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EFFector - Volume 11, Issue 16 - Judge Halts Enforcement of COPA Internet Censorship Law


EFFector - Volume 11, Issue 16 - Judge Halts Enforcement of COPA Internet Censorship Law

             EFFector       Vol. 11, No. 16       Dec. 10, 1998
   A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation     ISSN 1062-9424
   This Human Rights Day special issue not only marks a historic liberty
   milestone, but also represents a full gross (12x12) EFFectors issued
   since EFF's founding in 1990.
     * Judge Halts Enforcement of COPA Internet Censorship Law
     * EFF Statement on Loudoun Ruling
     * 50th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights --
       and two human rights alerts
          + Web site launched to allow citizens of the world to protest
            their loss of privacy
          + China--Engineer & Physicist Imprisoned
     * Administrivia
   For more information on EFF activities & alerts:
            Judge Halts Enforcement of COPA Internet Censorship Law
   PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 10, 1998 -- Civil liberties groups and Internet
   users everywhere can breathe a sigh of relief - for now - as a federal
   judge has halted enforcement of the "Child Online Protect Act" (COPA,
   or colloquially "CDA-II"), a new federal Internet censorship law,
   until its constitutionality is ultimately resolved in court.
   In a Nov. 20 ruling in ACLU v. Reno II, Federal District Judge Lowell
   A. Reed, Jr. said that the groups have shown "a likelihood of success
   on the merits of at least some of their claims" that the federal
   Internet censorship law violates the First Amendment rights of adults.
   The government, Judge Reed said, presented "no binding authority or
   persuasive reason" why the court should not enjoin "total enforcement"
   of the law pending an outcome. The initial temporary restraining order
   (TRO) issued by the court has been extended to Feb. 1, 1999, with the
   next hearing in the case slated for Jan. 20-21, in which the free
   speech organizations will argue to turn the TRO into a more lasting
   preliminary injunction pending conclusion of the trial.
   Significantly, the judge emphasized that the temporary restraining
   order, or TRO, applies to all Internet users -- not just the
   plaintiffs in the case -- and that, even if the law is ultimately
   upheld, the Administration cannot prosecute online speakers
   Indeed, the judge wrote, to enjoin the law now but leave Internet
   users open to potential prosecution later "would be hollow relief
   indeed for plaintiffs and members of the public similarly situated."
   The American Civil Liberties Union, Electronic Frontier Foundation
   (EFF) and Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) -- co-counsel
   in the case -- welcomed the order.
   "Our clients, David Talbot, CEO of Salon Magazine and Norman Laurila,
   President of A Different Light Bookstores, provided compelling
   testimony today that if this law were not enjoined, they might be
   forced to shut down their websites altogether," said Ann Beeson, ACLU
   National Staff Attorney and a member of the legal team that appeared
   in court today. "That may not have been the intent of the law, but it
   certainly is the outcome."
   Under the current schedule, the groups will return to court next on
   December 8 and 9 for a preliminary injunction hearing on the matter.
   The TRO, which expires in ten days (on Friday, December 4), will
   likely be extended for another 10 days in order to maintain the
   current status quo.
   "We are very pleased with the court's initial ruling, " said Marc
   Rotenberg, Executive Director of the Electronic Privacy Information
   Center. "Like the original CDA, this censorship law raises troubling
   implications for both free speech and privacy in the online world."
   Barry Steinhardt, President of the Electronic Frontier Foundation,
   agreed. "This is an important first step," he said. "At least for now,
   speech on the Internet retains the strong constitutional protection
   that the Supreme Court said it deserved in the original Reno v. ACLU
   More information on the case can be found at:
     * EFF's "Child On-line Protection Act" Legal Challenge (ACLU v. Reno
       II) Archive at
       (you can think of this archive as the "COPA Cabana" -
       check back periodically for updates, or simply visit the Blue
       Ribbon Campaign for Free Speech Online page - - for the latest news.)
     * The judge's temporary restraining order (TRO) decision (makes COPA
       unenforceable for the time being):
     * Our memorandum in support of the motion for a TRO (explains the
       basis of our case and why the law is bad, in legal terms.)

                        EFF Statement on Loudoun Ruling
  Nov. 23, 1998
Another Victory for Free Speech on the Internet

   For the second time in one week, a U.S. court has handed down a ruling
   upholding the strongest Constitutional protections of free expression
   on the Internet. A U.S. District Court ruled today, in Mainstream
   Loudoun, et. al. v. Board of Trustees of the Loudoun County Library,
   that the Loudoun County, Virginia, policy requiring filtering software
   in public libaries violated the First Amendment by preventing adults
   from using library computers to access a wide array of mainstream,
   constitutionally-protected materials.
   The decision follows closely on the heels of the first victory in the
   new legal challenge being mounted by the Electronic Frontier
   Foundation, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic
   Privacy Information Center, against the recently passed Child Online
   Protection Act (COPA, a.k.a. "CDA-II").  Decision text:
   Filtering measures rob local libraries, schools, and ultimately
   parents of the authority to decide for themselves what are appropriate
   uses of the Internet and force them to install crude blocking
   software. All too often, material about topics ranging from the
   prevention of sexually-transmitted diseases, to women's rights, to
   current news stories about political sex scandals is likely to be
   blocked. Even religious groups such as the Society of Friends (Quaker
   religion) and mainstream organizations like the American Association
   of University Women have been blocked. Earlier this year we learned
   that even conservative groups like the American Family Association
   have been blacklisted by these imperfect tools, which are already
   being installed in libraries and schools today.
   As EFF has said on numerous occasions that you can no more create a
   computer program to block out content that fits one community's view
   of "indecent", "obscene" or "harmful to minors", than you can devise a
   filtering program to block out misguided proposals by members of
   Congress. Both goals may be desirable, but neither are possible.
   For more information, see EFF's Loudoun Co. Library Case Archive (major documents) and/or's Loudoun Co. Library Case Archive (all documents).
50th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights -- and two human
                                 rights alerts
  EFF Urges You to Exercise Your Human Rights Today!
   Thursday, December 10, 1998 marks the 50th Anniversary of the UN
   Universal Declaration of Human Rights. EFF urges you to participate in
   2 on-line campaigns for the betterment of human rights everywhere.
   First, you can globally protest recent anti-cryptography changes to
   the international Wassenaar agreement on export controls, by
   participating in the campaign. Second, send an e-mail
   to Chinese officials and urge them to free two jailed Chinese
   scientists facing prosecution for using the Internet to promote
   democracy. For more information see (under "What's
  50th Anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights a Reminder that Privacy
  must be preserved.
Web site launched to allow citizens of the world to protest their loss of

   December 9, 1998 (Montreal)--On the 50th anniversary of the Universal
   Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), as well as in protest of the
   recent changes to cryptography policies worldwide, Zero-Knowledge
   Systems is spearheading a campaign to encourage governments to loosen
   newly imposed cryptography restrictions. This campaign, seen on the
   web site, enables citizens of the world to
   express their outrage and concern at the increasing loss of their
   Article 12 of the UDHR states,
     "No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his
     privacy, family home, or correspondence..."
   Yet, decades later, we are witnessing the unprecedented collection of
   personal information and intrusions into the lives of many. Internet
   users in particular, confront multiple privacy violations while
   online. Over 80% of Internet users polled consider privacy be their
   primary concern.
   The best defense for online privacy is to use strong cryptography,
   which allows Internet users to preserve the privacy of their
   communications and personal information.
   On December 3, 1998, the Internet community experienced one of the
   strongest setbacks to their privacy in recent years. The 33 member
   countries of the Wassenaar Arrangement agreed for the first time to
   impose export restrictions on mass-market cryptography products.
   Until December 3rd, the majority of the Wassenaar signatories did not
   impose export controls over mass-market products that protect personal
   security and privacy through cryptography. The United States
   Department of Commerce Under-Secretary has taken credit for convincing
   all other Wassenaar countries to impose these added restrictions over
   cryptography designed for average citizens.
   Barry Steinhardt, President of the Electronic Frontier Foundation
   believes "The US government has strong-armed the rest of the
   industrialized world into adopting a policy that will make us less
   secure and more vulnerable to electronic terrorism. Our critical
   national and international infrastructures need to be protected by
   strong encryption. Weak encryption with back doors that will be
   exploited not just by governments, but by information pirates, will
   leave us at greater risk."
   "It is not too late to reverse course," continues Steinhardt.
   "Wassenaar allows, but does not require, the other national
   governments to follow the US' foolish lead."
   "Cryptography is the key to preserving privacy for Internet users,"
   explains Austin Hill, President of Zero-Knowledge Systems. "By
   limiting the accessibility of cryptography, you are limiting people's
   ability to protect themselves. Now, more than ever, we have the
   ability to influence the future of the electronic world; we must
   ensure that it has the same the basic rights and protections that the
   UDHR promised us fifty years ago."
   Hill continues, "We hope that Internet users will be proactive in
   protesting this human rights infringement to their governments. The web site provides such a space, where users can learn
   about the issues and send their government representatives a message
   expressing their dissatisfaction with the tightening of cryptography
   The web site provides a form that citizens
   can fill out and have faxed or emailed to their respective government
   representatives. It also provides information and articles on the
   recently imposed cryptography restrictions.
   Zero-Knowledge Systems Inc. ( ) is a Canadian based
   software developer dedicated to providing cryptographic solutions for
   the privacy and security of Internet users. They will be launching
   their first product called Freedom(TM) in February 1999.

   10 December 1998
China--Engineer & Physicist Imprisoned

     You -- Wang Youcai
     ME9810.Hai -- Lin Hai
     (Previous alert issued on 19 August 1998).
   ISSUES: the right to life, liberty, and security of person; freedom
   from arbitrary arrest and detention; freedom of opinion and
   expression; freedom of peaceful assembly and association; the right to
   communicate freely over the Internet and other telecommunications
   FACTS OF THE CASE: On a day when most countries are celebrating the
   50th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
   software engineer Lin Hai and physicist and dissident Wang Youcai sit
   in jail for using the Internet to support democracy in China.
   The Science and Human Rights Program of the American Association for
   the Advancement of Science, in collaboration with the Association for
   Computing Machinery, the Center for Democracy and Technology, the
   Committee of Concerned Scientists, the Committee on the International
   Freedom of Scientists of the American Physical Society, Cyber-Rights &
   Cyber-Liberties (UK), Derechos Human Rights, the Digital Freedom
   Network, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Electronic Privacy
   Information Center, Human Rights in China, the New York Academy of
   Sciences' Committee on Human Rights, and VIP Reference, has initiated
   an e-mail appeal campaign on behalf of Lin Hai and Wang Youcai. We
   encourage other groups to share this alert with their constituencies.
   Lin Hai was arrested on 25 March 1998 for providing 30,000 Chinese
   e-mail addresses to VIP Reference, which publishes a pro-democracy
   newsletter described by Chinese prosecutors as a "hostile foreign
   publication." US-based VIP Reference distributes reports on dissident
   activities, human rights, and other issues to more than 200,000 e-mail
   addresses in China. Lin Hai has been charged with "inciting to
   overthrow state power." His trial was conducted in secret in Shanghai
   on 4 December 1998; the verdict is expected to be announced soon.
   Lin's arrest has been described as evidence that the Chinese
   government is determined to prevent freedom of information on the
   Internet from posing a challenge to its leadership.
   Wang Youcai, a leader of the 1989 pro-democracy demonstrations, is
   scheduled to go to trial on 17 December in the Hangzhou Intermediate
   Court on the charge of "inciting to overthrow state power." Among his
   crimes is sending e-mail messages to dissidents in the US. Wang was
   arrested in July for trying to organize an opposition party. He was
   then released and put under house arrest. He was detained again on 2
   November and formally charged on 30 November.
   More than one million Chinese citizens reportedly have access to the
   Internet. The government encourages this access to promote national
   development while, at the same time, fighting to control its use for
   political purposes.
   The arrests of Lin Hai and Wang Youcai constitute serious violations
   of international human rights standards enumerated in the Universal
   Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted without opposition by
   the United Nations General Assembly on 10 December 1948. They include:
     * Everyone has the right to life, liberty, and security of person
       (Article 3);
     * no one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile
       (Article 9);
     * everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this
       right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and
       to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any
       media regardless of frontiers (Article 19); and
     * everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and
       association (Article 20).
   (Sources of information for this update include Chinese VIP Reference,
   the Digital Freedom Network, Human Rights in China, and the New York
   Times. Previous sources of information include the Associated Press
   and Human Rights in China.)
   RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send e-mail or fax messages:
     * calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Lin Hai and
       Wang Youcai on the grounds that they were arrested solely for
       exercising their internationally recognized rights to freedom of
       expression and association; and
     * urging Chinese officials to cease their interference with
       electronic communications.
   To maintain the legitimacy of our efforts, we request that you send
   only one message to the e-mail addresses listed below.
     Zhu Rongji
     Premier of the People's Republic of China
     fax: 86 1 512 5810 (via Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
     People's Daily
     No.2 jin tai xi lu
     fax: +8610 65092893
     Guangming Daily
     106 Yong An Road
     fax: +8610 63039387
     Jiefang Daily (Shanghai)
     No.300 Hankou Road
     fax: +8621 63526517
     China's Central TV
     No.11, Fuxing Road
     Beijing, bj 100859
     e-mail: michael@NIC.CCTV.COM
     Xinhua News Agency
     fax: +8610 63071080
     e-mail: aaron@CHINA.COM
     Human Rights of China
     Bldg.22, Anyuan BeiLi, Asian Games Village
     Beijing, Beijing 100029
     fax: +86-10-64912961
     e-mail: infornew@PUBLIC.BTA.NET.CN
     State Development Planning Commission of China
     58# SANLIHE road
     XICHENG district Beijing China
     fax: +8610 68558560
   Please send copies of your appeals, and any responses you may receive,
   or direct any questions you may have to Elisa Munoz by e-mail at .
   The keys to effective appeals are to be courteous and respectful,
   accurate and precise, impartial in approach, and as specific as
   possible regarding the alleged violation and the international human
   rights standards and instruments that apply to the situation.
   Reference to your scientific organization and professional affiliation
   is always helpful.
   To ensure that appeals are current and credible, please do not
   continue to write appeals on this case after 90 days from the date of
   the posting unless an update has been issued.
   EFFector is published by:
   The Electronic Frontier Foundation
   1550 Bryant St., Suite 725
   San Francisco CA 94103-4832 USA
   +1 415 436 9333 (voice)
   +1 415 436 9993 (fax)
   Editor: Stanton McCandlish, Program Director/Webmaster (
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