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   Volume 8.10                                       May 30, 2001
                            Published by the
              Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC)
                            Washington, D.C.
Table of Contents
[1] EU Echelon Committee Calls for Increased Use of Encryption
[2] CoE Cybercrime Treaty Still Lacks Balance
[3] FTC Refuses to Pursue Amazon's Privacy Policy Changes
[4] Supreme Court Ruling Implicates Free Speech and Privacy
[5] EPIC Testifies before Congress on SSN Privacy
[6] EPIC Bill-Track: New Bills in Congress
[7] EPIC Bookstore - Not in Front of the Children
[8] Upcoming Conferences and Events
[1] EU Echelon Committee Calls for Increased Use of Encryption
A new European Parliament report calls for expanded development and
use of encryption technology within Europe to protect communications
against the U.S.-led surveillance network known as Echelon.  The
report, issued by the Parliament's Temporary Committee on the Echelon
Interception System after seven months of research, concludes that the
worldwide spy network does exist, despite official U.S. denials.
The committee notes allegations that U.S. intelligence agencies have
passed on intercepted European trade secrets to give U.S. businesses
a competitive advantage, but finds that "no such case has been
According to the committee, the Echelon system (reportedly run by the
United States in cooperation with Britain, Canada, Australia and New
Zealand) was set up at the beginning of the Cold War for intelligence
gathering and has developed into a network of intercept stations
around the world.  Its primary purpose, according to the report, is
to intercept private and commercial communications, not military
intelligence.  The committee concludes that "the existence of a global
system for intercepting communications . . . is no longer in doubt."
The report recommends "self-protection" by EU citizens and companies,
and urges the European Commission and Member States "to devise
appropriate measures to promote, develop and manufacture European
encryption technology and software and above all to support projects
aimed at developing user-friendly open-source encryption software."
It also calls upon EU institutions "systematically to encrypt e-mails,
so that ultimately encryption becomes the norm."
U.S. officials have refused to confirm the existence of an
Echelon-like surveillance system, and have denied that American
agencies engage in commercial espionage.  The EU committee traveled
to Washington earlier this month to meet with relevant U.S. officials
and agencies, several of which (including the National Security
Agency) refused to meet them.  The committee did meet with EPIC, the
American Civil Liberties Union and several members of Congress.
The report of the Temporary Committee on the Echelon Interception
System is available at:
[2] CoE Cybercrime Treaty Still Lacks Balance
Following strong criticism from privacy, human rights and industry
groups, the final text of the controversial Council of Europe (CoE)
Cybercrime Treaty acknowledges the potential privacy impact of
international efforts to investigate online activity.  The
newly-released text (version 27) includes language that would require
investigative agencies to take some procedural steps to protect
privacy and human rights when accessing transactional data and
intercepting communications.  The text does not, however, require
police agencies to reimburse service providers for the cost of
complying with law enforcement data demands, a requirement that would
create a financial disincentive to overly broad and invasive requests.
Even with the most recent changes, the proposed treaty would still
grant government investigators broad powers to track the online
activities of suspects.  While those powers are spelled out with great
specificity, the procedural protections are relatively vague; Article
15 provides that signatories must ensure that their national laws
respect the privacy provisions of CoE, United Nations and other
international human rights documents and be subject to "judicial or
other independent supervision."  The text still requires service
providers to store potentially incriminating data for at least 60 days
after police request it, a requirement the EU Data Protection Working
Party in March called a "considerable burden on business" because of
the amount of electronic storage space needed (see EPIC Alert 8.06).
The proposed CoE convention would be the first treaty to specify how
police in one country can request their counterparts abroad to collect
data traffic on a system intruder, have him arrested and extradited to
serve a prison sentence.  It also provides for international
cooperation to fight against distributors of child pornography,
copyright violators and other online offenders.  The draft treaty is
scheduled to be submitted to the Council of Europe's Committee of
Ministers for adoption in September and then ratified by member states
and observers over the next year or two.  The United States has played
an active part in the drafting of the treaty as an observer.
The text of Version 27 of the proposed cybercrime treaty is available
[3] FTC Refuses to Pursue Amazon's Privacy Policy Changes
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has decided that Amazon.com did not
deceive its customers when it unilaterally changed the terms of its
privacy policy last fall.  In a letter dated May 24, sent to EPIC and
Junkbusters, the FTC stated that Amazon.com did not, under its revised
policy, change its practices with respect to its customers' personal
information in a way that was unfair and deceptive.  Relying on
further information provided by Amazon, the FTC stated that the
revised privacy policy did not "materially conflict" with earlier
representations regarding privacy.
In its previous privacy policy, Amazon stated that it did not sell,
rent, trade, or otherwise disclose customers' personal information to
third parties and that customers could guarantee that this would not
occur in the future by sending an email to never@amazon.com.  On
August 31, 2000, however, Amazon revised its policy to state that in
certain circumstances (for example, in the case of a merger or
acquisition) it would treat customer information as one of its
business assets and transfer it accordingly.  The FTC began
investigating this issue in response to a joint petition submitted by
EPIC and Junkbusters in December.  The petition alleged that Amazon's
contradictory privacy statements violated Section 5 of the FTC Act and
urged the FTC to grant specific remedies to consumers, including the
right to delete or prohibit the future disclosures of personal
information collected under the previous policy.
In a separate investigation, the FTC also announced that despite
finding that "certain of Amazon.com's and Alexa Internet's practices
likely were deceptive in violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act," the
Commission staff is not recommending any enforcement action.  At
issue in the investigation was whether Alexa's zBubbles service was
correlating personally identifiable information (PII) with anonymous
data.  Alexa is a subsidiary of Amazon.com.
EPIC also asked the Federal Trade Commission and the National
Association of Attorneys General on May 25 to investigate the purchase
of assets of eTour.com by search engine website Ask Jeeves.  The sale
included the transfer of eTour.com registration information.  The EPIC
letter alleges that eTour.com's actions deceived its customers due to
that company's numerous statements that it would never share personal
information with any third party.
The closing letter sent by the FTC to EPIC and Junkbusters regarding
the changes to Amazon.com's privacy policy:
The FTC closing letter on Alexa:
EPIC's letter to the FTC and the National Association of Attorneys
General (NAAG) about eTour.com:
[4] Supreme Court Ruling Implicates Free Speech and Privacy
In a 6-3 ruling, the Supreme Court held in Bartnicki v. Vopper that
the First Amendment rights of the media outweigh a federal wiretapping
statute designed to prevent interception of private conversations.
The May 21 ruling, which upheld the Third Circuit's dismissal of the
case on First Amendment grounds, involved the dissemination of an
illegal tape recording of a cell phone conversation between Gloria
Bartnicki, the chief negotiator for a teacher's union in Wyoming
Valley West School District in Pennsylvania, and Anthony Kane, the
union's president.  The tape included Bartnicki's complaints about the
school board's reluctance to approve a proposal for a three percent
pay raise, and a discussion about blowing up the front porches of
uncooperative school board members.  An unknown person gave a copy of
the tape to Jack Yocum, leader of the group opposed to the union's
wage proposals.  Yocum passed a copy of the tape to Frederick Vopper,
a radio talk show host, who played it repeatedly on his show.
Justice Stevens, writing for the majority, held that although the
privacy of communications and the minimization of harm to those whose
communications were illegally intercepted represented strong
government interests, these interests did not outweigh the First
Amendment right to publish matters of public concern.  The Court
accepted that the defendants had played no part in the illegal
intercept, and therefore posed the legal issue as whether the
government may punish the dissemination of lawfully obtained
information where the publisher's source obtained the information
Although they signed on to the majority's holding, Justices Breyer and
O'Connor concurred separately in a narrower opinion stating that in
this situation, the publication was protected by the First Amendment
because the recording was of public interest and the speakers were
public figures.  Furthermore, Breyer and O'Connor were swayed by the
fact that the federal statutes were more broad than necessary to deter
the relevant bad conduct, and that the publications concerned a
potential threat to public safety, decreasing the speakers' legitimate
interest in maintaining the privacy of the communication.  Therefore,
rather than creating a "public interest" exception, the publication
was protected because the privacy expectations of the speakers were
particularly low and were balanced against an unusually high interest
in publication.
Chief Justice Rehnquist and Justices Scalia and Thomas dissented,
citing concern for privacy in electronic communications such as
cordless and cellular telephone conversations and e-mail records.
Bartnicki et al. v. Vopper, aka Williams, et al., Certiorari to the
United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, No. 99-1687:
[5] EPIC Testifies before Congress on SSN Privacy
On May 22, EPIC Executive Director Marc Rotenberg testified before the
U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Social Security on
"Protecting Privacy and Preventing Misuse of Social Security Numbers."
Also testifying before the Subcommittee were several victims of
identity theft, representatives of the Social Security Administration,
financial industry lobbyists and other privacy advocates.
EPIC's testimony before the Subcommittee argued that legislation
limiting the collection and use of Social Security numbers (SSNs) is
"appropriate, necessary, and fully consistent with U.S. law."  Some
of the earliest studies of SSNs noted the risks associated with the
creation of a unique identifier and the possibility of profiling
individuals if they became widely used.  Based on these recommenda-
tions, Congress included limitations on the SSN in the Privacy Act of
1974.  The testimony concluded with five recommendations: limiting the
use of the SSN in the private sector unless explicitly authorized by
law; prohibiting the sale and limiting the display of the SSN by
government agencies; preventing companies from compelling the
disclosure of SSNs as a condition of conducting business; penalizing
the fraudulent use of the SSN only when the number corresponds to an
actual individual; and encouraging the development of alternative
In related SSN privacy news, Rep. Clay Shaw (R-FL), Chairman of the
Social Security Subcommittee, introduced a bill on May 25 that seeks
to provide greater privacy protections for individuals and to prevent
fraudulent use of the SSN.
EPIC's written testimony before the Subcommittee:
Written testimony of other witnesses at the hearing:
[6] EPIC Bill-Track: New Bills in Congress
H.R.1846 Who Is E-Mailing Our Kids Act. To amend section 254 of the
Communications Act of 1934 to require schools and libraries receiving
universal service assistance to block access to Internet services that
enable users to access the World Wide Web and transfer electronic mail
in an anonymous manner. Sponsor: Rep Grucci, Felix J., Jr. (R-NY).
Latest Major Action: 5/22/2001 Referred to House subcommittee: House
Energy and Commerce.
H.R.1847 Hands Off Our Kids Act of 2001. To require the Attorney
General to identify organizations that recruit juveniles to
participate in violent and illegal activities related to the
environment or to animal rights; and to amend the Juvenile Justice and
Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974 to provide assistance to States to
carry out activities to prevent the participation of juveniles in such
activities. Sponsor: Rep Grucci, Felix J., Jr. (R-NY). Latest Major
Action: 5/15/2001 Referred to House committee: House Education and the
Workforce; House Judiciary.
H.R.1854 Parental Freedom of Information Act. To amend the General
Education Act to allow parents access to certain information about
their children. Sponsor: Rep Tiahrt, Todd (R-KS). Latest Major Action:
5/15/2001 Referred to House committee: House Education and the
H.R.1869 Amy Robinson Memorial Act. To amend the Fair Labor Standards
Act of 1938 to require an employer to notify the parent or guardian of
an employee who is under the age of 18 or handicapped and who works at
the same facility as an individual who has a criminal record that
includes a conviction for a crime of violence. Sponsor: Rep Frost,
Martin (D-TX). Latest Major Action: 5/16/2001 Referred to House
committee: House Education and the Workforce.
H.R.1877 Child Sex Crimes Wiretapping Act of 2001. To amend title 18,
United States Code, to provide that certain sexual crimes against
children are predicate crimes for the interception of communications,
and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Johnson, Nancy L.(R-CT). Latest
Major Action: 5/16/2001 Referred to House committee: House Judiciary.
S.906 Instant Check Gun Tax Repeal and Gun Owner Privacy Act of 2001.
A bill to provide for protection of gun owner privacy and ownership
rights, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Enzi, Michael B. (R-WY).
Latest Major Action: 5/17/2001 Referred to Senate committee: Senate
S.915. A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow the
Secretary of the Treasury to disclose taxpayer identity information
through mass communications to notify persons entitled to tax refunds.
Sponsor: Sen Schumer, Charles E. (D-NY). Latest Major Action:
5/21/2001 Referred to Senate committee: Senate Finance.
EPIC Bill Track: Tracking Privacy, Speech, and Cyber-Liberties Bills
in the 107th Congress, is available at:
[7] EPIC Bookstore - Not in Front of the Children
Not in Front of the Children: Indecency, Censorship, and the Innocence
of Youth, by Marjorie Heins
From Huckleberry Finn to Harry Potter, from Internet filters to the
v-chip, censorship exercised on behalf of children and adolescents
is often based on the assumption that they must be protected from
"indecent" information that might harm their development - whether in
art, in literature, or on a website.  But where does this assumption
come from, and is it true?
In Not in Front of the Children, Marjorie Heins explores the
fascinating history of "indecency" laws and other restrictions aimed
at protecting youth.  From Plato's argument for rigid censorship,
through Victorian laws aimed at repressing libidinous thoughts, to
contemporary battles over sex education in public schools and violence
in the media, Heins guides us through what became, and remains, an
ideological minefield.  With fascinating examples drawn from around
the globe, she suggests that the "harm to minors" argument rests on
shaky foundations.
There is an urgent need for informed, dispassionate debate about the
perceived conflict between the free-expression rights of young people
and the widespread urge to shield them from expression that is
considered harmful.  Not in Front of the Children will spur this
long-needed conversation.
For other books recommended by EPIC, browse the EPIC Bookshelf at:
EPIC Publications:
"Filters and Freedom 2.0: Free Speech Perspectives on Internet Content
Controls," (EPIC 2001). Price: $20.
A collection of essays, studies, and critiques of Internet content
filtering.  These papers are instrumental in explaining why filtering
threatens free expression.
"The Consumer Law Sourcebook 2000: Electronic Commerce and the Global
Economy," Sarah Andrews, editor (EPIC 2000). Price: $40.
The Consumer Law Sourcebook provides a basic set of materials for
consumers, policy makers, practitioners and researchers who are
interested in the emerging field of electronic commerce.  The focus is
on framework legislation that articulates basic rights for consumers
and the basic responsibilities for businesses in the online economy.
"Privacy & Human Rights 2000: An International Survey of Privacy Laws
and Developments," David Banisar, author (EPIC 2000).
Price: $20. http://www.epic.org/phr/
This survey, by EPIC and Privacy International, reviews the state of
privacy in over fifty countries around the world.  The survey examines
a wide range of privacy issues including, data protection, telephone
tapping, genetic databases, ID systems and freedom of information
"The Privacy Law Sourcebook 2000: United States Law, International
Law, and Recent Developments," Marc Rotenberg, editor (EPIC 2000).
Price: $40. http://www.epic.org/pls/
The "Physicians Desk Reference of the privacy world." An invaluable
resource for students, attorneys, researchers and journalists who need
an up-to-date collection of U.S. and International privacy law, as
well as a comprehensive listing of privacy resources.
"Cryptography and Liberty 2000: An International Survey of Encryption
Policy," Wayne Madsen and David Banisar, authors (EPIC 2000).
Price: $20. http://www.epic.org/crypto&/
EPIC's third survey of encryption policies around the world. The
results indicate that the efforts to reduce export controls on strong
encryption products have largely succeeded, although several
governments are gaining new powers to combat the perceived threats of
encryption to law enforcement.
Additional titles on privacy, open government, free expression,
computer security, and crypto, as well as films and DVDs can be
ordered through the EPIC Bookstore: http://www.epic.org/bookstore/
[8] Upcoming Conferences and Events
Call for Papers - June 1, 2001. Summer 2001 Issue on Cybermedicine.
John Marshall Journal of Computer and Information Law. For more
information: 5simondo@stu.jmls.edu
The Internet Security Conference (TISC) 2001. Core Competence, Inc.
June 4-8, 2001. Los Angeles, CA. For more information:
INET 2001: A Net Odyssey, Mobility and the Internet. The 11th Annual
Internet Society Conference. June 5-8, 2001. Stockholm, Sweden. For
more information: http://www.isoc.org/inet2001/
ETHICOMP 2001: Systems of the Information Society. Telecommunications
and Informatics Technical University of Gdansk, Poland. June 18-20,
2001. Gdansk, Poland. For more information:
ACS/IEEE International Conference on Computer Systems and Applications
2001: Taking Stock of Existing Technology, Charting Future Trends.
Lebanese American University. June 25-29, 2001. Beirut, Lebanon. For
more information:
Democracy Forum 2001: Democracy and the Information Revolution.
International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance. June
27-29, 2001. Stockholm, Sweden. For more information:
Call for Papers - June 30, 20001. CEPE2001: Computer Ethics,
Philosophical Enquiries. Lancaster University (UK). Centre for Study
of Technology in Organizations, Institute for Environment, Philosophy
and Public Policy. December 14-16, 2001. For more information:
Re-shaping the Culture of Research: People, Participation,
Partnerships & Practical Tools - Fourth Annual Community Research
Network Conference. The Loka Institute. July 6-8, 2001. Austin, TX.
For more information: http://www.loka.org/
The Online Privacy Conference: Integrating Security and Privacy for
Data Protection. MIS Training Institute. July 17-18, 2001, Optional
Workshops July 16, 2001. Chicago, IL.  For more information:
Call For Submissions - August 3, 2001. Workshop on Security and
Privacy in Digital Rights Management 2001. Eighth Association for
Computing Machinery (ACM) Conference on Computer and Communications
Security. November 5, 2001. For more information:
ICSC 2001: International Conference on Social Computing. University of
Bremen. October 1-3, 2001. Bremen, Germany. For more information:
Privacy2001: Information, Security & Ethics for the New Century.
Technology Policy Group. October 3-4, 2001. Cleveland, Ohio. For more
information: http://www.privacy2000.org/
Nurturing the Cybercommons, 1981-2001. Computer Professionals for
Social Responsibility (CPSR) 20th Annual Meeting. October 19-21, 2001.
Ann Arbor, MI. For more information:
Learning for the Future. Business for Social Responsibility's Ninth
Annual Conference. November 7-9, 2001. Seattle, WA. For more
information: http://www.bsr.org/events/2001.asp
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About EPIC
The Electronic Privacy Information Center is a public interest
research center in Washington, DC.  It was established in 1994 to
focus public attention on emerging privacy issues such as the Clipper
Chip, the Digital Telephony proposal, national ID cards, medical
record privacy, and the collection and sale of personal information.
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  ---------------------- END EPIC Alert 8.10 -----------------------