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Podcast Episode: Chronicling Online Communities

EFFector - Volume 1, Issue 12 - Editorial: Amendments Would Undo Damage of Morris Decision


EFFector - Volume 1, Issue 12 - Editorial: Amendments Would Undo Damage of Morris Decision

########## |   Volume I       October 18 ,1991       Number 12   |
########## |                                                     |
###        |                   EFFECTOR ONLINE                   |
#######    |                                    |
#######    |             "Serving Cyberspace since 1990"         |
###        |                                                     |
########## |           The Electronic Newsletter of              |
########## |        The Electronic Frontier Foundation           |
           |       155 Second Street, Cambridge MA 02141         |
########## |       Phone:(617)864-0665 FAX:(617)864-0866         |
########## |                                                     |
###        |                        Staff:                       |
#######    |            Gerard Van der Leun (        |
#######    |             Mike Godwin (          |
###        |             Mitchell Kapor (         |
###        |             David Gans  (         |
###        |Chris Davis (  Helen Rose (|
           |              Rita Rouvalis (           |
########## |       John Perry Barlow (            |
########## |   Reproduction in electronic media is encouraged..  |
###        |      To reproduce signed articles individually      |
#######    |    please contact the authors for their express     |
#######    |                     permission.                     |
###        |                                                     |
###        |                                                     |
###        |                                                     |
effector:n, Computer Sci. A device for producing a desired change.

                             In This Issue:
                          THE EFF IN WASHINGTON
                        MEANWHILE, BACK AT EFF.ORG
                       ON THE ROAD WITH DAVID FARBER
                        TOP TEN QUOTES FROM LISA V


                          THE EFF IN WASHINGTON

Our Washington liaison, Jerry Berman, reports that we are very close to
an agreement with key congressional committees on a final draft of the
NREN bill. This draft will then be sent to the floor of congress for what
we believe will be a swift passage. Passage of this bill establishes a
high-speed research and education network that will be superimposed upon
the current Internet. The NREN will continue all the current functions of
the Internet as well as being a testbed for various high speed
experiments. In addition, it will allow for commercial transactions as
well an enabling wider and more open access for millions of present and
future users. If all goes as planned, we will have a bill that will
create a viable network that will be a true precursor on the National
Public Network.

Berman also noted that, with things returning to normal in Washington,
Congress will begin a series of hearings on the future of the
telecommunications infrastructure. In part, this is in response to the
advent of the Baby Bells as information providers. In order to help
ensure that the EFFs goals of open, fair, and easy access to networks are
always part of the discussions, we will be giving formal testimony before
the Subcommittee on Telecommunications and Finance on October 24..

In a related development, the EFF, People for the American Way, and the
ACLU have been in communication with key congressmen and staff on recent
incidents involving telephone companies and 900 numbers. It has come to
our attention that there has been an unhealthy trend on the part of
various telephone companies to restrict the ability of various groups to
use 900 numbers based on the political content of their proposed 900
line. This is antithetical to the charter of telephone companies as
common carriers, as well as an affront to First Amendment rights. As
such, we have decided to oppose this "policy" wherever it arises. 


                              by Mike Godwin

The Supreme Court's decision this month not to review Robert Morris's
conviction under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act was a disappointment to
those who believe, as we do, that the Act should distinguish between
defendants who intentionally cause damage and defendants who do so
accidentally. Still, there is a good chance that the damage done by the
decisions of the lower courts in the Morris case will be undone by

The Senate has recently passed amendments to the Computer Fraud and Abuse
Act (18 USC 1030), both as part of the omnibus crime bill and as a
stand-alone statute. We at EFF urge the House to approve the amendments,
since they correct the damage done by the Morris decision, and since they
add a requirement that the government report to Congress its prosecutions
under 18 USC 1030(a)(5) (the section under which Morris was prosecuted).

                           The Morris Decision

Readers may recall that the effect of the courts' interpretation of 18
USC 1030(a)(5) in the Morris case was to make the intent *to access* the
only intent required to be criminally liable. As currently construed, the
law makes no distinction between cases in which the damage is
intentionally caused (the hypothetical computer saboteur) and cases in
which the damage is unintentionally caused (such as the Robert Morris

It was precisely this issue that we hoped the Supreme Court would address
in the Morris case.

                      The Senate Amendments to the Act

These amendments, which have already passed the Senate both as a
stand-alone bill and as part of the omnibus crime bill, modify 18 USC
(a)(5) in the following ways:
    1) For a *felony* conviction under (a)(5), the defendant must have
knowingly "cause[d] the transmission of a program, information, code,or
command to a computer or computer system," *and* the defendant must
*intend* that the program cause damage or the denial of services." (Note
that the mushy concept of "access" has been changed to a more precise
notion of "transmission.")
    2) For a *misdemeanor* conviction under (a)(5), the defendant may have
knowingly "cause[d] the transmission of a program, information, code, or
command to a computer or computer system," *and* the defendant must have
caused this transmission *with reckless disregard* as to whether the
transmission had a risk of causing damage or the denial of services.

In short, where the current law has only one intent requirement
(intentional access), the amended law would have two intent requirements
each for the felony and the misdemeanor offenses.

Under the facts of the Internet Worm case, Robert Morris, who was
convicted under the old (a)(5) and could have received up to 27 months in
prison, would have been convicted of a misdemeanor under the new (a)(5),
and could have received no more than one year. (As it happens, the
uniqueness of Morris's offense led the sentencing judge to depart from
the Sentencing Guidelines and sentence Morris to public service and

EFF's position is that the underlying conduct in the Morris case ought to
be punishable, but not as a felony. Moreover, criminal laws addressing
computer offenses should, like the majority of criminal laws, require
proof of intent of the key elements of a crime, and not just the single
element of access. The Senate amendments, if passed, achieve both goals.

This is not to say that the amendments perfect the Computer Fraud and
Abuse Act--the amendments' drafters could have decided not to replace the
"federal interest computer" jurisdictional language with the possibly
broader "interstate commerce" jurisdictional language that so often gives
near-unlimited scope to federal criminal statutes. And they could have
raised the damage threshold for felony liability--as Marc Rotenberg of
Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility has observed, "$1,000
for a felony act is extraordinarily low." 

Nevertheless, the amendments have the overall effect of turning a badly
drafted statute into a better one, and we urge Congress to approve them.

                       MEANWHILE, BACK AT EFF.ORG

Here in the Boston office, the daily work of the staff continues apace.... 

Mike Godwin comes in fairly early, leaves fairly late and spends a lot of
his day fielding fly balls and hot grounders that come in over the net
and the telephone. Recently, he heard from a member of EFF who had had
his account pulled when a system administrator discovered copies of
Phrack in the user's home directory. Godwin was able to convince the
sysadmin that merely having copies of this publication was a) fully
protected under the Constitution, b) not the same as "having a
burglar's tool kit", and c) certainly not grounds for suspending a user's

Rita Rouvalis handles a host of administrative chores, manages the
membership base and members questions that come in from all over the net.
Recently, she's taken a more active role in the various topics that
emerge on our Usenet group, One of the most pressing
topics has been the growth of the discussion regarding local chapters. In
order to focus this discussion, Rouvalis has started a mailing list,
which she announced in

   New moderated mailing list 

   Many of you have been persistent, hopeful, eager, and impatient about
   the prospect of whether or not EFF is going to set up local chapters 
   -- especially since the formation of the Austin Chapter. Since these 
   Chapters would be primarily for and by you, our members, we think you 
   should determine how they will be set up and run. That's right; we're 
   leaving the thinking up to you on this one.

   If you are interested in discussing the issues surrounding local 
   chapters, send e-mail to to join a moderated
   mailing list dedicated to talking about chapters. All the members of 
   the Austin Board of Directors are on the list to answer questions and 
   offer their input.

On the technical side of things, our tireless system administrators,
Chris Davis and Helen Rose, are continually seek new and better tweaks
and upgrades for our technology. When asked to tell everyone exactly what
they were up to, Helen Rose wrote the following:

EFF's overworked Sun, our overworked Sun 4/110, sits in an almost-enclosed corner
   of "Tech Central", the area at EFF World Headquarters where most of
   the dirty technical work is done. When this machine isn't sitting,
   panting, in the corner, it usually means the machine is down for
   backups, maintenance, or something along those lines. Hopefully, EFF
   will be getting a grant from Sun in the near future, allowing us to
   retire the current and replace it with a modern, fast, Sun
   SparcStation 2.

   Connected to are three SCSI disks of various sizes, and an
   Exabyte tape drive, for backups. We are currently waiting for
   delivery of a fourth SCSI drive to allow us to expand our WAIS and
   FTP archives further. The Sun 4/110, although old, looks brand new
   when compared to the DECWriter III we have hooked up to it, for
   logging purposes. We also have a modem group attached, for remote
   users to dial up, and for UUCP connections.

   Priorities for the future include replacing (as mentioned
   above); adding additional modems to allow more remote users to dialup
   simultaneously; increasing the available disk space, and possibly
   adding an archie server. For the latter, we would need to upgrade our
   leased-line (currently 56Kb, we'd need to go to a T1 -- 1.544Mb/Sec.
   This is already being researched.)  and dedicate a machine just for
   archie**, since the archie server is known for not being "generous"
   about CPU cycles. The software is being tested to explore the
   feasibility of this project. At the present time, guest accounts or
   even a guest machine have been thought of, but put off as being
   "impractical" due to resource limitations.

   *** What is 'archie'? -- taken directly from the Archie Documentation
                            written by Alan Emtage

	'archie' is a database system which retrieves and maintains the
   file directory listings of several hundred archive sites accross the
   Internet. Users of the Internet may log onto a host running the
   'archie' system and query the database as to the location,
   modification times and size of any program or document that they may
   be searching for, stored on an anonymous FTP site somewhere on the
   network. Alternatively, 'archie' provides an email interface to the
   database which allows those users not directly connected to the
   network to contact it.

	The 'archie' system actually consists of a number of distinct
   components, which perform such things as the retrieval of the site
   listings, the updates to the database and the interactive and
   electronic mail interfaces.

	Besides storing site listings, 'archie' also maintains a text
   database known as the Software Description Database, whose purpose is
   to provide users of the network with a short description of the
   thousands of various software packages and documents avaliable on the
   anonymous FTP sites.

	To access an 'archie' server, connect to any of the following
   hosts with the login of "archie":

Mitch Kapor continues with his tightly-packed schedule of speaking-
engagements, Washington activities, article preparation, vast email
correspondence and the day-to-day management of the EFF. Highlights of
the last few weeks have included a three-day stint of seminars and BOF
sessions at Interop in San Jose, conducted jointly with EFF co-founder
John Perry Barlow, speeches and presentations at MIT, becoming a member
of the board of the Commercial Internet Exchange (see below), an EFF
Board meeting in San Francisco and numerous meetings with key legislators
and special interest groups in Washington, DC.


                       ON THE ROAD WITH DAVID FARBER

[David Farber, a new member of the Board of EFF, travels widely both in
and out of Cyberspace. Here are a few of his notes from last week's
whirlwind tour through Europe.]

A Day At Telecom '91 Felix Closs of IBM Zurich was my host (and a great
one). Telecom is a spectacular exposition of the kind that we no longer
see in the US. For example, IBM's booth was a huge four-story affair
complete with a private office for at the very top.

Hot items at the show were:
    - endless video conference "telephones" operating on a basic ISDN
working at the show. Quality of the picture and the "telephones" were
exceptional. Most if not all were Japanese. Oki was the leader. Alcatel
also was in it.
    - semi-endless ATM switches. Everyone was demoing and/or PRing 150 
megabit and up ATM switches many using the 2.4 gigabit optical ring
approach to the "internal" architecture. ATM was the HOT word.
    - A GREAT stereo display plastic lenticular technology with a glass 
cover. No glasses required! VERY impressive. Should take two basic ISDN
    - OKI has lots of very high speed chips on display at the 2.4 gigabit 
range and beam splitters, optical 8x8 and wavelength division parts. I
assume they were workable. It had impressive data sheets.
    - every one had radio computers. IBM showed their 80186 "ruggedized" 
radio computer which operates over two way radio and/or cellular. Toshiba
showed their modem for pager input (and soon two way). Lots of pager mail
messaging shown. 
    - IBM Zurich showed their 1 gigabit LAN. Worked like a charm between
the conference center and Cern and then onto via the 34 megabit system to
Stugart. It was a neat piece of gear. Rainbow was also shown and so was a
connection via the T1 to the US at Cornell showing visualization.
I have piles of literature and took photos. After Geneva it was on to
Paris for a presentation at the OECD. That went well. I caught the
standard Paris cold (I am home sneezing),but I ate like one can only eat
in Paris.

                     MITCHELL KAPOR JOINS THE BOARD 

Falls Church, Virginia, October 4, 1991 -- The Commercial Internet
Exchange Association (CIX) today announced that Mr. Mitchell Kapor has
joined its Board of Directors.

Susan Estrada, President of CIX Association and also Executive Director
of CERFnet, said "it is a pleasure to have Mitch join us in helping to
encourage the growth of the Commercial Internet and establish a
non-restrictive, open and and competitive public data internetworking
marketplace internationally". 

Kapor said "I am very excited about the prospect of joining the CIX
Board. The CIX is a voluntary, cooperative association which embodies the
best approach to providing an open platform for commercial

Kapor has been active in public-interest work involving the social impact
of computer and communications technologies. 

The other members of the CIX Board include Estrada, Martin L.
Schoffstall, Chief Technology Officer for Performance Systems
International, Inc. and Rick Adams, President & CEO of UUNET
Technologies, Inc.

The CIX Association is actively working to broaden the base of national
and international cooperation and coordination among existing and
emerging networking service providers. The organization provides a
neutral forum for decision making as the global Internet migrates toward

Kapor is also President and Co-Founder of Electronic Frontier Foundation
(EFF), is a Board member of On Technologies, Inc. and is the Founder of
Lotus, Inc.


                             TRUTH IN PACKAGING
From:Thad Floryan ( 

All this talk of cryptographic export restrictions CANNOT compare to the
following short anecdote:

One product I designed uses Motorola's DES implementation, the MC6859
Data Encryption Chip.

With each shipment of chips is enclosed a stern warning (paraphrased,
since I'm posting this from home):

    ``Products using this device are subject to export restrictions
      by the Office of Munitions Control of the Department of State...'' 

These are real pretty chips with a purple ceramic substrate carrier,
shiny gold cap over the silicon, and 24 gold IC pins. 

Turning the chip belly up, boldly emblazoned in white DAY-GLO lettering


Hoo boy! Motorola fabricates the silicon in Texas, then ships them OUT of
the country for entombing, IMPORTS them back into the USA for resale, and
now they cannot export the finished product. 

And DON'T tell me only the package is fabricated in Malaysia. I had a
*LOT* of problem with some Western Digital chips that I needed to enclose
in a product going to Canada regarding the Free Trade Agreement (FTA); I
finally called the Canadian consulate for advice, spoke with a
representative in their Technology Import/Export Office, and he simply
asked "What is the country name on the underside of the chip?". I said
"SINGAPORE", and he said, "Sorry, that means the product was not 50% or
more manufactured in the USA and thus is subject to import tariffs"
(contrasted with NO tariffs under the USA/Canada FTA).

Thus, Canada believes the name on the underside of chips is the country
of origin ( and now so do I).

Go figure (the situation with the MC6859 DES chip! :-) 


                        TOP TEN QUOTES FROM LISA V
From: (Andrew Arensburger)
[Okay, so there aren't ten of them, but they are all quotes from the
recent Usenix/LISA conference in San Diego. All quotes, as well as
authors' names, are used with permission. -AA]
    "We have the most [thorough] test guy in the world... [I showed him
this program and he asked,] 'but Rob, what if time runs backward?'"
                - Rob Kolstad (

    "Those Macintoshes aren't the cute little boxes you think they are."
                - Elizabeth Zwicky (

    "I will not be presenting this talk in rap."
                - Arch Mott (

    "I like having a machine called 'elvis' on the network because
that way, I can say 'ping elvis' and have it come back with 'elvis is
                - Carl Shipley (

    "Could I have optimized [this script] for legibility? Yes, but then
I would have had to use more slides."
                - Tom Christiansen (

    "I don't know why I didn't use an underbar here. Maybe it would have
made my line wrap or something."
                - Tom Christiansen (

    "You know, we really ought to do accounting on the Unix boxes. It
should be a ten-minute hack..."
                - Former group head, 1987, quoted by John
                  Simonson (


From: (Brad Templeton)

One interesting consequence of telecommuting which may result in attempts
at legislation is the interaction with the social democrat's view of
equal pay for work of equal value.

One big advantage for the employer of telecommuters is that some areas of
the country, and indeed the world, are far cheaper to live in, and the
average salaries of various professions, including programmer and tech
writer, are quite varied.

The programmer that costs $80,000 in San Francisco might cost $40,000 in
rural Indiana. Of course the houses in SFO cost 5 times as much as
Indiana, too.

Will employers push to hire cheap telecommuters? What if they go further,
to China where the programmer costs $10,000 or less?

Will people consider it fair for companies to pay equivalently skilled
people vastly different sums based on where they live? Will the concept
of expensive locations vanish in the telecommuting professions?



   1st Amendment
      Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of
   a system, or prohibiting the free access to thereof; or abridging
   the freedom of posting, or of the user; or the right of the
   userbase peaceably to connect, and to email the government for
   a redress of grievances.

   2nd Amendment
      A well-informed userbase, being necessary to the security of a
   free system, the right of the people to keep,access and secure  
   information shall not be infringed.



After a number of requests and much discussion, we have created a new
membership category for EFF. This membership allows organizations to
join. This membership fee is $100.00 annually. The sponsoring
organization can, if it wishes designate up to five individuals as active
members in the organization. Five copies of EFFECTOR and all other
materials produced by or made available by the EFF will be sent to the
organization or the designated members.



Many major corporations, such as Digital Equipment Corporation
and Microsoft, offer matching grant programs for their employees.
These programs generally will match all or part of any donation made
by an employee to certain charitable (501(c)3) organizations.  If your
company has such a program, doubling your contribution to EFF could be
as easy as enclosing the necessary paperwork with your membership



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and activities into other realms of the electronic frontier, we need the
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If you support our goals and our work, you can show that support by
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	   "Why haven't we seen a map of the whole Net yet?"

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