County of Fulton )
State of Georgia )
1. My name is Teresa Nelson. I am over the age of 18 and competent to testify.
2. I am Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia, a state affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The ACLU of Georgia is a non-partisan organization of over 3,000 Georgia citizens dedicated to defending the principles of liberty and equality embodied in the United States and Georgia Constitutions.
3. In addition to its legal advocacy to uphold the Constitution, the ACLU has long devoted considerable resources to educating the public about civil rights and liberties.
4. As part of the ACLU of Georgia's efforts to educate the public, we have established an online site on the World Wide Web. This web page can be accessed at http://www.mindspring.com/~acluga.
5. Our site provides electronic copies of ACLU publications, reports, court briefs and decisions, news releases, announcements and other materials related to the ACLU's legal, legislative, educational and advocacy work.
6. We also provide an e-mail address to send comments, opinions and questions concerning the ACLU or related constitutional issues.
7. The ACLU of Georgia's site also provides a collection of links to other related Internet sites including the National ACLU and other state affiliates of the ACLU, various sites for the United States and Georgia government, online legal libraries, related civil liberties and electronic freedom organizations, and related mailing lists and USENET discussion groups. Among the sites that we link to are Emory Law School, Cornell Law School, the Congressional Record, Electronic Privacy Information Center, Voters' Telecommunications Watch, Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility, Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Georgia Constitution and the official Georgia State Government site (http://www.state.ga.us).
8. The ACLU of Georgia's site has been internationally recognized as "Top 5% of the Web" by the online service rating site "Point".
9. The ACLU of Georgia has been involved with a number of sensitive issues and topics such as censorship, separation of Church and State, reproductive freedom, Aids issues, Gay and Lesbian rights and privacy issues.
10. Because of the sensitive nature of the issues addressed on our site, persons often send comments, questions or opinions to our site anonymously or through the use of pseudonyms. For example, persons have submitted very sensitive questions, comments and opinions to our web site about such issues as the death penalty, separation of Church and State and gay/lesbian rights. These persons almost exclusively contact us using pseudonyms to protect their privacy.
11. In addition, many ACLU of Georgia members frequently use the Internet to communicate and obtain information on a variety of issues. In order to maintain their privacy, many ACLU members use pseudonyms or "handles" when communicating and accessing sensitive information on the Internet.
11. Our members do not know whether their use of pseudonyms violates the Act because such use constitutes "transmit[ting] data through a computer network ... if such data uses any individual name ... to falsely identify the person." Because the meaning of the Act is unclear, our members are forced to choose between abandoning their use of pseudonyms or risking prosecution. Many of our members would not use the Internet at all if they had to use their real name, and would therefore be deprived of an important forum for communicating and obtaining information about our issues.
12. We also fear that our links to other sites may violate that portion of O.C.G.A. 16-9- 93.1 which makes it a crime to transmit data that uses any "trade name, registered trademark, logo, legal or official seal, or copyrighted symbol ... which would falsely state or imply that such person ... has permission or is legally authorized to use such trade name, registered trademark, logo, legal or official seal, or copyrighted symbol for such purpose when such permission or authorization has not been obtained...." Our links to law libraries may run afoul of Georgia Law. These links are important because they allow the user to, for example, look up court decisions on ACLU cases. More critically, we fear our link to the official Georgia State Government site may lead to prosecution because the General Assembly professed to draft this statute in part to prohibit use/links to the Georgia State Seal. The ACLU of Georgia believes the value of our web site as a civil liberties education resource would be greatly diminished if we were forced to remove the links from the site.
I declare under penalty of perjury that the within and foregoing is true and correct:
EXECUTED: This Day of , 1996.