Policy on Information Committee

1995 Annual Report

Denise Sommers
Laura Jantek
Hugh Wright
Peter Henry

During the year, the Policy on Information Committee (PIC) served to sort out a number of incidents involving misuse of the community net. The PIC must at all times balance between being fair, being lawful, and encouraging freedom of speech. The PIC operates in accord with the Canadian Library Association's Policy on the Freedom of Information.

Some of the cases this year involved individuals' complaints against other individuals. Often an offensive email message would have been sent. The PIC does not intervene in personal squabbles except as they may involve illegality. In this type of case, the individuals were warned that continued vindictive correspondence could be considered an illegal action, but that presently the PIC could do nothing.

In other cases, rude opinions were posted to newsgroups and/or mass emailed. In these cases, more sharp criticism was made as this was thought to be a much more serious and possibly libelous action.

Other cases involved our members complaints about unsolicited email from other sites. Sometimes this was commercial, sometimes it was pornographic, sometimes simply rude. In all such cases, the PIC simply mentioned to the CCN user that this was outside our ability to control. No contact was ever made to system administrators at remote sites to attempt to limit or even reprimand the individuals.

In one other interesting case, one of the CCN users was distributing through his website instructions on bomb making. It was determined that the instructions were so flawed that they constituted a serious danger to the maker. As such, the PIC acted to remove this information.

Finally, a new Policy on Commercial Activity was agreed upon by the board. It will serve as the basis for future enforcement of commercialism complaints. In very simplified form, the policy allows for the maintenance of a very small (size not yet agreed upon) commercial website on the CCN, and prohibits unsolicited email advertising.

Respectfully submitted,

Hugh Wright and Peter Henry Co-chairs Policy on Information Committee