e-WAVE 37
De kewlste elektronische nieuwsbrief in de Benelux=
5 september


  Seizure at XS4ALL ordered by Scientology

  Today, in the offices of Internet provider XS4ALL in Amsterdam, the
  computer equipment used to run XS4ALLs Internet site was seized as
  ordered by the Church of Scientology (COS). The action precedes a
  civil lawsuit concerning the claim that XS4ALL violated COSs
  copyright. The visit from bailiff Braan, working for the Justice
  Department in Amsterdam, was on court order. This order was directed
  at the anonymous remailer of XS4ALL. At the raid, the bailiff was
  accompanied by inspector Penterman of Amsterdam Police, lawyer Hermans
  representing COS, two computer experts appointed by Braan (Mr. Ootjes
  and Mr. Van Suchtelen) and two American employees of the COS, Mr.
  Weigtman and Mrs. Jenssen. As ordered, the serial number of the
  computers were registered to ensure that at a possible civil lawsuit
  none of the computers is missing. An actual seizure did not take place.
  The raid was allowed by the President of the Court and is supported by
  Article 444, sub 1, of the 'Wetboek van Burgerlijke
  Rechtsvordering' (the Dutch Civil Lawbook, translator). The people of
  XS4ALL were somewhat surprised. "Our remailer has not been working for
  months", according to Felipe Rodriguez, Director of XS4ALL.

  An anonymous remailer allows everyone with an email address to send
  email anonymously to others or to newsgroups. A users sends his mail
  to the email address of the remailer, that subsequently resends the
  message to a given address. COS is taking worldwide action against
  the operators of these remailers. On January 3, American Helena
  Kobrin, lawyer for COS International, sent an email to all operators
  of remailers. In this letter -also directed at XS4ALL- she points at
  the copyright violations. The letter also asked for cooperation to
  remove the newsgroups alt.religion.scientology and
  alt.technology.clearing from the newsserver. The operators did not
  take any action. Therefore, in February of this year, the Finnish
  Johan Helsingius, operator for the remailer anon.penet.fi, was raided.
  Through this remailer someone had sent slanderous remarks about COS
  all over the world. The Fin was forced to hand over sensitive
  information to Finnish police. This raid was the first in a series of
  many that has continued for some months. Today, it was XS4ALLs turn.

  During the raid at XS4ALL, it turned out that the remailer was not the
  major concern of the COS. Lawyer Hermans, part of the law office Nauta
  Dutilh, presented a letter with a charge against the contents of the
  home page of an XS4ALL user. At this home page
  (http://www.xs4all.nl/~fonss) a document can be found, titled: 'Steven
  Fishman explains Scientology's "Dirty Tricks" & Money Laundering and
  his participation.'. Or better, could be found, because the link to
  this text is not working anymore. Besides this, the user home
  page contains material from F.A.C.T.NET. Fight Against Coercive
  Tactics (http://www.lightlink.com/factnet1/) is a worldwide
  organization based in Connecticut (US), aiming at registering illegal
  activities from religious cults. Publications from F.A.C.T.NET about
  COS can be found in various place on the Internet. Examples: 
  http://www.sky.net/~sloth/sci/sci_index.html or 
  ftp://utbbs.civ.utwente.nl/pub/upload/factkit.zip. They only 'exist'
  on Internet. Most of these publications include parts of confidential
  writings by Lafayette Ronald Hubbard, founder of COS, that were not
  supposed to be made public. As example, a quote from a memorandum of
  the Hubbard Communication office, dated 18 October 1967, better known
  as the *fair game policy* of COS: '[an enemy] may be deprived of
  property or injured by any means by any scientologist without any
  discipline of the scientologist ... may be tricked, sued, lied to, or
  destroyed.' On the net, many postings of a similar nature can be
  found, among which are testimonies of former COS members that where
  threatened or otherwise harassed. The battle between COS and the Net
  is lasting almost a year

  The crucial question of this incident is twofold. Is a provider
  responsible for the contents of home pages, email or postings from
  their users? Doesn't a provider violates the privacy of its users when
  it screens email or postings? 'We at XS4ALL do not see this as our
  responsibility', explains Rodriquez. The COS thinks otherwise. Leisa
  Goodman (http://www.theta.com/goodman), spokeswomen for the COS  in
  the United states: 'A provider can intervene. When they don't, we do.
  We stick up for our rights. We support freedom of speech and regard
  Internet as a media for free discussion and information exchange. But
  freedom means responsibility.' Goodman explains that many of the
  providers approached in January removed the specific newsgroups. 'We
  did not ask to screen all newsgroups.' But is it a solution to ban
  newgroups? 'During the course of time, we have learned much about the
  net. We recognize that our struggle against violations of our
  copyrights is a lot of work, if not impossible, but we approach anyone
  who is responsible.'

  The Justice Department finds itself in a hot spot. Previous
  legislation in this electronic area is virtually non-existent. If COS
  continues their civil case we will see one of the most interesting
  lawsuits. The jurisprudence could have far reaching consequences.


  [translated from Dutch by Mike Schenk, September 7, 1995]