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EFFector - Volume 11, Issue 12 - ALERT: House Hearing on CDA II: Contact Legislators ASAP!


EFFector - Volume 11, Issue 12 - ALERT: House Hearing on CDA II: Contact Legislators ASAP!

             EFFector       Vol. 11, No. 12       Sep. 16, 1998
   A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation     ISSN 1062-9424
     * ALERT: House Hearing on CDA II: Contact Legislators ASAP!
          + ACTION
          + MESSAGES
          + SUMMARY
     * ALERT: Letters to Senators on database and WIPO bills needed now
          + ACTION
          + MESSAGES
          + SUMMARY
     * Minor Changes to US Crypto Policy Miss the Real Issue: Privacy
     * Other Headlines at
     * Administrivia
   See for more information on EFF activities &
           ALERT: House Hearing on CDA II: Contact Legislators ASAP!
   Electronic Frontier Foundation Alert, Sept. 16, 1998 (partially
   expires Sept. 17, 1998; please do not redistribute after Oct. 1, 1998;
   check Web site for update.)
   (This is an unfortunately short-notice alert; sometimes Congress acts
   rapidly and with little warning.)
   Please IMMEDIATELY call and fax the House Commerce Committee (contact
   info below), and urge the members of the Telecommunications
   Subcommittee to REJECT the Internet censorship bill known as the
   "Child Online Protection Act" (a.k.a. "CDA II"), H.R. 3783.
   Next visit the alert page of the Blue Ribbon Campaign for Online Free
   and follow the instructions to contact your own legislators to oppose
   this and related legislation (you can send your legislators a free fax
   via the Web!)
   When contacting the Committee, if you wish to elaborate on why the
   Subcommittee should reject this bill, here are some basic talking
    1. This legislation contains most of the unconstitutional flaws of
       the original CDA.
    2. Though the sponsors of this bill claim it is intended to address
       only commercial pornographers intentionally targeting minors, the
       actual language of the bill is vague and overbroad, and will sweep
       in much more than explicit for-profit visual materials. The bill
       will censor a wide variety of legitimate, protected expression,
       for adults as well as children.
    3. Congress's own posting of the Starr report would likely violate
       H.R. 3783.
    4. It is the responsibility (and right) of parents, not the federal
       government, to decide what is or is not appropriate for minors to
       have access to, and to supervise minors. In the classroom, this is
       a local, not federal, issue.
    5. What is appropriate for a 5-year-old is not the same thing as what
       is appropriate for a 16-year-old, and this bill fails to take
       account of this basic fact.
    6. Intentionally providing a minor with "harmful matter", online or
       offline, is already illegal under general obscenity and
       harmful-to-minor statutes. Congress cannot expand this to a ban on
       all online publication (which the bill amounts to; the Supreme
       Court has already found that the kind of age verification this
       bill, like the CDA, calls for is impractical.
   Feel free to use your own wording of course. The last point can be
   skipped when contacting the Committee by voice phone, since it is long
   and rather technical. Other points can be shortened for voice calls,
   e.g., "The bill will censor a lot more than the commercial
   pornographers it aims at," for point 2.
   The House Commerce Committee
     * Phone: +1-202-225-2927 (say you are calling about markup in the
       Telecommunications Subcommittee)
     * Fax: +1-202-225-1919 (attn: Telecommunications Subcommittee)
     * E-mail: (you may wish to also e-mail your
       comments, attn: Telecommunications Subcommittee, for good
   There is insufficient time to contact individual legislators' offices.
   The markup is likely to be completed by early afternoon at the latest.
   More information on contacting Congress is available at:
   The Subcommittee on Telecommunications, Trade, and Consumer Protection
   of the House Commerce Committee will meet tomorrow morning (Thu., Sep.
   17, 1998) to examine legislation intended to establish restrictions on
   online publication of content deemed "harmful to minors" on the Net.
   The untitled bill, which many refer to as "CDA II", would block many
   adults from receiving or posting a wide variety of legitimate material
   online that falls under vague harm criteria and includes many of the
   same constitutional defects as the original Communications Decency Act
   In the name of protecting young users of the Internet, CDA II is
   intended to enact a wide-ranging ban on Web posting of material deemed
   "harmful to minors." The bill number is H.R. 3783, and it is a
   companion bill to the Senate's S. 1482, passed as an amendment to an
   appropriations bill that cleared the Senate over the summer. H.R. 3783
   was introduced by Rep. Michael Oxley (R-OH-5).
       ALERT: Letters to Senators on database and WIPO bills needed now
Copyright clashes likely to define final weeks of 105th Congress

   Electronic Frontier Foundation Alert, Sept. 16, 1998 (expires Sept.
   28, 1998).
   (This is a modified version of a Digital Future Coalition alert; the
   full text, with background information and a sample letter to
   Senators, is available at:
   EFF is a member of the Digital Future Coalition.)
   Please write or call your Senators this week to urge: (1) no Senate
   action on controversial database protection legislation; and (2)
   strong support for including the House's version of fair use
   protection in any final version of WIPO copyright treaty legislation.
   Please write to both of your Senators this week in support of
   preserving the critical balance between protecting information and
   affording reasonable access to it as key Committees struggle with two
   intellectual property bills: the "Collections of Information
   Antipiracy Act" (H.R. 2652/S. 2291, and Title V of H.R. 2281) and the
   "Digital Millennium Copyright Act" (H.R. 2281/S. 2037). If you are
   uncertain who your Senators are, you can look them up by entering your
   ZIP code into the Senator search form at:
   Please ask both of your Senators to write, and speak personally, to
   Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Ranking Member
   Patrick Leahy (D-VT), contact info below, requesting that they:
    1. DEFER Senate action until the next Congress on any special
       interest database protection legislation, including the
       "Collections of Information Antipiracy Act" (S. 2291/H.R. 2652),
       AND that they remove this controversial legislation from the
       "Digital Millennium Copyright Act" (H.R. 2281) with which it was
       merged by the House early last month; AND
    2. NOT ACCEPT any version of fair use protection weaker than that
       adopted in the House version of H.R. 2281 when the House and
       Senate meet to reconcile their different versions of the "Digital
       Millennium Copyright Act" in the next few weeks.
   Because of their leadership roles, it's especially important that
   (using the contact info provided below):
     * UTAH and VERMONT residents write directly to Mr. Hatch and Mr.
       Leahy; and
     * MISSISSIPPI and OKLAHOMA residents contact Senate Majority Leader
       Trent Lott (R-MS) and Deputy Leader Don Nickels (R-OK); and
     * ARIZONA and SOUTH CAROLINA residents reach Sens. John McCain
       (R-AZ) and Ernest Hollings (D-SC).
   Postal letters may be addressed to your Senator like so:
  Hon. [full name here]
  United States Senate
  Washington, DC 20510

   Phone and fax information for the legislators mentioned above:
 Party      Name                      Phone           Fax
  R UT Hatch, Orrin G.            1-202-224-5251  1-202-224-6331
  D VT Leahy, Patrick J.          1-202-224-4242  1-202-224-3595
  R MS Lott, Trent                1-202-224-6253  1-202-224-2262
  R OK Nickles, Don               1-202-224-5754  1-202-224-6008
  R AZ John McCain                1-202-224-2235  1-202-228-2862
  D SC Ernest Hollings            1-202-224-6121  1-202-224-4293

   More information on contacting Congress is available at:
   With the passage of WIPO treaty implementing legislation (the "Digital
   Millennium Copyright Act", H.R. 2281 and S. 2037), Congress is moving
   to resolve differences between the House and Senate-passed versions in
   conference committee. A serious problem remains with the legislation.
   The dreadful "Collections of Information Antipiracy Act" (H.R. 2652
   and S. 2291, better known as the database protection bill), was
   amended into the House WIPO bill (H.R. 2281) as Title V of that bill,
   in somewhat moderated form. H.R. 2652/Title V is extremely problematic
   and has not been passed by the Senate. With its inclusion in the House
   WIPO bill, H.R. 2652/Title V will now be considered in conference
   (without having to pass the Senate separately) unless the Senate
   conferees strip it from the House WIPO bill they will be merging with
   the "clean" Senate WIPO bill. The House and Senate hope to finalize
   the legislation within the next two weeks, thus the request for
   immediate action.
        Minor Changes to US Crypto Policy Miss the Real Issue: Privacy
Inadequate White House Crypto Policy Changes

   (Sep. 16, 1998)
   A new change to US Administration encryption export policy appeases
   some particular industry segments, but completely fails to address the
   heart of the encryption export debate - individual privacy rights -
   and continues to sacrifice privacy and security for law enforcement
   and intelligence agency convenience. The new minor improvement to the
   policy, announced Sep. 16, 1998 in a White House press release, would
   allow US companies in certain countries to use strong encryption to
   protect trade secrets, and would add US-based insurance and medical
   corporations to the industry segments allowed to export and use strong
   encryption overseas for internal security use, in most countries.
   On the negative side, the new policy implies that only such
   institutions are "legitimate" users of strong encryption, and further
   advances law enforcement's demanded "key recovery" scheme by making it
   easier for key recovery-weakened encryption systems to receive more
   generalized export approval. (Key recovery, also known as "key escrow"
   or "trusted third party" systems, are encryption systems in which the
   government, or a party trusted by government, has access to the
   plaintext of all users' encrypted messages - analogous to all
   individual's house keys being "escrowed" with local police, "just in
   case" they ever want to search your home.)
   Despite the Administration's claim that the new policy "meets the full
   range of national interests: promotes electronic commerce, supports
   law enforcement and national security and protects privacy," EFF
   believes that these minor reforms do nothing at all to address the
   core issue of end-user privacy. Moreover, in encouraging key recovery
   it actually undermines privacy and computer security, at a time when
   major improvements in both areas are desperately needed. Though the
   changes would ease the burden on handful of industry concerns, the
   general policy continues to harm US competitiveness in the software
   industry, since foreign competitors are under no such market
   restrictions and can supply the demand for strong encryption in ways
   their US counterparts cannot.
   The new policy fails to address any of the issues raised by two EFF
   projects. Beginning in 1995, we have supported a series of (ongoing)
   lawsuits, including Bernstein v. Dept. of Justice, challenging the
   constitutionality of the entire crypto export regime. In 1998, our DES
   Cracker Project proved that the US government's Data Encryption
   Standard (DES) is woefully insecure, yet this is the level of
   encryption encouraged and allowed for general export and use by even
   the revised regulations.
   Additional problems with the new regulatory policy:
     * The new regulations still lack due process and provide the
       Administration with full discretion to suppress free expression in
       cryptography without judicial involvement;
     * they unconstitutionally require a "one-time review" by the
       government of almost any publication or private transaction in
       encryption software; and,
     * the real details of this latest development remain secret - the
       Administration has only released a vague statement, not actual
       regulations. The devil, as always, is in the details.
   For more information on this controversy see:
     * White House encryption policy update press release (full text)

     * New York Times article

     * Wired News article

     * EFF Encryption Export Policy Archive

     * EFF Key Escrow/Key Recovery Policy Archive

                     Other Headlines at
   Visit our web site to see what else is hot in online civil liberties.

     * "Cryptography is not a weapon": ACLU, EFF, and EPIC join an
       international call to remove controls on cryptography under the
       Wassenaar Arrangement (Sept. 15, 1998)

     * EFF and other members of Internet Free Expression Alliance testify
       against Net censorship bills in Congress (Sep. 11, 1998)

     * EFF opposes vague & overbroad California anti-spam bill (Sep. 9,

     * Fed. court holds that online materials cannot be censored until
       ruled illegal (Aug. 17, 1998)

     * "Your papers please..." - EFF comments on US Dept. of
       Transportation's troubling national ID proposal (Aug. 7, 1998)

     * EFF criticizes House passage of anti-fair-use online copyright &
       database protection legislation (Aug. 5, 1998; Inter@ctive Week

     * EFF letter to legislators opposing misguided anti-spam bill HR
       3888 (July 29, 1998)

     * EFF re-launches Blue Ribbon Campaign to combat censorship of the
       Internet - Four online new media groups join the Campaign by
       exhibiting the Blue Ribbon on their Web sites (June 15, 1998)

     * More headlines & information       
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