County of Fulton )
State of Georgia )
1. My name is Eric Van Pelt. I am over the age of 18 and competent to testify.
2. I have been the president of the Atlanta Veterans Alliance for the past two years. The Atlanta Veterans Alliance serves the needs of veterans in the State of Georgia who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered.
3. The Atlanta Veterans Alliance currently has 30 active members and maintains a database of 150 other people who have common interests with the Atlanta Veterans Alliance. Some of our members are currently in active service and might face discharge if their sexual orientation was revealed. To ensure anonymity and privacy, all members of the Atlanta Veterans Alliance take an oath of confidentiality to prevent our members sexual identity from being revealed to military authorities.
4. I am currently on the boards of directors of several other organizations which share common goals with the Atlanta Veterans Alliance. Working with these other organizations to further the goals of the Atlanta Veterans Alliance, I make extensive use of the Internet to stay in contact with members of other organizations. One of the other great benefits provided by Internet E-mail and chat groups is the opportunity for myself and other members of the Atlanta Veterans Alliance to discuss AIDS related issues and the status of gays and lesbians in the military with others in Georgia and the nation. In such communications, I utilize a pseudonym to ensure my privacy.
5. Members of the Atlanta Veterans Alliance frequently use e-mail, online discussion groups, and the World Wide Web to communicate and access information on issues such as AIDS, and the status of gays and lesbian in the military. In order to maintain their privacy and to protect against discrimination, personal harassment, and social prejudice against gays and lesbians; members of the Atlanta Veterans Alliance frequently use pseudonyms when communicating online.
6. 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 (as well as threats or harassment from others). 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.
I declare under penalty of perjury that the within and foregoing is true and correct:
EXECUTED: This Day of , 1996 .
Eric Van Pelt