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Podcast Episode: Chronicling Online Communities

EFFector - Volume 8, Issue 20 - Internet Day of Protest: Tuesday December 12, 1995


EFFector - Volume 8, Issue 20 - Internet Day of Protest: Tuesday December 12, 1995

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EFFector Online Volume 08 No. 20       Dec 9, 1995
A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation        ISSN 1062-9424


ALERT: Mon. - Internet Censorship Protest Rally in San Francisco
ALERT: Tue. - Global Internet Day of Protest Against Censorship Bills
  Internet Day of Protest: Tuesday December 12, 1995
  What You Must Do On Tuesday December 12, 1995
  List of Participating Organizations
  Where Can I Learn More?
Update on Internet Censorship Bills
'Let Freedom Ring' - EFF Op-Ed on Internet Censorship
[Newsbytes - skipped for this issue again, due to urgency of lead articles] 
Upcoming Events
Quote of the Day
What YOU Can Do

* See or, /pub/Alerts/ for more
information on current EFF activities and online activism alerts! *


Subject: Mon. - Internet Censorship Protest Rally in San Francisco

Spread the word!


Amendment I: "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of
speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble."


It's like illiterates telling you what to read. On December 6 members of
the House Conference Committee on Telecommunications Reform approved a
proposal to censor free speech in cyberspace. If the measures are adopted,
the Net and online media will become the most heavily regulated media in
the United States. They *will not* enjoy the First Amendment freedoms now
afforded to print media. Instead, online publishers and users will be held
to a vague and patently un-Constitutional "indecency" standard. "Violators"
will be subject to fines of up to $100,000 and prison terms of up to five

In response, ALL members of the Bay Area media, online, Internet, new
media, and telecommunications communities are invited to participate in a
protest rally to express our outrage that the politicians in Congress
(which is not even connected to the Internet!) are attempting to destroy
our First Amendment rights in cyberspace, and directly attack our

Help stop the demagogs in Washington! There is nothing "decent" about
denying free speech to us, our children, and our children's children.
Preserve our Constitutional rights! Join us!

WHEN: Monday, December 11, 1995  12:00 - 1:00 PM (PST)

WHERE: South Park (between 2nd and 3rd, Bryant and Brannon) San Francisco.

SPEAKERS: To be announced  [including John Gilmore, Jim Warren, Dave
Winer, Mike Godwin, Howard Rheingold]

BRING: Attention-grabbing posters, signs, and banners that demonstrate your
committment to free speech and expression, and your feelings about


(Although this event is being organized in the offices of Wired magazine
and HotWired, we are *actively* seeking participation and support from all
members of the local community. Please forward this message to anyone you
think should attend, and to all relevant news groups.)

CONTACT: Todd Lappin -- 415-222-6241 --


Subject: ALERT Tue. - Global Internet Day of Protest Against Censorship Bills

EFF has joined forces with the ACLU, CDT, EPIC, VTW, and other free 
speech groups to organize a National Day of Protest on Tuesday, December 
12, 1995, against Congressional attempts to censor the Internet.

We hope you will join us and hundreds of thousands of your fellow
net.citizens in this effort.

Congress is expected to cast a final vote on this issue next week.
The fate of the Internet as a viable medium for free expression,
education, and commerce hangs in the balance.

Please take a moment to read the attached alert and get ready to
flood Capitol Hill with phone calls, faxes, and email messages
on Tuesday.  Please also forward this alert to all of your wired

Together we *can* make a difference. And we cannot afford to
fail at this.


    On Tuesday December 12, 1995, Join With Hundreds of Thousands
                  Of Your Fellow Internet Users In


                REDISTRIBUTE ONLY UNTIL December 20, 1995

        Internet Day of Protest: Tuesday December 12, 1995
        What You Must Do On Tuesday December 12, 1995
        List of Participating Organizations
	Where Can I Learn More?



Outrageous proposals to censor the Internet demand that the Internet
Community take swift and immediate action. We must stand up and let
Congress know that we will not tolerate their attempts to destroy this
medium! Please join hundreds of thousands of your fellow citizens in a
National Day of Protest on Tuesday December 12, 1995.

As you know, on Wednesday December 6, 1995, the House Conference
Committee on Telecommunications Reform voted to impose far reaching and
unconstitutional "indecency" restrictions on the Internet and other
interactive media, including large commercial online services (such as
America Online, Compuserve, and Prodigy) and smaller Internet Service
Providers such as Panix, the Well, Echo, and Mindvox.

These restrictions threaten the very existence of the Internet and
interactive media as a viable medium for free expression, education,
commerce.  If enacted, the Internet as we know it will never be the

Libraries will not be able to put any books online that might
offend a child somewhere.  No "Catcher in the Rye" or "Ulysses" on the net.
Internet Service Providers could face criminal penalties for allowing
children to subscribe to their Internet Services, forcing many  small
companies to simply refuse to sell their services to anyone under 18. Worst
of all, everything you say and publish on the net will have to be "dumbed
down" to that which is acceptable to a child.

As Internet users, we simply must not allow this assault against the
Internet and our most basic freedoms to go unchallenged.

On Tuesday December 12, the organizations below are urging you to
join us in a NATIONAL DAY OF PROTEST. The goal is to flood key members of
the House and Senate with phone calls, faxes and email with the message
that the Internet community WILL NOT TOLERATE Congressional attempts to
destroy the Internet, limit our freedoms and trample on our rights.

Below are the phone, fax, and email address of several key members of
Congress on this issue and instructions on what you can do to join the
National Day of Protest to save the Net.



1. Throughout the day Tuesday December 12, please contact as many
   members of Congress on the list below as you can. If you are only
   able to make one call, contact House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Finally,
   if the Senator or Representative from your state is on the list
   below, be sure to contact him or her also.

2. Urge each Member of Congress to "stop the madness".  Tell them that
   they are about to pass legislation that will destroy the Internet as
   an educational and commercial medium.  If you are at a loss for
   words, try the following sample communique:

   Sample phone call:

        Both the House and Senate bills designed to protect children
        from objectionable material on the Internet will actually
        destroy the Internet as an medium for education, commerce, and
        political discourse. There are other, less restrictive ways to
        address this issue.

        I urge you to oppose both measures being proposed in the
        conference committee.  This is an important election issue to

   Sample letter (fax or email):

        The Senate conferees are considering ways to protect children
        from inappropriate material on the Internet.  A vote for either
        the House or Senate proposals will result in the destruction of
        the Internet as a viable medium for free expression, education,
        commerce.  Libraries will not be able to put their entire book
        collections online.  Everyday people like me will risk massive
        fines and prison sentences for public discussions someone s
        somewhere might consider "indecent".

        There are other, less restrictive ways to protect children from
        objectionable material online. This is an important election
        issue to me.

3. If you're in San Francisco, or near enough to get there, go to 
   the Rally Against Censorship from Ground Zero of the Digital Revolution:

   WHEN: Monday, December 11, 1995  12:00 - 1:00 PM
   WHERE: South Park (between 2nd and 3rd, Bryant and Brannon) San Francisco.
   SPEAKERS: To be announced
   BRING: Attention-grabbing posters, signs, and banners that demonstrate
	your committment to free speech and expression, and your feelings
	about Congress.
   FOR UPDATED INFORMATION (including rain info):


4. Mail a note to to let us know you did your part.
   Although you will not receive a reply due to the number of
   anticipated responses, we'll be counting up the number of people that
   participated in the day of protest.

      P ST Name and Address           Phone           Fax
      = == ========================   ==============  ==============
      R AK Stevens, Ted               1-202-224-3004  1-202-224-1044
      R AZ McCain, John               1-202-224-2235  1-602-952-8702
      D HI Inouye, Daniel K.          1-202-224-3934  1-202-224-6747
      R KS Dole, Robert               1-202-224-6521  1-202-228-1245
      D KY Ford, Wendell H.           1-202-224-4343  1-202-224-0046
      R MS Lott, Trent                1-202-224-6253  1-202-224-2262
      R MT Burns, Conrad R.           1-202-224-2644  1-202-224-8594
      D NE Exon, J. J.                1-202-224-4224  1-202-224-5213
      D SC Hollings, Ernest F.        1-202-224-6121  1-202-224-4293
      R SD Pressler, Larry            1-202-224-5842  1-202-224-1259
      R WA Gorton, Slade              1-202-224-3441  1-202-224-9393
      D WV Rockefeller, John D.       1-202-224-6472  n.a.

   Dist ST Name, Address, and Party     Phone            Fax
   ==== == ========================     ==============  ==============
      6 GA Gingrich, Newt (R)           1-202-225-4501   1-202-225-4656
             2428 RHOB            
     14 MI Conyers Jr., John (D)        1-202-225-5126   1-202-225-0072
             2426 RHOB            
      1 CO Schroeder, Patricia (D)      1-202-225-4431   1-202-225-5842
             2307 RHOB
     18 TX Jackson-Lee, Sheila (D)      1-202-225-3816	 1-202-225-3317
             1520 LHOB
      6 TN Gordon, Bart (D)             1-202-225-4231   1-202-225-6887
             2201 RHOB

4. Forward this alert to all of your wired friends.



At this moment, there are several organizations with WWW sites that now
have, or will have, information about the net censorship legislation and
the National Day Of Protest:

American Civil Liberties Union (
Center for Democracy and Technology (
Electronic Frontier Foundation (
Electronic Privacy Information Center (
Wired Magazine (
Voters Telecommunications Watch (



In order to use the net more effectively, several organizations have
joined forces on a single Congressional net campaign to stop the
Communications Decency Act.

American Civil Liberties Union * American Communication Association *
American Council for the Arts * Arts & Technology Society * Association
of Alternative Newsweeklies * biancaTroll productions * Boston
Coalition for Freedom of Expression * Californians Against Censorship
Together * Center For Democracy And Technology * Centre for Democratic
Communications * Center for Public Representation * Citizen's Voice -
New Zealand * Cloud 9 Internet *Computer Communicators Association *
Computel Network Services * Computer Professionals for Social
Responsibility * Cross Connection * Cyber-Rights Campaign * CyberQueer
Lounge * Dorsai Embassy * Dutch Digital Citizens' Movement * ECHO
Communications Group, Inc. * Electronic Frontier Canada * Electronic
Frontier Foundation * Electronic Frontier Foundation - Austin *
Electronic Frontiers Australia * Electronic Frontiers Houston *
Electronic Frontiers New Hampshire * Electronic Privacy Information
Center * Feminists For Free Expression * First Amendment Teach-In *
Florida Coalition Against Censorship * FranceCom, Inc. Web Advertising
Services * Friendly Anti-Censorship Taskforce for Students * Hands
Off!  The Net * Inland Book Company * Inner Circle Technologies, Inc. *
Inst. for Global Communications * Internet On-Ramp, Inc. * Internet
Users Consortium * Joint Artists' and Music Promotions Political Action
Committee * The Libertarian Party * Marijuana Policy Project *
Metropolitan Data Networks Ltd. * MindVox * MN Grassroots Party *
National Bicycle Greenway * National Campaign for Freedom of Expression
* National Coalition Against Censorship * National Gay and Lesbian Task
Force * National Public Telecomputing Network * National Writers Union
* Oregon Coast RISC * Panix Public Access Internet * People for the
American Way * Republican Liberty Caucus * Rock Out Censorship *
Society for Electronic Access * The Thing International BBS Network *
The WELL * Voters Telecommunications Watch

(Note: All 'Electronic Frontier' organizations are independent entities,
 not EFF chapters or divisions.)


        End Alert
[Intro text adapted from CDT & VTW copies of the alert.]


Subject: Update on Internet Censorship Bills

The US House of Representatives members of the join conference committee 
working on the telecom bill passed, Dec. 5, a gutted version of the White 
amendment, that would criminalize "indecent" material online.  The fight 
now moves to the Senate side of that committee, which is dominated by 
sponsors of unconstitutional censorship legislation. Needless to say, 
they are not expected to uphold the First Amendement.

The larger Congress, however, may be another story.  As public rallies 
and online protests gear up, civil liberties organizations including EFF 
are urging YOU to call your Senators and Representatives, as well as Dole 
and Gingrich as Congressional leaders, to express your opinions on this 
vital issue.

According to an e-press release from _American_Reporter_, this 
online-only daily newspaper "threatened on Thursday to deliberately defy the
language of [the] U.S. House cyberporn proposal if it becomes law, 
calling the measure a clear violation of the First Amendment."  Other 
individuals and organizations - including a judge - have similarly promised 
civil disobedience, with people almost literally lining up to challenge 
the bill in court should it pass.  ACLU, EFF, and the National Writers 
Union, among others, have indicated interest in mounting legal challenges 
to any such censorship law.

The _Boston_Globe_ reports that at least one legislator, Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA)
is skeptical about the proposed new law. "Markey said there's a good 
chance Congress won't finish work on the overall telecommunications bill 
this year.  Even if the bill is completed, a constitional challenge to 
the law is very likely. Besides, the law won't stop people outside the 
United States from posting pornography on the Internet." (from "Markey 
Says Parents Key to Cyberporn Fight", Hiawatha Bray, _Boston_Globe_, Dec. 9).

Elizabeth Corcoran & Mike Mills report in the _Washington_Post_ that 
Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-GA) intends to "narrow the scope" 
of the legislation, working with Rep. Rick White (R-WA), who's own 
proposal was gutted in the conference committee. The _Post_ suggests 
that they will try to push the legislation back towards a "harmful to 
minors" (obscenity) standard, rather than the vague indecency standard 
expected to be reported out of the conf. committee early next week. 
Gingrich's plan would essentially force to be subject to at 
least some of the same tests as obscenity - material with cultural, 
literary or scientific value would be exempted.

The next (and possibly last, for this issue) meeting of the conferees on 
the telecom bill has been set for 2pm EST, Tue., Dec. 12.  The telecom 
bill conference report (that is, the final version of the bill) is 
sheduled for a vote the week of Dec. 11.


Subject: 'Let Freedom Ring' - EFF Op-Ed on Internet Censorship

[This is the longer original version of an opinion-editorial piece published 
Dec. 9, in the _New_York_Times_.]

Let Freedom Ring
Freedom of speech on the Internet, the worldwide network of 
computers, is under attack from a variety of sources, both 
public and private. Three preliminary decisions handed down 
over the past couple of weeks against the Church of 
Scientology and its related Religious Technology Center and 
Bridge Publications, Inc., offer a glimpse into how complicated 
these issues can become online.

The first decision, filed just before Thanksgiving by Judge 
Ronald Whyte of the northern California federal district court, 
probably had the most far-reaching implications for the future 
of electronic communications.  Judge Whyte held that Internet 
service providers, those important gateways to the information 
superhighway, cannot be held liable for copyright infringement 
when they have no knowledge of the content of their users' 
messages.  "Where a BBS operator cannot reasonably verify a 
claim of infringement, either because of a possible fair use 
defense, the lack of copyrighted notices on the copies, or the 
copyright holder's failure to provide the necessary 
documentation to show that there is a likely infringement, the 
operator's lack of knowledge will be found reasonable and there 
will be no liability for contributory infringement for allowing 
the continued distribution of the works on its system."

This is important, because system providers are similar to the 
telephone company when it comes to electronic communications--
they provide the conduit.  If they can be held liable for the content of 
messages, they are more likely to monitor those messages and censor any 
that contain anything that might get them in trouble.  Just as we don't 
want Ma Bell censoring our voice communications, we should be very troubled 
by any copyright law interpretation that would assign liability to those who 
provide Internet service.

The second and third decisions were filed last week by Judge 
Leonie M. Brinkema of the federal district court for northern 
Virginia.  In those cases, Judge Brinkema admonished the Church 
of Scientology for using lawsuits to silence its online 
critics.  In dismissing the Washington Post and two of its 
reporters from the suit and holding the Church of Scientology 
responsible for the Post's attorneys' fees, Judge Brinkema 
found, "Although the RTC brought the complaint under 
traditional secular concepts of copyright and trade secret law, 
it has become clear that a much broader motivation 
prevailed--the stifling of criticism and dissent of the 
religious practices of Scientology and the destruction of its 
opponents."  The judge called this motivation "reprehensible."

While the results of these preliminary decisions are 
encouraging, they are but small battles in a war that is being 
waged not only in our courtrooms but in Congress and state 
legislatures, as well.  And the war is hardly over.  From the 
unconstitutional "online decency" legislation included in the 
telecommunications reform bill to the FBI's digital telephony 
wiretapping law, censoring the Internet seems to be the battle cry of 
the uninformed.

But there are serious ramifications to barreling ahead without 
fully considering the First Amendment--ramifications that will 
be with us for a long time to come.  As we chip away at our own 
free speech rights, we diminish ourselves.  The most 
frightening aspect is that these decisions regarding provider 
liability and protection of the free speech rights of those who 
dare to disagree are being made before most of us realize that 
these precedents are being codified into law.

These early battles are important, and the online world 
breathed a collective sigh of relief over Judge Whyte's and 
Judge Brinkema's decisions.  But there are more battles to be 
fought  before we know that the First Amendment will make the 
transition to online communications.

Shari Steele,
Staff Counsel

The Electronic Frontier Foundation
1550 Bryant St., Suite 725
San Francisco CA 94103 USA
+1 415 436 9333 (voice)
+1 415 436 9993 (fax)
For the text of these court decisions and other related documents, 
see the relevant section of the Internet World Wide Web site of 
the Electronic Frontier Foundation at:

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is a nonprofit public-interest civil 
liberties organization devoted to protecting privacy and free speech, and 
promoting responsibility, online.

[The text of the rather different version that was published offline is 
available at:
on our WWW site.]


Subject: Upcoming events

This schedule lists events that are directly EFF-related. A much more 
detailed calendar of events likely to be of interest to our members and 
supporters is maintained at:

ftp:, /pub/EFF/calendar.eff
gopher:, 1/EFF, calendar.eff

Jan. 17-
     18 * Innovation Now; Oregon Convention Center, Portland Oregon.
          Sponsored by American Electronics Association's Oregon Council,
          et al.  Speakers include EFF chair of the board Esther Dyson.


Subject: Quote of the Day

"It is not the function of our Government to keep the citizen from falling
into error; it is the function of the citizen to keep the Government from
falling into error."
  - Robert H. Jackson (1892-1954), U.S. Judge

Find yourself wondering if your privacy and freedom of speech are safe 
when bills to censor the Internet are swimming about in a sea of of 
surveillance legislation and anti-terrorism hysteria?  Worried that in 
the rush to make us secure from ourselves that our government 
representatives may deprive us of our essential civil liberties? 
Concerned that legislative efforts nominally to "protect children" will 
actually censor all communications down to only content suitable for 
the playground?  Alarmed by commercial and religious organizations abusing
intellectual property law to stifle satire, dissent and criticism?

Join EFF!

Even if you don't live in the U.S., the anti-Internet hysteria will soon 
be visiting a legislative body near you.  If it hasn't already.


Subject: What YOU Can Do

* The Communications Decency Act & Other Censorship Legislation

The Communications Decency Act and similar legislation pose serious 
threats to freedom of expression online, and to the livelihoods of system 
operators.  The legislation also undermines several crucial privacy 

Business/industry persons concerned should alert their corporate govt.
affairs office and/or legal counsel.  Everyone should write to their own
Representatives and Senators, and especially the conference committee 
members, asking them to oppose Internet censorship legislation, and 
write to the conference committee members to support the reasonable 
approaches of Leahy, Klink, Cox and Wyden, and to oppose the 
unconstitutional proposals of Exon, Gorton and others.  Urge them to 
ensure that system operators and others are not held liable for crimes they 
did not commit, that the FCC is barred from regulating the Internet, and 
that *if* your Congressperson is hell-bent on passing some restriction, 
any restriction, on the Net, that he or she vote to pass only a 
"harmful to minors" or "obscenity" statute that is clear and constitutional, 
and condemn any unconstitutional national "indecency" standard.
You may also wish to tell such legislators that if they vote for any 
Internet censorship leglslation, you'll vote against them in the next 
election. See the first three articles in this newsletter for more detailed 

For more information on what you can do to help stop this and other 
dangerous legislation, see:, /pub/Alerts/, 1/Alerts

If you do not have full internet access, send your request
for information to

* Digital Telephony/Comms. Assistance to Law Enforcement Act

The FBI is now seeking both funding for the DT/CALEA wiretapping provisions,
and preparing to require that staggering numbers of citizens be 
simultaneously wiretappable.  

To oppose the funding, write to your own Senators and Representatives 
urging them to vote against any appropriations for wiretapping. 
To oppose the FBI's wiretapping capacity demands, see the FBI Federal 
Register notice at the end of the second article in this newsletter, which
contains instructions on how to submit formal comments on the ludicrous 
and dangerous proposal.

* Anti-Terrorism Bills

Numerous bills threatening your privacy and free speech have been introduced
this year.  None of them are close to passage at this very moment, but 
this status may change. Urge your Congresspersons to oppose these 
unconstitutional and Big-Brotherish bills.

* The Anti-Electronic Racketeering Act

This bill is unlikely to pass in any form, being very poorly drafted, and 
without much support.  However, the CDA is just as bad and passed with 
flying colors [the jolly roger?] in the Senate. It's better to be safe 
than sorry. If you have a few moments to spare, writing to, faxing, or 
calling your Congresspersons to urge opposition to this bill is a good 
idea. If you only have time to do limited activism, please concentrate 
on the Internet censorship legislation instead. That legislation is far more 
imminent that the AERA.

* Medical Privacy legislation

Several bills relating to medical privacy issues are floating in Congress 
right now. Urge your legislators to support only proposals that *truly* 
enhance the medical privacy of citizens.

More information on this legislation will be available at soon.  Bug to make 
it appear there faster. :)

* Find Out Who Your Congresspersons Are

Writing letters to, faxing, and phoning your representatives in Congress
is one very important strategy of activism, and an essential way of
making sure YOUR voice is heard on vital issues.

EFF has lists of the Senate and House with contact information, as well
as lists of Congressional committees. (A House list is included in this
issue of EFFector). These lists are available at:, /pub/Activism/Congress_cmtes/, 1/EFF/Issues/Activism/Congress_cmtes

The full Senate and House lists are senate.list and hr.list, respectively.
Those not in the U.S. should seek out similar information about their
own legislative bodies.  EFF will be happy to archive any such
information provided.

If you are having difficulty determining who your Representatives are,
try contacting your local League of Women Voters, who maintain a great 
deal of legislative information, or consult the free ZIPPER service
that matches Zip Codes to Congressional districts with about 85%
accuracy at:

* Join EFF!

You *know* privacy, freedom of speech and ability to make your voice heard
in government are important. You have probably participated in our online
campaigns and forums.  Have you become a member of EFF yet?  The best way to
protect your online rights is to be fully informed and to make your
opinions heard.  EFF members are informed and are making a difference.  Join
EFF today!

For EFF membership info, send queries to, or send any
message to for basic EFF info, and a membership form.



EFFector Online is published by:

The Electronic Frontier Foundation
1550 Bryant St., Suite 725
San Francisco CA 94103 USA
+1 415 436 9333 (voice)
+1 415 436 9993 (fax)
Membership & donations:
Legal services:
General EFF, legal, policy or online resources queries:

Stanton McCandlish, Online Services Mgr./Activist/Archivist (

This newsletter is printed on 100% recycled electrons.

Reproduction of this publication in electronic media is encouraged.  Signed
articles do not necessarily represent the views of EFF.  To reproduce
signed articles individually, please contact the authors for their express
permission. Press releases and EFF announcements may be reproduced individ-
ually at will.

To subscribe to EFFector via email, send message body of "subscribe
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Back issues are available at:, /pub/EFF/Newsletters/EFFector/, 1/EFF/Newsletters/EFFector

To get the latest issue, send any message to (or, and it will be mailed to you automagically.  You can also get
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at EFFweb.  HTML editions of the current issue sometimes take a day or 
longer to prepare after issue of the ASCII text version.


End of EFFector Online v08 #20 Digest


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