EFF Joins Internet Free Expression Alliance; Opposes Internet Censorship

For Immediate Release
December 1, 1997

Electronic Frontier Foundation
Shari Steele, Staff Attorney 301.375.8856 ssteele@eff.org
Stanton McCandlish, Program Director 415.436.9333 mech@eff.org

Washington, DC -- The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) announces its membership in the Internet Free Expression Alliance (IFEA), a new coalition determined to fight online censorship, including censorship imposed by poorly crafted labeling and filtering schemes. EFF is committed to ensuring that any limitations on Internet speech uphold the values of privacy, security and freedom of expression.

To further this goal of protecting civil liberties online, EFF advances the following public interest principles:

1. Each individual user should be aware of and have control over the personal information that is known about him or her by filtration providers.

2. No personal information about children online should be automatically made known to other users.

3. Consumers should easily be able to determine the criteria that is used by different filtering, rating and labeling systems.

4. Users of filtration technologies should be notified whenever their web use is being monitored or recorded.

5. Users of filtration technologies must have the final say about what information should or should not be filtered.

6. Since there are undoubtedly going to be mistakes made with respect to filtering, rating and labeling decisions, there must be efficient avenues available for people who feel that they have been mislabeled, inappropriately blocked, or otherwise treated unjustly.

7. Content should in no way be altered by a filtering service.

8. No rating or labeling system developed should place an unduly heavy burden on individual creators of online information.

9. Those who would legislate filtering, rating and labeling systems should recognize that may communities of varying cultural mores and standards exist.

10. Developers of filtering technologies should recognize that their products may be used by a governmental body to censor what its populace sees. The goal of ease of use should never take precedence over the protection of the rights of individuals in any nation to access information online.

"The Internet is an amazing medium for finding all kinds of speech, whether it be about the Mars space landing or breast cancer," explained EFF Staff Attorney Shari Steele. "While some speech may be inappropriate for children, particularly young children, that same speech may be constitutionally protected for adults. In our zeal to protect our children from accessing adult materials, we must be careful not to jeopardize the basic rights of adults to speak freely online."

The Internet Free Expression Alliance is opposed to the adoption of techniques that could limit the vibrancy and openness of the Internet as a communications medium. Other members of IFEA include the American Civil Liberties Union, Electronic Privacy Information Center, Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility, Institute for Global Communications, First Amendment Project, Feminists for Free Expression, Journalism Education Association, National Campaign for Freedom of Expression, National Coalition Against Censorship, NetAction, Peacefire, and z publishing. Information about the Internet Free Expression Alliance can be found at http://www.ifea.net.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is a nonprofit public interest organization devoted to the protection of online privacy and free expression. EFF was founded in 1990 and is based in San Francisco, California. EFF maintains an extensive archive of information on privacy and free speech at http://www.eff.org.

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