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Newsletter 1-1-97

 

letters/FACTNews -- January 1, 1997

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======================================================================= @@@@@@@ @ @@@@@ @@@@@@@ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @@@@@@ @ @ @@@@@@@ @@@@ @ @@@ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @@@@ @ @ @ @@@@@@@ @ @ @ @ @ @ @@ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @@@@@ @ @ @ @@@@@@ @ @ @@@@@@@ ----------------------------------------------------------------------- A digest devoted to alerting Netizens about the issues of Freedom of Speech The Right to Privacy & Freedom of Thought Distributed by FACTNet (Fight Against Coercive Tactics Network, Inc.) <http://www.factnet.org/> --------------------------------------==------------------------------- Issue #1 January 1, 1997 ----------------------------------------------------------------------- In this issue: (1) FACTNet returns after computer raid with new web site! (2) Exclusive: Julf @ penet.fi on anonymous remailer fight (3) CYBERsitter may sue teenager for revealing secrets (4) Cold War encryption restrictions ruled unconstitutional (5) Students kept from US law class while prof argues in court (6) Court decision to review CDA ignores on-line media (7) What else is on our new web page ======================================================================= (1) FACTNET RETURNS AFTER COMPUTER RAID WITH A NEW MISSION AND A NEW WEB SITE at http://www.factnet.org/ When FACTNet was established more than three years ago, we hoped to become an on-line library of material about psychological coercive tactics. Little did we know that our humble effort would gain international recognition and that we would find ourselves on the judicial cutting edge of free speech on the Internet. It began in August 1995 when FACTNet board member Arnie Lerma posted to the Usenet newsgroup alt.religion.scientology. The enforcement arm of Scientology, known as the Religious Technology Center or RTC, claimed that Lerma had violated copyright laws and physically raided his Arlington, Virginia, home, taking his computer and files. It was the second raid of a private residence by Scientology, and the national media took notice. A few days later, the FACTNet computer in Ignacio, COlorado, was the target of the third Scientology raid. This effectively albeit temporarily derailed FACTNet's operation and put us into the courts, the media and law school courses, rather than merely on-line, where we had originally hoped to be. But it taught us much. With this letters/FACTNews, we are happy to announce that we have returned with an expanded mission, a brand new web page and a comprehensive digest of information, organized so that you can access information quickly and easily. The Internet may well represent the most powerful advancement in communication since the invention of the printing press. And just as the printing press has been the target of coercive, totalitarian tactics, so has the Internet. It has become a godsend to those who love freedom and a terror to those who fear it. In between are those who are still learning the awesome power of this new technology. In the meantime, a battle for the Net is being waged under a variety of banners. No one ever openly admits that they want to censor free speech or invade our privacy or control our thoughts. The book burner or witch hunter or secret police each claim they are working for a higher good or that they are giving us some form of "protection" from an imagined evil. FACTNet finds itself at the heart of this battle on the Internet, and we welcome the opportunity to fight for free thought and free speech. It is our belief that the most effective way to wage war against coercion and oppression is to inform, educate and enlighten. That is what our new FACTNet International Digest and Web Page are designed to do. We thank everyone who has supported us. We, in turn, want to offer our support of this fight for the net with this digest and a new web page. Please browse it at <http://www.factnet.org/> and let us know what you think. We welcome your suggestions, criticisms and words of support. Our very best wishes, FACTNet, Inc. EFF archive about FACTNet at http://www.eff.org/legal/cases/Scientology_cases/ Also see "About FACTNet" at http://www.factnet.org/ ======================================================================= (2) letters/FACTNews EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH JULF AT PENET.FI To those not familiar with Internet acronyms or techniques, "anon.penet.fi" was a mystery when the name appeared in media around the world. But those who knew penet.fi saw the fight as vital to the future of the Net. Anon.penet.fi was an anonymous remailer. This meant that any e-mail sent via anon.penet.fi was stripped of the originator's name and address and was given a new identity that was known only to anon.penet.fi. This ability to be anonymous on the Net frightened many but the benefit that the remailer offered far outweighed the detractors. For example, people who had fled totalitarian regimes were able to speak out or make contact with others without fear that the secret police could find them. Others who were recovering from abusive situations (from drugs to marriages) were able to seek advice and help without endangering their jobs or reputations. And then Scientology arrived. Claiming that anon.penet.fi had been used to violate their copyrights, Scientology went to court and demanded that founder Johan "Julf" Helsingius turn over the identity of one of his users. Julf refused. Instead, he closed anon.penet.fi and went to court. On Sept. 20, 1996, the Finnish high court stayed the order for Julf to disclose the name while he pursued his appeal. The closure of anon.penet.fi was a blow to many who hope that Julf will prevail and the remailer will return. letters/FACTNews asked Julf about the role of anon.penet.fi and the case. This is his reply of 15 Dec 96: letters/FACTNews: We've all heard the accusations about anonymous remailers and pornography. Can you give examples of how people used anon.penet.fi and how your closing effected them? JULF: One very good example is the way The Samaritans, an UK suicide help-line, used anon.penet.fi to provide an e-mail based service. Or the way human rights groups in Asia provided information about human rights violations. letters/FACTNews: How would you describe the international reaction since anon.penet.fi closed? JULF: I'm still quite surprised at the strong reaction. Of course, a lot of people have been shocked by the events, but mostly the reaction has been strongly supportive to my actions. Apart from a huge amount of discussion both in newsgroups and on mailing lists, I have received thousands of "thank you" notes after the closure - mostly from individual net users, but many from various organisations involved with the net. Of course, there have also been some "it's a good thing the damned thing is finally closed" notes, but there have been less than 20 of those in total. letters/FACTNews: What do you think is the harm done by having to shut down anon.penet.fi? JULF: A lot of people have now lost an important tool that they used to discuss sensitive issues. letters/FACTNews: You got an injunction in September. What is the next step? JULF: A higher court is now contemplating the case. Several influential government-sponsored policy groups are also looking into recommendations for improving the privacy protection. letters/FACTNews: There was an account that authorities in Singapore used the Scientology ruling to try to force another disclosure from penet.fi. Can you explain it? Have there been other instances? JULF: In this case, it seems someone posted messages that portrayed a former Prime Minister in a negative light. This is not a grave enough crime in Finland to warrant a search & siezure or phone tracing warrant, so normally they wouldn't be able to get any identifying information. If the scientology ruling is upheld, the situation will be different. FACTMews: Many people are wondering if anon.penet.fi will ever return. What is your reply? JULF: I really don't have an answer. I've decided to fight this one out before planning any future arrangements. FACTNet: What can people do to support your effort? JULF: One of the most valuable things people can do is to let people know about the need for anonymity/pseudonymity on the net, and the positive things accomplished. It is very important to carry this message to local policymakers all over the world. Of course, the running of the server and the legal battle to sort out the issues has cost a fair amount of money, that had to come out of my own pocket. I am trying t set up a support/defense fund, and information will be posted in the near future at http://www.penet.fi/ Julf [letters/FACTNews note: Letters of support can be sent to Julf at support@penet.fi or via his web site at http://www.penet.fi.] ======================================================================= (3) Parental control software backfires: CYBERSITTER MAY SUE TEENAGER FOR REVEALING SECRETS CYBERsitter from Solid Oak Software seemed like a good idea. It would block or filter "offensive" content, thus providing parental control over what young people might encounter on the Internet. But Bennett Haselton, an 18-year-old student at Vanderbilt University, has taken on the company by revealing the groups that CYBERsitter will block. Haselton posted the list to Peacefire, an anti-censorship group that he founded. The list includes the National Organization for Women and Mother Jones magazine. Haselton said he ran the program through his computer to get the list but CYBERsitter insists he had to have illegally cracked the system to get the list and that Haselton "has engaged in illegal criminal copyright violations to further his juvenile teenaged political agenda, and reduce the effectiveness of our product." Solid Oak Software has insisted that Peacefire be removed by its ISP, Media3, or it will block all Media3 pages and hosts. Haselton, in turn, took the fight to the Net. Even the New York Times took note with a story on 28 Dec 96. It can be found at the Peacefire site. Peacefire is at http://www.peacefire.org ======================================================================= (4) Privacy advocates hail decision: ENCRYPTION EXPORT RESTRICTIONS RULED UNCONSTITUTIONAL BY US JUDGE A federal district judge in San Francisco has ruled that the U.S. government's attempt to prevent Illinois math professor David J. Bernstein from exporting an encryption program he created is an unconstitutional restriction of his right to freedom of expression. Bernstein had wanted to share his program with researchers around the world. The Clinton Administration has insisted that tough restriction on exportation of encryption software is necessary to foil criminals and terrorists. The decision of Judge Marilyn Hall Patel was based on the fact that the law fails to provide for prompt judicial review of export restrictions and thus acts as "unconstitutional prior restraint in violation of the First Amendment." (Washington Post 19 Dec 96 A1) from Edupage, 19 December 1996 The EFF, which had supported Bernstein, has an analysis as well as court papers filed in the case. See http://www.eff.org/legal/cases/Bernstein_v_DoS/HTML/bernstein_961218_pressrel.html ======================================================================= (5) Free speech v. government controls: STUDENTS KEPT FROM LAW CLASS WHILE PROFESSOR ARGUES IN COURT Case Western Law School professor Peter Junger kept his promise and excluded foreign nationals from his Fall class on Computers and the Law. Junger is challenging provisions of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) that require federal permission before communicating information about cryptographic software "whether in the United States or abroad." The penalty for obtaining such permission can be as great as a fine of one million dollars and imprisonment for up to ten years. According to Junger, the provision prohibits him from teaching and publishing his course materials and he filed a suit to lift the requirements, claiming that it puts unconstitutional restraints on his freedom of speech. "Requiring the permission of the government before one can communicate knowledge is unconstitutional," Junger said. "Such a prior restraint is, in fact, the paradigmatic example of a violation of the First Amendment." Junger is being assisted by Cleveland volunteer attorneys Raymond Vasvari and Gino Scarselli who took an interest in the First Amendment implications of the case. Vasvari told letters/FACTNews that the ITAR provision is "an unholy marriage between Star Chamber and Imprimatur." Both sides gave arguments for summary judgment on Nov. 20. Vasvari told letters/FACTNews that Judge Nugent seemed to be particularly concerned with Junger's standing during the arguments. The government has argued that Junger cannot bring the suit because he had failed to request permission. Junger takes the position that it would be as improper for him to request the federal censors for permission to speak and publish as it would be for him openly violate the law. As he puts it: ``My duty is to challenge these unconstitutional regulations, not to give in to them nor to violate them in an act of civil disobedience.'' Vasvari told letters/FACTNews that Judge Nugent has set Jan. 15 as the deadline for the filing of additional facts and conclusions of law. See http://samsara.law.cwru.edu/comp_law/jvc/ ======================================================================= (6) The suit that nearly was: SUPREME COURT DECISION TO REVIEW CDA IGNORES ON-LINE MEDIA ARGUMENTS When the Supreme Court announced that it would be reviewing a lower court decision to revoke key portions of the Communications Decency Act (CDA), it selected a suit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the American Library Association (ALA). Few people noted that it ignored a similar suit won by Joe Shea's on-line American Reporter. Both Shea and the ACLU had won suits before different three-judge federal panels last summer. Both courts ruled the CDA violated First Amendment rights but Shea's case takes up an issue not dealt with in the ACLU/ALA suit: the effect of the law on an Internet publication. "The online press is a vibrant, new way for individuals to distribute news and editorial opinions worldwide -- essentially forming an army of small 'citizen publishers,'" Shea's lawyers argued in a brief submitted to the high court. "This case is about ensuring that these 'citizen publishers' enjoy the same constitutional protections enjoyed by their counterparts in the print media." American Reporter published an indecent commentary by Texas judge Steve Russell last February 8 to test the case, which presents the issue of whether the online press enjoys the same rights as publications in print. But Shea remained optimistic. "I congratulate the ACLU, and hope the outcome will be as positive for a free press as for free speech on the Internet," he said. Shea was represented by the same large Washington law firm, Arent Fox, Kintner, Plotkin & Kahn, that defended comedian George Carlin in the famous "seven dirty words" case, FCC v. Pacifica. Arent Fox attorneys Randall Boe, Jim Stronski and Wayne Metelski handled the case. CDA updates at http://www.cdt.org/ciec/index.html American Reporter is at http://www.newshare.com:9999 ======================================================================= (7) WHAT ELSE IS ON OUR PAGE at http://www.factnet.org/ * Clinton names new crypto-czar * US encryption plan hit by national business group * Web "cookies" and what they say about you * Peeking at your PC and the need for cryptography * Silencing the Net (a Human Rights Watch report) * Phil Zimmerman on privacy * Suggested books and readings * Links to advaocy groups from around the world * Links to Usenet newsgroups where the debates rage ======================================================================= letters/FACTNews is a free publication from FACTNet, Inc. Permission is granted to redistribute this newsletter providing it is distributed intact. Copies are kept at <http://www.factnet.org/>. FACTNet, Inc. is a non-profit, tax-exempt (501[c]3) organization consisting of a digest, library, archive and dialogue center devoted to the defense of free speech, free thought and privacy rights internationally. SUPPORT: If you wish to support FACTNet, contributions are welcome and are tax-deductible. Checks should be made out to FACTNet and when you contact manage@factnet.org we will send you our donation address. We want to hear from you. FACTNet can also be reached at: manage@factnet.org If you would like to subscribe to our free letters/FACTNews newsletter please go to http://lists.factnet.org/mailman/listinfo/factnet-news ------------------------------------------------------------------------ DISCLAIMER: Because the information provided is obtained from other locations, FACTNet, Inc. cannot verify the accuracy of the statements made by others but provide it and links to those soures as part of the vital dialogue concerning free speech, free thought and the right to privacy. Those links were active when provided but URLs may change or the content may change. Users should make use of search engines such as Google.com or Yahoo.com to fully research the issue or to find active links. =======================================================================

This editorial/opinion/news alert has been provided or distributed by FACTNet, Inc. (Fight Against Coercive Tactics Network.) Since 1993 we have been the largest online news and referral service as well as research archive for defending freedom of thought and mind from all forms of unethical influence tactics, mind control and mental coercion/torture used in destructive cults and fundamentalist groups. FACTNet is a tax deductible, IRS Approved 501(c)(3) non profit organization.

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