<-- The Filter --> October 2001

October 5, 2001
No. 4.5  .  The Filter  .  10.05.01

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


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"In the current context, when you ask that question you're going to get that kind of response [...] I would say if you asked people, 'Should terrorist sympathizers have their toenails forcibly plucked from their toes?', you would probably get something akin to that."

—James Zogby, president of the Arab-American Institute, reacting to news that one third of New York residents polled by the Sienna College Research Institute favor the establishment of internment camps for "individuals who authorities identify as being sympathetic to terrorist causes" (Newsday via Declan McCullagh's politech list serve).


"Well, this privacy you're concerned about is largely an illusion [...] All you have to give up is your illusions, not your privacy. Right now you can go onto the Internet and get a credit report about your neighbor and find out where your neighbor works, how much they earn and if they had a late mortgage payment and tons of other information."

—Oracle Chairman and CEO Larry Ellison in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks, explaining why there is no valid privacy argument against the creation of a national identification card system. Ellison's offer to provide the US government with the software necessary for creating such a system "absolutely free" has so far been rebuffed.


"It is not a wish list; it is a modest set of essential proposals."

—US Attorney General John Ashcroft, using an unfortunately Swiftian turn of phrase to describe provisions he urged the House Judiciary Committee to include in a draft for the new Patriot anti-terrorist legislation (via Ditherati.com).


"A strange thing happened after the cold war ended: patriotism all but disappeared from American politics. The right and the left essentially offered a choice between hedonisms: tax cuts or spending. No one asked for sacrifice; no one spoke of a common purpose. Liberalism settled for irony and contempt, which mobilize no one. [...]
Sept. 11 changed all that, instantly. That day a policeman tried to help an investment banker who had fled the twin towers and seemed to be in shock. 'I'm not in shock,' the banker replied. 'I like this state. I've never been more cognizant in my life.'"

—Excerpt from "Recapturing the Flag," an article by George Packer published in The New York Times Magazine on September 30.

"What we're seeing isn't the death of irony. It's the death of apathy. And thank f***ing God."

—John Krewson, writer for The Onion, the immensely popular satirical newspaper and website.


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> Who Wants to Be a Patriot?: If there is one development that best illustrates the core Internet policy debate emerging from the September 11 terrorist attacks, it may be the House Judiciary Committee's mark up and unanimous approval, Wednesday evening, of the Patriot Act of 2001. The issue is how best to balance the interests of national security and the protection of civil liberties. The Patriot Act—which stands for "Provide Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism"—remains for many a troubling answer. Although legislators removed or revised some of the more worrisome aspects of earlier drafts— including a provision that would have allowed for "indefinite" detention of immigrant suspects—civil liberties groups including the ACLU say the revisions do not go far enough. "Because of the broad new powers to wiretap telephone and Internet communications, the legislation weakens essential checks and balances that the judicial branch has exercised over law enforcement," said Laura Murphy, director of the ACLU's Washington National Office. "[O]ur fear is that the American public will look back to this legislation and say, 'this is where we crossed the line to a surveillance society.'"




What effect might the Patriot Act have on ordinary citizens? For an analysis of how its provisions could impact lawful immigrants' lives, read Berkman Fellow Anita Ramasastry's Findlaw article "Indefinite Detention Based Upon Suspicion" at the below URL.


The House Judiciary Committee version of the Patriot Act carries an automatic expiration date of December 31, 2003—a "sunset" provision that was considered key to its bipartisan approval. Yesterday, however, US Attorney General John Ashcroft held a press conference at which he took a stand against the provision, arguing that "No one can guarantee that terrorism will sunset in two years." In addition, senior members of the Senate Judiciary Committee reportedly released outlines of a compromise bill that did not contain the sunset provision.


What is the US government's legislative history with regard to the treatment of citizens' civil liberties during wartime? Follow the link below for Declan McCullagh's "Why Liberty Suffers in Wartime," which provides a thoughtful overview.


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> ILAW, Winter 2002: Registration is now open for the Berkman Center's Winter 2002 Internet Law Program of Instruction, the central segment of which will take place in Singapore. Taught by leading experts in the field, the program will address the most controversial cyberlaw issues being debated by lawmakers, courts and practitioners in the US and other countries. The program is designed for a broad audience including professionals in law, politics, business, journalism and education. It offers an optional online instructional component in addition to the intensive, three-day series of lectures and discussions January 2-4 in Singapore. Follow the link below for further details, including syllabus and registration information.


Questions regarding the Internet Law Program of Instruction should be directed to: ilaw@cyber.harvard.edu

> Berkman Center Welcomes New Fellows: Among the Berkman Center's 2001-2002 fellows are five who have recently joined us. We are proud to welcome Justin Chan, Rohan Kariyawasam, Don McGovern, Mark Patterson, and Anita Ramasastry.

Justin Chan
Mr. Chan's research focuses on the evolution of rules in the digital economy: how the economics of new technology compels changes in the law. He is a former clerk to Singapore Supreme Court Chief Justice Yong Pung How and has worked closely with the Singapore Academy of Law, serving as project coordinator for the Academy's Information Technology Law Immersion Program 2001 and as Secretary to the Technology Law Development Group, a cyberlaw think tank.

Rohan Kariyawasam
Mr. Kariyawasam's research interests include the interpretation of World Trade Organization (WTO) rules relating to telecommunications, Internet and broadcasting (including webcasting), open access to electronic networks and services, and legal and regulatory mechanisms to help reduce the digital divide between the developed and developing worlds. He is a Fulbright scholar and UK solicitor who has worked as a consultant for both the Media & Communications Department at Clifford Chance, and for the Telecommunications & Internet Department at Field Fisher Waterhouse.

Don McGovern
Mr. McGovern comes to the Berkman Center from a post as the World Wide R & D Manager in Hewlett Packard Operations (HPO). Before joining HP, McGovern was vice president in Novell's Operating System's Division. McGovern was a board director of X/Open Company Limited, the Open Software Foundation (OSF), and the X Consortium. While in residence, McGovern will head research into the structure of a global, Net-based, open source learning consortium.

Mark Patterson
Professor Patterson is an Associate Professor at Fordham Law School, where he teaches Antitrust Law, Patent Law, and Corporations. He has taught seminars in Competition and Information and Law and Scientific Research, and in the spring of 2002 he will be co-teaching a seminar in Technology and Human Rights. Patterson's work at the Berkman Center focuses on developing an antitrust analysis for the control and use of information, particularly in electronic commerce.

Anita Ramasastry
Professor Ramasastry is Associate Director of the Center for Law, Commerce & Technology and Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Washington School of Law in Seattle. Her research and teaching areas include law and technology, international commercial law and banking and payment systems. At the Berkman Center, Ramasastry is researching "virtual" protest, or hacktivism, including the use of rhetoric and metaphor in the debate on activism.

To read more or view the full roster of 2001-2002 fellows, visit the URL below:


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This week we're featuring a brief selection of articles written after the World Trade Center tragedy that have moved us, informed us, or provoked us to think deeply. (We do not, of course, necessarily espouse the viewpoints expressed by the authors.)

      "An Afghan-American Speaks," by Tamim Ansary

      "Access Denied," by Micahel Isikoff and Daniel Kladiman

      "How the Terrorist Crisis Threatens Our Personal Liberties," by Dan Kennedy and Harvey Silvergate
      http://www.bostonphoenix.com/boston/news_features/top/features/documents... 07.htm

      "Securing the Lines of a Wired Nation," by John Schwartz

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* BNA Internet News


Website where you can sign up for Professor Michael Geist's invaluable daily dispatch of summaries of breaking developments in Internet law and policy.

* Snopes.com: "Rumors of War"


The urban legend debunkers at Snopes.com assess the veracity of rumors spawned by the September 11 terrorist attacks.

* Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund


Website for the organization that administers the "Sept. 11 College Fund," an initiative to raise scholarship funds, on behalf of higher education, for the children and spouses of the victims of the World Trade Center tragedy.

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

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Last updated

January 15, 2008