Net censorship, access cost increase, and Intellectual

FACTNet International (
Thu, 03 Apr 1997 14:44:59 -0700

Net censorship, access cost increase, and Intellectual Property alert!

Every netizen or organization that wants low cost net access, net
free speech, and uncensored e-mail has a high stake in a court
case soon to be decided in the litigation war involving Scientology,
the Internet, and a nonprofit electronic library and historic archive
called FactNet.

An emergency Internet and legal issues briefing has been prepared for
you and/or your organization at ( Factnet’s Board of
Directors urgently asks your help to promote both media coverage and
a vigorous dialogue among netizens on the immediate and substantial
threat this briefing discloses to the future of the Internet.

To help understand the importance of this briefing to Internet costs,
Internet slowdowns, Internet intellectual property and Internet free
speech please find the following media quotes.

"If the church's (Scientology’s) lawsuits prevail...future providers
of bulletin boards and newsgroups on the World Wide Web, as well as
the companies running such subscriber services as Prodigy, Compuserve,
and America Online might be forced to monitor or restrict information
simply because they fear being sued...If system operators are liable for
the content of the postings, it will lead to censorship...It would change
the whole idea of how the Internet develops -- it's that important."
--Shari Steele, attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, as
quoted in "The Net: Copyright or 'Free Press'?" Newsday, 10/10/95

"Besides the technological curtailment of free speech, a skirmish like
this one has the potential to completely disrupt the online operation not
only of individual users, but also of entire networks overloaded by
traffic their circuits were never designed to handle."
--Colman Jones, "Freedom Flames Out on the 'Net: Who Launched the
largest-ever Sabotage of the Internet?"

"Other [Internet] users have reported mysterious incidents: investigators
visiting their neighbors, strangers attempting to get into their telephone
records, e-mail sent to their sysadmins asking that their accounts be
closed down. How did we get to this, in a free country?...

"It turns out that a belief in free speech and an interest in
Scientology may involve you in the bitterest battle fought across
the Internet to date. A fight that has burst the banks of the Net
and into the real world of police,lawyers, and armed search and
seizure. Ultimately, however, the drama doesn't matter: the real
issues here are the boundaries of free speech and the future of
copyright and intellectual property in the face of a
technology that can scatter copies across the world in seconds...
"Whatever the motives, when computers are seized because they
contain allegedly purloined intellectual property, messages are
intercepted as they traverse the network, or the security of anonymous
remailers is pierced by police, the days of the Internet as a cozy,
private, intellectual cocktail party are over. .."
--Wendy M. Grossman, "alt.scientology.war," Wired, 8/95

Lest anyone doubt Scientology's intentions, an article in the most
recent issue of an internal Scientology magazine called "High Winds"
proudly trumpets "groundbreaking lawsuits against both copyright
infringers and the computer service companies that served as
electronic conduits" for them. It goes on to predict "landmark
decisions" in which, "for the first time, Internet access providers
will be held responsible for any copyright infringements posted
through their facilities."

"The Internet is an information age tool that empowers individuals and
reduces the need for a large, authoritarian government. It empowers the
poor with an unregulated world of entrepreneurial opportunity...
Information and the new frontier could create a more fair, peaceful
society The free flow of information is central to America's foundation,
and '90s technology only enhances it. Unfortunately, it's all big threat
to those in power who rely on the control of information to secure
their lofty positions. No matter what they call it, free speech is the
issue." --Wayne Langsen, "Raiding Free Speech," Boulder Weekly editorial.

PLEASE help protect our mutual Internet freedoms by appropriately
forwarding this briefing to your personal or organizational network
of individuals, newsgroups, listservs, net media, and net watch
organizations where it hasn’t appeared yet.

Your timely attention to this critical briefing is appreciated,

The Directors of Factnet
Boulder Colorado USA

P.S. Factnet has been reconstructing its electronic files since they
were sabotaged and returned to us by court order after the Scientology
raid. Our original mailing lists consisted of individuals and organizations
who had viewed materials or had an interest in Scientology’s Internet
abuses and other human rights abuses. Because of the raid we are not
fully certain that our reconstructed mailing lists contain what they
originally contained or have been reassembled back into the proper lists.
These reconstructed mailing lists are far to important to the battle for
Internet free speech not to begin using again just because they were in
Scientology's possession.

If you have received this alert and you have not previously reviewed or
been interested in any information on these issues let us know and we
will immediately correct the situation. We ask your understanding if
there has been an error or duplicate mailing. Try to imagine someone
illegally seizing all of your computers and computer files then searching
and altering and destroying parts of them. Finally you get it all back
to you in boxes and pieces. That's what happened to Factnet. Over the
last 12 months with minimal resources it has had to reconstruct 6
gigabits of its deliberately disordered returned libraries and files.