WorldLII Home | Databases | WorldLII | Search | Feedback

EPIC Alert

You are here:  WorldLII >> Databases >> EPIC Alert >> 1997 >> [1997] EPICAlert 10

Database Search | Name Search | Recent Articles | Noteup | LawCite | Help

EPIC Alert 4.10 [1997] EPICAlert 10


Volume 4.10 July 10, 1997

Published by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC)
Washington, D.C.

Table of Contents

[1] Post-CDA: The "Filtering" Debate Begins
[2] ALA Opposes Use of "Filtering" Software in Libraries
[3] Senate Judiciary Committee Holds Crypto Hearing
[4] European Union Rejects Key Escrow Encryption
[5] White House Releases "Framework for Global Electronic Commerce"

[6] New Bills Introduced in Congress
[7] EPIC Bookstore / EPIC Crypto Sourcebook
[8] Upcoming Conferences and Events

[1] Post-CDA: The "Filtering" Debate Begins

Within days of the Supreme Court's landmark Internet free speechdecision, various approaches are being touted to control and "filter"
online content. Sen. Dan Coats (R-IN), a principal co-sponsor of theunconstitutional Communications Decency Act (CDA), announced hisintention to "construct new legislation that will pass the Court'sconstitutional standard." Coats' effort is supported by the ChristianCoalition, the Family Research Council, and other proponents of theCDA.

While Coats has not yet described his new legislative proposal, Sen.
Patty Murray (D-WA) has spelled out the key provisions of hersoon-to-be introduced "Childsafe Internet Act of 1997." The Murraybill would adopt the "filtering" and "blocking" approach endorsed bysome opponents of the CDA, and make it a criminal offense to "misrate"
websites or "exploit childsafe chat rooms." In a press releasedescribing her proposed bill, Murray specifically mentioned "filtering"
software such as Cyber Patrol, Net Nanny and Surf Watch and ratingschemes such as PICS (Platform for Internet Content Selection).

More information about the CDA is available at:

[2] ALA Opposes Use of "Filtering" Software in Libraries

The American Library Association, lead plaintiff in a companion case tothe ACLU/EPIC challenge to the CDA, adopted a "Resolution on the Use ofFiltering Software in Libraries" at its annual conference on July 2. TheALA said that "The use in libraries of software filters which blockConstitutionally protected speech is inconsistent with the United StatesConstitution and federal law ...." The ALA also said that the use ofsoftware violated the Library Bill of Rights.

The ALA defines "blocking/filtering" software to include any mechanismused to restrict access to Internet content based a database (internalor external to the product) or based on ratings assigned by a thirdparty (as in the PICS scheme).

The text of the ALA resolution follows:

WHEREAS, On June 26, 1997, the United States Supreme Court issued a sweeping re-affirmation of core First Amendment principles and held that communications over the Internet deserve the highest level of Constitutional protection; and
WHEREAS, The Court's most fundamental holding is that communications on the Internet deserve the same level of Constitutional protection as books, magazines, newspapers,
and speakers on a street corner soapbox. The Court found that the Internet *constitutes a vast platform from which to address and hear from a world-wide audience of millions of readers, viewers, researchers, and buyers,* and that *any person with a phone line can become a town crier with a voice that resonates farther than it could from any soapbox*; and
WHEREAS, For libraries, the most critical holding of the Supreme Court is that libraries that make content available on the Internet can continue to do so with the same Constitutional protections that apply to the books on libraries' shelves; and
WHEREAS, The Court's conclusion that *the vast democratic fora of the Internet* merit full constitutional protection will also serve to protect libraries that provide their patrons with access to the Internet; and
WHEREAS, The Court recognized the importance of enabling individuals to receive speech from the entire world and to speak to the entire world. Libraries provide those opportunities to many who would not otherwise have them; and
WHEREAS, The Supreme Court's decision will protect that access; and
WHEREAS, The use in libraries of software filters which block Constitutionally protected speech is inconsistent with the United States Constitution and federal law and may lead to legal exposure for the library and its governing authorities;
now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That the American Library Association affirms that the use of filtering software by libraries to block access to constitutionally protected speech violates the Library Bill of Rights.

More information about the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom isavailable at:
The Library Bill of Rights is available at:

[3] Senate Judiciary Committee Holds Crypto Hearing

The Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony on key recoveryencryption on July 9. Senator Bob Kerrey (D-NE), sponsor of The SecurePublic Networks Act (S. 909) spoke in support of the need to establishkey escrow encryption across the United States. His views were largelyshared by the next two witnesses, FBI Director Louis Freeh and NSADeputy Director William Crowell.

However, policy, industry and technical experts raised questions aboutthe key escrow proposal. Kenneth Dam, chair of the National ResearchCouncil CRISIS panel, said that the federal government should firstdetermine whether key escrow works in federal agencies beforerecommending its adoption by the private sector. Ray Ozzie, theinventor of Lotus Notes, said that there were sensible applications forkey escrow in the private sector, but that a law mandating the techniquewould likely increase the risk of computer-related crime. And PeterNeumann, principal scientist at SRI, said that the inherent complexityof the key escrow proposal raised far-reaching concerns for networksecurity.

Committee members seemed largely divided over the merits of key escrow.
Senators Feinstein and Kyl expressed support for the effort to requirekey escrow, but Senators Ashcroft and Leahy had doubts. Both Senatorsnoted that there were many inconsistencies in the White House positionon cryptography.

The key person in the key escrow debate will likely be the chairman ofthe Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Orrin Hatch. He must decidewhether to move forward with Senator Kerry's legislation or to considerother approaches to promote security and privacy on the Internet.

More information on recent developments in crypto policy, includingtestimony from the Committee hearing, is available at:

The NRC CRISIS report is at:

[4] European Union Rejects Key Escrow Encryption

A Ministerial Conference on the Global Information Network held in Bonn,
Germany concluded this week with a recommendation that Europeancountries move forward with strong cryptography and promote free choiceof cryptographic services. U.S. officials had quietly lobbied Europeanministers at the EU conference to adopt a statement in support of keyescrow/key recovery standards. [See next article].

The recommendation followed an opening speech at the conference byGerman Economics Minister Rexrodt in which the Minister called oncountries, including the United States, to remove restrictions to thedevelopment of strong encryption products.

Information on the GIN conference is available at:

[5] White House Releases "Framework for Global Electronic Commerce"

The White House on July 1 released its "Framework for Global ElectronicCommerce." The paper, drafted by a working group coordinated byPresidential advisor Ira Magaziner, is essentially a rehash of existingClinton Administration positions on information policy issues such asencryption, privacy and free speech. While much was made of the "freemarket" approach to Internet issues, an actual reading of the documentshows that the US government will be quite busy promoting new controlson Internet activity.

On the issue of encryption policy, the paper recommends the continuationof controls on the export of encryption products and the adoption of akey escrow/recovery system that would allow government access to keys.
It also notes that the U.S. will continue to attempt to pressure othercountries to adopt key escrow approaches.

On privacy, the working group recommends that industry self-regulationwill provide sufficient protection of consumer privacy. It modifiesthis stand slightly for childrens' privacy issues by suggesting thatgovernment action may be required unless voluntary solutions are quicklyoffered. The paper is critical of the efforts of the European Union,
where member countries have restricted the flow of personal informationto countries such as the United States, which do not have adequate legalprivacy protections. The policy paper briefly mentions the possibilityof the "appropriate use" of anonymous systems to protect privacy.

On content regulation, the paper notes that "unnecessary regulationscould cripple the growth and diversity of the Internet." The workinggroup recommends that filtering and ratings systems be adopted so thatlaws to restrict content would not be necessary: "to the extent ... thateffective technology becomes available, content regulationstraditionally applied on radio and television would not need to beapplied to Internet." The paper notes that the United States intends topromote this position before international bodies.

The Framework for Global Electronic Commercen is available at:

[6] New Bills Introduced in Congress

H.R. 1964. Communications Privacy and Consumer Empowerment Actintroduced by Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) on June 19. The bill would requirethe Federal Trade Commission and FCC to conduct reviews of privacy andto propose changes in regulations; promote screening software forblocking online content; order the NTIA to conduct a survey on networksecurity and reliability; and prohibit restrictions on encryption salesin interstate commerce and any key escrow requirements by federal orstate officials. The bill has been referred to the House CommerceCommittee.

H.R. 1972. Children's Privacy Protection and Parental Empowerment Act of1997. Introduced by Rep. Bob Franks (R-NJ) on June 19. Would prohibit"list brokers" from selling or purchasing information about childrenwithout written consent of a parent. Would also require marketers toprovide parents access to information collected about a child andprohibit the use of prison inmate labor to process childrens' data. Thebill has 30 cosponsors. See the EPIC Kids Privacy Page at:

[7] EPIC Bookstore / EPIC Crypto Sourcebook

The EPIC Bookstore includes a wide range of books on privacy,
cryptography and free speech that can be ordered on-line. Many of thebooks are available at up to 40% off list price.

New titles include:

"Protect Your Privacy on the Internet" by Bryan Pfaffenberger
"Digital Cash" by Peter Wayner
"Contested Commodities" by Margaret Jane Radin
Other popular titles:

"The Right to Privacy" by Ellen Alderman & Caroline Kennedy
"Who Knows: Safeguarding Your Privacy in a Networked World"
by Ann Cavoukian & Don Tapscott
"Applied Cryptography" by Bruce Schneier
Also available is the 1997 EPIC Cryptography and Privacy Sourcebook.

Check out the EPIC Bookstore at:

[8] Upcoming Conferences and Events

Defcon, July 11-13. Las Vegas, NV. Contact:

4th Annual Privacy Issues Forum. July 10-11, 1997. Auckland, NewZealand. Sponsored by NZ Privacy Commissioner. Contact: Terry Debenham,
Fax +649-302 2305 or email

Hacking In Progress. August 8-10, 1997. Almere, Netherlands. Sponsoredby Hac-Tic. Contact:

Beyond HOPE. August 8-10, New York City. Sponsored by 2600. Contact:

TELECOM Interactive 97. September 8-14, 1997. Geneva, Switzerland.
Sponsored by the International Telecommunications Union. Contact: or

AST3: Cryptography and Internet Privacy. September 15, 1997. Brussels,
Belgium. Sponsored by Privacy International. Contact:

19th Annual International Privacy and Data Protection Conference.
September 17-18, 1997. Brussels, Belgium. Sponsored by Belgium DataProtection and Privacy Commission. Email
International Conference on Privacy. September 23-26, 1997. Montreal,
Canada. Sponsored by the Commission d'Acces a l'information du Quebec.

Managing the Privacy Revolution '97. October 21-23, 1997. Washington,
DC. Sponsored by Privacy and American Business. Contact:
RSA'98 -- The 1998 RSA Data Security Conference. January 12-16, 1998.
San Francisco, CA. Contact or

(Send calendar submissions to

The EPIC Alert is a free biweekly publication of the Electronic PrivacyInformation Center. To subscribe, send email to wihthe subject: "subscribe" (no quotes) or use the subscription form at:
Back issues are available at:

The Electronic Privacy Information Center is a public interest researchcenter in Washington, DC. It was established in 1994 to focus publicattention on emerging privacy issues such as the Clipper Chip, theDigital Telephony proposal, national ID cards, medical record privacy,
and the collection and sale of personal information. EPIC is sponsoredby the Fund for Constitutional Government, a non-profit organizationestablished in 1974 to protect civil liberties and constitutionalrights. EPIC publishes the EPIC Alert, pursues Freedom of InformationAct litigation, and conducts policy research. For more information,
e-mail, or write EPIC, 666Pennsylvania Ave., SE, Suite 301, Washington, DC 20003. +1 202 544 9240(tel), +1 202 547 5482 (fax).

If you'd like to support the work of the Electronic Privacy InformationCenter, contributions are welcome and fully tax-deductible. Checksshould be made out to "The Fund for Constitutional Government" and sentto EPIC, 666 Pennsylvania Ave., SE, Suite 301, Washington DC 20003.
Individuals with First Virtual accounts can donate at
Your contributions will help support Freedom of Information Act andFirst Amendment litigation, strong and effective advocacy for the rightof privacy and efforts to oppose government regulation of encryption andfunding of the National Wiretap Plan.

Thank you for your support.

END EPIC Alert 4.10

WorldLII: Copyright Policy | Disclaimers | Privacy Policy | Feedback