The following document is out of date, as of February 13, 1996, because CompuServe lifted their ban on hundreds of Usenet newsgroups. The document below is retained for historical interest only.
The slogan, ``If it's online, it's on CompuServe'', hardly rings true.
Electronic Frontier Canada is concerned about CompuServe's recent decision to block access to hundreds of Usenet newsgroups. We're also disappointed that their (apparently) primitive software doesn't allow them to comply with the concerns of German officials without affecting Canadian customers. CompuServe's rather clumsy list of censored newsgroups includes some clearly legitimate newsgroups (such as `clari.news.crime.sex' which carries AP and Reuters wire stories), but at the same time missed newsgroups that may really be illegal in Germany (such as `alt.revisionism' which often carries messages claiming the Holocaust never happened).
Electronic Frontier Canada is encouraging Canadian customers of CompuServe to express their opposition to CompuServe's censorship, either by cancelling their CompuServe account, or by writing or calling CompuServe with their concerns. We're also urging CompuServe to find a technical solution as soon as possible that will allow them to do whatever they deem appropriate in Germany while not unreasonably restricting access to information for Canadians.
On December 22, 1995, hundreds of Usenet newsgroups just disappeared for 4-million CompuServe customers worldwide. It wasn't until a week later that CompuServe issued a press release explaining their choice to block access to Usenet newsgroups having the words `sex', `erotic', or `gay' in their name.
Although CompuServe claims they were ordered to eliminate specific newsgroups, a more recent AP wire story quotes German officials as claiming they merely expressed a general concern about the issue of sexually explicit material on computer networks. Although German police have been investigating the issue for some time now, no charges have been laid.
And besides, what's any of this got to do with Canada?
(More information, as it becomes available, will appear in EFC's Gopher Archives.
- Cancel your CompuServe Account
- In typical Canadian fashion, some CompuServe customers are `voting with their feet' by cancelling their CompuServe accounts and moving to a new information service provider. If you do this, please let us know so we can update our list.
- Send a complaint to CompuServe
- We understand some CompuServe customers won't want to cancel their accounts since it may be provided free by their employer, or because they still find some of CompuServe's remaining services valuable. It's still important to express your opinion on their decision to censor hundreds of newsgroups. You can reach CompuServe in a number of ways:If you send in a complaint, please let us know so we can update our list.
- on CompuServe itself
- type ``GO FEEDBACK''
- by telephone (toll free)
- 1 800 554-4079, or
1 800 848-8990 for customer service.
- by e-mail
- Robert Massey (CompuServe President and CEO), email@example.com
John Latham (CompuServe Feedback), firstname.lastname@example.org
- and finally, through the post office
- Compuserve Feedback
5000 Arlington Centre Blvd.
P.O. Box 20212
Columbus, OH 43220
See Also ... EFC's Gopher Archive with a few collected Canadian newspaper articles on this issue.
``For those of us sincerely concerned about what our children may be exposed to on the Internet, the use of parental control software rather than blanket government imposed censorship would be the responsible choice in a free and democratic society.''
James Crawley, email@example.com
Acting Moderator of the anabaptist oriented Assembly of Good Christians
Member, Christian Legal Fellowship of Canada, Evangelical Fellowship of Canada.