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EPIC Alert 6.14 [1999] EPICAlert 14


Volume 6.14 September 9, 1999

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

Table of Contents

[1] Free Speech Groups Attack Internet Rating Plan
[2] EPIC Releases Report on Filters and Freedom
[3] Privacy Commissioners, Advocates, Technologists Gather in Hong Kong
[4] Documents Reveal Secret Service Role in Identity Database
[5] EPIC and Privacy InternationaI Release Report on Privacy and Human Rights
[6] FCC to Appeal Telephone Customer Privacy Decision
[7] EPIC Bookstore - New EPIC Publications
[8] Upcoming Conferences and Events

[1] Free Speech Groups Attack Internet Rating Plan

Internet free speech groups from across the world released a statementwarning that adoption of a global "voluntary" Internet rating andfiltering scheme could suppress the free flow of information andfacilitate governmental censorship. Nineteen organizations from theGlobal Internet Liberty Campaign (GILC), an international coalition ofcyber-liberties and human rights groups, submitted the statement atthe Internet Content Summit in Munich this week, where 300 Netindustry executives, government officials, legal scholars, andconsumer advocates are joining to discuss proposals to regulatematerial online.

Over the past nine months, the Bertelsmann Foundation, a German thinktank associated with the media giant, has collaborated withrepresentatives from government, industry, law enforcement, andnon-governmental organizations to devise policies to controlobjectionable material online. The Bertelsmann Foundation, whichorganized the conference, is presenting a memorandum that outlines arange of resolutions for self-regulation of the Internet. A keyproposal centers upon the creation of an international rating systemthat will enable Web site operators to "voluntarily" rate their sitesand filtering software to block "inappropriate" content accordingly.

Free speech advocates argue that filtering mechanisms will have achilling effect on free expression and may undermine the democraticnature of the Internet. Cyber-liberties groups claim that thewidespread adoption of such technology would make it easier forgovernments to mandate the use of filtering software and impose civilor criminal penalties for "mis-rating." GILC members warn in thestatement, "When closely scrutinized, these should be viewed morerealistically as fundamental architectural changes that may, in fact,
facilitate the suppression of speech far more effectively thannational laws alone ever could."

The GILC letter emphasizes that numerous undesirable effects arelikely to follow the implementation of rating and filtering software.
It contends that the adoption of such mechanisms "may preventindividuals from discussing controversial or unpopular topics, imposeburdensome compliance costs on speakers, distort the fundamentalcultural diversity of the Internet, enable invisible 'upstream'
filtering, and eventually create a homogenized Internet dominated bylarge commercial interests."

The full text of the GILC member statement is available at:

[2] EPIC Releases Report on Filters and Freedom

EPIC has released a new collection of critiques and studies thatanalyze the potential problems of Internet filtering and ratingsystems. "Filters and Freedom: Free Speech Perspectives on InternetContent Controls" warns that the adoption of software to limit theavailability of material online may jeopardize free expression andfacilitate governmental censorship.

The EPIC publication includes articles by leading advocates of freespeech on the Internet, including the American Civil Liberties Union,
Electronic Frontiers Australia, Peacefire, Cyber-Rights &
Cyber-Liberties (UK), the Censorware Project, Computer Professionalsfor Social Responsibility, the Global Internet Liberty Campaign, theInternet Free Expression Alliance, and the National Coalition AgainstCensorship.

Copies of the report will be distributed to participants of theInternet Content Summit in Munich this week, where 300 Net industryexecutives, government officials, legal scholars, and consumeradvocates are joining to discuss proposals for controlling content onthe Internet. The most controversial policy centers upon theimplementation of a world-wide system of self-rating.

EPIC General Counsel David Sobel, who is attending the conference inMunich, said it is imperative to examine the arguments presented in"Filters and Freedom" before determining an approach for Internetregulation. "These views must be considered carefully if we are topreserve freedom of expression in the online world," Mr. Sobel said.

"Filters and Freedom: Free Speech Perspectives on Internet ContentControls," David Sobel, ed. (EPIC 1999, 182 pages, softcover, ISBN:
1-893044-06-8, $20.00)

[3] Privacy Commissioners, Advocates, Technologists Gather in
Hong Kong

The 21st International Conference on Privacy and Personal Data beginson September 13 in Hong Kong SAR, China. The annual meeting is held inconjunction with the International Privacy and Data ProtectionCommissioners meeting. The theme of the 1999 conference is "Privacy ofPersonal Data, Information Technology & Global Business in the NextMillenium." The conference is organized by the Office of the PrivacyCommissioner for Personal Data, Hong Kong SAR, China.

The conference will explore a wide range of topics such as the EU
Data Directive, Privacy, New Media, Consumer Rights and ElectronicCommerce, as well as Data Security and Privacy Audits.

The Honorable Justice Michael Kirby, Justice of the High Court ofAustralia, will present the keynote session on "Privacy in the NewMillenium: A Critique of Existing Privacy Standard in the Light ofTechnology Innovation." Justice Kirby chaired the working group of theOrganization for Economic Cooperation and Development that producedthe influential OECD Privacy Guidelines.

Privacy advocates will be participating in the conference and alsoorganizing a separate event titled "A Privacy Agenda for the 21stCentury." The Privacy Agenda conference announcement states:

As the twentieth century draws to a close, the future of personal privacy stands at a crossroads. Never has there been greater
public support for the protection of privacy, and never has the
end of privacy appeared more imminent. Around the world political
leaders are responding to an increasingly engaged public about the need to develop new safeguards, rights, and technologies to protect
privacy. At the same time, the most extensive systems of
surveillance, tracking and monitoring for are being widely
deployed. The United States and Europe remain unable to resolve a
dispute over privacy standards, while proposals to extend
surveillance to every aspect of private life are moving forward.

The annual meeting of the privacy and data protection commissioners inHong Kong in September 1999 offers an historic opportunity to developa Privacy Agenda for the 21st Century.

The conference chair of the Privacy Agenda conference is PrivacyInternational Director Simon Davies.

A meeting will also take place on possible International Standards onPrivacy and the Protection of Personal Data. That meeting is sponsoredby the Standards Council of Canada.

The 21st International Conference on Privacy and Data Protection
Privacy Agenda for the 21st Century

[4] Documents Reveal Secret Service Role in Identity Database

Newly discovered documents reveal the prominent financial andsupervisory role of the U.S. Secret Service in the Image Data pilotprograms. EPIC recently obtained these documents through Freedom ofInformation Act requests.

Image Data LLC seeks to establish a national database of photographsand personal information &endash; including social security numbers toprevent credit card and check fraud. The system proposed by ImageData, TrueID, would allow for instantaneous identification checks atthe point of purchase by displaying photographs of the customer.
These pictures, already used by Image Data in its pilot program inSouth Carolina, were bought from state DMVs without notification ofthe photographed individuals. Soon after the activities of Image Datawere made public, the Attorney General of South Carolina filed a suitseeking an injunction against Image Data's use of the images.

The new documents reveal the extent to which the U.S. Secret Serviceis involved in Image Data's pilot programs. In the past, Image Datahas attempted to downplay the role of the federal government in whatis proposed to be a national identity database. A document titled"Identity Crime Prevention Pilot Program &endash; Digitization ProcessDevelopment Justification" contends that through the pilot program ofdigitizing driver's licenses in Colorado "we ensure the viability ofdeploying such service throughout the United States." Another memo
-- with the heading "Application of Identity Verification and PrivacyEnhancement To Treasury Transactions" -- states as the first projecttask to "work with Secret Service to define list of proposedapplications of the technology for the pilot." Also included in theseinitial proposals are timelines for monthly reports and meetings withthe U.S. Secret Service in Washington, D.C.

The role of the government in what has been a startling and secretiveattempt to collect DMV records and personal data is still not entirelyclear. While the Secret Service does regularly investigate credit cardand check fraud cases, the questionable need for a national identitydatabase does not outweigh the privacy violations that have alreadytaken place.

Some of the FOIA documents obtained by EPIC are at:

[5] EPIC and Privacy InternationaI Release Report on Privacy and Human Rights

A new report on the current state of privacy around the globe will bereleased Monday at the annual meeting of Privacy Commissioners in HongKong. "Privacy & Human Rights 1999: An International Survey ofPrivacy Laws and Developments" investigates world-wide trends inprivacy laws and technologies of privacy. It was compiled by PrivacyInternational and EPIC. Covering over fifty countries in Europe,
Asia, and the Americas, the report reached several importantconclusions about the current state of privacy.

The report concluded that privacy is an increasingly recognizedfundamental human right and the most recent laws promote protectionand control over personal information. Furthermore, these recentlydrafted laws often offer comprehensive protection over personalinformation in any storage or transmission format. But, despite thelegal protection that these laws provide, new surveillancetechnologies and invasive government agencies undermine continuedrespect for the right to be left alone.

EPIC Executive Director Marc Rotenberg said that the report willcontribute significantly to the ongoing discussion about privacyprotection and human rights.

"Privacy and Human Rights: An International Survey of Privacy Laws andDevelopments," David Banisar and Simon Davies, eds. (EPIC and PrivacyInternational 1999, 180 pages, softcover, ISBN: 1-893044-05-X, $15.00)

[6] FCC to Appeal Telephone Customer Privacy Decision

On September 3, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
announced that it would seek rehearing of a case before the 10thCircuit Court of Appeals in Denver before the full court.

At issue is the FCC's interpretation of provisions in the 1996Telecommunications Act. Those provisions required telecommunicationscompanies to gain customer approval before they could use, disclose orpermit access to information about customer phone usage for marketingpurposes. Such information -- called customer proprietary networkinformation or CPNI --
includes their name, address and telephonenumber, as well as the telephone numbers that the customer calls. Toclarify the consumer protections in the Telecommunications Act, theFCC issued the CPNI Order in 1998. The CPNI Order requiredtelecommunications companies to adopt an "opt-in" standard of customerapproval; telecommunications companies had to receive written, oral orelectronic permission to distribute CPNI data. Telecommunicationscompanies contended that this violated their First Amendment right.

The August 18th decision of the three-judge panel found that thecompanies' First Amendment rights were violated. Appellate Judge MaryBroscoe dissented on the grounds that the court was improperlyinterfering with the FCC's authority.

[7] EPIC Bookstore - New EPIC Publications

The two recently released reports, "Filters and Freedom: Free SpeechPerspectives on Internet Content Controls" and "Privacy and HumanRights 1999: An International Survey of Privacy Law and Developments",
are now available through the EPIC Bookstore and

EPIC Bookstore
To order "Filters and Freedom"
To order "Privacy and Human Rights 1999"

[8] Upcoming Conferences and Events

The 21st International Conference on Privacy and Personal DataProtection. Hong Kong, September 13-14, 1999. A distinguished groupof over 50 speakers/panelists from overseas and Hong Kong will explorethe theme of "Privacy of Personal Data, Information Technology &
Global Business in the Next Millennium."" Sponsored by the Office ofthe Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data in Hong Kong. Contact:
"A Privacy Agenda for the 21st Century." September 15, 1999. Hong KongConvention and Exhibition Centre, Hong Kong PRC. Contact:
"Certified Wide Area Road Use Monitoring." September 21-23, 1999.
Albuquerque, New Mexico. Sponsored by the New Mexico State Highwayand Transportation Department Research Bureau in cooperation with theUniversity of New Mexico Alliance for Transportation ResearchInstitute. An intensive 2 1/2 day educational and developmentalsymposium on a single rapidly evolving concept in IntelligentTransportation Systems (ITS). For more information:
Final Call for Papers - Fourth Annual Conference on FinancialCryptography '00. Submissions due by September 24, 1999. For moreinformation:
Governing the Commons: The Future of Global Internet Administration.
September 24-25, 1999. Alexandria, Virginia. For more information:
Information Security Solutions Europe 1999. October 4-6, 1999. MaritimproArte Hotel. Berlin, Germany. For more information:

The Public Voice in Electronic Commerce. October 11, 1999.
Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. Paris, France.
The Internet Security Conference (TISC). October 11-15, 1999. BostonWorld Trade Center. Boston, MA. For more information:
The 1999 BNA Public Policy Forum: E-Commerce and Internet Regulation.
November 15, 1999. Mayflower Hotel. Washington, D.C. For moreinformation:

Integrating Government with New Technologies '99 Policy vs Technology:
Service Integration in the New Environments - A two-day Seminar andTraining Session. December 13-14, 1999. Government Conference Center.
Ottawa, Canada. For more information:
RSA 2000. The ninth annual RSA Data Security Conference and Expo.
January 16-20, 2000. San Jose McEnery Convention Center. San Jose, CA.
For more information:

Subscription Information

The EPIC Alert is a free biweekly publication of the ElectronicPrivacy Information Center. A Web-based form is available forsubscribing or unsubscribing at:
To subscribe or unsubscribe using email, send email with the subject: "subscribe" (no quotes) or"unsubscribe".

Back issues are available at:

About EPIC

The Electronic Privacy Information Center is a public interestresearch center in Washington, DC. It was established in 1994 to focuspublic attention on emerging privacy issues such as the Clipper Chip,
the Digital Telephony proposal, national ID cards, medical recordprivacy, and the collection and sale of personal information. EPIC issponsored by the Fund for Constitutional Government, a non-profitorganization established in 1974 to protect civil liberties andconstitutional rights. EPIC publishes the EPIC Alert, pursues Freedomof Information Act litigation, and conducts policy research. For moreinformation, e-mail, or write EPIC,
666 Pennsylvania Ave., SE, Suite 301, Washington, DC 20003. +1 202 5449240 (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.

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 encryptionand expanding wiretapping powers.

Thank you for your support.

END EPIC Alert 6.14


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