(en) SF Chronicle Article About "Terrorists" On The Web

Arm The Spirit (ats@locust.etext.org)
Mon, 19 May 1997 20:27:21 -0400 (EDT)

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[You know things are bad when the media start openly advoctaing censorship. And yet this is not a new development. As more and more left-radical groups start taking advantage of the Internet, the powers that be will search for ways to halt this development in the final frontier of relatively cheap and effective communication. Since we started our MRTA Solidarity Page last December, media outlets across the globe have written stories about it. Some merely published their pieces as news items, but others, like the one below from the San Francisco Chronicle, seem to have a broader aim in mind, namely shutting off access to the Internet to leftist groups. Stay tuned for further developments. - ATS]

Terrorists Get Web Sites Courtesy Of U.S. Universities By Robert Collier, San Francisco Chronicle (May 9, 1997) -- As the U.S. government fights against international terrorism, some rebel groups have found a safe niche at American taxpayer expense -- in state university Web sites. In California and New York, South American guerrilla groups have used sympathetic students to get free space on university Web servers -- prompting complaints from critics that public funds are being misused. Two universities' sharply different views over whether to ban the sites have recently opened a new front in the fast-growing debate over censorship on the Internet. On Wednesday, officials at the State University of New York at Binghamton shut down a Web site run by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the hemisphere's largest guerrilla group. But at the University of California at San Diego, where a Tupac Amaru Web site has been operating since shortly after the Peruvian rebel hostage crisis began in December, administration officials have declined to take action. The FARC and the Tupac Amaru rebels are on the State Department's list of international terrorist groups. In its annual report on terrorism issued last week, the department said both groups had engaged in attacks on civilians and other violence -- such as the takeover of the Japanese ambassador's residence in Peru. But U.S. laws on terrorism are vague, and spokesmen at the State and Justice departments said this week that there is little they can do about foreign terrorists on the Internet -- as long as the material posted does not directly incite violence. The two sites contain photos, documents and interviews with rebel leaders but steer clear of asking for military or financial help. "This is just another example of dangerous material being tolerated on the Internet," said Monique Nelson, West Coast spokeswoman for Enough Is Enough, a national group that strongly backed the Communications Decency Act, a bill banning sex sites online that was passed by Congress last year and is now being reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court. "Our tax dollars shouldn't be spent in this manner. There's no reason for university officials to allow outside terrorist groups to use state resources," said Nelson. Most U.S. university Web servers allow free postings of material from any external source (except business activities and pornography) if the Web pages are authored and managed by students or faculty -- but not if they are run by outside groups. Faced with similar cases, however, officials in Binghamton and San Diego have interpreted the policy differently. When first asked about the FARC site by The Chronicle, Binghamton spokeswoman Anita Doll said the university was unaware of it. Then this week, she said that the school administration had decided that the site was "totally unacceptable" and should be shut down. In San Diego, where the Tupac Amaru site (burn.ucsd.edu/~ats/mrta.htm) was put up and is operated by a leftist group in Toronto with no connection to UCSD, officials said they are willing to continue giving the guerrillas free Web space on a site that would cost several hundred dollars per year at a commercial server. "We try very, very hard to err on the side of freedom of speech," said UCSD Web master Michael Breen. "We don't ban anything except commercial activity or full-blown nudity. ... But considering everything else that's out on the Web, this stuff is pretty tame." Internet free-speech activists sharply criticized the Binghamton decision. "This is a return to McCarthy-era censorship," said Carl Kadie, president of Computers in Academic Freedom, a Seattle group, adding that the ban "is almost certainly illegal, and I'm sure it wouldn't survive a court challenge." The rebels, however, took this week's setback in stride, and moved their site to a commercial server (members.tripod.com/~farc/). Marco Leon Calarca, the FARC's Mexico City-based international representative, said in an interview with The Chronicle that it was the third time in recent months that a FARC site had been shut down. In December, the rebels' site on a Mexican server was closed after the Colombian army orchestrated a campaign of death threats against the server company, and another site on a U.S. commercial server was blocked earlier this year for unknown reasons. "We already have other alternative servers lined up," said Calarca. "And when we get those closed down, we will open others. We are used to having no home. We can always adapt."

---- Con las Masas y las Armas, Patria o Muerte ... VENCEREMOS! MRTA Solidarity Page - http://burn.ucsd.edu/~ats/mrta.htm

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