frontier Foundation
- Electronic Frontiers Houston
- Electronic Privacy Information Center
- Forum InformatikerInnen fuer Frieden und
gesellschaftlicheVerantwortung (FIfF) e.V.
- Förderverein; Informationstechnik und
- Fronteras Electronicas Espana (FrEE)
- Human Rights Watch
- Internet Society
- Open Society Institute
- Privacy International
- quintessenz e-zine
- XS4ALL Foundation
If your organization is interested in becoming a member
of GILC, please send us an e-mail.
Cyberspace defies the natural boundaries and national
borders that confine most governments and businesses. These
bodies, however, can dictate policy-making for the Global
Information Infrastructure. How much more so, when these
bodies are international in scope? The Global Internet
Community cannot escape the influence of groups like the
OECD, G7, European Parliament, and other international
bodies. Therefore, GILC monitors the activities of these
international organizations, and works to see that their
policies support, and not, oppose online liberty.
- GILC organized a conference entitled "The Public
Voice in Development of International Cryptography." 15
organizations endorsed a resolution encouraging the OECD
to "base its cryptography policies on the fundamental
right of citizens to private communications." The GILC
conference changed the focus of the OECD cryptography
debate; and resulted in much more Internet friendly
policies than OECD had originally proposed.
- GILC formally criticized a number of provisions of
the Resolution on the Communication of the Commission
Regarding Illegal and Harmful Content on the Internet
(COM(96)0487-C4-0592/96), which the European
Parliament adopted on April 24th, 1997. Foremost, the
GILC comments called upon the European Parliament, the
Council, the European Commission, the governments and
Parliaments of the member states, as well as appropriate
international organizations, to adhere to founding
principles and avoid the malignant influence of fleeting
fears. These groups will do well to remember that those
who would trade a little liberty for a little security,
deserve neither and will get neither. Fear should not
replace the European Union's founding principles or the
fundamental principles of the protection of human rights
and public freedoms: freedom of expression, free access
to public information, protection of privacy, as well as
the principle of freedom of circulation of services and
the principle of proportionality. GILC also counseled
that most of these organizations avoid implementing many
of the policies in the resolution.
Read the GILC statement here
[B] FOREMOST NEWS
[B1] European Commission Issues Cryptography
Citing concerns that the United States's encryption
proposal is ineffective and violative of some member states'
data-privacy rules, the European Commission has rejected a
U.S. plan that would allow governmental monitoring of
private Internet communications. Commission officials,
without specifically endorsing any specific methods, have
offered what some have termed a "counter proposal" to the
The Commission's counter-proposal is based on three
foundations. First, the Commission views encryption as the
only useful and practical means of securing the
confidentiality of both business and personal
communications. Second, it regards encryption regulation as
simply inefficient. Third, it views encryption's widespread
use as working to PREVENT crime, not hasten it, as the U.S.
The European Commission also has real concerns the U.S.
plan would serve to facilitate industrial espionage. The
Federal Association of German Banks fears the U.S.
initiative "would allow wide ranging spying on
electronic-business transactions protected by encryption
In the Commission's rebuttal to the U.S. plan, it
proposed a multi-faceted strategy. Among the suggestions,
the Commission announced its intention to propose
legislation in early 1998, which would provide a community
framework for digital signatures. It is also ready to
support the development of cryptographic services to
generate strategies for securing electronic communications.
Furthermore, the Commission will establish, by the end of
the year, a European Internet Forum as a means of not only
sharing information, but also providing information.
Moreover, beginning in 1998, the Commission will hold
hearings about "digital signature and encryption," whose aim
will be to consult with governments, businesses and their
customers in an attempt to gauge opinions on which steps
should be taken to ensure more Internet security.
It's time to "get out of the box" and take affirmative
measures whereby Internet security is truly secure and
Internet privacy is truly private. It appears that the
European Commission continues to shift the paradigm towards
To read the report
[B] ROUNDUP OF GLOBAL INTERNET ISSUES
[B1] Africa/Middle East
[B1.1] Censorship News From Arabian Peninsula
All of the region's countries -- except Yemen, which
can't afford to police the internet -- are working to censor
pornography and political opinions so that their 20,000
subscribers and 100,000 users can not freely surf the
Internet. Etisalat, the only ISP to the seven states of the
United Arab Emirates, has setup software blockades after
officials of the several countries disapproved of free
access to the internet. The countries are blocking Web sites
that carry words such as breast, sex or nude. Qatar and Oman
both use "CyberPatrol" and "Net Nanny" to limit their
population's access to the world wide web. Kuwait is working
on a blocking system, while Saudi Arabia, one of the most
conservative Muslim countries, has started a committee to
initiate that country's official entry into the cyber
[B1.2] Egypt and Anti-Islamic Web Sites
Egypt, home of 45,000 internet users, is awash in
sensitive internet issues. The country's religious leaders
-- Egypt's official censors -- have denounced internet-based
attacks on Islam (the State's official religion and the
religion of 85% of the populace). Sunni Islam's highest
authority, the Al Azhar, has vowed to "strongly confront
these matters" and work with the government and
international religious organizations on combating what it
views as hostile religious assaults. Al Azhar and Egypt's
Religious Affairs Ministry announced that they would launch
their own website to "respond to everything being said about
To date, Egyptian officials have refrained from taking
direct actions to censor the material. Instead, the
religious authorities, offended by the Web sites, are taking
seriously the maxim that the best way to fight "offensive"
speech is with more speech.
[B1.3] South Africa's Telkom Forced to Share
Two victories for the citizenry of South Africa were
coupled together in one announcement last week. The South
African Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (SATRA)
voted to deny Telkom (the state-controlled
telecommunications utility) an Internet monopoly. This one
decision is not only about the constitutional right to do
business, but also involves the pubic's reasonable demands
for information and for efficient communications services.
SATRA's Internet ruling means the nation's 70-80 service
providers can proceed with business as usual. Because
Internet service providers relied on Telkom's
telecommunications infrastructure, the industry was
defenseless against rate-increases and bandwidth supply
bottlenecks. Furthermore, because SATRA decided that
Telkom's exclusive right to provide South Africa's
telecommunications infrastructure did not extend to the
Internet, Internet providers will continue to seek
innovative methods of allowing inexpensive home connections.
For example, Eskom (a South African service provider) will
investigate providing access over electricity cables.
These service providers and Telkom are to share a
collectively-owned, internal, neutral site that routes all
Internet traffic, instead of using international gateways
(users sent e-mail via the United States to receivers across
the street) SATRA insists a lack of this "common peering
point" is costing South Africa a fortune in wasted
bandwidth. Nape Maepa, chairman of SATRA, said the "main aim
of the common peering point is to complement, rather than
compete, with the service provided by constituent members."
The Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA), in a
press release hailing the ruling, has supported common
peering points. But in a press conference, Mark Todes, the
co-chairman of the ISPA, warned they would not allow Telkom
to connect to ISPA's peering point, "if [Telkom] did not
commit themselves to free and fair competition."
The ruling aligns South Africa's Internet service
provision with global standards, allows for a free market
system and free business association, free speech on the
net, and the prevention of nationalizing an industry that
knows no national or natural boundaries.
The South African Institute of Race Relations has voiced
three concerns, however:
1) Since SATRA calls for ISP's to apply for
licenses, and since these licensing parameters are yet
undefined, "artificially high barriers to entry for smaller
industries might be a disincentive for future
2) SATRA will also create a "regulatory environment" for
Internet providers. "No one really knows what that means.
One can only hope that SATRA did not rule against [Telcom]
only to embark on a scheme to overregulate the industry in
another way, which would be counter to the global trend of
3) SATRA is also asking for "public service obligations"
with the issuing of a VANS license. "Yet again, no clarity
exists as to what these obligations will be. . . . This
essentially boils down to an additional tax on the revenue
Telkom Executive for Regulatory Affairs, Pinky Moholi,
argued that the "decision was based on a misinterpretation."
It will continue to study the ruling and might appeal.
You can read SATRA's ruling at
[B2.1] Australia Threatens Free Speech
In the same week that President Clinton announced the US
Government would not be introducing any new controls on
Internet content, the Australian government announced the
opposite intention. Members of the Global Internet Liberty
Campaign have warned that the Australian proposals would
threaten free speech and place an impossible burden on
Australian Internet Service Providers.
Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA), a GILC founding
member, has launched a campaign against these proposals that
includes a GILC action alert, and an online petition. EFA is
urging all concerned about online freedoms to sign a
petition and to make a submission to the Australian
[B2.2] Chinese Internet Censorship
In spite of the growing number of internet users,
censorship rages in China, the world's largest nondemocratic
nation. By the end of the year, the number of Chinese
Internet subscribers is expected to hit 250,000 people.
According to the Agence France Presse, however, experts
believe the number of actual users to be more than one
million because accounts are often shared.
In late August, China's Minister of Posts and
Telecommunications said he had a "positive attitude" about
the world wide information superhighway. But, he said the
government will continue to "eliminate" the Internet's
shortcomings. China adopts regulations "against anything
that is detrimental to the country's security and that goes
against the country's traditions." While today the Ministry
of Posts and Telecommunication initially censors political
intelligence, pornography, and anti-Beijing sites, the
government is generating a complete infrastructure to
regulate the Internet.
[B2.3] Singapore Might Loosen Internet Control
In Singapore, an 18 member National Internet Advisory
Committee (NIAC) has urged its government to remove
provisions of the Singapore Broadcasting Authority's (SBA)
Internet Code that would "curtail genuine free speech." The
NIAC, appointed by the Ministry of Information and the Arts
last August, found that references to Singapore's Sedition
Act, which had banned all Internet content that brought the
"government into hatred or contempt," was too vague and
overly broad. As it stands, Singapore now routes all
Internet communications through central, government-owned
computers so that censors can weed out "spiritual
The NIAC should be applauded in this important, albeit
small step. The meta-question is how long can a committee
decide for the people of Singapore exactly what "genuine"
speech is? While Singapore moves toward a less ambiguous and
more libertarian Internet framework, it should also work on
eliminating other vague parts of existing SBA regulations:
namely, provisions banning pornography, violence, promotion
of religious or ethnic intolerance, and promotion of
To read the guidelines
[B3.1] Ireland Establishes Internet "Working
Ireland has become one of the latest countries to
consider whether to
crack down on 'harmful and illegal' use of the Internet. It
has established A Working Group on Illegal and Harmful Use
of the Internet, consisting of representatives from both
private and public sectors, with advisory and recommendatory
The Global Internet Liberty Campaign made a submission
hoping to lay the framework for an effective Internet policy
by providing key background information on both technical
and policy issues. The submission examined the experience of
other countries in trying to assert jurisdiction over the
Members of the GILC recommended, in summary, that the
- Refrain from prosecuting Internet providers for
material on the Internet, or requiring them to monitor or
- Rely on existing laws to prosecute crimes on the
Internet (such as the distribution of child pornography
or copyright infringement) rather than pass new laws or
regulations treating the new medium specially.
- Avoid censorship, but advise the use of filtering or
blocking software by any individuals interested in
avoiding objectionable content.
For more information
To read GILC's recommendations:
[B3.2] German Prosecution
Twenty-three members of the Global Internet Liberty
Campaign sent a letter to Chancellor Kohl calling on Germany
to end the prosecution of CompuServe German Director Felix
Somm and support legal reforms relating to the Internet.
On April 16, German prosecutors announced they had
indicted German CompuServe's managing director in connection
with the alleged distribution of pornography and violent
games over the Internet. That day, GILC member XS4ALL also
announced that the German Federal Prosecutor had pressured a
German academic Internet service provider into blocking
access to the ands-based XS4ALL's entire site because it
contains German-banned RADIKAL magazine.
Read GILC's letter
[B3.4] Rexrodt Urges Strong Encryption
Germany's Economic Minister, Guenter Rexrodt is at the
forefront of opposing initiatives that would give law
enforcement officials technology that can tap into encrypted
computer data. In June, while giving the opening statement
to the European Union's Global Information Network
echo.lu/bonn/presscoverage.html) in Bonn, he re-pledged
his opposistion to encyprtion keys. According to Reuters, he
said: "Users can only protect themselves against having data
manipulated, destroyed or spied on through the use of strong
encyption procedures. That is why we have to use all of our
powers to promote such procedures instead of blocking
Global Internet Liberty Campaign members lent their
support to the Institute for Global Communications (IGC) in
its attempts to give alternative political organizations a
voice. They condemned the orchestrated campaign to shut down
IGC services simply 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.
To read GILC's statement go to
[B3.6] AOL Alerts British Users to Surveillance
Suscribers to AOL Ltd. in Britain were warned the
provider was requiring a stiff new contract that gives AOL
vast license to reveal subscribers' private email and
on-line movements to law enforcement offices. The revised
contract is also the first to inform users that they must
comply with both British and U.S. export laws governing
encryption. The International Herald Tribune has reported
that AOL Europe will provide similiar contracts, which vary
according to local law, in each of the seven European
countries in which AOL operates.
The contract provides that AOL "reserves the right to
monitor or disclose the contents of private communicaton . .
. and data to the extent permitted by law." Subscribers are
also forbidden from posting or transmitting "unlawful,
harmful, threatening, abusive, harassing, defamatory,
vulgar, obscene, seditious, blasphemous, hateful, racially,
ethnically, or otherwise objectionable" content. The
contract also enhanced the legal wording about pornography
and continued to prohibit maintaining links to "obscene" Web
[B3.7] EuroISPA Formed in Brussels
Last month, ISPs in Europe banded together to more
efficiently battle Internet regulation and taxation. The
European Internet Service Providers Association
(www.euroispa.org) was formally established in Brussels. The
seven founding members, representing over 400 ISPs across
the European Union include: AFPI (France), AIIP (Italy),
AnProTel (Spain), ECO (Germany), ISPA (Belgium), ISPA (UK),
and Nlip (Netherlands). Visibly missing from the new union
is the UK's largest ISP, Demon Internet.
EuroISPA will concentrate on lobbying the European
Commission and other international regulatory bodies.
According to Techwire (www.techweb.com/ wire), the
organization will have a permanent General Secretary who
works with a governing council representing each of the
national associations, while the rolling presidency will be
filled from each organization in turn.
In its first press release
newly appointed President Jim Dixon of ISPA UK said:
"EuroISPA has immediately become the world's largest
representative body of Internet Service Providers."
According to the press release, EuroISPA hopes to act as the
principal voice for the Internet in Europe; it also wants to
promote "self-regulation and influence the regulatory
process on behalf of the Internet industry" and to
"encourage the development of a free and open
[B4.1] Canadian Tribunal Hears Internet Hate Case
The Canadian Human Rights Commission used Section 13 of
the Canadian Human Rights Act, which forbids the
communication of hate messages "by means of a
telecommunication undertaking within the legislative
authority of Parliament," to investigate complaints that
Ernst Zundel's website (Zundelsite) incites hatred. The
website runs an opening banner asking, "Did six million
people really die?"
Since it held further inquiry was warranted, the
Commission referred the complaints to a Human Rights
Tribunal for adjudication.
Even though Zundel has tried to bypass Canada's law by
arguing that the site is run by a U.S. citizen, Ingrid
Rimland, in California, the commission argued that Zundel, a
Toronto resident, created and managed the site. On October
17th, Zundel was surprised when his estranged wife appeared
in court to testify that her husband daily edited and
approved the site's content.
According to The Toronto Sun, Zundel argues that the
Tribunal threatens democracy because it "has no
jurisdiction" over the Internet. David Jones, a professor at
McMaster University in Hamilton and president of GILC member
Electronic Frontier Canada added that: "It is inappropriate
to accomplish by the back door what cannot be done through
the front door. This section was enacted by Parliament to
deal with telephone-answering machines carrying hateful
The tribunal will next reconvene on December 11, 1997 and
then again in April next year.
To view Zundel's page for yourself see --
For other news on the hearing --
[B4.2] United States Judiciary Upholds Free Speech
The summer of 1997 will be remembered as a summer of
internet free speech. Three Federal Courts have decided that
governmental attempts to regulate the Internet have all
fallen short of the United States Constitution's demand that
government refrain from limiting speech.
Foremost, was the United States Supreme Court's inspiring
decision in Reno v. The American Civil Liberties Union
There, the ACLU and 18 other plaintiffs challenged the
Federal Communications Decency Act as an unconstitutional
restriction on free speech. A lower federal court had agreed
and the Supreme Court affirmed, in sweeping language, that
cyberspace must be free.
The eight other members of the Court agreed with most of
Justice John Paul Stevens's opinion holding that the CDA
placed an "unacceptably heavy burden on protected speech,"
that "threatens to torch a large segment of the Internet
community." His strong opinion held that the Constitution
shields Internet speech and must be given the highest level
of First Amendment protection, similar to the protection the
Court gives to books and newspapers. In contrast, the Court
has a more limited First Amendment defense of speech on
broadcast and cable television.
While concurring with most of the result, Justice Sandra
Day O'Connor and Chief Justice William Rehnquist dissented
in part. But even the dissenters believed the CDA was
clearly unconstitutional because it was "akin to a law that
makes it a crime for a bookstore owner to sell pornographic
magazines to anyone once a minor enters his store." They,
however, believed the law could be constitutionally applied,
albeit very narrowly in the very limited situation of
deliberate transmission of indecent material "where the
party initiating the communication knows that all of the
recipients are minors." If an adult might be among the
recipients, however, the speech cannot constitutionally be
suppressed, Justice O'Connor stated.
The Supreme Court's monumental decision came just three
days after federal judges in New York and Georgia stuck down
each state's Internet censorship law. In the New York case,
American Library Association v. Pataki
www.aclu.org/news/n062097c.html), Judge Loretta A.
Preska attacked the law as violating the Constitution's
Commerce Clause (dealing with business activities across
state borders). In Georgia's ACLU v. Miller
Judge Marvin Shoob decided that a law, banning anonymous
speech on the Internet, unconstitutionally restricted free
speech and gave "prosecutors and police officers . . .
substantial room for selective prosecution of persons who
express minority viewpoints."
While New York and Georgia will not appeal the decisions,
twenty other states either have or are considering such
legislation. But Georgia and New York's were the first
challenging the laws and will not be the last.
[B4.3] FBI Rebuffed
The United States House of Representatives' Commerce
Committee, citing civil liberties concerns, overwhelmingly
rejected the FBI's new amendment to the Security and
Information Through Encryption Act (SAFE). The FBI sought to
subvert SAFE's original intent -- the easing of controls on
export of strong encryption technology.
On October 21st, US Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott
(R-Miss.) said he opposes the FBI's approach to encryption
technology. In the Congressional Record, he said the FBI
proposals to put restrictions on domestic use of encryption
technology would "invade our privacy, be of minimal use to
the FBI, would require nonexistent technology, would create
new administrative burdens and would seriously damage our
foreign markets." Lott also asserted that even though law
enforcement needs require "due and proper regard," the FBI's
measures, guaranteeing access to information without a
user's knowledge, would put "most us into an entirely new
world of surveillance, a very intrusive surveillance, where
every communication by every individual can be accessed by
Furthermore, Lott questioned the FBI's motives: Why has
the FBI assumed "all Americans are going to be involved in
criminal activities?" and "where is probable cause?"
Moreover, Lott praised the House Commerce Committee for
rejecting the FBI's proposal, particularly the provision
establishing a National Encryption Technology Center, which
would have served to "break codes." Two other House panels,
National Security and Intelligence, passed bills favorable
to the FBI, while 3 other panels, Commerce, Judiciary and
International Relations, voted for measures favorable to
civil liberties organizations. No resolution is in the
Raafat S. Toss
GILC Organizer Developer
American Civil Liberties Union
125 Broad Street
New York, New York 10004
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