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Date:         Sat, 25 Feb 1995 20:43:00 EST
Reply-To:     Computer-assisted Reporting & Research 
Sender:       Computer-assisted Reporting & Research 
From:         Elliott Parker <>
Organization: Central Michigan University
Subject:      Fwd: Anonymous server threatened
To:           Multiple recipients of list CARR-L 
Message-ID:  <>
Status: R

    ===================  Forwarded  Message  ===================
Date:    Tue, 21 Feb 95 13:07 EST
From:    "Peter M. Weiss +1 814 863 1843" 
Subject: Anon Servers, Child Porn and Scientologists

  - - The original note follows - -

Date: 21 Feb 1995 06:38:31 GMT
From: Johan Helsingius 
Newsgroups: comp.dcom.telecom
Subject: Anon Servers, Child Porn and Scientologists

Press release, Monday, February 20th, 1995
Helsinki, Finland

World-wide Internet community appalled over the Scientology seizure
         Was the child porn scandal just a cover?

The reputation of Finland as a country that holds freedom of
expression, justice and human rights in high esteem has suffered among
the world-wide Internet community.  So far Finland has gotten a lot of
positive publicity as the home of the best-known anonymous server,  These servers enable safe net discussion of sensitive
issues, such as reporting violations of human rights.

The ease with which the Church Of Scientology (with the help of
Finnish police) obtained sensitive information has caused great
concern and uproar. With the help of the finnish police, the Church Of
Scientology found out the identity of a person who had published
material on the Church of Scientology anonymously on the Usenet
newsgroups. At the same time there has been a lot of speculation on
the net on whether the recent child porn scandal (which was totally
unsupported by hard evidence) might be connected to the
Scientologists' interest in the anonymous server.


Anonymous servers enable anonymous discussions via electronic mail and
newsgroups on the Internet, used by millions of people all over the
world, and are vital for support of freedom of expression. These
servers are used by people who are under pressure or persecuted,
people who report offenses of human rights or even discuss their
personal problems and sufferings.

One of the longest-lasting and probably the most famous anonymous
server is, created by the Finnish Internet specialist
Johan "Julf" Helsingius back in 1992. Every day more than 7000
messages are automatically handled by the service, and there are over
200 000 registered users.  The popularity of the server is largely due
to its trustworthiness, based on both the personal reputation of
Helsingius among the network community, as well as on the good
reputation of Finland as a country where individual rights, privacy
and freedom of expression are respected.

This kind of reputation is important, since there are lots of people
and organisations in the world that would rather see the anon servers
being shut down.  Governments that violate human rights, as well as
other organizations banning public and open discussion of their
activities, such as the Church of Scientology, are among these. The
Church of Scientology has in fact approached the people offering
anonymity services, threatening with lawsuits unless the anonymous
discussion in scientology-related newsgroups stops.  In fear of
lawsuits many American servers have either stopped altogether or
strongly limited their activities.

The flow of events:

On Thursday, February 2, an American representative of the Church of
Scientology (CoS) contacted Johan Helsingius, informing him that some
information residing on a private and closed CoS system had been made
public via the server. Based on this they have reported
a burglary to the Los Angeles Police and FBI.  The representative of
CoS asked Helsingius for the real identity of the individual that had
posted the confidential information. After Helsingius had made it
clear that he was in no position to give out the information, he was
told an official request to the Finnish Police was on its way via
Interpol.  The next day, February 3, the Finnish police contacted
Helsingius, informing him that if need be, they would get a warrant of
search and seizure.  The necessary documents for these actions were
promised for Monday.

On Monday, February 6, the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter published
an article based on the investigation of Mats Wiklund from University
of Stockholm.  The article stated that child porn was distributed to
Internet from the Finnish server.  The Finnish media
picked up the story, with headlines such as "Internet distributes
child porn from an address in Helsinki" (Helsingin Sanomat) and
"Internet flooded with child porn" (Ilta-Sanomat).  The first public
reaction in Finland was based purely on the initial article in Dagens

Meantime, the Internet community started to investigate the matter.
The child porn statements caused amazement, as the anon server has
(due to heavy traffic) been forced to limit the maximum size of
messages, and ban postings to groups containing pictures altogether.
At closer look the Wiklund "research" is revealed to have been made
sloppily and without enough expertise.

The information needed to reveal the sender of the articles has not
been saved, and the famous pictures themselves are nowhere to be
obtained for a closer look.  The only picture that is actually included
in Wiklund's report seems to be taken on a nudist camp.

Wiklund has investigated four newsgroups dealing with sexual pictures,
checked 5651 postings and found 8 pictures of adolescent nude
children, none of which are (according to Wiklund's own report)
actually pornographic. After a closer look at the pictures in those
groups, they are shown to actually come from United Kingdom, not
Finland.  Wiklund admits that he never thought of the possibility of
the source of the pictures being forged.  On Saturday, February 11,
Johan Helsingius reveals the true nature of events and the headlines
in Finnish media quiet down.

On the Internet there follows a lot of lively discussion and
questioning of the motives of the Swedish researcher, the person who
forged the source of the pictures, and the journalist of Dagens
Nyheter.  Some writers suggest a connection to the attempts by the CoS
to silence anon servers.  Since the authorities don't seem to be
investigating the case, Helsingius himself files a request for
investigation with the Finnish police. The initial investigation
reveals no crime committed at least in Finland.

In the meantime, on February 8, the Finnish police serve Helsingius
with a warrant for search and seizure, and obtains from Helsingius the
electronic mail address of the anonymous user that the CoS wants.
Within an hour after the Finnish Police gets hold of the information,
the Finnish representative of the CoS informs Helsingius legal
representative that they received the information.

On 14 February the criminal investigation on the scientologists case
is dropped.  Helsingius gets this information on February 17, and
reveals the situation on some discussion groups and mailing lists on
the Internet.  This announcement has caused a flood of electronic
mail, and a huge outroar among the Internet community.

During the weekend, Helsingius received hundreds of comments and
queries, most of them questioning the actions of the Finnish

February 19 the maintainer of an anonymous service in Amsterdam tells
Helsingius that the Church of Scientology has approached him again,
threatening with legal action unless the anonymous participation into
the discussion on scientology is stopped.  This time the issue would
be claims about illicit distribution of copies of copyrighted computer


[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Those Scientology people are very strange.
So was L. Ron Hubbard, their founder for that matter. Originally an author
of mostly science fiction books, in 1949 Hubbard went to a convention of
science fiction writers and made the comment that real money in the world
was not to be made writing books. "If you really want to make lots of money
start a church ..." he said. Well, we know that much is true, I've thought
a couple times about starting one myself. Hubbard then wrote a book called
"Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health" which seems to have sold
quite well (he has been dead for a few years but the book is still in
print) and from that publication came the Church of Scientology. They
have always been very agressive about getting their way and they don't
hesitate to sue or otherwise harass anyone who writes an expose of their
activities. With Auditors and Engrams and their infamous E-Meter (a
device which measures Engrams!) they'll clear you of whatever is wrong
in your thinking processes. Several years ago I read a few things about
their tactics toward their perceived enemies. I'm not surprised they
are now turning their attention to Internet.

The comments by Helsingius sort of confirm what I said here the other
day where remailers are concerned: they do have records of who says
what, and will keep them for use as necessary. He went the full measure
and required the authorities to produce a warrant before turning over
the information they sought, and that is admirable. But when I was doing
the same thing with postal mail years ago, the other fellows I knew in
the same business used to take a somewhat more practical view. The
attitude was (regards postal inspectors, police, etc) we have to live
with those guys all the time. If you know that in fact to get a warrant
all they have to do is go ask a judge for one and they'll be back in
a few minutes or a day or so later, then give them what they want and
save time for everyone. Some will even call on the phone to request a
warrant and have it delivered five minutes later over your fax machine!
Then they look at you with some disdain as if to say "old pros like
you and I need not waste a lot of time on preliminaries, or the opening
exercises." I hope Helsingius afterward at least notified his user that
there had been inquiries made. That's a courteous thing to do.   PAT]

Forwarded by List Owner  --------------------------------------------
Elliott Parker                    BITNET: 3ZLUFUR@CMUVM
Journalism Dept.                  Internet:
Central Michigan University       Compuserve: 70701,520
Mt. Pleasant, MI 48859 USA        The WELL:

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