From telstar@wired.comSun Jun  9 23:13:19 1996
Date: Sun, 9 Jun 1996 20:48:29 -0800
Subject: UPDATE: The Second Great Net Panic

June 9, 1996

Still no word from the control tower in Philadelphia on the CDA decision...
but while we circle in this holding pattern, Comrade Declan McCullagh has
put together an excellent inflight presentation of Fight-Censorship

Speaking of the Internet hi-jinks now taking place in Washington D.C.,
Declan reports:

"Whatever the cause, it's clear that last year's cyberporn scare --
centering around online smut and leading to the passage of the
Communications Decency Act -- is dwarfed by this year's fevered
attempts to control the Net."

Declan also brings news of Al Gore's recent speech at MIT, in which the
Vice President was heard to pontificate:

"But let me also state my clear and unequivocal view that a fear of
chaos cannot justify unwarranted censorship of free speech, whether
that speech occurs in newspapers, on the broadcast airwaves -- or
over the Internet."

This, from the same administration that signed the CDA into law!

Personally, I want the Clinton administration go ON RECORD with a pledge to
*veto any and all* pending attempts to create Internet content prohibitions
that would be unconstitutional if applied equally to the print medium.
ONLY THEN will I begin to take the administration's "unequivocal"
committment to free speech seriously.

Sure would be mighty nice if one of them presidential candidates pandered
to *us* for a change.

"Contract with the Internet," anyone?  All suitors are welcome... serious
candidates only, please.

Keep your seatbelt fastened...

More turbulence follows below.

Work the network!

--Todd Lappin-->
Section Editor
WIRED Magazine


                     Fight-Censorship Dispatch #13
                      The Second Great Net Panic
         By Declan McCullagh / / Redistribute freely

In this dispatch: The Second Great Net Panic grips Washington, DC
                  Bruce Taylor tries a "finger" gambit
                  DFC online copyright action alert, press conference
                  Deputy Atty General slams Net, calls for central control
                  Al Gore decries "unwarranted censorship?"

June 9, 1996

WASHINGTON, DC -- As a wet spring steams into a muggy summer, the
Second Great Net Panic has gripped the nation's capital.

It could be the humidity. The same waterlogged air that makes my
keyboard stick about this time every year forces lobbyists and
legislators indoors to catered receptions and air-conditioned
hearing rooms where they catalog the dangers of the Net. Or perhaps
election year politics lends this scaremongering rhetoric its
rough, serrated edge.

Whatever the cause, it's clear that last year's cyberporn scare --
centering around online smut and leading to the passage of the
Communications Decency Act -- is dwarfed by this year's fevered
attempts to control the Net.

That is, you ain't seen nothin' yet.

In the last two weeks:

  * The Federal Trade Commission held two days of hearings to decide
    how to regulate web sites that collect personal information about
  * Sen. Sam Nunn (D-GA) announced at a Senate investigations
    subcommittee hearing that his suspicions of evil cryptohackers
    lurking on the Net mean the CIA and NSA must be permitted to
    snoop domestically, a practice long prohibited by law.
  * The Clinton administration responded to Congressional attempts to
    liberalize export controls on strong encryption with a "Clipper
    III" white paper, and a blue-ribbon NRC report recommended only
    minor changes in U.S. crypto export policy.
  * The Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings where witnesses from
    the Hollywood copyright lobby testified that copyright thieves
    plague the Net.
  * A House Judiciary subcommittee is planning a final markup of
    HR2441, a terribly restrictive online copyright bill similar to
    one the Senate is considering, this Wednesday.
  * The Defense Information Systems Agency released a report claiming
    that hackers tried to break into Pentagon systems 250,000 times in
  * The 1997 Defense Authorization Bill will give the White House six
    months to report on "the national policy on protecting the
    national information infrastructure from strategic attack."
  * At the first-ever "CyberCongress" hearing held by a House
    committee, representatives complained about being flamed through
    anonymous remailers and said there should be accountability online.
  * Today's Sunday Washington Post featured an article by Richard Leiby
    on the first page of the Outlook section bashing "self-indulgent
    dross" and "crap" on the Net: "I took out the Internet trash
    and found there wasn't much left."
  * Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), chair of Senate Judiciary, held a hearing
    on June 4 where family values activists testified in support of
    Hatch's bill that gives you 15 years for creating or viewing a
    GIF that "appears to be" or is said to be kiddie porn -- even if
    it's actually a morphed photo of an adult.
  * Journalist Lew Koch unearthed an alarmist speech by Deputy
    Attorney General Jamie Gorelick slamming not just nonescrowed
    crypto but the "social problems" of the Net -- and calling for a
    new "Manhattan Project" and even a new Federal agency to start
    "devising and implementing solutions."

That's the bad news, and the good news is far from reassuring. Some
Congressperns are starting to learn about the Net and the Internet
Caucus' membership is growing. The computer industry has begun to
become more involved in the legislative process, but they're up
against well-entrenched opposition.

The EFF's Mike Godwin had it right when he wrote to me earlier today:
"Every agency wants a bite of jurisdiction over the Internet."

I'm not placing any bets on the eventual outcome of the Second Great
Net Panic, especially when protect-our-children rhetoric comes laced
with protect-our-country slogans. But I know the summer's starting and
some of the keys on my workstation are starting to stick. Yesterday I
spent a sweaty afternoon performing open-keyboard surgery to try and
get my home row working again.

So I'm not too optimistic...


Bruce Taylor, the former Federal smut-buster and chief architect of
the CDA, is at it again. This time the Brucester is weighing in on the
New York CDA case with an expanded copy of the amicus brief he first
filed in the Philly lawsuit in which I'm a plaintiff.

When I spoke with him last Thursday, Taylor sketched out his latest
argument in favor of the CDA -- that it's constitutional because the
"finger" service can be modified to return info about whether
someone's an adult or a child. "I just learned about 'finger' a few
weeks ago," Taylor said.

His brief reads:

  Though the testimony is disputed between the parties, there is
  evidence in the record to show that there ways to comply with the
  CDA that are presently available, other means that are possible and
  trivial to institute, and there will undoubtedly be more and easier
  ways to comply in the future.  Potential mechanisms of compliance
  include... agreement on an -L18 or digital or access provider user
  or some other mechanism or combination of devices which allow
  content providers to identify adult visitors to their sites, pages,
  or GIFs and thereby exclude children (such as refinement of the
  PRESENT METHOD OF FINGERING to identify the name of a visitor so
  that the visitor's access provider or ISP releases the users age as
  well as his or her identity -- a fact no less anonymous),
                                               [Emphasis mine. --DBM]

Of course, Taylor's suggestion of putting an "A" or "C" (adult or
child) flag in the info returned by finger creates more problems than
it solves. Most online services don't provide information about users
via finger daemons. More to the point, such a proposal would let any
unscrupulous net.lurker troll for "C" flags -- not exactly the best
way to protect children!


In response to a planned House subcommittee markup of its ill-bred
copyright legislation this Wednesday, the Digital Future Coalition is
planning a press conference at 9:30 am this Tuesday, June 11, at the
National Press Club in Washington, DC.

Presenters at the press conference include the Consumer Federation of
America, the National Education Association, the American Committee
for Interoperable Systems (including Sun Microsystems and America
Online), and the Home Recording Rights Coalition. Other members of the
DFC include the American Library Association, the Electronic Frontier
Foundation, People for the American Way, and the Electronic Privacy
Information Center.



      Imminent Congressional action on NII copyright bill threatens
             consumers, students, and other Internet users

Your immediate contacts with key House Judiciary Subcommittee Members

The House of Representatives Subcommittee on Courts and Intellectual
Property will meet in the next few days to vote on H.R. 2441, the NII
Copyright Protection Act. Call subcommittee members who represent you
or to your institution NOW and tell them that this badly imbalanced
bill shouldn't be voted on unless and until all of the following
problems are addressed. If passed in its current form, H.R. 2441

  * Make it a crime to manufacture the next generation of VCRs,
    personal computers and other digital devices needed for
    recreational and educational use by adding a sweeping and
    overbroad new Section 1201 to the Copyright Act;

  * Make simply browsing the Internet a violation of the law without
    a license from copyright owners;

  * Prevent teachers from using computers to their full potential in
    "distance education" efforts that bring electronic classrooms to
     kids, especially in rural communities and for the disabled;

  * Subject computer system operators -- including online services
    and networks at schools and libraries -- to potentially crippling
    liability for the copyright violations of their users.

Please immediately fax a letter to -- AND CALL -- all members of the
House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts and Intellectual Property who
represent you or an institution with which you are affiliated. These
contacts must be made NO LATER THAN Tuesday, June 11 and preferably
sooner. Address contacts to the Congressperson, but direct your letter
or call to the appropriate staffer. [URL at the end. -DBM]


It's scaremongering at its finest. That's all I can think after I read
the text of a speech Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick gave
earlier this year at the Air Force Academy.

Gorelick starts with the time-honored horror gambit of terrorists,
child pornographers, organized crime groups, and hackers -- but then
moves on to rail against the social problems she's found on the Net.
"Email flames" and "faceless" chat rooms are threats to family values,
she claims.

Then she calls for a centralized government agency to deal with the
problem of the Internet. Clearly, she says, we need a "Manhattan
Project" to fight cybernastiness and net.terrorists:

  We clearly need one focal point in the government to take the lead
  in addressing this issue comprehensively -- to develop national
  policy, coordinate the necessary other agencies, and with industry
  on developing solutions. We need the equivalent of the "Manhattan
  Project" to address the technological issues and to help us harden
  our infrastructures against attack. It might be that we can just
  designate an existing agency to take the lead. Or we may need a new
  agency or some interagency body to perform the task...

Jeanne Devoto ( writes:

  [It's an] attempt to conflate the threat of computer intrusion with
  the "threat" of open access to a mass medium. If such a conflation
  is widely successful, we could see "We must pass this measure
  to license Internet users/ban indecent language/impose FCC
  regulation on ISPs - in order to combat the threat of computer

Computers are the equivalent of nuclear weapons? Maybe treating software
as a munition makes sense after all.


Al Gore sure knows how to play to an audience -- even if it's a bunch
of computer geeks who don't like how the White House has embraced and
defended the Communications Decency Act. During his commencement
address at MIT on June 7, Gore said:

  But let me also state my clear and unequivocal view that a fear of
  chaos cannot justify unwarranted censorship of free speech, whether
  that speech occurs in newspapers, on the broadcast airwaves -- or
  over the Internet.

  Our best reaction to the speech we loathe is to speak out, to reject,
  to respond, even with emotion and fervor, but to censor -- no. That
  has not been our way for 200 years, and it must not become our way

Talk is cheap. It's now possible for Washington politicians to speak
out against the CDA -- but only because so many mainstream industry
and academic groups coalesced around the ALA/CIEC lawsuit.

When it counted, Gore did nothing to halt the morality crusaders who
pushed the "indecency" standard through Congress. In fact, he embraced
the bill, saying in an interview with the Wall Street Journal:

  This is an early Christmas for consumers. It's a terrific bill...
  Every concern the president expressed about the initial legislation
  has been dealt with on a bipartisan basis.

He also issued a statement on December 20, 1996:

  Today we had a victory for the American economy and the American
  consumer with the bipartisan agreement to create a telecommunications
  industry for the 21st Century in a way that will lower prices,
  increase and improve services in telecommunications and preserve the
  diversity of voices and viewpoints in television and radio that are
  essential to our democracy.

Stay tuned for more reports.


A clarification to Dispatch #12: Cherry v. Reno has not yet been
formally consolidated with Shea v. Reno.

Mentioned in this CDA update:

  Deputy Atty Gen Jamie Gorelick's speech slamming Net, calling for controls:
  Complete DFC copyright Action Alert, with legislator contact info:
  Declan McCullagh on "LolitaWatch" and -L18 -- July '96 Internet World:
  Declan McCullagh on CDA hearings -- June '96 Internet World:
  Bruce Taylor's amicus "finger" brief in NYC CDA lawsuit:
  NRC crypto report now online, thanks to John Young:
  Brock Meeks on Sen. Sam Nunn's plans for domestic snooping:
  Al Gore speaks at MIT about dangers of net.censorship:
  Al Gore's 12/95 statement on Telecommunications Act of 1996:
  Al Gore calls Telecommunications Act "early Christmas" present:
  Al Gore speaks at Penn, greeted by anti-CDA protests:
  Creative Incentive Coalition on copyright, pro-HR2441:
  Digital Future Coalition on copyright, anti-HR2441:
  Brock Meeks on online copyright:
  U.S. Congressional Internet Caucus:

  Fight-Censorship list   
  Rimm ethics critique    
  Int'l Net-Censorship    
  Justice on Campus       

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