Computer underground Digest Wed Jan 16, 1996 Volume 8 : Issue 05 ISSN 1004-042X Editors: J
Computer underground Digest Wed Jan 16, 1996 Volume 8 : Issue 05
Editors: Jim Thomas and Gordon Meyer (TK0JUT2@MVS.CSO.NIU.EDU
Archivist: Brendan Kehoe
Shadow Master: Stanton McCandlish
Field Agent Extraordinaire: David Smith
Shadow-Archivists: Dan Carosone / Paul Southworth
Ralph Sims / Jyrki Kuoppala
Cu Digest Homepage: http://www.soci.niu.edu/~cudigest
CONTENTS, #8.05 (Wed, Jan 16, 1996)
File 1--Cryptography and Privacy
File 2--Justice Dept. press release: no PGP prosecution (fwd)
File 3--FLASH: Phil Zimmermann case dropped!
File 4-- CompuServe poetry
File 5--Compuserve: "Shooting the Cyber-Messenger"
File 6--Letter to Wiesenthal Cente in re "hate speech" ban
File 7--News Release >> Child Safe Ratings on the Internet (fwd)
File 8--AP/NYT: Jewish Groups Call for Internet Censorship
File 9--Cu Digest Header Info (unchanged since 16 Dec, 1995)
CuD ADMINISTRATIVE, EDITORIAL, AND SUBSCRIPTION INFORMATION APPEARS IN
THE CONCLUDING FILE AT THE END OF EACH ISSUE.
Date: Wed, 27 Dec 1995 15:00:46 -0600
From: Zachariah P. Babayco
Subject: File 1--Cryptography and Privacy
((MODERATORS' NOTE: Mr. Babayco's was accidentally deleted from
the forward. We apologize for the error. Although
Phil Zimmerman no longer faces charges (see below), the following
article provides a helpful background for those who've forgotten
the central issues in cryptology controversy)).
This work is Copyright (C) Zachariah P. Babayco 1995.
Cryptography and Privacy
During the past few years, the debate concerning electronic privacy
has intensified greatly. As more and more information is being
transmitted over electronic channels such as the Internet, the
chances of interception become greater and greater. The main defense
against this is the use of computer encryption products, which
scramble the contents of a document so that only certain people can
read it. A popular encryption program is Pretty Good Privacy, or
P.G.P. Phillip Zimmermann, the creator of P.G.P., is currently under
investigation by the government for exporting the program.
Zimmermann gave his program away because he believes that people have
the right to encryption, but government officials take the position
that encryption is all right, but only if the they can read the
private information if they need to. As computers are used more and
more, electronic privacy will become extremely important.
Cryptography is the science of creating codes that enable you and
another person to communicate privately. It uses special
mathematical formulas, called keys, that enable two or more people to
communicate privately. The science of cryptography dates back to the
time of Julius Caesar, who used a simple substitution method (letting
the letter A equal C, B equal to D, and so on) to send messages to
his generals in the field (Schwartau, 149). A more recent example of
the use of cryptography is in World War Two, where both the Allied
and the Axis forces employed codes to keep their secrets safe from
the other side.
There are numerous types of encryption methods, ranging from the
simple substitution mentioned above, to complex mathematical formulas
which would take supercomputers years to decode, but only two that
concern this debate.
The first widely used encryption system was the Data Encryption
Standard, or DES. DES was created in the late 1970's, due to a
growing concern over the security of electronic fund transfers and
the confidentiality of government files (Encyclopedia Britannica).
However, it is now showing its age and vulnerability. DES is a
single key encryption system, where a single code key is used to
encrypt a message. This means that whoever has a copy of the key can
decrypt the message, so the legitimate users must take care not to
let the key fall into the wrong hands. The only safe way to exchange
a key between two people is to use a secure channel, such as a secure
phone line, but as Phillip Zimmermann states, "If you have a secure
channel for exchanging keys, then why do you need cryptography in the
first place" (P.G.P. User's Guide)? DES is also vulnerable to
advances in technology, as Winn Schwartau states in his book
Information Warfare: Chaos on the Electronic Superhighway:
(the following is an indented quote)
In fact, the battle may be over now, because DES is breakable. At the
March 1993 Data Security Conference, Dr. Martin Hellman presented a
theoretical approach to cracking DES . . . .On August 20, 1993,
Michael Wiener of Bell-Northern Research in Canada published a paper
"showing how to build an exhaustive DES key search machine for $1
million that can find a key in 3.5 hours on average." (152)
(the quote ends here)
The second type, public key cryptography systems such as P.G.P., work
differently than DES. With P.G.P., a person has two keys: a public
key and a private key. The private key is kept on the person's home
computer, while the public key can be given to whomever the person
pleases. To send a private message to a friend with P.G.P., for
example, the sender would encrypt the message with his friend's
public key. The message is now unreadable except to his friend
because only she has the corresponding private key (P.G.P. User's
P.G.P. is a relatively new computer program, designed to provide
privacy for its users. It works on the same principle that public
key systems use, but has many more features. For example, a user can
select the amount of security that P.G.P. provides - a small key is
faster, but less secure; a large key provides the best security, but
is slower. A user can also sign a message with his own secret key,
making it impossible for someone to change the message.
P.G.P. has had a short but eventful history. On April 16, 1993,
Phillip Zimmermann, the creator of P.G.P., was preparing to release
the initial version of P.G.P. when the government announced its own
cryptographic product, the Clipper Chip. The Clipper Chip is also
based on the public key system, but unlike P.G.P., it requires a copy
of each secret key to be held in escrow, for use by law enforcement
agents if they could demonstrate a need for it. Zimmermann completed
P.G.P. and released it, hoping that it would be seen as a better
alternative to Clipper. Within a short time however, somebody
uploaded a copy of the program to the Internet, where it spread
across the country, and around the world. Not too long after that,
Zimmermann was visited by federal agents who informed him that he was
now under investigation for "illegal export of munitions." (Holmes
56a). As of November 1995, Zimmermann is waiting for a decision.
If he is indicted, he would have to serve a mandatory four to five
year prison sen tence, and be fined $1 million.
To the federal investigators, P.G.P. is seen as a violation of United
States export law. The law, which was passed during the Cold War in
the early 1950's, classified strong encryption products as munitions,
like a bomb or an air-to-air missile, and placed heavy restrictions
on their export. The law is still in place 40 years later, even
though the Soviet Union is no longer a threat to our national
security. When somebody made P.G.P. available on the Internet, the
program was seen as a violation of this law (Holmes 56a).
Federal officials are also concerned about P.G.P. because of its
strength. While designing the program, Zimmermann decided to use an
encryption algorithm called IDEA. Cryptographers have repeatedly
tested the IDEA algorithm for years, and have found it, for the
present, unbreakable (P.G.P. User's Guide). Law enforcement
officials are concerned that if powerful cryptography is made widely
available, criminals will take advantage of it. FBI assistant
director James Kallstrom states that "We're in the business of
criminal information . . . if we're closed off from that
information, it will alter the balance between us and the criminals."
When the Clinton administration announced the Clipper Chip, one of
their main points was that since encryption could be used by
criminals, people and businesses should use Clipper because law
enforcement agents would be able to listen in on the conversations if
they suspected a crime was being committed. However, due to
manufacturing problems with the chips themselves, lack of interest in
the marketplace, and protest from over 40,000 Internet users (Levy
56), the proposal was withdrawn.
The Clipper Chip is not the only governmental proposition concerning
privacy. In 1991, several years before the Clipper proposal, the
Senate Judiciary Committee considered attaching the following onto
Bill 266, an anti-crime bill:
(the following is an indented quote)
It is in the sense of Congress that providers of electronic
communications services and manufacturers of electronic
communications service equipment shall ensure that communications
systems permit the government to obtain the plain-text contents of
voice, data, and other communications when appropriately authorized
by law. (Schwartau 153-154).
(the quote ends here)
The Committee had apparently anticipated the arrival of the Clipper
Chip, and attempted to make sure that future products would be able
to use it immediately. Before the modified bill could me made into
law though, the addition was removed because of protest by several
civil liberty groups.
Government officials also cite recent arrests that, in their eyes,
justify the need for restrictions on strong cryptography. In
September 1995, several people were arrested on America OnLine, an
Internet provider. The people had been under investigation for
several years and were suspected to be exchanging pornographic files
through the service. When they were arrested and had their
belongings searched, FBI agents found encrypted files on their
computers. In a speech before the International Cryptography
Institute on September 21, 1995, FBI Director Louis Freeh stated that
". . . We've seen this problem . . . the obstacle of encrypted
records standing in the way of our lawful grand jury access
procedures . . . ". Freeh also states that he is not suggesting that
the government regulate cryptography, but simply be able to serve
search warrants and court orders as they always have: "If we are
foreclosed from these areas . . . the safety of this country will be
impaired" (Freeh 9/21/95)
At the other end of the spectrum are the pro-privacy and civil liberty
groups. Some of these groups argue against governmental restrictions
on cryptography by citing the First Amendment, the right to free
speech, or the Fourth Amendment, the right to privacy. One
organization, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, takes a legal
approach to the issue. The EFF's goal is ". . . to ensure that the
principles embodied in the Constitution and Bill of Rights are
protected as new communications technologies emerge." (EFF World Wide
Web Homepage) The EFF investigates civil rights cases involving
computers, and argues against the cryptography issues and
restrictions. The EFF was one of the main protestors that caused the
Clipper Chip proposal to fail. Recently, the EFF has set up a
defense fund for Phillip Zimmermann, and will soon be taking the
federal government to court to argue against the export laws.
For the present, the debate over encryption and privacy is going
favorably for the activist's side. The Clipper proposal has been
withdrawn, and the government is not planning to introduce another
product anytime soon. However, Phillip Zimmermann could still go to
jail, and the FBI is pushing for the ability to tap one out of every
100 telephone lines in every major American city. This debate is not
Andrews, Edmund L. "U.S. Plans to Push Giving F.B.I. Access in
Computer Codes." New York Times (Late New York Edition) 5 February
Arthur, Charles. "Identity Crisis on the Internet." New Scientist 11
March 1995: 14-15.
"Cryptology." Encyclopedia Britannica. 1987 ed.
"EFF to Defend Crypto Rights Legally." Electronic Frontier Foundation
Home Page. October 1995: http://www.eff.org/
Freeh, Louis. "Speech Before The International Cryptography
Institute." Federal Bureau of Investigation World Wide Web Site. 21
September 1995: http://www.fbi.gov/crypto.htm
Grossman, Wendy. "Internet Encryption Ban Violates Free Speech." New
Scientist 15 April 1995: 22.
Holmes, Stanley. "A Question of Privacy." Rocky Mountain News 10
June 1995: 56a.
Levy, Steven. "The Encryption Wars: Is Privacy Good or Bad?".
Newsweek 24 April 1995: 55-6.
Lewis, Peter H. "Software Author Focus of U.S. Inquiry." The New
York Times (Late New York Edition) 10 April 1995: D6.
---, "Between a Hacker And a Hard Place." The New York Times (Late
New York Edition) 10 April 1995: D1.
"Privacy, Business, and the Internet." The New York Times (Late New
York Edition 23 April 1995: 16.
Quittner, Joshua. "Unmasked on the Net." Time 6 March 1995: 72-73.
Schwartau, Winn. Information Warfare: Chaos on the Information
Superhighway. New York: Thunder's Mouth Press, 1994.
Sussman, Vic S. "Lost in Kafka Territory." U.S. News & World Report
3 April 1995: 32-3.
Wayner, Peter. "Picking the Crypto Locks." Byte Oct. 1995: 77-80.
Zimmermann, Phillip. PGP User's Guide. MIT: MIT Press, 1994.
Date: Thu, 11 Jan 1996 22:56:57 -0600 (CST)
From: David Smith
Subject: File 2--Justice Dept. press release: no PGP prosecution (fwd)
San Jose Office (408) 535-5061
280 South First Street, Suite 371
San Jose, California 95113 FAX: (408) 535-5066
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 11, 1995
Michael J. Yamaguchi, United States Attorney for the
Norther District of California, announced today that his office
has declined prosectution of any individuals in connection with
the posting to USENET in June 1991 of the encryption program
known as "Pretty Good Privacy." The investigation has been
closed. No further comment will be made by the U.S. Attorney's
office on the reasons for declination.
Assistant U.S. Attorney William P. Keane of the U.S.
Attorney's Office in San Jose at (408) 535-5053 oversaw the
government's investigation of the case.
Date: Thu, 11 Jan 1996 14:36:09 -0800 (PST)
From: Declan McCullagh
Subject: File 3--FLASH: Phil Zimmermann case dropped!
This is FABULOUS news! Please distribute widely!
// email@example.com // My opinions are not in any way those of the EFF //
Subject--Zimmermann case is dropped.
Date--Mon, 8 Jan 1996 03:35:46 -0700 (MST)
-----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----
My lead defense lawyer, Phil Dubois, received a fax this morning from
the Assistant US Attorney in Northern District of California, William
Keane. The letter informed us that I "will not be prosecuted in connection
with the posting to USENET in June 1991 of the encryption program
Pretty Good Privacy. The investigation is closed."
This brings to a close a criminal investigation that has spanned the
last three years. I'd like to thank all the people who helped us in
this case, especially all the donors to my legal defense fund. Apparently,
the money was well-spent. And I'd like to thank my very capable defense
team: Phil Dubois, Ken Bass, Eben Moglen, Curt Karnow, Tom Nolan, and Bob
Corn-Revere. Most of the time they spent on the case was pro-bono. I'd
also like to thank Joe Burton, counsel for the co-defendant.
There are many others I can thank, but I don't have the presence of mind
to list them all here at this moment. The medium of email cannot express
how I feel about this turn of events.
11 Jan 96
-----BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE-----
-----END PGP SIGNATURE-----
From: "David Gersic"
Date: Thu, 11 Jan 1996 23:27:22 CDT
Subject: File 4-- CompuServe poetry
THE THOUGHT POLICE ARE COMING
THEY'RE COMING TO TAKE ME AWAY
IT SEEMS THAT CONGRESS DOESN'T LIKE
WHAT I HAD TO SAY
THEY READ MY MAIL AND SCANNED MY FILES
AND WATCHED WHERE I HAD BEEN
THEY CRAWLED THE WEB AND PEERED WITHIN
THEY SAID MY SPEECH WAS SIN
IT ALL BEGAN WITH A SIMPLE REQUEST
"DO YOU LIKE SEX AS MUCH AS I?'
BIG BROTHER SMILED HIS KNOWING SMILE
AND HE BEGAN TO SPY
THEY KNEW MY EVERY THOUGHT
THEY KNEW MY EVERY DESIRE
IT SEEMS MY CRIME FROM THEIR POINT OF VIEW
WAS SENDING IT OVER THE WIRE
YOU CANNOT FIGHT A MONSTER
THAT IS MORE POWERFUL THAN YOU
SO EVEN IF YOU WANT TO
DON'T ASK SOMEONE TO SCREW
THE THOUGHT POLICE ARE COMING
THEY'RE COMING TO TAKE ME AWAY
THE THOUGHT POLICE ARE COMING
THEY DIDN'T LIKE WHAT I HAD TO SAY
David Gersic firstname.lastname@example.org
Do not believe in miracles; rely on them.
Date: Sun, 14 Jan 1996 15:20:50 -0500 (EST)
From: "Declan B. McCullagh"
Subject: File 5--Compuserve: "Shooting the Cyber-Messenger"
This article has some interesting information on how Compuserve went far
beyond what was legally necessary. A German official says:
He said the prosecutor, Manfred Wick, acting on his own volition is
investigating pornography on the Net and during his investigation
discussed the situation with CIS's management, whose offices are in
Munich, but issued no threats, orders or warnings.
SHOOTING THE CYBER-MESSENGER
Has the Internet really become so much a reality that it is where
World War III will be fought? And has the world become so small that
the main combatants will be the cybernauts of the US and the
government of Germany? Well, if Rambo-types in the US have their way,
that is exactly what may be happening and it all began as a Christmas
Eve surprise. The first many of us heard of it was that night in the
following message in alt.censorship from Phil Reed:
"Effective this weekend (apparently Friday night), CompuServe (CIS)
has apparently begun blocking access ... to 'indecent' newsgroups,
including the alt.sex.* hierarchy, alt.binaries.pictures.erotica.*,
and other groups such as alt.politics.homosexuality. The timing is
obvious; by doing it late on Friday before a long holiday weekend,
they hope to slow the uprise of outrage."
As we were to learn within the next few day, CIS banned some 200
newsgroups. Outrage against the company was immediate. A campaign to
cancel accounts with the American company was begun. Theory had it,
that CIS had caved in to the proposed Net censorship called for in the
"Communications Decency Act" the US Congress looks ready to enact
soon. However, a day or two later a press release from CIS appeared.
It claimed, "The access to certain newsgroups was blocked by order of
the German Government. They issued an ultimatum to block the
newsgroups on THEIR list or get out of Germany."
Within hours anti-German hatred was sprouting from all over the US as
the Rambos came out from under their rocks. And within days (during
which we learnt that the German authority referred to in CIS's
statement was the Munich prosecutor), at least one such bigot was
shouting, "This affair with the German (or Bavarian, as has been
noted) government and CompuServe's immediate bowing to pressure cannot
be tolerated. Protests should be lodged to *every* German-oriented
newsgroup and web page you can find. If this goes unchallenged, we
have lost the first battle in the coming war. Time now to pick up your
guns and start fighting."
While another shouted, "We will be leading an organised attack to take
the city of Munich electronically next week -- mail-bombing by
Americans is perfectly legal, and will be coordinated by the Viet-Nam
veterans. If you have any good mail-bombs or viruses, drop me a note,
and I will give you the anon address for the retired general who is
doing this. It is all perfectly legal, and we are getting help from
the Canadian and Australians. The AMERICAN REVOLUTION is NOW HERE!
American ISPs against the Munich City Government! This is WAR! To
protect the FatherLand and FREEDOM OF SPEECH!"
Thomas Wulfing, a spokesman at the German Embassy, London, told
d.Comm, "There have been no comments on the situation from the German
national or the Bavarian governments. My latest information is that it
was the Munich prosecutor who authorised this action. It's good that
we clarify this thing. As far as I know the prosecutor has taken up
that issue. He wants a way of banning the free access to pornography
on the Internet and within that plan has informed CIS. And CIS as far
as I know has agreed because it has no interest whatsoever in
He said the prosecutor, Manfred Wick, acting on his own volition is
investigating pornography on the Net and during his investigation
discussed the situation with CIS's management, whose offices are in
Munich, but issued no threats, orders or warnings. Asked why Wick
would be investigating porn on the Net considering Germany's more
relaxed attitude towards sexually explicit material, Wulfing noted,
"The limit in Germany is the age and of course the promotion of
violence of child pornography. These types of things are strictly
prohibited. The Age of Consent for sexual activities is 16, but to
distribute that in print or film or whatever, it is 18."
Asked about the threat of e-mail bombs and virus attacks from net nuts
in the States, Wulfing told us, "I wasn't aware of these threats from
the US. So I don't think the Munich or German authorities have taken
action so far. Of course, if that story is going to be verified the
German government takes it very seriously. Indeed it sounds very
So what's the real story? Just how did CIS, one of the world's largest
Internet service providers come to ban 200 newsgroups? Detlef
Borchers, a reporter in Germany, says according to a 22 November 1995
press release from the Munich Police Department, "the police were at
the CompuServe office and they found material for further
investigations. This is more than just Usegroups. It could be
considerably more; some sources are claiming that a CompuServe
employee was posting child porn."
According to Borchers, CIS issued a statement the next day, 23
November. He says, "The relevant passage is the first: 'CompuServe and
the police discussed and found a solution'. No legal action threat is
mentioned in this statement. The solution was 'cleaning' the
Newsgroups. Unfortunately, this worked only on one of the seven
newsgroups servers CompuServe has -- the one which is serving the
Borchers adds that in the interim, "the German CompuServe management
resigned. The new manager is supposed to be Mitch Wolfsson, now
European Manager of MSN, who is not too eager to comment."
So who's to be believed? The Munich and German authorities who claim
to have only informed CIS that it was investigating kiddieporn on the
Net, or CIS? It's difficult to know yet, but one does have to wonder.
If CIS was told Mr Wick was investigating child pornography, why did
it ban such newsgroups as alt.binaries.erotic.senior-citizens,
and alt.recovery.sexual-addiction (both therapy groups),
alt.sex.fetish.wrestling, alt.sex.reptiles, alt.sexy.bald.captains
(about Star Trek's Capt Pecard), among many others which appear
unlikely to deal in kiddieporn?
The implications of CompuServe's capitulation go far beyond the
boundaries of Germany's jurisdiction. The Internet is an ever changing
medium with new sites and newsgroups appearing all the time. A service
provider cannot guarantee that it has successfully denied access to
all illegal sites. It may have identified all of these sites an hour
ago, and successfully banned access to them, but since then, several
may have moved locations while ten new sites may have been placed on
The problem is worse still: what exactly must the service providers
restrict access to? What about pornographic sites that should not be
accessed by minors -- already highlighted by the German authorities as
an important issue.? There is no way of knowing whether the user of
the service is fifty or five years of age. The nett result: ban all
access to pornographic material.
If this approach were to be taken by the service providers, what would
be the reaction of magazines such as Playboy and Penthouse, both of
which have Web sites? The publishing houses would probably attempt to
get a court order forcing service providers to allow access to their
sites (except in a few notable countries where the magazines are still
For the service provider, the whole process of providing access is
becoming far too complex. The service provider is simply the
messenger, not the provider of content, and as such there is no reason
why the messenger should be shot.
Date: Fri, 12 Jan 96 22:15:33 PST
Subject: File 6--Letter to Wiesenthal Cente in re "hate speech" ban
This is the text of a letter I sent to the Wiesenthal center in response
to their letter to Internet service providers, asking them to
ban hate speech.
I believe that the Center's letter to 2,000 Internet service providers
as reported in yesterday's New York Times, represents an unfortunate
choice by the Center to engage in activities harmful to free speech
in this country.
I am a Jewish businessman and attorney, resident in New York City. Since
January 1995, I have used my leisure time to create and operate a Web
site called The Ethical Spectacle (http://www.spectacle.org)
which covers the intersection
(or collision) of ethics, law and politics in our society.
In June 1995, I published "An Auschwitz Alphabet"
(http://www.spectacle.org/695/ausch.html) as a special issue
of the Spectacle. It is a collection of resources and essays
pertaining to Auschwitz, including quotations from Primo Levi,
Elie Wiesel, Hannah Arendt and Tadeusz Borowski, photographs,
a portion of the Passover service, and my own essay, "What I
Learned From Auschwitz." In the months since then, I have
received mail from several hundred people in the US, Sweden,
England, Belgium, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, thanking
me for the "Alphabet", reminiscing about family members who
were victims of the Holocaust, and generally proving the
potency of the Internet as a force for education and freedom.
I am not in agreement with your request to ISP's to censor
hate speech on their systems. Any censorship of speech
ultimately boomerangs to injure good speech, and one
of the tenets of what I call the "free speech rulebook" is that
no-one--not the government, not Netcom, not the Wiesenthal
Center--is godlike enough to decide for other people what speech
may be heard. A few years ago, the Canadian Supreme Court
accepted Professor Catharine MacKinnon's arguments that
pornography not merely encourages, but IS, the oppression of
women. I believe MacKinnon is correct in principle (as I
very much believe the Wiesenthal Center is correct in principle)
but look at the application: Canadian Customs now enforces the
law selectively to ban gay speech and the angry feminist writings
of MacKinnon colleague Andrea Dworkin, while the pornography
business continues on as before.
I understand that the First Amendment only protects speech against
government action. Rabbi Hier's speeches, and his testimony to the
Senate on the bomb recipe bill, contain at least pro forma
recognition that the First Amendment protects hate speech. But
by calling on ISP's to band together to ban hate, you are asking
them to constitute themselves a private government. The First
Amendment no longer means anything when private action ensures
that disfavored views cannot gain access to the means of
I make a distinction for access providers such as Compuserve,
Prodigy, and America Online. They are the electronic equivalent
of bookstores, as the Cubby v. Compuserve case established,
and have a right to decide what "books" to carry. But
ISP's such as Netcom and Interramp provide nothing more
than a wire to the Internet. The inevitable direction the
law must take, if we value free speech in this country, is
to treat these ISP's as common carriers. Contrary to your request
that they "edit" the speech they carry, it is imperative that
they have no right whatever to do so.
The development of telegraphy in this country provides a significant
precedent. Western Union abused its monopoly by refusing to carry
cables from reporters to their newspapers, seeing them as
competition for its own wire service business. The Congress
responded by declaring Western Union a common carrier,
forbidding it from determining which speech can be carried
over the wire.
If ISP's respond to your letter and get in the habit of shutting
off hate speech, history and human nature dictates that
this authority will later be used to ban speech about
feminism, abortion, radical politics or whatever else is the
"bete noir" of the moment. An ISP which has the right to
refuse to carry the Institute for Historical Review can exercise
that right just as easily to refuse the Wiesenthal Center access
to the Internet.
To paraphrase Count Talleyrand, your request to ISP's was not
only morally wrong, but also a mistake. Hate speech on the
Internet, though vile and distressing, is fragmented and in
plain sight, where it can be monitored and answered. Numerous
Internet sites, like yours, the Nizkor Project and the Ethical
Spectacle, exist to answer hate speech. If ISP's
comply with your request, one of two things will happen. Either
hate speech will go completely underground, becoming more mysterious,
attractive and powerful to its audience because forbidden. Or, what
is even more likely, hate groups will simply band together to create
their own ISP, providing all their foul ideas from one easily
accessible menu. You will then be in the position of having to
fall back to a call for government censorship.
Free speech is the cornerstone of liberty. The only security
lies in John Milton's stand, taken in The Aeropagitica,
his essay to Parliament about
the licensing of printing presses and books: "Prove all things,
hold fast that which is good."
The Ethical Spectacle
Date: Thu, 11 Jan 1996 22:41:08 -0600 (CST)
From: Avi Bass
Subject: File 7--News Release >> Child Safe Ratings on the Internet (fwd)
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date--Thu, 11 Jan 1996 20:41:41 -0400
Subject--News Release >> Child Safe Ratings on the Internet
THE MCKINLEY GROUP SAYS GREEN LIGHT MEANS GO
New Green Light Icon to Appear on all Web Sites Not Containing
Material Apparently Intended for Mature Audiences
SAUSALITO, CA (January 9, 1996) - In response to the increasing
concern over the accessibility of Internet sites containing offensive
or inappropriate content for the broader audience, The McKinley Group
announced today that it has positioned a Green Light icon to appear
next to descriptions of all the reviewed Web sites in its Magellan
Internet Directory that were free of
adult-only material at the time of review. Magellan is the first
Internet Directory to offer this "safe sites" screening feature.
"The Green Light category is a valuable extension of the unique rating
and evaluation system that has been developed by the McKinley Group,"
said Sandra Treacy, director of San Francisco School Volunteers.
"Given the unregulated nature of Internet content, this feature will
prove to be a widely used indicator for parents, teachers, children
and the average user."
In addition to the Green Light designation, Magellan gives users a
thorough review of individual Internet sites and rates them using a
unique system. Rated sites are awarded one to four stars for overall
quality, based on depth, organization, and 'net appeal' (is it
innovative, funny, hip, cool or thought-provoking).
Please bookmark The Magellan for future reference. You can also find
a more in-depth account of our Green Light Sites at
Have a good one!
Date: Wed, 10 Jan 1996 07:33:47 -0800 (PST)
From: Declan McCullagh
Subject: File 8--AP/NYT: Jewish Groups Call for Internet Censorship
Now that the cravens at Compuserve have acquiesced to one censorship
attempt, more will be forthcoming. Not a slippery slope as much as a
I'm amused that Mr. Giles from Compuserve has had a sudden change of heart.
Jan 9 -- BOSTON (AP) -- White supremacist groups that once spread their
racist messages at rallies and in leaflets are now going high-tech
on the Internet -- a trend a leading Jewish human rights group wants
The Simon Weisenthal Center on Tuesday began sending hundreds of
letters to Internet access providers asking them to refuse to carry
messages that ``promote racism, anti-Semitism, mayhem and
The Internet allows users to ``show the whole world what's wrong
about what the hate speakers are saying,'' said Mike Godwin, staff
counsel for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties
group dealing with computer communications.
``The correct place to try and put pressure is on the people who
create the content, not the person who provides access to it,''
said CompuServe spokesman William Giles.
The roughly 250 hate groups in the United States, whose previous
methods reached a limited audience, now ``have a magnificent
marketing technology dumped in their laps,'' said Rabbi Abraham
Cooper, associate dean of the Weisenthal center, based in Los
Angeles. ``They are able to dress up their message in a way that
looks ... presentable.''...
Prodigy spokesman Brian Ek said the service does employ systems
operators who monitor content on its proprietary bulletin boards
and can remove any messages with ``blatant expressions of bigotry,
racism or hate.''
Forwarded from IP:
UNITED STATES 3 Wednesday, Jan. 10, 1996
Jewish Group Seeks Internet Restraints
Citing "the rapidly expanding presence of organized hate groups on the
Internet,'' a leading Jewish human rights group Tuesday began sending
letters to hundreds of Internet access providers and universities asking
them to refuse to carry messages that "promote racism, anti-Semitism,
may-hem and violence.'' The letter from the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a
425,000-member organization based in Los Angeles, is the latest in a
growing effort by legislators and private interest groups to censor
offensive material on the global data network, which now connects millions
of computer users worldwide. "Internet providers have a First Amendment
right and a moral obligation not to provide these groups with a platform
for their destructive propa-ganda, '' Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the center's
associate dean, wrote in the letter that was sent to Internet service
providers. Rabbi Cooper said the group's target was not the many discussion
forums where individuals debate such topics as whether the Holocaust
actually oc-curred, but rather the Internet's World Wide Web. Dozens of
groups, from white supremacists to anarchists, have pub-lished documents on
the Web about their points of view. Some are revi-sionist histories
questioning whether there was a Holocaust and some are racist tracts
denigrating blacks, Jews, homosexuals and other minorities. By PETER H.
Date: Sun, 16 Dec 1995 22:51:01 CDT
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