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URGENT: Final draft GLOBAL ALERT: German Government censors dutch site www.xs4all.nl

Stanton McCandlish suggested some important corrections. I changed the
accordingly and extended the sign-on deadline with one day. Please sign on
for your organisation to the following alert NOW, deadline: Tu. sept. 17th
24.00 hr. GMT. I added already some (default) signatures, let me know
the deadline when you want your signature deleted. After the deadline I'll
make this alert public on Wednesday sept. 18th (again: provided I don't
serious objections!).


                      *** GLOBAL ALERT ***

(not yet) FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                       SEPT. 18, 1996

-  Please redistribute this document widely
   with this banner intact
-  Redistribute only in appropriate places
   & only until 15 October 1996

Global Alert: German Government Pushes Blockage of Netherlands Web Sites
        At the behest of, and in response to legal threats from, the
government, internet providers in Germany have blocked the Dutch Web site 
Access For All (www.xs4all.nl), removing German users' access to the 
entire xs4all system. The German government demanded this action because
xs4all hosts a Web "home page" with so called left-wing political content
that, though fully legal in the Netherlands, is allegedly illegal in
Germany. (see: http://www.anwalt.de/ictf/p960901e.htm). As a result of
action, *all* xs4all web sites, including several thousand that have
to do with the offending home page, are unavailable to readers in Germany.
Please send a letter of protest to the German ambassador in your country,
ask your foreign minister to protest officially to the German government,
and distribute this alert as widely as possible online and to the press.

        Referring to article 19(2) of the International Covenant on Civil
and Political rights, which Germany ratified in 1973, we, the undersigned
organizations, consider this censorship an illegal act. Additionally, the
value of attepting to ban content the German government finds offensive is
highly questionable. The proper response to offensive expression is more
better expression, and prosecution of offending criminals, not censorship.

        As a result of the overly broad censorship measure which targets
entire Internet access provider instead of a specific user, all 3000 and 
more Web site hosted by xs4all are virtually inaccessable in Germany.The
loss of clients who market in Germany has resulted in economic damage to
xs4all. The immeasurable harm of censoring thousands of other users for
speech of one is even greater.
        Access for All, though it has expressed willingness to assist the
Dutch police in identifying online criminals abusing the xs4all system,
a policy against censoring its clients.
        Mirroring this position, at least one German Net provider has
responded to the government demands with skepticism, pointing out that
compliance with the censorship request may cause them to violate contracts
with their own German users, and that the governments liability threats
tatamount to holding a phone company liable for what users say on the 
        Instead of the futile act of censorship that has simply drawn
increased attention to the offending material and resulting in its
widespread availability on other sites throughout the world, the German
government should have acted through legal channels and asked that the
authorities in the Netherlands take appropriate actions.

        We are concerned that German internet providers have cooperated so
easily with government censorship efforts. Some level of cooperation was
probably assured by underhanded and rather questionable police threats of
system operator liability for user content, but we must urge more
on that part of Net access providers to such online censorship schemes. As
with libraries, there are many who would censor, but there is a
responsibility on the part of providers of access to information, to work
protect that access, else libraries, and Internet service providers, lose
the reason for their existence.

        We demand that the German government refrain from further
restrictive measures and intimidation of internet providers and recognize
the free, democratic, world wide communications represented by the
All governments must recognize that the Internet is not a local, or even 
national, medium, but a global medium in which regional laws have little 
useful effect. "Top-down" censorship efforts not only fail to prevent the 
distribution of material to users in the local jurisdiction (material 
attacked in this manner can simply be relocated to Italy or Antigua or 
any other country), but constitutues a direct assault on the rights and 
other interests of Internet users and service providers in other 
jurisdictions, not subject to the censorship law in question.

        For press contacts, and for more information about the Internet,
homepages for the signatories to this message:

DB-NL (Digital Citizens Foundation in the Netherlands)
        * http://www.xs4all.nl/~db.nl
ALCEI - Electronic Frontiers Italy * http://www.nexus.it/alcei
CITADEL-E F France *http://www.imaginet.fr/~mose/citadel
CommUnity (UK) * http://www.community.org.uk
Electronic Frontier Canada * http://www.efc.ca/
Electronic Frontier Foundation (USA) * http://www.eff.org

Other signatures:

        Please send the signature of your organisation to me that I can
it to this alert.

Arie Dirkzwager, Board member of DB-NL (Digital Citizens Foundation in the