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Newsletter 4-1-97

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letters/FACTNews #4 - April 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/> ----------------------------------------------------------------------- Vol. I, Issue #4 April 1,1997 -----------------------------------------------------------------------

In this issue:

(1) HEAVEN'S GATE APPLAUDED DEMISE OF CULT AWARENESS NETWORK
(2) SUICIDES PROMPT SOME TO SEE "DARK SIDE OF THE NET"
(3) CULT EXPOSE BOOK IS TARGET OF NET FIGHT
(4) UPDATE - GATEWAY.COM IS NOW FIREHOUSE.COM
(5) CLINTON CRYPTOGRAPHY PLAN GETS COOL RECEPTION BY OECD
(6) U.S FEDERAL PANEL OPPOSES INTERNET CENSORSHIP
(7) SOME POSITIVE INTERNET LEGISLATION: "NO NEW TAXES"
(8) MARYLAND PROPOSES BAN ON ANONYMOUS EMAIL MESSAGES
(9) SUPREME COURT HEARS CDA CASE - ADVOCATES HOPEFUL
(10) CANADIAN INTERNET LIABILITY DOCUMENT ONLINE
(11) AUSTRALIAN MINISTER CANCELS NEW PRIVACY PLAN
(12) WILL A VERSION OF THE CDA GO "DOWN UNDER"?
(13) KOREAN STRIKERS TAKE PROTEST TO THE NET
(14) UK WANTS TO REGULATE CRYPTOGRAPHY
(15) AUSTRIAN NATION GOES OFF LINE IN PROTEST

(1) HEAVEN'S GATE APPLAUDED DEMISE OF CULT AWARENESS NETWORK

"They also established their presence on the Internet," wrote Time magazine (7Apr97), "through both their glossy Heaven's Gate Website and energetic postings to various newsgroups. A disciple, Sister Francis Michael, recently chimed in to alt.religion.scientology, giving 'a round of applause' to the Church of Scientology for its 'courageous action against the Cult Awareness Network.'"

For information about the demise of the Cult Awareness Network, see <http://www.factnet.org/cults/heavens_gate/hginfo.htm>

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(2) SUICIDES PROMPT SOME TO SEE "DARK SIDE OF THE NET"

[30Mar97] Although many Internet enthusiasts argue that the Internet isn't creating cults like Heaven's Gate, the group that committed mass suicide this past week in Southern California, others see a dark side to the Net. University of Oregon psychologist Ray Hayman says: "Much of the stuff you find is nonsense, but because it comes off the computer it has the mark of being credible."

Paul Saffo of the Institute for the Future says: "The Web is a compelling new medium being put to all kinds of uses, by everyone from banks to Cub Scouts to flying saucer cults. That said, it can also be a powerful amplifier." (New York Times 28 Mar 97)

But the Internet has large numbers of defenders, one of whom says: "I hate to watch news people talk about the Net. . . . One 'expert' on CNN mentioned that cults often recruit on the Net because -- and I quote -- 'technical people are often more gullible and more trusting.' ... We get portrayed in a crappy light.. . . This time it's a cult. Usually, it's that we're all child pornographers." (Washington Post 29 Mar 97)

[From EDUPAGE 30 Mar 97, with permission. Edupage archive at <http://www.educom.edu/web/pubs/edupage.html>.]

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(3) CULT EXPOSE BOOK IS TARGET OF NET FIGHT

A book critical of cult life is the subject of a fight at www.trancenet.org, a site devoted to discussions about cult abuses. The site had posted a portion of "Life 102: what to do when your guru sues you" by Peter McWilliams with, according to Trancenet, the author's permission. But then Trancenet was told the rights were reassigned and they were to take the page down. McWilliams said he had transferred the rights as part of a settlement, but that is not the end of the fight.

See <http://www.trancenet.org> McWilliams' site is at <http://www.mcwilliams.com> The debate spilled over into various Usenet groups including alt.meditation.transcendental, alt.meditation, alt.religion.eckankar, alt.support.ex-cult, talk.religion.newage, alt.conspiracy alt.journalism, alt.religion.scientology

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(4) UPDATE -- GATEWAY.COM IS NOW FIREHOUSE.COM

Gateway.com's owner Alan Clegg issued a cryptic press release about the "settlement" with Gateway 2000. (See letters/FACTNews 2/Feb and 3/Mar for earlier stories about the conflict.) Writing from a new address (firehouse.com) Clegg said:

"As reported in our local newspaper (thanks, David), a settlement has been reached between Gateway 2000 and gateway.com, inc.

"In addition to other considerations, Gateway 2000 will be donating 15 computers to local non-profit and charitable organizations (of my choosing).

"In exchange, they will get the domain name within 30 days.

"I cannot comment further."

Clegg did add, "If anyone knows of consulting opportunities, let me know. I lost a couple of clients during the last couple of months...."

"Thank you all for your support. -abc@firehouse.net"

Clegg's site is now <http://www.firehouse.com>, although the other URL is still working -- for awhile.

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(5) CLINTON CRYPTOGRAPHY PLAN GETS COOL RECEPTION BY OECD

Policy guidelines released by the 29-nation Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development have failed to endorse the U.S. "key escrow" cryptography proposal that would allow law enforcement agents with search warrants to obtain from escrow agents the mathematical key to unlock encrypted communication. There is no consensus among nations about whether governments should be able to eavesdrop on the electronic communications of their citizens, and so the OECD is giving its member nations latitude to adopt any encryption strategy they wish. (New York Times 27 Mar 97) (From Edupage 27Mar97, with permission.)

General information about the OECD may be found at the OECD web site [<http://www.oecd.org>]. Specific information about the work of the OECD in the areas of security, privacy, intellectual property, and cryptography is available at <http://www.oecd.org/dsti/iccp/legal/top-page.html> The OECD Privacy Principles are online at <http://www.oecd.org/dsti/iccp/legal/priv-en.html> The OECD news release from Paris of 27 Mar 97 is at: <http://www.oecd.org/news_and_events/release/nw97-24a.htm>

EPIC is also following the matter. See <http://www.epic.org>

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(6) U.S. FEDERAL PANEL OPPOSES INTERNET CENSORSHIP

According to Ira Magaziner, President Clinton's primary adviser on Internet issues, a federal panel that Magaziner headed will recommend that the government oppose Internet censorship. Magaziner indicated he would advise Clinton to veto legislation similar to the Communications Decency Act (CDA) if the U.S. Supreme Court rules the CDA unconstitutional. Magaziner's remarks come as somewhat of a surprise, considering the government will be arguing next week for the constitutionality of the CDA in Reno v. ACLU (95-511) before the Court.

(From Re: First Amendment Legal Watch 3/17/97. Source: USA TODAY, 3/13/97, 3A)

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(7) SOME POSITIVE INTERNET LEGISLATION: "NO NEW TAXES"

Legislation called The Internet Tax Freedom Act, introduced in the U.S. Senate this week by Senator Ron Wyden (D, Oregon), would establish a two-year moratorium prohibiting state and local governments from imposing new taxes on Internet transactions. During that time, existing taxes could continue in place. Rep. Chris Cox (R, California) introduced a similar bill in the House of Representatives. (AP 14 Mar 97)

[From EDUPAGE 14 Mar 97, with permission. Edupage archive at <http://www.educom.edu/web/pubs/edupage.html>.]

Also see letters/FACTNews 3/March, item #10, "Will The Internet Be Taxed?"

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(8) MARYLAND PROPOSES BAN ON ANONYMOUS E-MAIL MESSAGES

Maryland resident Jayne Hitchcock received more than 200 e-mails after she posted an Internet message warning other writers about a New York agency that asked for $225 to review her book. Her name, telephone number and address appeared on racist and sex newsgroups, inviting suitors to call her or come to her home day or night.

Maryland lawmakers have proposed a ban on anonymous messages that "annoy, abuse, torment, harass or embarrass" the recipients. Michigan, Alaska, Oklahoma and Wyoming have already made e-mail or Internet communications subject to criminal laws prohibiting harassment or stalking.

See: The Associated Press >From SPJ Press Notes 1Apr97, with permission. (SPJ Notes are at <http://spj.org/notes.htm>)

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(9) SUPREME COURT HEARS CDA CASE -- ADVOCATES HOPEFUL

On March 19, the Supreme Court heard arguments in the legal challenge to the Communications Decency Act (CDA), which criminalizes constitutionally protected speech on the Internet. A decision is expected in late June or early July. Bruce J. Ennis, who argued the case, said that he felt that the case got a thorough and thoughtful hearing from the Court. "The Court seems to understand that the Internet is a unique medium and cannot be subject to the restrictions on speech which apply in mass media such as radio and television," Ennis said after the argument was completed.

See CIEC updates at <http://www.ciec.org> Transcripts of the hearing are at <http://www.aclu.org/issues/cyber/trial/sctran.html>

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(10) CANADIAN INTERNET LIABILITY DOCUMENT ONLINE

A study on Content-Related Internet Liability in Canada is now available. The study (a 300+ page/1004Kb document -- including a 23 page/79Kb summary) was commissioned in the summer of 1996. It provides an analysis of how Canadian law applies to content-related Internet liability in the areas of copyright and trade-marks, privacy and defamation, obscenity, child pornography and hate literature.

It can be accessed at: <http://strategis.ic.gc.ca/nme> (English) <http://strategis.ic.gc.ca/nmd> (French)

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(11) AUSTRALIAN MINISTER CANCELS NEW PRIVACY PLAN

During the mid-1990s, Australian industry and privacy advocates have been in agreement that the country's privacy legislation needed to be extended beyond government agencies, to cover the private sector. The matter received considerable debate and was even in the platforms of both major political parties. But on March 21, the Prime Minister issued a four-paragraph press release announcing that "the Commonwealth will not be implementing privacy legislation for the private sector", and citing compliance costs as the justification for the decision. Some speculate the announcement was made without consultation with the Cabinet, the Attorney-General or the Privacy Commissioner and stemmed from lobbying efforts by the banking industry.

For a brief review, see: <http://www.anu.edu.au/people/Roger.Clarke/DV/FedLeg.html>

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(12) WILL A VERSION OF THE CDA GO "DOWN UNDER"?

There is no federal regulation of the Internet in Australia but an illegitimate son-of-CDA is being spawned down under. It is being recommended: "That it should be an offence to use a computer service to transmit, obtain possession of, demonstrate, advertise or request the transmission of material equivalent to the RC, R and X categories." (RC=refused classification (e.g child pornography), X=non-violent erotica, R=Adult 18+).

For a view of what the government is doing, visit <http://senate.aph.gov.au/committee/csrssuet_rep/schedule.html>.

For more information on local issues, visit: <http://www.efa.org.au/Issues/Censor/>.

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(13) KOREAN STRIKERS TAKE PROTEST TO THE NET

If you can't take to the streets, take it to the Net. Korean union strikers have done that, using the Net to organize and protest and link to others.

See <http://kpd.sing-kr.org/strike/index-e.html>

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(14) UK WANTS TO REGULATE CRYPTOGRAPHY

The British government wants to prohibit citizens from having free access to cryptographic tools. The government's latest position can be found at <http://www.dti.gov.uk/pubs>, especially starting at paragraph 72, which says, "72. The legislation will prohibit an organisation from offering or providing encryption services to the UK public without a license. Prohibition will be irrespective of whether a charge is made for such services. The offering of encryption services to the UK public (for example via the Internet) by an unlicensed TTP outside of the UK will also be prohibited. For this purpose, it may be necessary to place restrictions on the advertising and marketing of such services to the public."

The UK Government's paper on crypto regulation is at <http://www.dti.gov.uk/pubs>

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(15) AUSTRIAN NATION GOES OFF LINE IN PROTEST

On March 25, Austria went off line for two hours to protest government actions and a raid on an ISP (vip.at). Media response to the protest was enormous. Tens of thousands of electronic protests were sent. As a result, the Austrian Ministry of Justice has formed a complaint desk and the Net community is responding.

For information, visit <http://www.internet.at> The ISP home page (German) is <http://www.vip.at> Also see <http://www.quintessenz.at/e_summary.html>

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