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EFFector - Volume 12, Issue 1 - Second Preliminary Victory Against COPA ("CDA-2")


EFFector - Volume 12, Issue 1 - Second Preliminary Victory Against COPA ("CDA-2")

   EFFector       Vol. 12, No. 1       Feb. 11, 1999
   A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation     ISSN 1062-9424
  IN THE 145th ISSUE OF EFFECTOR (now with over 14,000 subscribers!):
     * Second Preliminary Victory Against COPA ("CDA-2")
     * EFF & Other Groups Oppose New Measures to Undermine Freedom of
     * The Eighth Annual International EFF Pioneer Awards: Call For
     * Calif. Library Filtering Case - Another Victory for Online Free
     * ALERT: Protest Jailing of Online Chinese Democracy Activists
     * EFF's DES Cracker puts final nail in coffin of insecure government
       Data Encryption Standard
     * Administrivia
   For more information on EFF activities & alerts:
      6:00 PM, Monday, February 1, 1999
            Netizens Safe from Prosecution Under Net Censorship Law
  Philadelphia Judge Bars Enforcement of Child Online Protection Act
   SAN FRANCISCO, CA - In a case brought by civil liberties groups to
   overturn the government's new law aimed at censoring content on the
   Internet, District Court Judge Lowell Reed issued a preliminary
   injunction protecting Internet speakers from prosecution and fines. In
   addition, Judge Reed denied the government's motion to dismiss the
   plaintiffs' complaint. The case was filed by the Electronic Frontier
   Foundation (EFF), the American Civil Liberties Union, and the
   Electronic Privacy Information Center.
   "The content on the Internet is as diverse as human thought," wrote
   Judge Reed in his decision this afternoon. "[P]erhaps we do the minors
   of this country harm if First Amendment protections, which they will
   with age inherit fully, are chipped away in the name of their
   "In granting our preliminary injunction, Judge Reed has found that
   plaintiffs are likely to win this case on its merits, that Internet
   users would suffer irreparable harm if the statute were enforced, and
   that our First Amendment rights to communicate would be stifled,"
   explained EFF staff attorney Shari Steele. "The judge clearly
   understood the importance of his ruling here, and we're obviously
   pleased with the results."
   Enacted by Congress and signed into law by President Clinton last
   December, the Child Online Protection Act (COPA) makes it a federal
   crime to "knowingly" communicate "for commercial purposes" material
   considered "harmful to minors." Penalties include fines of up to
   $50,000 for each day of violation, and up to six months in prison if
   convicted of a crime. The government may also bring a civil suit with
   penalties of $50,000 for each violation in addition to criminal
   The court's ruling today denied the government's motion to dismiss
   while granting EFF and the other plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary
   injunction. The government had claimed that the plaintiffs did not
   have standing because they were not commercial pornographers. The
   court held that the law, which imposed liability on any speaker for
   making any communication for commercial purposes that was "harmful to
   minors," was not limited to pornographers and was a violation of the
   free speech rights of adults." In addition, the court found that there
   was nothing in the text of the law that would be applicable to only
   pornographers, and that COPA could apply to any Web site that contains
   only some material considered "harmful to minors."
   "The court has protected Internet speakers from prosecution for
   engaging in constitutionally protected speech," said Steele.
   "Plaintiffs in this case are not pornographers; they offer resources
   on obstetrics, gynecology, sexual health, visual art, poetry, gay and
   lesbian issues, books, photographs and online magazines." She added,
   "Judge Reed has recognized what the Supreme Court has said time and
   time again - the free speech rights of adults may not be reduced to
   allow them to read only what is acceptable for children."
   EFF joined the case on behalf of its members who fear prosecution or
   other enforcement under the statute for communicating, sending, or
   displaying material "harmful to minors" in a manner available to
   persons under age 18 for commercial purposes. None of EFF's members
   can prevent their communications from reaching minors without also
   preventing adults from accessing their speech.
   "COPA is a vague, overbroad, and largely ineffective law, using our
   children as hostages," said Jon Noring, publisher of OmniMedia Digital
   Publishing and an EFF member named in the case. "From a business
   perspective, it would gravely impact the emerging electronic book
   industry, effectively closing down certain business models among U.S.
   electronic book companies, and leaving them to foreign competitors who
   will not be so constrained." He concluded that "COPA is just a bad law
   that benefits nobody."
   Rufus Griscom, another EFF member named in the case and editor of the
   award-winning online magazine, Nerve: Literate Smut, said "We're
   delighted this nation is not being marched into nursery school, as
   "My biggest concern is that COPA threatens the free flow of
   non-pornographic information that is nevertheless valuable to adults
   and older minors," said EFF member Bill Boushka, the publisher of High
   Productivity Publishing who submitted an affidavit in the case. "While
   I could conceivably afford some kind of age verification system for my
   site, the mechanics of the process would destroy the effectiveness of
   my site in providing openly available material for researchers, law
   students, political activists, and even legislators."
   Complete case materials and the judge's decision are available on the
   EFF Web site at:

   The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the first civil liberties
   organization devoted to ensuring that the Internet remains a truly
   global vehicle for free speech, and that the privacy and security of
   all on-line communications are preserved. Founded in 1990 as a
   nonprofit, public interest organization, EFF is based in San
   Francisco, California and maintains an extensive archive of
   information on free speech, privacy, and encryption policy at

  Electronic Frontier Foundation
     Alex Fowler, Director of Public Affairs (San Francisco, CA)
     Shari Steele, Staff Counsel (Washington, DC)
  EFF Members Named in the Case
     Bill Boushka, High Productivity Publishing (Minneapolis, MN)
     Jon Noring, OmniMedia Digital Publishing (South Jordan, UT)
     Rufus Griscom, Nerve: Literate Smut (New York, NY)
     Gabriela Sankovich, Good Vibrations (San Francisco, CA)
   More information on the case can be found at:

     * EFF's "Child On-line Protection Act" Legal Challenge (ACLU v. Reno
       II) Archive - 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 (made COPA
       unenforceable until the more stringent preliminary injunction was
     * 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 & Other Groups Oppose New Measures to Undermine Freedom of Information
      February 10, 1999
Groups Supporting Openness Oppose Limits on Access to Public Information

  Letter Adds Voices to Environmentalists' Outcry on Restrictions to the Public
   WASHINGTON - February 10, 1999 - Yesterday, a group of civil
   liberties, academic, journalist and public interest organizations sent
   a letter to Representative Thomas Bliley, Chairman of the House
   Commerce Committee, expressing concern over proposals to limit the
   availability of public information about the potential for accidents
   at chemical plants (EPA's unclassified Worst Case Scenarios data) on
   the Internet. The text of this letter is available at:
   This information has been readily available through the Freedom of
   Information Act (FOIA) providing citizens with critical insight to
   assess and improve the safety of their communities. As part of the
   Clean Air Act, the information was to be made more readily accessible.
   Under pressure from the FBI, Chairman Bliley and the chemical
   industry, the EPA has stepped back from its initial proposal to
   provide public access to the data through the agency's Web site. New
   proposals would limit the basic access to this public information.
   "Rather than taking advantage of the Internet's democratic potential
   to allow citizens the ability to access public information," Ari
   Schwartz, Policy Analyst at the Center for Democracy and Technology,
   said "these proposals view the Internet and its power to distribute
   information as a threat."
   The letter, signed by the American Association of Law Libraries, the
   American Civil Liberties Union, Association of Newspaper Editors,
   Center for Democracy and Technology, Electronic Frontier Foundation
   and OMB Watch, urged the Chairman not to retreat from the substantial
   gains made in ensuring that citizens have access to public information
   to monitor their government and its activities through the FOIA.
   Recent amendments to FOIA, EFOIA, encouraged and promulgated the use
   of communications technology to spread public information ensuring
   greater openness. "The United States is a democracy, and the Freedom
   of Information Act plays an essential role in guaranteeing that
   citizens gain access to information that empowers us to make educated
   choices, " Shari Steele, Director of Legal Services at the Electronic
   Frontier Foundation, explained. "Proposals like this one undermine the
   very core of our society and are a threat to the exercise of true
   The groups' letter asked Bliley for more comprehensive hearings on the
   subject to include members of all interested communities. A
   legislative proposal is expected in the coming weeks. "This is just
   the beginning of a battle to protect the ability to access public
   information on the Internet," Schwartz said.
For More Information

     * EFF's Freedom of Information & Open Government Archive:

   *Please free to redistribute this notice in appropriate forums.*
   In every field of human endeavor,there are those dedicated to
   expanding knowledge, freedom, efficiency and utility. Along the
   electronic frontier, this is especially true. To recognize this, the
   Electronic Frontier Foundation established the Pioneer Awards for
   deserving individuals and organizations.
   The Pioneer Awards are international and nominations are open to all.
   The deadline for nominations this year is March 10, 1999. Nominations
   must be sent to
   In March of 1992, the first EFF Pioneer Awards were given in
   Washington D.C. The winners were: Douglas C. Engelbart, Robert Kahn,
   Jim Warren, Tom Jennings, and Andrzej Smereczynski. The 1993 Pioneer
   Award recipients were Paul Baran, Vinton Cerf, Ward Christensen, Dave
   Hughes and the USENET software developers, represented by the
   software's originators Tom Truscott and Jim Ellis. The 1994 Pioneer
   Award winners were Ivan Sutherland, Whitfield Diffie and Martin
   Hellman, Murray Turoff and Starr Roxanne Hiltz, Lee Felsenstein, Bill
   Atkinson, and the WELL. The 1995 Pioneer Award winners were Philip
   Zimmermann, Anita Borg, and Willis Ware. The 1996 Pioneer Award
   winners were Robert Metcalfe, Peter Neumann, Shabbir Safdar and
   Matthew Blaze. The 1997 winners were Marc Rotenberg, Johan "Julf"
   Helsingius, and (special honorees) Hedy Lamarr and George Antheil. The
   1998 winners were Richard Stallman, Linus Torvalds, and Barbara
   The 8th Annual Pioneer Awards will be given in Washington, D.C., at
   the 9th Conference on Computers, Freedom, and Privacy in April of
   All nominations will be reviewed by a panel of judges chosen for their
   knowledge of computer-based communications and the technical, legal,
   and social issues involved in computer technology and computer
   This year's judges are Mike Godwin, Bruce Koball, Hal Abelson, Lorrie
   Cranor, Phil Agre, and Simona Nass.
   There are no specific categories for the Pioneer Awards, but the
   following guidelines apply:
    1. The nominees must have made a substantial contribution to the
       health, growth, accessibility, or freedom of computer-based
    2. The contribution may be technical, social, economic or cultural.
    3. Nominations may be of individuals, systems, or organizations in
       the private or public sectors.
    4. Nominations are open to all, and you may nominate more than one
       recipient. You may nominate yourself or your organization.
    5. All nominations, to be valid, must contain your reasons, however
       brief, for nominating the individual or organization, along with a
       means of contacting the nominee, and your own contact number.
       Anonymous nominations will be allowed, but we prefer to be able to
       contact the nominating parties in the event that we need more
    6. Every person or organization, with the single exception of EFF
       staff members, are eligible for Pioneer Awards.
    7. Persons or representatives of organizations receiving a Pioneer
       Award will be invited to attend the ceremony at the Foundation's
   You may nominate as many as you wish, but please use one form per
   nomination. You may return the forms to us via email to:
   Just tell us the name of the nominee, the phone number or email
   address at which the nominee can be reached, and, most important, why
   you feel the nominee deserves the award. You may attach supporting
   documentation in Microsoft Word or other standard binary formats.
   Please include your own name, address, phone number, and e-mail
   We're looking for the Pioneers of the Electronic Frontier that have
   made and are making a difference. Thanks for helping us find them,
     The Electronic Frontier Foundation
                         Calif. Library Filtering Case
Another Victory for Online Free Speech

   Alameda County Superior Court judge George Hernandez dismissed the
   lawsuit of Livermore, CA, resident "Kathleen R.", who, with the
   backing of a religious organization, had filed suit against the
   Livermore public library in an attempt to force the library to install
   filtering software. The judge did not issue a detailed opinion.
   This case is opposite, in some respects, to the Loudoun Co., VA,
   library filtering case, in which local parents and other parties
   successfully sued the county library board to have a pro-censorship
   filtering policy ruled unconstitutional.
   The Livermore case, by contrast, was an attempt by a single area
   resident to impose filtering where it did not already exist.
   Both cases raise the principal problematic issues of Internet content
   blocking in public libraries:

     * Filtering software does not block all "objectionable" material,
       only some of it, with the result that mandatory imposition of
       filters fails a constitutionality test that requires that such
       restrictions be reasonably effective.
     * Filtering software blocks much material that is not
       "objectionable" under any rational definition - material that is
       constitutionally protected even for the youngest minors. Sometimes
       this misblockage is accidental, while other times it is a
       politically motivated decision by the software producer.
     * Libraries exist to provide access to material, not to act as
       surrogate parents.
     * It is up to parents to set rules for what their children may read
       in the library or online, and to see to it that these rules are
       obeyed. It is not the function of our government to discipline our
       children for us.
     * "Objectionable" cannot be defined. It is physically impossible for
       these filtering products to only block access to material that a
       court has found illegal, obscene, harmful to minors, or otherwise
       legitimately censorable under the First Amendment.
     * Mandatory filtering in libraries contradicts the Supreme Court's
       finding in ACLU v. Reno that the Internet has at least as much
       First Amendment protection as other media, including books.
   Despite these clear signals from the federal courts on both coasts
   that imposition of Net filters in public libraries is
   unconstitutional, Congress will again be considering bills that will
   attempt to force such libraries to use content-blocking software
   For more information, see: C|Net News.Com article on the Livermore
   case ruling:,4,30979,00.html
   EFF's Loudoun Co. Library Case Archive (major documents):'s Loudoun Co. Library Case Archive (all documents):
   EFF's Library Filtering Archive:
  Blue Ribbon Campaign for Online Freedom of Speech:
         ALERT: Protest Jailing of Online Chinese Democracy Activists
   Mainland Chinese software engineer Lin Hai was arrested on March 25,
   1998 for providing 30,000 e-mail addresses to a pro-democracy Internet
   newsletter. On January 20, 1999, he was sentenced to two years in
   prison. Physicist and dissident Wang Youcai was sentenced on December
   21, 1998 to 11 years in prison; the charges against Wang included
   trying to organize a peaceful opposition party and sending e-mail
   messages to dissidents in the U.S. For more detailed background
   information, see:
   Digital Freedom Network and the Electronic Frontier Foundation urge
   you to send protest letters to the Chinese media and goverment, and
   you can do this right from the Blue Ribbon Campaign's Web site, using
   and e-mail form (see Action Item #1 at the site):
      FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Tuesday, January 19, 1999
    EFF's DES Cracker puts final nail in coffin of insecure government Data
                              Encryption Standard
RSA Code-Breaking Contest Again Won by Distributed.Net and Electronic Frontier
Foundation (EFF)

  DES Challenge III Broken in Record 22 Hours
   RSA DATA SECURITY CONFERENCE, SAN JOSE, CA -- Breaking the previous
   record of 56 hours, Distributed.Net, a worldwide coalition of computer
   enthusiasts, worked with the Electronic Frontier Foundation's (EFF)
   "DES Cracker," a specially designed supercomputer, and a worldwide
   network of nearly 100,000 PCs on the Internet, to win RSA Data
   Security's DES Challenge III in a record-breaking 22 hours and 15
   minutes. The worldwide computing team deciphered a secret message
   encrypted with the United States government's Data Encryption Standard
   (DES) algorithm using commonly available technology. From the floor of
   the RSA Data Security Conference & Expo, a major data security and
   cryptography conference being held in San Jose, Calif., EFF's DES
   Cracker and the Distributed.Net computers were testing 245 billion
   keys per second when the key was found.
   First adopted by the federal government in 1977, the 56-bit DES
   algorithm is still widely used by financial services and other
   industries worldwide to protect sensitive on-line applications,
   despite growing concerns about its vulnerability. RSA has been
   sponsoring a series of DES-cracking contests to highlight the need for
   encryption stronger than the current 56-bit standard widely used to
   secure both U.S. and international commerce.
   "As today's demonstration shows, we are quickly reaching the time when
   anyone with a standard desktop PC can potentially pose a real threat
   to systems relying on such vulnerable security," said Jim Bidzos,
   president of RSA Data Security, Inc. "It has been widely known that
   56-bit keys, such as those offered by the government's DES standard,
   offer only marginal protection against a committed adversary. We
   congratulate Distributed.Net and the EFF for their achievement in
   breaking DES in record-breaking time."
   As part of the contest, RSA awarded a $10,000 prize to the winners at
   a special ceremony held during the RSA Conference. The goal of this
   DES Challenge contest was not only to recover the secret key used to
   DES-encrypt a plain-text message, but to do so faster than previous
   winners in the series. As before, a cash prize was awarded for the
   first correct entry received. The amount of the prize was based on how
   quickly the key was recovered.
   "The diversity, volume and growth in participation that we have seen
   at Distributed.Net not only demonstrates the incredible power of
   distributed computing as a tool, but also underlines the fact that
   concern over cryptography controls is widespread," said David McNett,
   co-founder of Distributed.Net.
   "EFF believes strongly in providing the public and industry with
   reliable and honest evaluations of the security offered by DES. We
   hope the result of today's DES Cracker demonstration delivers a
   wake-up call to those who still believe DES offers adequate security,"
   said John Gilmore, EFF co-founder and project leader. "The
   government's current encryption policies favoring DES risk the
   security of the national and world infrastructure."
   The Electronic Frontier Foundation began its investigation into DES
   cracking in 1997 to determine just how easily and cheaply a
   hardware-based DES Cracker (i.e., a code-breaking machine to crack the
   DES code) could be constructed.
   Less than one year later and for well under U.S. $250,000, the EFF,
   using its DES Cracker, entered and won the RSA DES Challenge II-2
   competition in less than 3 days, proving that DES is not very secure
   and that such a machine is inexpensive to design and build.
   "Our combined worldwide team searched more than 240 billion keys every
   second for nearly 23 hours before we found the right 56-bit key to
   decrypt theanswer to the RSA Challenge [III], which was 'See you in
   Rome (second AES Conference, March 22-23, 1999),'" said Gilmore. The
   reason this message was chosen is that the Advanced Encryption
   Standard (AES) initiative proposes replacing DES using encryption keys
   of at least 128 bits.
   RSA's original DES Challenge was launched in January 1997 with the aim
   of demonstrating that DES offers only marginal protection against a
   committed adversary. This was confirmed when a team led by Rocke
   Verser of Loveland, Colorado recovered the secret key in 96 days,
   winning DES Challenge I. Since that time, improved technology has made
   much faster exhaustive search efforts possible. In February 1998,
   Distributed.Net won RSA's DES Challenge II-1 with a 41-day effort, and
   in July, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) won RSA's DES
   Challenge II-2 when it cracked the DES message in 56 hours.
   EFF has prepared a background document on the EFF DES Cracker, which
   includes the foreword by Whitfield Diffie to "Cracking DES." See: 
   The book can be ordered for worldwide delivery from O'Reilly &
   Associates at:
   or call 1 800 998 9938 (US-only), or +1 707 829 0515.
   The Electronic Frontier Foundation is one of the leading civil
   liberties organizations devoted to ensuring that the Internet remains
   the world's first truly global vehicle for free speech, and that the
   privacy and security of all on-line communication is preserved.
   Founded in 1990 as a nonprofit, public interest organization, EFF is
   based in San Francisco, California. EFF maintains an extensive archive
   of information on encryption policy, privacy, and free speech at:
   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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