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EFFector - Volume 1, Issue 5 - NetNews: Prodigy's Stage.Dat


EFFector - Volume 1, Issue 5 - NetNews: Prodigy's Stage.Dat

########## |   Volume I                               Number 5   |
########## |                                                     |
###        |                   EFFECTOR ONLINE                   |
#######    |                                                     |
#######    |                    In this issue:                   |
###        |           NetNews: Prodigy's Stage.Dat              |
########## |       Crooks,Big Brother,Biden,and the F.B.I.       |
########## |          Privacy: The Real Vs. The Ideal            |
           |     Five (Common?) Misperceptions about the NREN    |
########## |         Macrotransformation: The 'Telecosm'         |
########## |        Crunch, Stoll, and Optick at the CFP         |
###        |              A Daytrip to Prodigy Land              |
#######    |            -==--==--==-<:>-==--==--==-              |
#######    |                      Editors:                       |
###        |         Gerard Van der Leun (       |
###        |             Mike Godwin (          |
###        |            Mitchell Kapor (          |
           |                                                     |
########## |   The general contents of Effector Online may be    |
########## |        freely reproduced throughout the Net.        |
###        |   To reproduce signed material herein outside the   |
#######    |    Net, please secure the express permission of     |
#######    |                     the author.                     |
###        |                                                     |
###        |             Published Fortnightly by                |
###        |    The Electronic Frontier Foundation (     |
effector n, Computer Sci. A device for producing a desired change.

                                FAST BREAKS:
                 Net News from throughout known Cyberspace

>>The Stage.Dat Flap:
     Prodigy took it on the chin yet again this month. A rumor began to
circulate around the nets, (followed by numerous assertions of the
"truth" of these rumors) that Prodigy, through a part of their program
known as Stage.Dat, was actively spying on and collecting information
from its users' hard disks.  Exactly why Prodigy would want to do this
went largely unasked. As did the question of what in the world Prodigy
would do with the shards, bits,odd bytes,code clusters and fragments of
information it collected. It was also unclear whether or not the
Stage.Dat program sucked user data off the hard disk in the first place.
None of this mattered to numerous online factions ready to believe
anything evil about Prodigy in the wake of the company's recent orgy of
user abuse.
     Ultimately, the Stage.Dat file was found to be harmless and the
users' suspicions without foundation. When the Prodigy software creates
Stage.Dat, it essentially "lays claim" to a chunk of the hard disk. Any
remnants and scraps of previously deleted material inside the new
boundries of Stage.Dat will naturally be contained in the file.  Nothing
malign can be laid at Prodigy's door.  It merely continues to pay the
price in user mistrust for its previous attempts to control its users by
seeing them as revenue sources rather than human beings.  Until Prodigy
recognizes that basic rights extend even to the private and corporate
realms of Cyberspace, it will continue to be plagued with incidents such
as Stage.Dat.

>>Tracking Steve Jackson 
     Many people have asked what has happened since the EFF filed suit
against the U.S. Secret Service and others two weeks ago.  Other than a
spate of stories in the public and trade press, not a lot has happened.
The wheels of justice grind slow and fine.  The EFF will be in this for
the long haul, but lawsuits don't have dramatic new twists and turns on
a weekly basis, no matter what we see on L.A. Law. 
     In the meantime, watch this space. 

>>EFF Opposes Federal Restrictions on Encryption Use
     The Electronic Frontier Foundation opposes Senate Bill.266 and any
other proposed federal statute that would limit the private use of
encryption technology.
     If the language in SB 266 had the force of law, it would require
commercial and noncommercial service providers and system operators to
produce plain-text versions of public or private messages on their
systems when presented with a proper warrant. This would, in effect,
prohibit users of these systems from using public key encryption
technology on these systems, since no service provider or system operator
who allowed such encryption would be able to comply with the law.
     We at the EFF believe that, in an era of increasing technological
encroachments upon everyone's privacy, public key encryption presents at
least a partial defense for individuals and organizations that are
concerned about privacy. We believe that making the use of such
encryption technology illegal, or creating strong legal disincentives for
its use, would deprive Americans of an important tool they can now use to
help preserve their privacy. At the same time, we believe, it would do
little to keep such technology, already well-documented and widely
available, out of the hands of the terrorist and criminal entities with
which the bill is concerned. We also believe this legislation flies in
the face of the government's own policies, since the Department of
Defense has long subsidized the development of commercial encryption
     Currently, it is legal for any citizen to encrypt a letter and send it
through the U.S. mail system. Because we believe that computer-network
communication will assume an increasingly important role in the lives of
all Americans, we oppose any statutory scheme that would grant less
privacy to  computer-based electronic communication than it grants to the
    In a late breaking development, the ACLU and the EFF have been in
contact with Senator Biden's staff. The staff has agreed to sit down with
us and hear our concerns.  Any people with information or concerns about
S.266 are invited to send email to Mitchell Kapor (

>>EFF Assists Challenge of Computer-Use Prohibition In Atlanta Case
     The Electronic Frontier Foundation has sought amicus curiae status
to assist in challenging a condition of a computer-crime defendant's
supervised release that prohibits the defendant from owning or
personally using a coputer. 
     Defendants Robert Riggs, Adam Grant, and Frank Darden, who pled
guilty last summer to offenses relating the unauthorized copying
of a memorandum concerning the E911 emergency telephone system,
received, in addition to prison terms and restitutionary requirements,
a prohibition on personal use and ownership of computers. Because
the EFF believes this prohibition was overbroad, infringing upon
the First Amendment rights of the defendants and extending far beyond
the scope of federal sentencing law, the Foundation has chosen to
assist defendant Robert Riggs in his challenge of the prohibition.
     It is EFF's position that the restriction on computer-use is not
sufficiently narrowly tailored to achieve the government's purposes
as set out in federal sentencing law. We believe that computer use
is so fundamentally related to First Amendment rights of expression
and association that restrictions on such use, even when imposed
on convicted defendants, must meet high standards of Constitutional

>>Two Distinguished Professionals Join EFF Board
     Mitchell Kapor recently announced the election of Esther Dyson and
Jerry Berman to the Board of The Electronic Frontier Foundation. In
making the announcement, Kapor said, "These are two terrific people and
will bring an incredible amount of expertise and wisdom to the board.
Esther knows the industry and the issues as well as anyone on the planet.
And Jerry Berman's experience with the legal aspects of all the EFF
issues -- stemming from his first-rate work with the ACLU -- is is

>>Anonymous FTP Available At EFF
     The EFF's anonymous FTP area is now set up.  If you are on the 
Internet,you can use your computer's FTP program to connect to
(  Login as "anonymous" and use your e-mail address as the
password.  Example:

eff% ftp
Connected to
220 eff FTP server (SunOS 4.1) ready.
Name ( anonymous
331 Guest login ok, send ident as password. (NOTE: this will not display)
230 Guest login ok, access restrictions apply.

     From there you can use the normal ftp commands to look around, change
directories, and the like.  See your local system documentation or type
'help' at the ftp prompt.
     Files available include back issues of Effector Online, information
about the EFF's activities and goals, and documents on the Steve Jackson
Games lawsuit.  For more information, contact

>>System Manager Joins EFF Staff
     Christopher Davis recently joined the EFF's staff as Network
Administrator and System Manager. He is responsible for the day-to-day
operations of (a Sun 4/110), several Macintoshes in the office,
the local network, and printers. A 1990 Magna Cum Laude graduate from
Boston University, he holds a Bachelor of Science in Management
Information Systems.  His electronic mail address is (



                             by Denise Caruso

Dateline: May 5, 1991

     How do you both keep Big Brother at bay and criminals out of 
circulation when computer technology has become a easy, powerful 
enhancement to traditional spying techniques such as wiretapping 
and encryption?
     Yet another ugly question looming on the electronic frontier.
     It looms large as debate rages about a proposal tucked into a
Senate bill on terrorism, S. 266, which "suggests" that makers of
computer security equipment consider building trap-doors into their
     Though at first it was thought that the S. 266 provision was 
cooked up by the National Security Agency, most now believe it was 
engineered by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Of late, the FBI 
quietly got a similar suggestion placed in another Senate crime bill,
S.618, "the Violent Crime Control Act of 1991."
     The FBI wants to easily intercept and interpret encrypted phone calls,
data transmissions and electronic files when they've has been given the
authority to do so by the courts. Gorges are rising in the technology
community as a result. What happens in a court of law, for example, when
a vendor hasn't followed this "suggestion"?
     Another argument asks whether a suspected criminal, being forced to
provide a "key" to decrypt a message, could be seen as "self-incriminating"
something we're protected against in the Fifth Amendment.
     Also, does forcing me to compromise the security of my data infringe on
my right to self defense? Since encryption is considered a munition,
making it less reliable could be tantamount to, say, forcing me to use a
varmint rifle instead of a sawed-off 12-gauge. You got it: "When
encryption is outlawed, only outlaws will use encryption."
     These examples don't even begin to address the significant industry
aspects of such a proposal. A group of heavy-hitting companies including
Apple Computer, Novell, Lotus Development, Microsoft, Sun Microsystems
and Digital Equipment are almost finished drafting a plan to implement
encryption technology from RSA Data Security in Redwood City.
     Why do you think companies like these (they're competitors, in case you
hadn't noticed) are toiling away together on implementing encryption in
their products? They've lived the experience of not having it: Hacker
invasions and compromised passwords. Viruses infecting diskettes that
get shipped to customers. Sensitive competitive information siphoned off
telephone lines and local-area networks.
     And there is a growing customer clamor for secure electronic data
interchange or EDI, an electronically transmitted document that is as
legally binding as a written and signed paper contract. Who would use an
EDI security product with a built-in back door? Intruders don't need
search warrants.
     Here's another interesting scenario. The Prodigy Information Service
software, via an alleged "quirk" in the program, gives Prodigy access to
the contents of a user's computer files. But Apple Computer (with
permission, please note) can essentially "reach in" to your system and
record what equipment you've got hooked up, what kind of software you
use, etc., via its AppleLink online service.
     This is not particularly high-tech or even unusual. America Online,
where I spend a lot of time, automatically updates its software onto my
hard disk -- without my permission -- when another version is ready for
use. It saves the enormous cost and hassle of sending diskettes to
thousands of users. The phone link is a two-way connection: if AO wanted
to read the contents of my hard disk, it could, as could Apple or any
online service -- or well-equipped individual, for that matter -- who
wanted to. Personal encryption software would make it impossible to do
     In a world where online communications makes it ridiculously easy to
reach out and grab someone's private information, I find it
counterproductive to introduce doubt and suspicion into the good news of
a growing data protection industry. It's bad enough that bills such as
S. 266 and S. 618 would probably kill the cryptography business in the
United States and strengthen it offshore. But worse yet is that the
privacy and protection of proprietary information will take a big hit.
     I want crime to stop. I want terrorism to stop. But do we want to secure
the networks or not? I have never seen evidence that power in the hands
of government authority didn't corrupt. I have never heard of a
compromise-able network that didn't get compromised. With increasing
reliance on computer-based networks, back doors for law enforcement (or
whoever else figures out how to crack them) make me afraid. I don't
think they're a good idea.

     Copyright 1991 by Denise Caruso. (
     Reproduced by permission of the author. 


                          Recent Microsoft ad:
        "Some people don't see the advantages of combining
         Microsoft applications. But then some people
         didn't see what would come of mixing nitro and



                 by Jim Warren (

[Editor's note:  At the Computer Freedom & Privacy Conference,
Marc Rotenberg vigorously defended the following position:
  "No organization shall make secondary use of personal information
   without the individual's affirmative consent."
After the event, Jim Warren, the organizer and Chair of the CFP
Conference considered ramifications of such a policy, posted some thoughts
on the WELL, and edited and condensed them at our request for publication,

  Here are some specific examples of how "affirmative consent" might impact
use of personal information:
  Although there were a multitude of co-sponsors of the March CFP
Conference, CPSR was the sponsor and is the legal owner of the database
detailing those who registered and/or paid fees to attend the event.
  Should CPSR be prohibited from using that list for anything
other than validating registrant's access to the Conference?
  CPSR had a fund-raising reception at the Conference hotel.  Should CPSR
be prohibited from mailing invitations to Conference registrants?  The
registrants provided addresses for Conference registration; not to be invited
to one of the co-sponsor's fund-raiser.
  Would it make a difference if the invitation did or did not request a
donation?  How about if it required a "donation" for admission?
  Please note that some percentage of the participants almost certainly oppose
some or most of what CPSR espouses.
  Those who provided their personal information in this database -- names,
addresses, phones, etc., -- for the singular purpose of being permitted to
attend the Conference.
  Should they be notified of the availability of audio-tapes, video-tapes
and printed Proceedings of the Conference?  I.e., should their computerized
personal information be used for direct-mail marketing of products related
to the CFP Conference?  How about its use for mailing information about
related events, publications and organizations (such as EFF)?
  What if someone is -- gawd forbid! -- someone makes a profit from products
or services offered by such direct mail to those database names?  Like nasty,
awful capitalist publishers -- who take the entrepreneurial risk of
publishing the Proceedings in hopes of making a profit (and risk a loss)?
  If affirmative consent is required, but was not obtained in the first
[unsolicited, direct-mail] advertisement of the Conference, how can CPSR
obtain the required consent without mailing a solicitation for which they
have no affirmative consent [seeking permission to solicit]?
  Should only those who asked for information about tapes and published
Proceedings be notified of their availability?  Then, prices of the tapes
and books would have to be much higher than if unauthorized solicitation were
made to the much-broader potential customer-base.
  Should the database owner, CPSR, be permitted to use the personal
information on the CFP registrants' to solicit new members?
  Should CPSR be permitted to use it to mail notices about the U.S. Privacy
Council -- that was created during the Conference, but was not an official
Conference activity?  Note:  Conference registrants included direct-marketing
representatives -- hardly eager to support ardent privacy regulation.
  Should CPSR use the CFP database to distribute advocacy of their
Freedom of Information Act litigation against the FBI?  After all, the
database includes FBI agents and other enforcement officers -- who furnished
names and addresses for the singular purpose of registering for the
Conference.  (This is a hypothetical.  I know of no CPSR plans to produce
or mail such an announcement.)
  Or, should CPSR use the personal profiling information collected from
registrants to segment the CFP reg list -- to mail solicitations
[though without affirmative consent] only to those likely to be
interested in promoting privacy, or supporting FOIA actions against the FBI
-- avoiding those who would probably be uninterested or offended?
  This is exactly what the direct-marketing groups try to do.  They use
personal profile information to attempt to identify only addressees who will
want and use their catalogs.
  There are other practical issues.  As a minor datapoint -- the CFP
Conference would probably be in the black and would have been better
organized, had it not been for the *many*, many hours spent by my
assistant, entering, checking and endlessly modifying the privacy locks
Conference registrants could check.  It was *very* costly data-processing.
  Or, here's an example of government efficiency versus privacy:
We had a number of government employees attend the CFP Conference.  Most
required that we accept a purchase order and bill them.  (Given the April
15th season, I thought of demanding immediate payment from the several IRS
representatives, however I decided that such demands only work one-way.)
  The purchase orders were some approximation of Standard Form 182 or DD1556
-- those eleventeen-part forms that are supposed to provide all needed
information to all involved bureaucrats and outside parties.
  Thus, they included registrants' *home* addresses, home phones, social
security numbers, dates of birth, office phones, years and months
of continuous service, position-levels, pay grades, type of
appointments, whether they were handicapped and education levels.
  This included information on at least one attendee from an investigative
agency, plus others responsible for their agency's privacy project!
  Some of the forms arrived with all this typewritten info clearly
visible -- to me, my staff and CPSR, the legal owner of those records.
  Other forms had some of the really important personal stuff blocked out.
Not, of course, the home address or personal work phone-extension or
education level.  I mean *important*, secret stuff -- like the "first five
letters of the last name" and years and months of service.  In fairness,
one form did block out the social security number and date of birth.
Another had the home phone X'ed out by typewriter.  However, all left most
personal information clearly visible.
  Had they computerized the records, they could have avoided inappropriate
disclosures, unneeded multi-part forms and rekeying of information -- which
several agencies did.  Internal managers could have simply referred to the
computer record, as needed.  But, that would create one of those terrifying
computerized records containing all that personal information.
  Here's an example of selective privacy, granted only to certain powerful
public officials -- including those Los Angeles Police officers featured in
recent videos (to which this is in no way specifically related):
  An organization of California judges joined forces with a statewide police
officers' association and persuaded the Legislature and Governor to pass
special legislation authorizing judges and police officers to seal
their personal information in some otherwise-public records (e.g., voter
  More recently, information-provider companies proudly demonstrated to a
meeting of judges how much information they had compiled on the judges, their
families, personal habits, biases, etc. -- sold to attorneys with litigants
wealthy enough to research jurists before going to trial.  The judges
freaked!  First, they considered going back to the Legislature to ask for
still more special privacy benefits for themselves.  Finally, they decided
they'd tolerate the same lack of privacy of everyone else -- a laudable
  Should some public officials have greater privacy rights than the
general public?  Should they be able to seal their voter reg records?
How about their residency information -- so citizens are unable to verify
whether officials really fulfill perhaps-mandated jurisdiction residency?
  How about their property assessment records -- prohibiting concerned
citizens from verifying that officials are fairly assessed?
  If judges can seal records -- as they can, to some extent -- to protect
them and their families, then cannot the same case be made for all political
figures, the wealthy and the powerful?  How about Hollywood stars and
starlettes (however defined)?  And rock stars?  How about attractive women --
and men?  How about the elderly and frail -- less able to defend themselves?
How about all those big bucks political donors who would prefer to have no
public record on themselves, their property or their financial activity?
  In fact, how about everyone who wants to keep their "public" records
secret?  Should property assessments be secret?  Voter registrations?
Professional licenses?  Professional competency findings?
  To what extent do citizens want to be prohibited from accessing records by
which they may independently and personally verify that all citizens --
great and small -- are being equitably and fairly treated?  Sealing public
records guarantees opportunity for covert manipulation, special treatment,
and rampant abuse.
  Sealed voter registrations deter citizens' ability to communicate with the
electorate and make independent citizen review functionally impossible.
  Let us think carefully before we too-quickly seal records in the sacred
name of "privacy," or we may later discover that we have destroyed our
citizenry's ability to effectively communicate with itself and make informed
judgements about the equitable treatment of its members.

                Reproduced by permission of the author. 


             Excerpt from conversation between customer support person 
             and customer working for a well-known military-affiliated 
             research lab: 

   Support:"You're not our only customer, you know."
   Customer:"But we're one of the few with tactical nuclear weapons."


             Five (Common?) Misconceptions About the NREN

                by Tom Valovic ( us)

     1. NREN will solve the most critical problem in the US telecom
infrastructure namely, the lack of band width capacity in the local loop.
((Comment: NREN, either via Gore or ANI, will not even begin to address
this problem.))
     2. NREN will provide certain advanced capabilities that don't exist
today, but that can be considered the wave of the future. For example,
hospital teleradiology applications; modeling and simulation capabilities 
for use in private enterprise R&D, etc..
((Comment: Many of the kinds of applications frequently invoked to justify
NREN are already being done today, and a fair measure involve either
trials or actual service being developed by the RBOCs. One example is
Nynex's SMDS trial in Boston which links four major medical centers for
teleradiology and other applications. There are many such activities
underway, in many areas of the country. They have nothing whatsoever to
do with NREN. Similarly, many companies are using workstations and
networked CAD/CAM to do collaborative R&D among geographically dispersed
sites and this too has been going on for some time, sans NREN.))
     3. NREN will allow the US to stay competitive with the Japanese in
((Comment: The Japanese have an aggressive program in place to deploy
fiber throughout NTT's subscriber base i.e. residential applications. We
do not. This -- the deployment of fiber and high band width capacity in
the local exchange -- is where we are falling behind with respect to the
telecom policies and programs of some other developed countries,
including Japan. The lack of progress has much to do with the CATV/telco
stalemate over who gets to deliver the fiber to your neighborhood.
Again, NREN as currently conceived, will do nothing to address this.))
     4. NREN/K-12 represents a major set of solutions to the educational
crisis in the US.
((Comment: Maybe. But as Stephen Wolff pointed out at a recent NREN
seminar, it's mainly intended to serve the needs of the "best and the
brightest", whereas educational problems in the US cut across a broad
spectrum. If NREN/K-12 is going to help most of our kids, and not just a
select few, then the little girl in Tennessee accessing the Library of
Congress via modem first has to learn how to read.  Further, there is 
already an abundance of computer technology in K-12 today that's being 
wasted because of poor utilization. This is a human resources and training
problem not a technological problem. Until we solve it, throwing more
technology at the educational system (K-12, at least) will continue to
be ineffective.))
     5. NREN will provide the "data superhighways of the future" on a
nationwide basis if its implemented.
((Comment: This is somewhat misleading since these data superhighways
already exist in the form of interexchange carrier fiber capacity that's
already been deployed by the likes of ATT, Sprint, MCI, and a large
group of independent long-haul fiber providers like Wiltel and others.
Alternate (non-RBOC) fiber is also being deployed in many major metro
areas by ALC's like Teleport (Merrill Lynch), MFS, Eastern TeleLogic,
ICC, and many others. All of this activity constitutes the real basis
for the "data superhighways of the future". Much of this capacity, at
least as far as the major metro areas are concerned, is available right
now. The real issues are cost and access --which, in theory, NREN does

(BTW, the foregoing is *not* an argument against NREN, but rather an
attempt to demonstrate that some of the arguments now being used to justify
it are based on somewhat dubious assumptions.)

                Reproduced by permission of the author. 

   "The less you know about home computers, the more
    you'll want the new IBM PS/1."
                 -- Ad in The Edmonton Journal

          A Review of "Into the Telecosm" by George Gilder

            by Scott Loftesness (Compuserve: 76703,407 )  

     In my reading this week, I came across an article by 
George Gilder in the latest issue of the Harvard Business Review.  "Into
the Telecosm" urges action at the state and national levels to begin
rapid deployment of a national fiber-optic networking capability that
ultimately would provide a fiber connection to every American home.
     Gilder claims that the rapidly advancing technologies of microchips,
electromagnetic waves, and fiber optics will transform commerce:
     "In the next decade or so, microchips will contain a billion or more
transistors, expanding a millionfold the cost-effectiveness of computer
hardware.  The terminals on our desks and televisions in our living
rooms will give way to image-processing computers, "telecomputers" that
will not only receive but also store, manipulate, create and transmit
digital video programming.  Linking these computers will be a worldwide
web of fiber-optic cables reaching homes and offices."
     The problem, according to Gilder, is that only one of these technologies
- computer power - is developing at a rapid pace.  The big problem area
is communications or, rather, the lack of it.  "Today the wiring is
holding back what people and boxes can do."
     Progress in the computer area is indeed impressive.  Gilder cites
quadrupling the number of transistors on a chip every three years and
reductions in the cost of processing power of up to 50% a year as two
examples of the incredible progress being made on the hardware side of
computing.  Much of this new power is being put to work on images of one
sort or another.  But there is a big problem.  The telecommunications
infrastructure can't handle what the new telecomputers require in terms
of information bandwidth.  "You cannot send an ocean through pipes
developed for a stream," says Gilder.
      "While the efficiencies of decentralized computing spring
from the laws of solid-state physics - the "microcosm" - breakthroughs
in communications will spring from the "telecosm," a domain of reality
governed by the action of electromagnetic waves and in which all
distances collapse because communication is at the speed of light.  The
law of the microcosm militates for increasingly distributed computing;
the telecosm enables powerful links between computers.  The challenge is
to close the gap between microcosm and telecosm, between the logical
power of computers and the power of their communications."
     Gilder points out that much of the work in the computer industry is
devoted to trying to live within the limited bandwidth available on
today's networks, on compression hardware and software products.
Claiming that the communications crisis is more "a failure of
imagination than of technology," Gilder points out that a major piece of
the potential solution is at hand:
     "In a crisp formula, Nicholas Negroponte of MIT's Media Lab outlines the
needed change: what currently goes through wires, chiefly voice, will
move to the air;  what currently goes through the air, chiefly video,
will move to wires.  The phone will become wireless, as mobile as a
watch and as personal as a wallet; computer video will run over
fiber-optic cables in a switched digital system as convenient as the
telephone today."
     Citing this "reversal" issue as a key one for policy makers, Gilder
points out that there is plenty of spectrum available for new innovative
services if the FCC's regulations were changed to help force this shift
in delivering video from over-the-air to fiber optics.  Citing the
common industry objections to this approach, Gilder claims "costly fiber
optics is just as mythical as scarce spectrum."  The problem is the
regulatory environment that prevents telephone companies
from laying fiber to homes.
     Fearing a situation analogous to the videotape recorder, Gilder fears
that the delays in deploying fiber to the home will result in the U.S.
again losing a critically important technology leadership position in
opti-electronic technology and that the U.S. fiber optic production
capacity is at exposed to lower cost competition from Japan, a country
that apparently is getting very serious about installing fiber to the
home.  Gilder says that although the U.S. still spends far more money
per capita on its communications infrastructure than any other country,
a large chunk of that spending is for private business networks that
will "ultimately be bad for U.S. business and, ironically, is starving
the ultimate distribution system for its services and products.  To open
new markets, business leaders need a national network, not simply a
Babel of business networks."
     A very important effect of this kind of transition to fiber to the home,
according to Gilder, will be the transition from broadcast to narrowcast
that the technology will now permit.  Fiber will enable cause a shift
"from a mass-produced and mass-consumed horizontal commodity to a
vertical feast with a galore of niches and specialties."  Marginal costs
of delivering another program choice drop to almost nothing.  The
two-way nature of the medium enables a huge number of new sources of
program material, driving the money from the distribution channel of
today to the creators of programming tomorrow.
     Gilder urges business leaders to take action to force the reform of the
"telecom snarl that imperils creativity and progress in computers and
communications."  The problem is political.  The vested interests "all
focus on the destruction and mobilize to prevent it. In the U.S., the
broadcasters are marshaling their forces to preserve what
they claim are the special virtues of free and universal broadcast
service.  The cable industry is fast becoming a political juggernaut-a
group of PACs with coax - moving to prevent the phone companies from
installing fiber-optic networks.  Meanwhile, television networks and
manufacturers around the world are holding out the promise of HDTV,
which is the old medium dressed up with a bigger screen and sharper
     Gilder's article makes very interesting reading for a very interesting
time. In April, the National Telecommunications and Information
Administration (NTIA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce is scheduled to
release its "comprehensive study of the national telecommunications
infrastructure."  How strongly will the administration advocate a
dramatic shift in the regulatory environment to enable this kind of
national broadband network?  
     As they say on TV, "film at 11."

               Reproduced by permission of the author.

    Real Americans talk About Why They Chose the 
     Sun SPARCstation 2000 (tm):

         "Last week we had a fella from Digital come out
          and look at the soybean crop.  After 20
          minutes, Ma chased him off and threw his
          keyboard out the window.  We`re from old
          Norwegian stock, and we know a thing or two
          about bus controllers."
                 -- Buck Flange, Arkansas, Texas
[Collected internally from a gag article at Sun...]

           Crunch, Stoll, Optik and the Other Usual Suspects
       A Snapshot of the Computer Freedom and Privacy Conference

                    by Kevin Kelly (

     I was blown away by this conference. I expected a decent education 
and left today feeling I had attended an EVENT. Impressions is all I can
offer right now.
     Crunch coming up to Phiber Optik who is talking to me. "Boy this is
a weird conference. All my friends are here, but so is my prosecutor."
     "Yeah," says Phiber, "my prosecutor is here, too!"
     I didn't have a personal prosecutor and sort of felt left out. Just 
before Crunch had appeared, Phiber was telling me about his late night 
rendezvous with Donn Parker. Parker and Phiber are sitting in a hotel cafe 
booth and Parker is giving Phiber fatherly advice (you should go to school),
while Phiber is telling him what's really cool (and better than school) 
about tunneling through cyberspace. Oh.... to have been there!
     Cliff Stoll scampering on the floor in agitated delirium telling his
story about the Strange Lady of the conference confronting him, saying,
"I disagree with everything you ever wrote." I nearly got knuckled by
his yo-yo as he talked.
     Sterling telling the university of Florida crime professor his version
of what happened to all the computer cops. He weaves in references to
turf battles, and the fact that 'my computer is better than any of the
computers the feds have to work with'. Later, the crime professor
admits on a panel that half of all the computer trained cops with a 
job today are at this conference!
     John Gilmore's rousing speech. "I want to be able to rent a video
without having to identify myself. I want to get a drivers' license
without having to identify myself."
     I spent a lot of time with David Chaum, the totally anonymous 
electronic money guy, whom Gilmore was referencing, and I now believe 
Gilmore's dream is possible (though unlikely as put).


                       A Day In The Life of Prodigy

                             by Mitchell Kapor

 I spent half a day at Prodigy the other week with a dozen senior
 managers.  Reconstructed and condensed dialog from my notes:

 MK> Why do you feel it's necessary to pre-screen postings to public
 conference areas?

 P> Two reasons.  Prodigy is a family oriented service.  We have to
 screen out offensive material.  Also, topic drift.  Many of our
 subscribers are more interested in information than in conversation so
 we remove irrelevant comments.  Of course, those affected never *think*
 they're being irrelevant.

 MK> You could offer uncensored public conferencing without fear of
 offense if you offered a free blocking option that would let
 subscribers block particular conferences so their children couldn't
 read them.  You could also have your editors create digests of
 conferences for the information-minded to read.  (Prodigy refers to the
 people who screen conference postings as editors, not censors.  All have
 journalism backgrounds, I was told.)

 P> We never thought of that.

     From this I concluded that promotion of free and open inquiry simply
 didn't sit very high in their pantheon of values.
     I also mentioned that the Well had a method of on-line dispute
 resolution which did not involve throwing people off the system.  (I
 didn't mention that it works by endless rehashing of issues intermixed
 with invective until everyone is too tired to go on. :-) ).  I sang the
 praises of virtual community self-managed as developed in these parts.
     About a week later I got a follow up call from one of the folks at
 the meeting who asked me to arrange a meeting for Prodigy management to
 visit the Well and learn what it's all about.  I asked Cliff and he
 agreed.  I'm not sure how much of the Well is going to rub off on the
 Prodigy. Their corporate immune system can knock out almost any foreign
 meme, but we can always hope for a mild memetic infection.


         Topic 192:  'Misuse of Copyrighted material on the Well' 
          Not without merit (jrc)  Thu, May  9, '91 _16 Lines

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Fed up with garbage that you've been seeing flow across your screen? Are
your favorites getting abused by lowlife meatheads? And yet, are you
afraid to get involved in the endless wrangle and end up like (oops,
almost mentioned a userid there) so many hapless souls who now only post
in Forth and who want to meet jax face to face.

Well, hey! We've got a staff of experts waiting to serve you. Just tell
use which loathsome self-righteous toadstool you want us to go after,
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         Computer Freedom and Privacy Conference Available Now!

  Audio-tapes of the First Conference on Computers, Freedom & Privacy
Tue-Thu Conference sessions are now available.  They may be ordered
    Recording, Etc./Soper  
    633 Cowper Street 
    Palo Alto CA 94301
    (800)227-9980 [for calls from beyond California]
    (415)321-9261 by fax

    1.  Constitution in the Information Age
          Laurence Tribe, Harvard Law School Professor; J.Warren/Chair
   Tuesday, March 26th:
    2.  Trends in Computers & Networks
          D.Chaum, P.Denning, D.Farber, M.Hellman, P.Neumann,J.Quarterman;
    3.  International Perspectives & Impacts
          D.Flaherty, R.Plesser, T.Riley, R.Veeder; R.Plesser/Chair
    4.  Personal Information & Privacy - I
          J.Baker, J.Goldman, M.Rotenberg, A.Westin; L.Hoffman/Chair
    5.  Personal Information & Privacy - II
          S.Davies, E.Hendricks, T.Mandel, W.Ware; L.Hoffman/Chair
    6.  Network Environments of the Future
          Eli Noam, Columbia University Professor; M.Rotenberg/Chair
   Wednesday, March 27th:
    7.  Law Enforcement Practices & Problems
          D.Boll, D.Delaney, D.Ingraham, R.Snyder; G.Tenney/Chair
    8.  Law Enforcement & Civil Liberties
          S.Beckman, C.Figallo, M.Gibbons, M.Kapor, M.Rasch,
          K.Rosenblatt, S.Zenner; D.Denning/Chair
    9.  Legislation & Regulation
          J.Berman, P.Bernstein, B.Julian, S.McLellan,
          E.Maxwell, C.Schriffries; B.Jacobson/Chair
   10.  Computer-Based Surveillance of Individuals
          D.Flaherty, J.Krug, D.Marx, K.Nussbaum; S.Nycum/Chair
   11.  Security Capabilities, Privacy & Integrity
          William Bayse, FBI Asst.Director; D.Denning/Chair
   Thursday, March 28th:
   12.  Electronic Speech, Press & Assembly
          D.Hughes, E.Lieberman, J.McMullen, G.Perry, J.Rickard,
          L.Rose; E.Lieberman/Chair
   13.  Access to Government Information
          D.Burnham, H.Hammitt, K.Mawdsley, R.Veeder; H.Hammitt/Chair
   14.  Ethics & Education
          S.Bowman, J.Budd, D.Denning, J.Gilmore, R.Hollinger,
          D.Parker; T.Winograd/Chair
   15.  Where Do We Go From Here?
          P.Bernstein, M.Culnan, D.Hughes, D.Ingraham, M.Kapor,
          E.Lieberman, D.Parker, C.Schiffires, R.Veeder, J.Warren/Chair

PRICES & SHIPPING               in United States:   to Canada:  other
int'l: any one audio-tape ( 1 tape )   $14.95 +sales tax*  +$2.50 US
+$ 5.00 US five-tape tape-set ( 5 tapes)   $34.95 +sales tax*  +$5.00 US
+$10.00 US
  Set A:  tapes 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6(Noam)
  Set B:  tapes 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11(Bayse)
  Set C:  tapes 12, 13, 14, 15 and 1(Tribe) full-Conference set (15
tapes)  $59.95 +sales tax*  +$7.50 US   +$20.00 US * - include 6.5% for
sales tax to Cal.addresses; prices include U.S. shipping Make checks to
*Recording, Etc.*; MasterCharge, Visa & American Express OK.

   Where is the REAL Legion of Doom When The Government Needs Them?
                                         (Found in rec.arts.comics)

From: wga@po.CWRU.Edu (Will G. Austin)
Subject: The Legion of Doom

    The members of the Legion of Doom (that I remember) were:

        Lex Luthor              Giganta
        Brainiac                Black Manta
        Toyman                  Riddler
        Sinestro                Scarecrow
        Capt. Cold
        Solomon Grundy


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