Summary and looking ahead [cr-95/10/19]


Once again, as moderator, I've decided to try looking over our recent
conversations and pulling out some issues that we should all think
about.  The list has been pretty quiet for the last few days, so let
me try to get everybody involved again with some challenging


    Many people want more discussion of non-U.S. issues.  Well, here
    is a critical place we can start!

    How do we answer the Council of Europe's proposal to outlaw PGP
    and similar forms of encryption that protect private
    communications from the eyes of governments?  Can we start a
    campaign in European countries to preserve the right of people to
    choose the encryption they want to use?

    In the United States, proposals to limit what people can do with
    computers face tough going (although the threat exists).  I do not
    know enough about the traditions of privacy and attitudes toward
    central governments in Europe, to judge what the average citizen
    thinks of the ability to wiretap.

    We should give serious consideration to the justification offered
    by Council of Europe (and the FBI in the U.S.) for outlawing
    strong encryption.  Are we threatened by terrorists and outlaw
    gangs, where the top leaders insulate themselves from the crimes
    committed by underlings?  (A tactic we've seen used by
    U.S. Presidents too.)  Can restrictions on encryption help to
    break up terrorist organizations and gangs?

Ratings and filtering

    The next wave of Internet and Web standards will include ways for
    organizations to rate public sites, and for people to install
    filters that restrict the sites that can be downloaded.  Long
    before Senator Exon's crusade, people have recommended ratings as
    ways to separate the really good sites from the time-wasters
    (something akin to book reviews).  But now ratings are emerging as
    form of censorship too.

    I know there are wide differences of opinion on this list about
    ratings.  Some people think they are a godsend and a long-term
    satisfaction for parents' fears.  Other people consider ratings to
    be steps toward actual censorship.  I don't expect that we can
    come to consensus on them, but they're worth discussing--and maybe
    CPSR will take a stand.

Telecom regulation

    This continues to be a hot issue in the U.S. (not to most of the
    public, but to people who understand the important role of
    electronic media in society).  I will soon finish and distribute a
    document on the telecom bill currently in Congress.

    Many items in this bill have been discussed on this list,
    including the question of how to promote competition.  It gets
    complicated when one company controls a medium and has to rent it
    to other companies that are competing for the same markets.


    (This item is more of a prod than a discussion topic.)

    Have U.S. residents contacted their service providers yet, warned
    them that they could be arrested because of traffic they don't
    know about on their systems, and asked them to write Congress?  I
    am getting more and more convinced, personally, that these
    businesses need to make a strong statement if we want Congress to
    back down on censorship.  Contact me for more information, or look
    at these Web pages:   (a letter for businesses)


 Posted by Andrew Oram  - •••@••.••• - Moderator: CYBER-RIGHTS (CPSR)
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