cr> (FYI) VTW BillWatch #32 (fwd)


Richard Moore

Date: Mon, 15 Jan 1996From: Voters Telecommunications Watch <•••@••.•••>
To: •••@••.•••
Subject:  (VTW) BillWatch #32
Sender: •••@••.•••
Precedence: bulk
Reply-To: •••@••.•••

                               VTW BillWatch #32

       VTW BillWatch: A weekly newsletter tracking US Federal legislation
     affecting civil liberties.  BillWatch is published at the end of every
        week as long as Congress is in session. (Congress is in session)

                   BillWatch is produced and published by the
                 Voters Telecommunications Watch (•••@••.•••)
                             (We're not the EFF :-)

                 Issue #32, Date: Mon Jan 15 03:03:39 EST 1996

     Do not remove this banner.  See distribution instructions at the end.

        ECHO Virtual Culture Event 1/21/96

        How one person is changing Congress

        Sen. Feingold (D-WI) on Net Censorship

        Sen. Leahy (D-VT) on Net Censorship

        Subscription Information (unchanged 10/21/95)


It's been an exciting week.  What happened?  First things first, the Telecom
Bill is still stalled, and we're taking the time to schedule meeting with
legislators.  If you haven't scheduled your meeting with your legislator,
it's easy to do.  Just check out the alert on our home page at

Secondly, Phil Zimmerman was released from his three-year prosecutorial
purgatory.  Great coverage can already be found at Josh Quittner's Netly
News at and at the
CDT and EPIC WWW sites at and

You may ask yourself, does this mean PGP (Pretty ood Privacy) is now


You may ask yourself, does this mean that the Federal government now finally
understands the futility of restricting the export of software on the
Internet? (especially software that is available in print form)


Although we're happy for Phil Zimmerman (nobody should have to suffer that
much for a piece of software), all this tells us is that if you are charged
with violating the ITAR export regulations for cryptographic software, you
can expect to spend three years in legal hell while the government takes its
own sweet time deciding whether or not they have the evidence to actually
take you into court, and whether such a prosecution would be politically
dangerous or not.

A few people we'd like to recognize this week: Charles Platt, for his ASCII art
rendition on an American flag, because neither Steven nor I could get it
right.  You can see his handiwork in our Voters Guides section in
Also, we'd like to thank Brad Knowles for his correction to our link in
BillWatch #31.

This week we bring you two statements we haven't seen yet on the net that
deserve your attention.  The first is from Sen. Feingold (D-WI) and the
second from Sen. Leahy (D-VT).  Finally, there's an ECHO Virtual Culture
event we think you'd like to see.

Shabbir J. Safdar
Advisory Board Member
Voters Telecommunications Watch

This issue can be found in HTML form at

ECHO Virtual Culture Event 1/21/96

[Shabbir J. Safdar from VTW will be among the many fine panelists.]


Sunday, January 21, 1996 at 3:00pm
P.S. 122, 150 First Avenue and East 9th Street, New York City

As Congress presses forward with legislation to regulate the content of
the Internet, debate rages between civil rights activists, concerned
parents, anti-pornography lobbyists, software engineers, and Internet
service providers. What will the proposed legislation mean for each of
these groups? And what will it mean for the denizens of lectronic salon,
and the Whitney Museum of American Art present an interactive discussion
panel that will explore the explosive issues behind the regulation

For more information on this event, contact •••@••.•••.


We didn't previously know this gentleman, but as far as we're concerned, he's
done more to advance the cause of the anti-censorship than many people we see
ranting about it on the net.  Our hats are off to him, and we hope that he
provides you the incentive you need to do this yourself.

Although Yates comes down on the right side of this issue, there could be
wavering without reminders from people like Kurt Fenstermacher that these
are important issues.

Have you made your appointment yet?

>Date: Wed, 10 Jan 1996 12:25:33 -0600
>To: •••@••.•••
>From: •••@••.••• (Kurt D. Fenstermacher)
>Subject: Meeting with Rep. Sidney Yates (IL)

This morning I met with a staff member for Rep. Sidney Yates, from
Illinois.  The meeting was brief because Rep. Yates favors free speech
absolutely, and is a staunch opponent of the telecommunications bill.  When
I asked how Rep. Yates balanced free speech against "protection" of
children I was told, "Representative Yates ALWAYS comes down on the side of
free speech."  Although he's not on any of the technical committees, I
believe that he's the second ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations
committee, and could be a valuable ally.

I do have a tip for those considering meeting with staff members, or your
Representative: find out the Representative's position in advance.  Even if
your Representative holds views similar to yours, you should still go.  But
you want to adjust your comments depending on whether you're persuading
someone to change, or patting them on the back for a job well done.

Good luck.

Kurt D. Fenstermacher
Artificial Intelligence Laboratory
University of Chicago



   Calls for Removal of "Indecency" Language from Telecom Bill

Washington DC. --   United States Senator Russ Feingold reacted
strongly to action by one of the major U.S. on-line service
providers, CompuServe, blocking access by its U.S. subscribers to
more than 200 computer discussion groups which may violate German
anti-pornography laws.  CompuServe cut-off all of its more than 4
million subscribers in 140 countries from accessing these groups
because of concerns raised by a Munich, Germany prosecutor that
some of the material being transmitted was "offensive".

     Feingold has been involved in efforts to kill a provision in
the pending telecommunications bill which would censor "indecent"
speech transmitted over the Internet and is one of a handful of
members of Congress to speak out against government efforts to
control the content of private communications across computer

     Feingold said, "This is just the most recent assault upon
free speech on the Internet.  Last month, another on-line
provider, America On-Line, censored the word "breast" on its
system, fearing that some local prosecutors would consider the
word illegal or improper.  Today, we see an even more startling
result where German laws are being imposed internationally upon
what Americans can say and read using electronic communication
technology.  It is not clear what the German law definition of
obscene material is or whether it is comparable to the standard
applied by  U.S. courts."

     Noting that other countries may wish to suppress a wide
variety of areas of speech, Feingold charged that these
precedents have very dangerous implications:

     "Today, the German government wants to censor sexually-
oriented speech.  What will happen when countries like Indonesia
and Singapore which don't tolerate much political criticism
demand that kind of material be removed from the Internet?  What
is going to be the reaction when China insists that discussions
of human rights issues be banned from  the Internet?  This kind
of censorship of international communication systems has
virtually no limits once it gets started."

     Feingold said that the provisions of the telecommunications
bill pending in Congress which impose criminal penalties for
communication of "indecent" speech pose the same problem and
should be killed.

       "When government authorities try to censor private
communications between individuals, it opens up the door to this
kind of massive intrusion and undermining of basic free speech
rights," Feingold said.  According to reports, some of the
discussion groups being closed down by CompuServe have nothing to
do with sexually explicit materials, but include such groups as a
support group for homosexual teens.  "This kind of over-reaching
by on-line providers is likely to become commonplace if the
"indecency" prohibitions in the telecommunications bill become
law," Feingold noted.

     "The time to stop the rush towards censorship of the
Internet is now, " Feingold said "before it gets broader and
retards the growth of this important new communications

     "There are laws already on the books which provide for
prosecution of those who traffick in obscene material or try to
solicit minors over computer networks.  Law enforcement officials
already use those tools to pursue those who break the law or use
cyberspace to troll for victims.  What is being proposed,
however, goes beyond what is now already illegal simply because
it is transmitted by a computer," Feingold said.

     In a recent speech on the Senate floor, Feingold cited the
censorship by private on-line services in reaction to fears of
government prosecution as threatening both first amendment rights
and the development of new technology and communication in
cyberspace.   He has worked closely with Senator Patrick Leahy
(D. Vt.) in efforts to have the "indecency" provisions dropped
from the telecommunications bill.

     "The censorship imposed by CompuServe and America On-line
should be recognized as a wake-up call for those who are
concerned about protecting first amendment freedoms as we move
into the 21st Century," Feingold said.


>From: •••@••.•••

                       OF DOJ AND INTERNET PROTEST
                            December 14, 1995

       Mr. President, among many critical issues currently facing
Congress, one of the most far-reaching is the Telecommunications
Competition and Deregulation Act, which is now the subject of a
conference with the House of Representatives.  In June of this year,
during debate on the telecommunications bill, I spoke on the floor
about the importance of giving the Justice Department primary
responsibility to determine when the Bell operating companies should be
permitted to enter into long distance markets.

     I also supported an amendment by Senator Thurmond, the
distinguished Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on
Antitrust, Senator Dorgan, and others, that would have ensured a strong
role for the Justice Department as the Bell companies expand their
business into long distance, as we all hope they will.  That amendment
received the votes of 43 Senators.

     Today, I remain convinced that the Antitrust Division of the
Department of Justice should have a meaningful role in
telecommunications in the area of their expertise.  As the Ranking
Democrat on the Judiciary Committee's Antitrust, Business Rights, and
Competition Subcommittee, I would like briefly to note three basic
points on this issue:

     First, we all say that we support competition replacing
regulation, but the question is how best to make the transition.
I firmly believe that we must rely on the bipartisan principles of
antitrust law in order to move as quickly as possible toward
competition in all segments of the telecommunications industry, and
away from regulation.  Relying on antitrust principles is vital to