Internet freedoms, and people who've endured fighting for them

"People who are willing to sacrifice essential freedoms for security deserve neither freedom nor security." --Benjamin Franklin

This page is dedicated to all the individuals/organisations who've suffered as a result of standing up for their ideals: fighting for free speech and expression on the Internet. It stems from the frustration I feel when I read that someone's freedoms are being restricted and I can't do anything substantial to help them. I don't necessarily agree with the ideals of all the people listed here, but I appreciate their efforts to stand up for what they think is right.

If you know someone who has been through unnecessary hassle, as a result of oppressive governmental and organisational attitudes, during the course of expressing themselves on the Internet, I'd like to hear about it. Please send me, or point me to, the relevant information regarding their case.

Following is a listing of individuals/organisations that is assembled from information I've collected on the Internet. I hope it's accurate, but if there're any mistakes, I'd appreciate you letting me know. Thanks!

The heroes

The war against censorship and oppression

There are many powerful governmental and corporate organisations in this country. With great power comes great responsibility. But it in many cases, it is abused when people use the power simply because it can be used. Further, in many cases, the abuse of this power is usually kept hidden and critics are silenced through intimidation. I am a free speech absolusist and I take the "sticks and stones" position.

Alan Watts *
is being told by Etch-a-Sketch to pay them and relinquish his site to them due to trademark infringement.
John "Coyote" Osborne * *
had a really bad time moving with U-Haul. When they refused to deal fairly and offer recompense, Coyote took his complaints to the 'net. U-Haul has filed a lawsuit against Coyote, demanding he take down his website, and they are claiming many thousands of dollars worth of "damages" resulting from the website's publication. A clear case of abuse of corporate legal power to silence criticism (sometimes known as a SLAPP: Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation).
David LaMacchia *
was charged with conspiring to commit wire fraud for running a system where people could freely exchange copyrighted software, even though he had no control that was being exchanged and did not derive any profit from it. The case was dimissed.
Jose Eduardo Saavedra *
was arrested for making "terrorist threats" and "threatening the life of a public official", whereas his messages were a valid exercise in free speech. If you can't say what he said, what else can't you say?
Michael Lissack *
is being threatened with a lawsuit regarding supposed trademark violations for using the words "Smith Barney" and "Travelers" on his site---a site which documents their allegedly illegal behaviour.
Miles O'Neal *
Miles O'Neal maintains Roadkills-R-Us, a satire of Toys-R-Us. He has been threatened to be sued by the toy corporation for trademark violations. Toys-R-Us have also attempted to go to the upstream provider and get them to cut off all Internet access for O'Neal.
Robert and Carleen Thomas *
were arrested "for distribution of obscene material and receipt of child pornography." They were tried and found guilty because some moron using inane community standards in Memphis, TN, wilfully downloaded files from the BBS that they were running in CA! This is a chilling example of what the government can to do if you remain complacent.
Randal L. Schwartz *
has been indicted and convicted based on charges brought about by Intel corporation for the most inane of reasons. Instead of worrying about getting their chips working right, they spend time and money on things like this. It's similar to how policemen spend their time harassing young people for IDs rather than actually combating serious crime problems. Send mail to for information regarding this case (subject/content doesn't matter).
Seth Riley *
had to have his web page modified when the department he was in objected to the content. When he replaced the content with a discussion on the moral wrongs of censorship, his account was frozen and his page removed.
Terràvista * *
The Portuguese government censored Terràvista, a public service to offer free web hosting space for Portuguese homepages, blocking the access to more than 25,000 homepages.

The war for privacy

The government is afraid of the spread of pubic key cryptography. It does not want the people keeping any secrets from it. It uses "national security" as an excuse to invade people's privacy. Somehow this seems a bit incongruous since the government is supposed to be for the people. The following people are waging a war against the government for going against its wishes in this regard.

Daniel Bernstein *
is fighting with the government in court after he got tired of its efforts to restrict the distribution and discussion of his encryption algorithm.
Phil Zimmerman * *
who was investigated by the grand jury for releasing his public-key cryptography based program, PGP, to the Internet. This was the most blatant attempt to curtail someone's basic freedoms on the Internet, but fortunately the grand jury came to its senses and dropped all the charges against him.

The war against the Church of Scientology

The current major threat to free speech on the Internet appears to be the Church of Scientology using legal threats in order to attain its goals. Founded by sci-fi writer Ron Hubbard, the Church extorts huge sums of money from people by using brainwashing techniques. Any criticism of this is dealt with in mafia-style: the organisation quickly acts to harass and intimidate its critics into silence. The fact that they have a category of their own on this page should be telling. For more information check out the pages maintained by Ron Newman, David Dennis, Modemac, Skeptic Magazine, EFF, Bob Bingham, Tilman Hausherr, Dave Touretzky, Daniel Tobias, Jessie Blalock, Jerod Pore, and Martin L Poulter, and the newsgroup alt.religion.scientology.

Arnie Lerma *
had his house raided August 12, 1995 between the hours of 9:30a to 12:15p. The Church of Scientology, accompanied by two armed Federal Marshals and a Writ of Seizure, raided Lerma's house and seized his computer, which contained personal and confidential information. The Church has sued Lerma for violating copyright and trade secret laws as a result of his posting the details of the Fishman court case. The case available to anyone---you can buy copies of it from the US District Court, District of Central California case CV-91-6426 HLH (Tx) for a few dollars. Details of the Fishman vs. the CoS are available on the 'net.
Daniel Davidson *
faced disciplinary charges by the San Francisco State University as result of complaints against him to his system administrator by the Church of Scientology. He was accused of violating copyright and trade secret laws. He was later exonerated of all charges.
Dennis Erlich *
is being sued by the Church of Scientology for posting the Church's "trade secrets". He has been harassed by other means, including having his daughter being taken away from him and having his house raided.
had a criminal complaint filed against him by the CoS for making "terroristic threats". According to Henry, the "threats" were forged by the CoS. As a result of these complaints, Henry was fired from his job.
Martin Poulter *
had his account and www page suspended for several days by University of Bristol (England) as a result of complaints against him to the university by the Church of Scientology. His account was later restored.
Richard Behar *
was harassed by "at least 10 attorneys and six private detectives were unleashed by Scientology" after authoring a cover story in TIME magazine which exposed how the Church of Scientology really worked.
Robert Bingham, Jeff Jacobsen, Homer Smith,
Martin Hunt, TarlaStar, Grady Ward, and Gary Reibert
have all been harassed by the Church of Scientology in one form or another.
Robert Penny and Lawrence Wollersheim *
had their homes raided on August 22, 1995 by the Church of Scientology. Penny and Wollershiem run FACTnet, a bulletin-board system containing a huge database of Scientology-related material. When FACTnet started making their information public, the CoS made many legal threats, which finally led to this raid.
Steven Fishman *
was sued by the Church of Scientology for defamation after he spoke to Richard Behar of TIME magazine against the Church. Fishman, who was an ex-scientologist himself, was later found innocent. Check the site out---it details a fascinating and frightening story of how someone can be brainwashed by the Church and left high and dry without any recourse.

Related Links

First they came for the hackers.
  But I never did anything illegal with my computer,
  so I didn't speak up.
Then they came for the pornographers.
  But I thought there was too much smut on the Internet anyway,
  so I didn't speak up.
Then they came for the anonymous remailers.
  But a lot of nasty stuff gets sent from,
  so I didn't speak up.
Then they came for the encryption users.
  But I could never figure out how to work PGP anyway,
  so I didn't speak up.
Then they came for me.
  And by that time there was no one left to speak up.
                                            ---Author unknown

Pseudo-intellectual ram-blings || Ram Samudrala ||