<-- The Filter --> June 1999

June 9, 1999
No. 1.12  .  The Filter  .  06.09.99

Your regular dose of public interest Internet news and commentary from
the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School


In the News  |  Dispatches  |  Bookmarks  |  Quotable  |  Berkman News  |  Talk Back  |  Subscription Info  |  About Us  |  Not a Copyright

• • • • • • • • • •


> Speaking in Code: The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed a lower court's ruling that the US government's export control over cryptographic software is a violation of the First Amendment. The case in question, Bernstein v. Department of Justice, has been closely monitored by privacy advocates, who see the ruling as a key victory in the battle to guard citizens' privacy rights through constitutional speech protections online. The government is expected to appeal.


> ICANN Does: The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) shifted into high gear two weeks ago in Berlin, where its board met to resolve key issues relating to its structure and to the resolution of domain names disputes. ICANN created two supporting organizations and also took the first steps toward adopting a uniform dispute resolution policy for domain name registrars in the .com, .net, and .org top-level domains. Controversy still swirls as the corporation prepares to grapple with the senstive issues addressed in a World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) report presented at the meeting.



*** EXTRA: The Berkman Center assisted ICANN at the Berlin meeting and compiled a complete multimedia archive of the proceedings, below in DISPATCHES.

> Who's Got Your Name and Number?: The US Department of Justice is investigating possible antitrust violations by Network Solutions, Inc. (NSI), the domain name registry that until recently held a government-sanctioned monopoly. The point of contention is NSI's extensive customer name and address database, compiled during the company's tenure as sole domain name registrar. While NSI's competitors argue the database should be shared since it is the only "bulk" source of information on current domain name owners, NSI claims the database is "intellectual property" to which the company is entitled by dint of its original contract with the National Science Foundation.


> Point and Click on the Dotted Line: The Senate communications subcommittee heard testimony last week on the Digital Signature Act of 1999, which would legitimize digital signatures, making them as legally binding as the traditional pen-and-paper John Hancock. If passed, the Act would require government agencies to use identity authentication technologies and encourage private industry to adopt them, making such technologies more pervasive on the Internet.


> Private Property—No Free Speech Allowed: Ken Hamidi's legal battle with Intel Corp. over the unsolicited mass email he sent Intel workers in the wake of his firing from the company continues to stir controversy, prompting legal scholars at Harvard to join the fray. A California court recently granted Intel summary judgment in the case, finding that Hamidi's email messages represented an illegal trespass onto Intel's proprietary computer system. Harvard Law Review contributor William McSwain argues in a forthcoming volume that Hamidi's messages were of public concern and therefore constitute a form of speech that should be protected, or at least held to strict scrutiny under the First Amendment. Berkman Fellow Molly Shaffer Van Houweling and Harvard Law School graduate Laura Putney may write an amicus brief on the case.


McSwain's article will appear in Volume 112 of the Harvard Law Review.

> Doing It For Love And Money: Hewlett Packard and O'Reilly and Associates announced last month the birth of a joint venture called SourceXchange that promises a more perfect union between for-profit companies and open source programmers. SourceXchange will act as broker, matching companies in need with programmers willing to work for cash, free equipment or other compensation. The resulting software will be released to the open source community.


• • • • • • • • • •


This week we're featuring the complete multimedia archive of ICANN's meetings in Berlin on May 26 and 27, which includes reports from the corporation's two new supporting organizations and the controversial recommendations made by WIPO regarding so-called cybersquatting. Tune in, below.


Stay tuned, as the Berkman Center may develop a more comprehensive online participation system for ICANN's next open meeting, taking place in August in Santiago, Chile.

• • • • • • • • • •


* Peacefire


Who's watching the watchers? Peacefire first received national attention when it was added to CYBERsitter's list of "pornographic" websites after posting information about the sites the software blocks.



A good resource for those monitoring the development of high tech antitrust legislation.

• • • • • • • • • •


"I love it!  One company is just a bunch of crazy guys. But two companies is an industry."

—Eric Raymond, on the emergence of SourceXchange and CoSource.com, two companies that will pay programmers to write open source code software.


"Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of sXXXch, or the right of the people peaceably to XXXemble, and to peXXXion the government for a redress of grievances."

—Marc Rotenberg, director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, demonstrating how blocking software might "read" the US Constitution.

• • • • • • • • • •


* Should universities and other public-minded institutions care about the software that underlies their activities, particularly software that supports teaching?

* Many academic institutions are looking at the Net as an opportunity for profit—a cash cow that can support traditional operations on campus. Is there a business model through which giving content away can work, with or without a credential?

* Law is implicated as soon as anyone mentions "ownership." Do prevailing legal regimes suit the creation of a digital commons? Can a lawsuit itself be conducted in the spirit of open source?

The Berkman Center held an open strategic planning session on May 20 at which these and other questions were posed to a diverse group of participants that included lawyers, educators, nonprofit advocates, programmers, entrepreneurs and journalists. Follow the link below to find out what they had to say about open code, open content and open law.


Berkman Fellow Andrew L. Shapiro's new book, The Control Revolution: How the Internet is Putting Individuals in Charge and Changing the World We Know, recently hit the stores and is already eliciting intriguing responses. Check out an early review and the ensuing discussion at the Slashdot website:


The Berkman Center is looking for a new team member. Joining the Berkman team means entering a fast-paced environment, so our ideal candidate will be able to adapt quickly and often to the changing demands of the position. Follow the link below to learn more about this opportunity:


• • • • • • • • • •


Comments? Questions? Opinions? Submissions?
Send a letter to the editor at filter-editor@cyber.law.harvar d.edu

• • • • • • • • • •


Click here to subscribe or unsubscribe from the list.

• • • • • • • • • •


Read The Filter online at http://cyber.harvard.edu/filter/

Who we are: http://cyber.harvard.edu/filter/index_about.html

• • • • • • • • • •


A publication of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School

You may—and please do—forward or copy this newsletter to friends and colleagues.

Last updated

January 15, 2008