Computer underground Digest Sun Feb 11, 1996 Volume 8 : Issue 14 ISSN 1004-042X Editors: J

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Computer underground Digest Sun Feb 11, 1996 Volume 8 : Issue 14 ISSN 1004-042X 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 Ian Dickinson Cu Digest Homepage: CONTENTS, #8.14 (Sun, Feb 11, 1996) File 1--EFF to Challenge Telecom Bill File 2--ACLU v Reno: Update (2/8/96) File 3--Sen. Leahy's bill to repeal CDA, and floor statement File 4--An Open letter to NIU President La Tourette in re: CDA File 5--A Cyberspace Independence Declaration File 6--The ACLU Online File 7--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: Thu, 8 Feb 1996 02:13:55 -0800 (PST) From: Declan McCullagh Subject: File 1--EFF to Challenge Telecom Bill CONTACTS: Lori Fena, Exec. Dir. 415/ 436-933 Mike Godwin, Staff Counsel 510/ 548-3290 Shari Steele, Staff Counsel 301/ 375-8856 EFF TO CHALLENGE CENSORSHIP PROVISIONS OF THE TELECOMMUNICATIONS BILL IN COURT SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., Feb. 7, 1996 -- The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today joins the American Civil Liberties Union and several other plaintiffs in challenging the censorship provisions of the 1996 Telecommunications Act. The challenge is based upon the belief that the Act contains overly broad and vague restrictions on constitutionally protected speech on the Internet. "I see no Constitutional authority at all for this kind of comprehensive legislation," said Mike Godwin, staff counsel at EFF. "Proponents of the legislation argue that it is necessary to combat poronography on the Internet, however the language in the bill goes far beyond this purpose." The Act overwhelmingly passed both houses of Congress last week and is expected to be signed into law Thursday by President Clinton. EFF will be both plaintiff and counsel in the complaint to be filed in Pennsylvania immediately after the bill is signed. The complaint will be grounded primarily in what Godwin terms "three affronts to the First Amendment." The three basic arguments are as follows: * Unconstitutional Expansion of Federal Authority. It is inappropriate for the Federal Communications Commission or any other federal agency to dictate standards for content in a medium where there is no independent Constitutional justification for federal regulation, as there has been in the broadcast arena and in certain narrow areas of voice telephone service. Like newspapers and bookstores, the Internet is fully protected by the First Amendment. * Vagueness and Overbreadth. The terms the act relies on -- "indecency" and "patently offensive" -- have never been positively defined by the Supreme Court or the Congress, and so create uncertainty as to the scope of the restrictions, necessarily resulting in a "chilling effect" on protected speech. Moreover, these terms criminalize broad classes of speech that are understood to be protected by the First Amendment, including material that has serious scientific, literary, artistic, political, and cultural value. * Failure to Use the "Least Restrictive Means" to Regulate Speech. Even if there were Constitutional authority for this legislation and even if its terms were neither overly broad nor vague, the censorship prescriptions built into this legislation cannot survive the Supreme Court's "least restrictive means" test. That is, if otherwise-legal government regulation of speech content does not minimize its restriction of lawful speech, it fails to qualify as the "least restrictive means" of implementing the government's goal. Our Bill or Rights requires that such regulations be struck down. In addition to these traditional First Amendment challenges, the lawsuit also challenges a provision that may infringe on speech concerning abortion when that speech takes place online. In the case of the Internet, the censorship provisions of the Telecommunications Reform Act are not the least restrictive means, since filtering, rating and labeling technologies and services are already available. There already are software tools to help parents shield their children from inappropriate material and these tools are vastly more flexible and effective than this ill-considered legislation. Unlike the censorship provisions, these tools prevent harm to children before it happens. EFF is committed to work to ensure that First Amendment freedoms that apply to traditional speech and publication are understood to apply to communications in the online world. The organization deplores the fact that taxpayer and industry time, money and energy will be consumed by this effort, but it is an effort that is essential to preserving the Constitutional rights of every American. Electronic Frontier Foundation The Electronic Frontier Foundation is a civil liberties organization founded to ensure that individual rights are not abridged in the online world. Headquartered in San Francisco, the organization seeks to educate the public, industry and government on the issues surrounding online communications and to shape policies that protect indicidual rights and promote individual responsibility. To learn more about the organization and today's issues, visit EFF at ------------------------------ Date: Fri, 9 Feb 1996 15:04:42 -0800 (PST) From: Declan McCullagh Subject: File 2--ACLU v Reno: Update (2/8/96) **Media Advisory*** ACLU v Reno: UPDATE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Phil Gutis/(202) 675-2312 Thursday, February 8, 1996 Emily Whitfield/(212) 944-9800, x426 * Judge Sets Date for Government to File Reply Brief * Government Agrees Not to Prosecute for 7 days * Government Concedes that Abortion Speech Restrictions Are Unconstitutional ------------------------------------------- 1 In the first court action over the constitutionality of the Communications Decency Act, federal Judge Ronald L. Buckwalter today instructed the government to file a reply brief to the ACLU's request for a temporary restraining order by Wednesday, February 14. Lawyers representing the ACLU and the 19 other plaintiffs challenging the law said that Judge Buckwalter's reaction to the arguments against the constitutionality of the law was positive. 2. Although he declined to issue an immediate restraining order against the law, Judge Buckwalter directed the government to refrain from prosecuting for so-called indecent or patently offensive material online, at least until the TRO motion is decided. ACLU Attorney Chris Hansen, who is leading the litigation, said that he was pleased with the judge's action today, but cautioned that the Internet community still faces prosecution should the Communications Decency Act ultimately be upheld. 3. During today's hearing, the government conceded the unconstitutionality of the abortion speech restrictions of the telecommunications act. While the ACLU claimed an early win for reproductive rights and free speech, Catherine Weiss of the ACLU's Reproductive Freedom Project said that a complete victory could not be claimed until the Justice Department puts the concession in writing, which she said they have so far refused to do. Complete information on the lawsuit is available via ACLU's new "Freedom Network" World Wide Web page, <>, and via the ACLU's Constitution Hall forum on America Online. ------------------------------ Date: Sat, 10 Feb 1996 19:33:50 -0800 (PST) From: Declan McCullagh Subject: File 3--Sen. Leahy's bill to repeal CDA, and floor statement The text of Leahy's bill to repeal the CDA, and his floor statement on his legislation. -Declan (PS: Factoid from WELL discussion: Clinton intentionally timed his signing of the telecom bill to coincide with "24 Hours in Cyberspace.") ------------------------------------------------------------ S 1567 IS 104th CONGRESS 2d Session To amend the Communications Act of 1934 to repeal the amendments relating to obscene and harassing use of telecommunications facilities made by the Communications Decency Act of 1995. IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES February 9 (legislative day, FEBRUARY 7), 1996 Mr. LEAHY (for himself and Mr. FEINGOLD) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation A BILL To amend the Communications Act of 1934 to repeal the amendments relating to obscene and harassing use of telecommunications facilities made by the Communications Decency Act of 1995. [Italic->] Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, [<-Italic] SECTION 1. REPEAL OF AMENDMENTS. Effective on the day after the date of the enactment of the Communications Decency Act of 1995, the amendments made to section 223 of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 223) by section 502 of the Communications Decency Act of 1995 are repealed and the provisions of such section 223 as in effect on the day before such date shall have force and effect. ----------------------------------------------------- Floor Statement On Repealing The Communications Decency Act February 9, 1996 _________________________________________________________________ Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, last week, the Congress passed telecommunications legislation. The President signed it into law this week. For a number of reasons, and I stated them in the Chamber at the time, I voted against the legislation. There were a number of things in that legislation I liked and I am glad to see them in law. There were, however, some parts I did not like, one of them especially. Today I am introducing a bill to repeal parts of the new law, parts I feel would have far-reaching implications and would impose far-reaching new Federal crimes on Americans for exercising their free speech rights on-line and on the Internet. The parts of the telecommunications bill called the "Communications Decency Act" are fatally flawed and unconstitutional. Indeed, such serious questions about the constitutionality of this legislation have been raised that a new section was added to speed up judicial review to see if the legislation would pass constitutional muster. The legislation is not going to pass that test. The first amendment to our Constitution expressly states that "Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech." The new law flouts that prohibition for the sake of political posturing. We should not wait to let the courts fix this mistake. Even on an expedited basis, the judicial review of the new law would take months and possibly years of litigation. During those years of litigation unsuspecting Americans who are using the Internet in unprecedented numbers and more every day, are going to risk criminal liability every time they go on-line. Let us be emphatically clear that the people at risk of committing a felony under this new law are not child pornographers, purveyors of obscene materials or child sex molesters. These people can already be prosecuted and should be prosecuted under longstanding Federal criminal laws that prevent the distribution over computer networks of obscene and other pornographic materials harmful to minors, under 18 U.S.C. sections 1465, 2252 and 2423(a); that prohibit the illegal solicitation of a minor by way of a computer network, under 18 U.S.C. section 2252; and that bar the illegal luring of a minor into sexual activity through computer conversations, under 18 U.S.C. section 2423(b). In fact, just last year, we passed unanimously a new law that sharply increases penalties for people who commit these crimes. In fact, just last year, we passed unanimously a new law that sharply increases penalties for these people. There is absolutely no disagreement in the Senate, no disagreement certainly among the 100 Senators about wanting to protect children from harm. All 100 Senators, no matter where they are from, would agree that obscenity and child pornography should be kept out of the hands of children. All Senators agree that we should punish those who sexually exploit children or abuse children. I am a former prosecutor. I have prosecuted people for abusing children. This is something where there are no political or ideological differences among us. I believe there was a terribly misguided effort to protect children from what some prosecutors somewhere in this country might consider offensive or indecent online material, and in doing that, the Communications Decency Act tramples on the free speech rights of all Americans who want to enjoy this medium. This legislation sweeps more broadly than just stopping obscenity from being sent to children. It will impose felony penalties for using indecent four-letter words, or discussing material deemed to be indecent, on electronic bulletin boards or Internet chat areas and news groups accessible to children. Let me give a couple of examples: You send E-mail back and forth, and you want to annoy somebody whom you talked with many times before -- it may be your best buddy -- and you use a four-letter word. Well, you could be prosecuted for that, although you could pick up the phone, say the same thing to him, and you commit no crime; or send a letter and say the same word and commit no crime; or talk to him walking down the street and commit no crime. To avoid liability under this legislation, users of e-mail will have to ban curse words and other expressions that might be characterized as indecent from their online vocabulary. The new law will punish with 2-year jail terms someone using one of the "seven dirty words" in a message to a minor or for sharing with a minor material containing indecent passages. In some areas of the country, a copy of Seventeen Magazine would be considered indecent, even though kids buy it. The magazine is among the 10 most frequently challenged school library materials in the country. Somebody sends an excerpt from it, and bang, they could be prosecuted. The new law will make it a crime "to display in a manner available to" a child any message or material "that, in context, depicts or describes, in terms patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards, sexual or excretory activities or organs..." That covers any of the over 13,000 Usenet discussion groups, as well as electronic bulletin boards, online service provider chat rooms, and Web sites, that are all accessible to children. This "display" prohibition, according to the drafters, "applies to content providers who post indecent material for online display without taking precautions that shield that material from minors." What precautions will Internet users have to take to avoid criminal liability? These users, after all, are the ones who provide the "content" read in news groups and on electronic bulletin boards. The legislation gives the FCC authority to describe the precautions that can be taken to avoid criminal liability. All Internet users will have to wait and look to the FCC for what they must do to protect themselves from criminal liability. Internet users will have to limit all language used and topics discussed in online discussions accessible to minors to that appropriate for kindergartners, just in case a child clicks onto the discussion. No literary quotes from racy parts of Catcher in the Rye or Ulysses will be allowed. Certainly, online discussions of safe sex practices, or birth control methods, and of AIDS prevention methods will be suspect. Any user who crosses the vague and undefined line of "indecency" will be subject to two years in jail and fines. This worries me considerably. I will give you an idea of what happens. People look at this, and because it is so vague and so broad and so sweeping, attempts to protect one's self from breaking the law become even broader and even more sweeping. A few weeks ago, America Online took the online profile of a Vermonter off the service. Why? Because the Vermonter used what AOL deemed a vulgar, forbidden word. The word -- and I do not want to shock my colleagues -- but the word was "breast." And the reason this Vermonter was using the word "breast"? She was a survivor of breast cancer. She used the service to exchange the latest information on detection of breast cancer or engage in support to those who are survivors of breast cancer. Of course, eventually, America Online apologized and indicated they would allow the use of the word where appropriate. We are already seeing premonitions of the chilling effect this legislation will have on online service providers. Far better we use the laws on the books today to go after child pornographers, to go after child abusers. What strikes some people as "indecent" or "patently offensive" may look very different to other people in another part of the country. Given these differences, a vague ban on patently offensive and indecent communications may make us feel good but threatens to drive off the Internet and computer networks an unimaginable amount of valuable political, artistic, scientific, health and other speech. For example, many museums in this country and abroad are going hi-tech and starting Web pages to provide the public with greater access to the cultural riches they offer. What if museums, like the Whitney Museum, which currently operates a Web page, had to censor what it made available online out of fear of being dragged into court? Only adults and kids who can make it in person to the museum will be able to see the paintings or sculpture censored for online viewing under this law. What about the university health service that posts information online about birth control and protections against the spread of AIDS? With many students in college under 18, this information would likely disappear under threat of prosecution. What happens if they are selling online versions of James Joyce's Ulysses or of Catcher in the Rye? Can they advertise this? Can excerpts be put online? In all likelihood not. The Internet is breaking new ground important for the economic health of this country. Businesses, like the Golden Quill Book Shop in Manchester Center, Vermont can advertise and sell their books around the country or the world via the Internet. But now, advertisers will have to censor their ads. For example, some people consider the Victoria's Secret catalogue indecent. Under this new law, advertisements that would be legal in print could subject the advertiser to criminal liability if circulated online. You could put them in your local newspaper, but you cannot put it online. In bookstores and on library shelves, the protections of the First Amendment are clear. The courts are unwavering in the protection of indecent speech. In altering the protections of the first amendment for online communications, I believe you could cripple this new mode of communication. At some point you have to start asking, where do we censor? What speech do we keep off? Is it speech we may find politically disturbing? If somebody wants to be critical of any one Member of Congress, are we able to keep that off? Should we be able to keep that off? I think not. There is a lot of reprehensible speech and usually it becomes more noted when attempts are made to censor it rather than let it out in the daylight where people can respond to it. The Internet is an American technology that has swept around the world. As its popularity has grown, so have efforts to censor it. For example, complaints by German prosecutors prompted an online service provider to cut off subscriber access to over 200 Internet news groups with the words "sex", "gay" or "erotica" in the name. They censored such groups as "," which is an online newspaper focused on gay issues, and "gay-net.coming-out", which is a support group for gay men and women dealing with going public with their sexual orientation. German prosecutors have also tried to get AOL to stop providing access to neo-Nazi propaganda accessible on the Internet. No doubt such material is offensive and abhorrent, but nonetheless just as protected by our First Amendment as indecent material. In China, look what they are trying to do. They are trying to create an "intranet" that would heavily censor outside access to the worldwide Internet. We ought to be make sure it is open, not censored. We ought to send that out as an example to China. Americans should be taking the high ground to protect the future of our home-grown Internet, and to fight these censorship efforts that are springing up around the globe. Instead of championing the First Amendment, however, the Communications Decency Act tramples on the principles of free speech and free flow of information that has fueled the growth of this medium. We have to be vigilant in enforcing the laws we have on the books to protect our children from obscenity, child pornography and sexual exploitation. Those laws are being enforced. Just last September, using current laws, the FBI seized computers and computer files from about 125 homes and offices across the country as part of an operation to shut down an online child pornography ring. I well understand the motivation for the Communications Decency Act. We want to protect our children from offensive or indecent online materials. This Senator --and I am confident every other Senator-- agrees with that. But we must be careful that the means we use to protect our children does not do more harm than good. We can already control the access our children have to indecent material with blocking technologies available for free from some online service providers and for a relatively low cost from software manufacturers. Frankly, and I will close with this, Mr. President, at some point we ought to stop saying the Government is going to make a determination of what we read and see, the Government will determine what our children have or do not have. I grew up in a family where my parents thought it was their responsibility to guide what I read or would not read. They probably had their hands full. I was reading at the age of 4. I was a voracious reader, and all the time I was growing up I read several books a week and went through our local library in the small town I grew up in very quickly. That love of reading has stood me in very good stead. I am sure I read some things that were a total waste of time, but very quickly I began to determine what were the good things to read and what were the bad things. I had read all of Dickens by the end of the third grade and much of Robert Louis Stevenson. I am sure some can argue there are parts of those that maybe were not suitable for somebody in third grade. I do not think I was severely damaged by it at all. That same love of reading helped me get through law school and become a prosecutor where I did put child abusers behind bars. Should we not say that the parents ought to make this decision, not us in the Congress? We should put some responsibility back on families, on parents. They have the software available that they can determine what their children are looking at. That is what we should do. Banning indecent material from the Internet is like using a meat cleaver to deal with the problems better addressed with a scalpel. We should not wait for the courts. Let us get this new unconstitutional law off the books as soon as possible. ------------------------------ Date: Sat, 10 Feb 1996 02:31:44 -0600 From: Jim Thomas Subject: File 4--An Open letter to NIU President La Tourette in re: CDA ((The following was written to the President of Northern Illinois University following the signing of the Telecommunications Act)). -------------------- 8 February, 1996 President John E. La Tourette Lowden Hall 301 Northern Illinois University DeKalb, IL 60115 Dear President La Tourette: My name is Jim Thomas. I am a professor in sociology at NIU. I was tenured in 1986 and given an early promotion to full professor five years later. I have devoted my life at NIU to teaching, research, and service, and I believe my record demonstrates that I have been reasonably successful. Because of my dedication to my vocation, and because of the oath I swore to uphold the U.S. Constitution when hired at NIU, I am compelled to confess that I am not what I seem, and I seek your assistance. You see, I am a criminal, and I fear that I may be indicted and prosecuted for my felonious acts by the Federal government. I also confess to conspiring in my felonious activities with other NIU faculty and staff, which compounds my crime. In my own defense, I was not a criminal when I arose today, Thursday, February 8. Yet, just a few hours later, I now find myself at risk of discovery and apprehension. Today, at 11 a.m. (CST), President Clinton signed the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which made me, and other NIU faculty and staff, criminals. Buried in the Act is an amendment called the "Communications Decency Act" (CDA). The intent of this legislation is to ban "indecency" on the Internet, the electronic communication network in which I work as part of my professional teaching, service, and research duties. The broad language of the Act prohibits actions that most of us agree should be prohibited, and for which laws already exist, such as banning obscenity and child pornography. But, it prohibits much more. As the leader of one of the largest Universities in the U.S., I'm certain that you have been following the CDA controversy closely. You likely read the following from the Chronicle of Higher Education: COLLEGES WORRY ABOUT NEW LIABILITY FOR INTERNET CONTENT The recent passage of the telecommunications reform bill has some college administrators worried over new liability issues for educational institutions that might unknowingly make "indecent" material available to minors through their Internet access operations. In addition, they've expressed concern over potential First Amendment violations if they censor the content too heavily. "We have programs on campus about date rape, unwanted pregnancy, and reproductive-health options, so I don't see how we'd tolerate censorship of that kind of information in the electronic format," says the head of telecommunications at Carnegie Mellon University. (Chronicle of Higher Education 9 Feb 96 A23) I'm certain that you know that the language of the Act prohibits "indecency" from being collected or stored in, and transferred by, computer systems. As astonishing as it may seem, the Act also limits discussion of abortion information, criminalizes dissemination of certain types of drug information, and allows local jurisdictions to determine what constitutes "indecency." In short, the CDA criminalizes in electronic media that which enjoys First Amendment protections if in, for example, the NIU library or a class text. You likely have already consulted with NIU counsel, who have told you that "indecency" is a vague concept, and what is considered valuable information in DeKalb, Illinois, may be offensive to those in Memphis, Tennessee. So, you are aware of the risk that the lowest threshhold of tolerance for "indecency" may now become the national standard in electronic media. Reading material that we routinely assign to students or make available to 17 year old freshmen in the library may now be criminalized if made available on a World Wide Web homepage. Works of art that we appreciate in exhibits cannot be safely made available on the Net. Discussions that we have in Sandburg Auditorium, NIU classrooms, or on the pages of the Northern Star can be criminalized if conducted in an electronic discussion group or stored in electronic archives. Forms of expression heard routinely on television now put authors at risk if posted on the Net. Lyrics from musicians ranging from the Beatles to contemporary rap or "grunge" could be restricted from the Net and subject those who participate in the discussion of such lyrics to criminal sanctions. The new law puts not only the publisher of "indecency' at risk. It also makes the provider of the computer service on which "indecency" occurs equally liable for criminal prosecution. This makes me a criminal, and it places at criminal risk all other NIU faculty and staff who are required, as part of their duties, to maintain the computer systems on which possible transgressions might occur. In fact, some legal analysts suggest that, because of a quirk in statutory wording, this letter places you at risk. This letter makes you aware of criminal activity, and by failing to address it, you may be complicit by knowingly providing the resources for the electronic crimes. Here are a few ways in which the new law affects me: I currently conduct a class in which 50 percent of the course is conducted on the Internet by use of a discussion group, homepages, and electronic mail. Some of my course material, including reproductions of court cases, put me in non-compliance with the law if posted on the class homepage. Any discussions in the class discussion group that violate the new law will put me and the poster in non-compliance. This restricts course content and also restricts electronic lecturing and making some class lecture notes electronically available. Any discussion of "indecent" material that occurs on, for example, TOMPAINE--an NIU faculty/staff discussion list--will put me at risk. Any homepage material that a faculty member publishes that violates the proscriptions in the law will put me at risk. Why am I accountable for the actions of others? Because I also maintain sun.soci, the sociology department's Internet-connected computer system that encourages use of the new technology for pedagogy, exploration of intellectual and artistic issues, and discussion. The Act make me liable for what occurs on the system. I also publish an electronic newsletter/journal with over a quarter of a million readers (Cu Digest). The newsletter is in demonstrable non-compliance with the law, because it contains, among other material, "indecent" public documents and legal decisions available in any library. The ACLU and other organizations have joined to file a restraining order against the Act. Senator Patrick Leahy will soon introduce legislation to repeal the Act. Representative Patricia Schroeder will be introducing legislation to repeal the restrictive language in the CDA. But, until and unless the Act is changed, it has created a "criminal culture" at NIU. You can find considerable information and on the Act at I urge you and NIU legal counsel to examine and respond to the issues. I see two possible responses you could make: First, you could order all "indecent" material to be removed from NIU homepages, create a barrier that prohibits newsgroup and Usenet access on campus, and create a monitoring system that would assure that the content on all computer systems with Internet access at NIU be approved. In short, you could exercise prior restraint, restrict academic freedom, and engage in censorship. Of course, you must first ascertain what is "indecent," and in what jurisdictions such standards of "indecency" might apply. An alternative response would be to take a public stand against the restrictive provisions of the CDA, support freedom of expression, and join in opposition to the demonstrable "chilling effect" produced by the new legislation. A few years ago, you wrote me a memo. You concluded that memo with the quotation: "I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." Given such a commitment, I am confident that you will select the second option. Previous pleas to urge NIU administrators to act on these issues have failed. Given the urgency, I trust that you decisively will act where others have not. Sincerely, Jim Thomas, Professor Sociology/Criminal Justice Northern Illinois University ------------------------------ Date: Fri, 9 Feb 1996 17:16:35 +0100 From: John Perry Barlow Subject: File 5--A Cyberspace Independence Declaration Yesterday, that great invertebrate in the White House signed into the law the Telecom "Reform" Act of 1996, while Tipper Gore took digital photographs of the proceedings to be included in a book called "24 Hours in Cyberspace." I had also been asked to participate in the creation of this book by writing something appropriate to the moment. Given the atrocity that this legislation would seek to inflict on the Net, I decided it was as good a time as any to dump some tea in the virtual harbor. After all, the Telecom "Reform" Act, passed in the Senate with only 5 dissenting votes, makes it unlawful, and punishable by a $250,000 to say "shit" online. Or, for that matter, to say any of the other 7 dirty words prohibited in broadcast media. Or to discuss abortion openly. Or to talk about any bodily function in any but the most clinical terms. It attempts to place more restrictive constraints on the conversation in Cyberspace than presently exist in the Senate cafeteria, where I have dined and heard colorful indecencies spoken by United States senators on every occasion I did. This bill was enacted upon us by people who haven't the slightest idea who we are or where our conversation is being conducted. It is, as my good friend and Wired Editor Louis Rossetto put it, as though "the illiterate could tell you what to read." Well, fuck them. Or, more to the point, let us now take our leave of them. They have declared war on Cyberspace. Let us show them how cunning, baffling, and powerful we can be in our own defense. I have written something (with characteristic grandiosity) that I hope will become one of many means to this end. If you find it useful, I hope you will pass it on as widely as possible. You can leave my name off it if you like, because I don't care about the credit. I really don't. But I do hope this cry will echo across Cyberspace, changing and growing and self-replicating, until it becomes a great shout equal to the idiocy they have just inflicted upon us. I give you... A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and steel, I come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind. On behalf of the future, I ask you of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome among us. You have no sovereignty where we gather. We have no elected government, nor are we likely to have one, so I address you with no greater authority than that with which liberty itself always speaks. I declare the global social space we are building to be naturally independent of the tyrannies you seek to impose on us. You have no moral right to rule us nor do you possess any methods of enforcement we have true reason to fear. Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. You have neither solicited nor received ours. We did not invite you. You do not know us, nor do you know our world. Cyberspace does not lie within your borders. Do not think that you can build it, as though it were a public construction project. You cannot. It is an act of nature and it grows itself through our collective actions. You have not engaged in our great and gathering conversation, nor did you create the wealth of our marketplaces. You do not know our culture, our ethics, or the unwritten codes that already provide our society more order than could be obtained by any of your impositions. You claim there are problems among us that you need to solve. You use this claim as an excuse to invade our precincts. Many of these problems don't exist. Where there are real conflicts, where there are wrongs, we will identify them and address them by our means. We are forming our own Social Contract . This governance will arise according to the conditions of our world, not yours. Our world is different. Cyberspace consists of transactions, relationships, and thought itself, arrayed like a standing wave in the web of our communications. Ours is a world that is both everywhere and nowhere, but it is not where bodies live. We are creating a world that all may enter without privilege or prejudice accorded by race, economic power, military force, or station of birth. We are creating a world where anyone, anywhere may express his or her beliefs, no matter how singular, without fear of being coerced into silence or conformity. Your legal concepts of property, expression, identity, movement, and context do not apply to us. They are based on matter, There is no matter here. Our identities have no bodies, so, unlike you, we cannot obtain order by physical coercion. We believe that from ethics, enlightened self-interest, and the commonweal, our governance will emerge . Our identities may be distributed across many of your jurisdictions. The only law that all our constituent cultures would generally recognize is the Golden Rule. We hope we will be able to build our particular solutions on that basis. But we cannot accept the solutions you are attempting to impose. In the United States, you have today created a law, the Telecommunications Reform Act, which repudiates your own Constitution and insults the dreams of Jefferson, Washington, Mill, Madison, DeToqueville, and Brandeis. These dreams must now be born anew in us. You are terrified of your own children, since they are natives in a world where you will always be immigrants. Because you fear them, you entrust your bureaucracies with the parental responsibilities you are too cowardly to confront yourselves. In our world, all the sentiments and expressions of humanity, from the debasing to the angelic, are parts of a seamless whole, the global conversation of bits. We cannot separate the air that chokes from the air upon which wings beat. In China, Germany, France, Russia, Singapore, Italy and the United States, you are trying to ward off the virus of liberty by erecting guard posts at the frontiers of Cyberspace. These may keep out the contagion for a small time, but they will not work in a world that will soon be blanketed in bit-bearing media. Your increasingly obsolete information industries would perpetuate themselves by proposing laws, in America and elsewhere, that claim to own speech itself throughout the world. These laws would declare ideas to be another industrial product, no more noble than pig iron. In our world, whatever the human mind may create can be reproduced and distributed infinitely at no cost. The global conveyance of thought no longer requires your factories to accomplish. These increasingly hostile and colonial measures place us in the same position as those previous lovers of freedom and self-determination who had to reject the authorities of distant, uninformed powers. We must declare our virtual selves immune to your sovereignty, even as we continue to consent to your rule over our bodies. We will spread ourselves across the Planet so that no one can arrest our thoughts. We will create a civilization of the Mind in Cyberspace. May it be more humane and fair than the world your governments have made before. Davos, Switzerland February 8, 1996 **************************************************************** John Perry Barlow, Cognitive Dissident Co-Founder, Electronic Frontier Foundation Home(stead) Page: Message Service: 800/634-3542 Barlow in Meatspace Today (until Feb 12): Cannes, France Hotel Martinez: (33) 92 98 73 00, Fax: (33) 93 39 67 82 Coming soon to: Amsterdam 2/13-14, Winston-Salem 2/15, San Francisco 2/16-20, San Jose 2/21, San Francisco 2/21-23, Pinedale, Wyoming In Memoriam, Dr. Cynthia Horner and Jerry Garcia ***************************************************************** It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself. --Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia ------------------------------ Date: Wed, 7 Feb 1996 20:10:01 -0500 From: ACLU Subject: File 6--The ACLU Online ACLU Launches 'Freedom Network' Web Site Brings Civil Liberties Activism To Cyberspace Wednesday, February 7, 1995 The American Civil Liberties Union today launched its new World Wide Web site -- the ACLU Freedom Network -- with special features for students, activists and all Americans concerned about protecting and preserving liberty. Opened as political leaders in Washington are poised to end free expression on the Internet, the ACLU's Freedom Network has complete information on the threats to cyber-liberties, including details of the ACLU's upcoming litigation against the Communications Decency Act. Internet users can find the Freedom Network by directing their web browsers to the following address: <>. The ACLU's provocative and informative site contains a comprehensive array of documents, news releases, legal briefs and Congressional memos on all aspects of the ongoing struggle to protect civil liberties. Among the special features are extensive looks at 15 issues, including: Church and State Criminal Justice Cyber-Liberties Death Penalty Free Speech HIV/AIDS Immigrant's Rights Lesbian and Gay Rights National Security Racial Equality Reproductive Rights Student's Rights Voting Rights Women's Rights Workplace Rights Each issue area contains internal links to ACLU press releases, publications, and other resources -- including links to other Web sites -- allowing users to stay on top of the latest developments in their areas of interest. Activists, journalists, and many others will want to sign up for e-mail delivery of ACLU News Releases, Legislative Alerts, Scheduled ACLU events on AOL, and the biweekly newsletter, ACLU Cyber-Liberties Alert. For subscription instructions, request the FAQ at <>. Another Freedom Hall feature allows internet users to fax or e-mail a letter to Attorney General Janet Reno, urging her to refrain from prosecuting any indecency cases until the courts rule on the Constitutionality of the indecency provisions of the telecommunications bill. The Freedom Network's "In the Courts" and "In Congress" sections provide further primary source material, such as the text of Supreme Court decisions and summaries of current Congressional bills, as well as unique ACLU information -- including photos and profiles of some ACLU clients. Students and teachers will want to explore our special section devoted to education, and sign-up for our online Students and Faculty databases. Users can even pick up some T-shirts -- or videos, or books, or posters -- in our sophisticated online store. The launch of the Freedom Network marks the third step into cyberspace for the ACLU, which has since 1994 explored the medium's capacity to broaden the nationwide community of civil libertarians, distribute information, teach young people and bring activists together. In addition to Freedom Hall, the ACLU hosts a very active forum -- Constitution Hall -- on America Online, the nation's largest commercial online service. (Keyword ACLU). -- THE ACLU ------------------------------ Date: Sun, 16 Dec 1995 22:51:01 CDT From: CuD Moderators Subject: File 7--Cu Digest Header Info (unchanged since 16 Dec, 1995) Cu-Digest is a weekly electronic journal/newsletter. Subscriptions are available at no cost electronically. CuD is available as a Usenet newsgroup: Or, to subscribe, send post with this in the "Subject:: line: SUBSCRIBE CU-DIGEST Send the message to: DO NOT SEND SUBSCRIPTIONS TO THE MODERATORS. 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