########## ########## ########## | THE GREAT WORK:| ########## ########## ########## | By John Perry Barlow| #### #### #### | | ######## ######## ######## | HACKER MANIA CONTINUES!| ######## ######## ######## | Excerpts from the Geraldo Circus| #### #### #### | | ########## #### #### | DID MORRIS "GET WHAT HE DESERVED?"| ########## #### #### | A Letter to InfoWeek| =====================================================================| EFFector Online November 27,1992 Volume 2, Number 2| =====================================================================| IN THIS ISSUE: THE GREAT WORK by John Perry Barlow GETTING WHAT HE DESERVED? by Mike Godwin MCI FRIENDS & FAMILY by Craig Neidorf GERALDO! HACKER! MANIA! CONTINUES! -==--==--==-<>-==--==--==- The Great Work For the January, 1992 Electronic Frontier column in Communications of the ACM by John Perry Barlow Earlier in this century, the French philosopher and anthropologist Teilhard de Chardin wrote that evolution was an ascent toward what he called "The Omega Point," when all consciousness would converge into unity, creating the collective organism of Mind. When I first encountered the Net, I had forgotten my college dash through Teilhard's Phenomenon of Man. It took me a while to remember where I'd first encountered the idea of this immense and gathering organism. Whether or not it represents Teilhard's vision, it seems clear we are about some Great Work here...the physical wiring of collective human consciousness. The idea of connecting every mind to every other mind in full-duplex broadband is one which, for a hippie mystic like me, has clear theological implications, despite the ironic fact that most of the builders are bit wranglers and protocol priests, a proudly prosaic lot. What Thoughts will all this assembled neurology, silicon, and optical fiber Think? Teilhard was a Roman Catholic priest who never tried to forge a SLIP connection, so his answers to that question were more conventionally Christian than mine, but it doesn't really matter. We'll build it and then we'll find out. And however obscure our reasons, we do seem determined to build it. Since 1970, when the Arpanet was established, it has become, as Internet, one of the largest and fastest growing creations in the history of human endeavor. Internet is now expanding as much as 25% a month, a curve which plotted on a linear trajectory would put every single human being online in a few decades. Or, more likely, not. Indeed, what we seem to be making at the moment is something which will unite only the corporate, military, and academic worlds, excluding the ghettos, hick towns, and suburbs where most human minds do their thinking. We are rushing toward a world in which there will be Knows, constituting the Wired Mind, and the Know Nots, who will count for little but the labor and consumption necessary to support it. If that happens, the Great Work will have failed, since, theological issues aside, its most profound consequence should be the global liberation of everyone's speech. A truly open and accessible Net will become an environment of expression which no single government could stifle. When Mitch Kapor and I first founded the Electronic Frontier Foundation, we were eager to assure that the rights established by the First Amendment would be guaranteed in Cyberspace. But it wasn't long before we realized that in such borderless terrain, the First Amendment is a local ordinance. While we haven't abandoned a constitutional strategy in assuring free digital commerce, we have also come to recognize that, as Mitch put it, "Architecture is politics." In other words, if the Net is ubiquitous, affordable, easy to access, tunnelled with encrypted passageways, and based on multiple competitive channels, no local tyranny will be very effective against it. A clear demonstration of this principle was visible during the recent coup in the Soviet Union. Because of the decentralized and redundant nature of digital media, it was impossible for the geriatric plotters in the Kremlin to suppress the delivery of truth. Faxes and e-mail messages kept the opposition more current with developments than the KGB, with its hierarchical information systems, could possibly be. Whatever legal restraints the aspiring dictators might have imposed were impotent against the natural anarchy of the Net. Well, I could have myself a swell time here soliloquizing about such notions as the Great Work or the assurance of better living through electronics, but all great journeys proceed by tedious increments. Though the undertaking is grand, it is the nuts and bolts...the regulatory and commercial politics, the setting of standards, the technical acceleration of bits...that matter. They are so complex and boring as to erode the most resolute enthusiasm, but if they don't get done, It doesn't. So we need to be thinking about what small steps must be undertaken today. Even while thinking globally, we must begin, as the bumper sticker fatuously reminds us, by acting locally. Which is why I will focus the remainder of this column on near-term conditions, opportunities, and preferred courses of action within the boundaries of the United States. To a large extent, America is the Old Country of Cyberspace. The first large interconnected networks were developed here as was much of the supporting technology. Leaving aside the estimable French Minitel system, Cyberspace is, in is present condition, highly American in culture and language. Though fortunately this is increasingly less the case, much of the infrastructure of the Net still sits on American soil. For this reason, the United States remains the best place to enact the policies upon which the global electronic future will be founded. In the opinion of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the first order of business is the creation of what we call the National Public Network...named with the hope that the word "National" should become obsolete as soon as possible. By this, we mean a ubiquitous digital web, accessible to every American in practical, economic, and functional terms. This network would convey, in addition to traditional telephone service, e-mail, software, faxes, such multimedia forms of communication as "video postcards," and, in time, High Definition Television as well as other media as yet barely imagined. Its services should be extended by a broad variety of providers, including the existing telephone, cable, publishing, broadcast, and digital network companies. Furthermore, if its architecture is appropriately open to free enterprise, we can expect the emergence of both new companies and new kinds of companies. Properly designed, the National Public Network will constitute a market for goods and services which will make the $100 billion a year personal computer business look like a precursor to the Real Thing. As a first step, we are proposing that Congress and state agencies establish regulatory mechanisms and incentives that will: Establish an open platform for information services by speedy nation-wide deployment of "Personal ISDN". Ensure competition in local exchange services in order to provide equitable access to communications media. Promote free expression by reaffirming principles of common carriage. Foster innovations that make networks and information services easier to use. Protect personal privacy. That's a tall bill, most of which I will have to take up in subsequent columns. I will focus now on the first two. Personal ISDN For the last two years, the Internet community has generally regarded Senator Albert Gore's proposed National Research and Education Network as the next major component of the Great Work. This has been regrettable. NREN, as presently envisioned, would do little to enable the settlement of ordinary folks in Cyberspace. Rather it would make plusher accommodations for the "mountain men" already there. Actually, NREN has been and may continue to be useful as a "policy testbed." By giving Congress a reason to study such legal connundra as unregulated common carriage and the intermingling of public and private networks, NREN may not be a waste of time and focus. But, as of this writing, it has become a political football. If the House version (H656) of the High Performance Computing Act passes with Dick Gephart's "Buy American" provisions in it, the Administration will surely veto it, and we'll be back to Square One. Meanwhile, ISDN, a technology available today, has languished. ISDN or Integrated Services Digital Network is a software-based system based on standard digital switching. Using ISDN, an ordinary copper phone line can provide two full-duplex 64 kbs digital channels. These can be used independently, concurrently, and simultaneously for voice and/or data. (Actually, it's a bit more complex than that. Garden variety ISDN contains three channels. The third is a 16 kbs "signal" channel, used for dialing and other services.) It isn't new technology, and, unlike fiber and wireless systems, it requires little additional infrastructure beyond the digital switches, which most telcos, under an FCC mandate, have installed anyway or will install soon. Even at the currently languid development rate, the telcos estimate that 60% of the nation's phones could be ISND ready in two years. While those who live their lives at the end of a T1 connection may consider 64 kbs to be a glacial transfer rate, the vast majority of digital communications ooze along at a pace twenty-seven times slower, or 2400 baud. We believe that the ordinary modem is both too slow and too user-hostile to create "critical mass" in the online market. We also believe that ISDN, whatever its limitations, is rapid enough to jump start the greatest free market the world has ever known. Widespread deployment of ISDN, combined with recent developments in compression technology, could break us out of what Adobe's John Warnock calls the "ascii jail", delivering to the home graphically rich documents, commercial software objects, and real- time multimedia. Much of the information which is now inappropriately wedged into physical objects...whether books, shrink-wrapped software, videos, or CD's...would enter the virtual world, its natural home. Bringing consumers to Cyberspace would have the same invigorating effect on online technology which the advent of the PC had on computing. We admit that over the long term only fiber has sufficient bandwidth for the future we imagine. But denying "civilian" access to Cyberspace until the realization of a megabillion buck end-to- end fiber network leaves us like the mainframe users in the 60's waiting for the supercomputer. The real juice came not from the Big Iron but from user adaptable consumer "toys" like the Apple II and the original PC. Just as consumers were oblivious to the advantages of FAX technology until affordable equipment arrived, we believe there is a great sleeping demand for both ISDN and the tools which will exploit it. And then there's the matter of affording the full fiber national network. Until the use of digital services has become as common as, say, the use of VCR's, Joe Sixpack's willingness to help pay fiber's magnificent cost will be understandably restrained. Given that most personal modem users are unaware that ISDN even exists while the old elite of Internet grossly underestimates its potential benefits, it's not surprising that the telcos have been able to claim lack of consumer demand in their reluctance to make it available. A cynic might also point to its convenience as a hostage in their struggles with Judge Green and the newspaper publishers. They wanted into the information business and something like "Allow us to be information providers or we starve this technology," has been one of their longest levers. This issue should now be moot. Judge Greene ruled in July that the telcos could start selling information. They got what they wanted. Now we must make them honor their side of the bargain. Unfortunately it still seems they will only let us use their playing field if they can be guaranteed to win the game. To this end, they have managed to convince several state Public Utility Commissions that they should be allowed to charge tariffs for ISDN delivery which are grotesquely disproportionate to its actual costs. In Illinois, for example, customers are paying 10 to 12 cents a minute for an ISDN connection. This, despite evidence that the actual telco cost of a digitally switched phone connection, whether voice or data, runs at about a penny a minute. Even in the computer business, 1200% is not an ethical gross margin. And yet the telcos claim that more appropriate pricing would require pensioners to pay for the plaything of a few computer geeks. Unfortunately, the computer industry has been either oblivious to the opportunities which ISDN presents or reluctant to enter the regulatory fray before Congress, the FCC, and the PUC's. The latter is understandable. National telecommunications policy has long been an in-house project of AT&T. It is brain-glazingly prolix by design and is generally regarded as a game you can't win unless you're on the home team. The AT&T breakup changed all that, but the industry has been slow to catch on. Assurance of Local Competition In the wake of Ma Bell's dismemberment, the world is a richer and vastly more complex place. Who provides what services to whom, and under what conditions, is an open question in most local venues. Even with a scorecard you can't tell the players since many of them don't exist yet. Legislation is presently before the Edward Markey's (D-MA) Subcommittee on Telecommunications and Finance (a subset of the House Energy and Commerce Committee) which would regulate the entry of the Regional Bells into the information business. The committee is correctly concerned that the RBOC's will use their infrastructure advantage to freeze out information providers. In other words, rather as Microsoft uses DOS and Windows. Somewhat hysterical over this prospect, the Newspaper Publishers Association and the cable television companies have seen to the introduction of a House Bill 3515 by Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN) which would essentially cripple telco delivery of information services for the next decade. The bill would bar existing telephone service providers from information provision until 50% of subscribers in a given area had access to alternative infrastructures. Of course neither approach would serve the public interest. The telcos have had so little experience with competition that we can't expect them to welcome it. And while eventually there will be local phone connection competition through wireless technologies, it's silly to wait until that distant day. We need a bill which would require the telcos to make ISDN open and affordable to all information providers, conditioning their entry into the information business to the willing delivery of such service. The computer industry has an opportunity to break the gridlock between the telcos and the publishers. By representing consumer interests, which are, in this case, equivalent to our own, we can shape legislation which would be to everyone's benefit. What's been missing in the debate has been technical expertise which serves neither of the existing contenders. Finally, the Public Utilities Commissions seem unaware of the hidden potential demand for digital services to the home. What on earth would a housewife want with a 64 kbs data line? This is another area in which both consumers and computer companies need to be heard from. What You Can Do Obviously, the first task upon entering a major public campaign is informing oneself and others. In this, many Communications readers have a great advantage. Most of us have access to such online fora as RISKS digest, Telecom Digest, and the EFFectors regularly published in the EFF's newsgroup comp.org.eff.news. I strongly recommend that those interested in assisting this effort begin monitoring those newsgroups. I'm tempted to tell you to join the EFF and support our Washington lobbying efforts, but I probably abuse this podium with our message too much as it is. Once you're up to speed on these admittedly labyrinthine issues, there are three levers you can start leaning against. First, Congress will be actively studying these matters for the remainder of the year and is eagerly soliciting viewpoints other than those self-servingly extended by the telcos and the publishers. Rep. Markey said recently in a letter to the EFF, "Please let me and my staff know what policies you and others in the computer industry believe would best serve the public interest in creating a reasonably priced, widely available network, in which competition is open and innovation is rewarded. I also want to learn what lessons from the computer industry over the past 10 to 15 years should apply to the current debate on structuring the information and communication networks of the future." Second, it is likely that the Public Utility Commission in your state will be taking up the question of ISDN service and rates sometime in the next year. They will likely be grateful for your input. Finally, you can endeavor to make your own company aware of the opportunities which ISDN deployment will provide it as well as the political obstacles to its provision. No matter what region of the computer business employs your toils, ISDN will eventually provide a new market for its products. Though these matters are still on the back pages of public awareness, we are at the threshold of one of the great passages in the history of both computing and telecommunications. This is the eve of the electronic frontier's first land rush, a critical moment for The Great Work. Pinedale, Wyoming Friday, November 15, 1991 -==--==--==-<>-==--==--==- GETTING WHAT HE DESERVED? An Open Letter to Information Week by Mike Godwin firstname.lastname@example.org Information Week 600 Community Drive Manhasset, N.Y. 11030 Dear editors: Philip Dorn's Final Word column in the November 11 issue of Information Week ("Morris Got What He Deserved") is, sadly, only the latest example of the kind of irrational and uninformed discourse that too often colors public-policy discussions about computer crime. It is a shame that Dorn did not think it worthwhile to get his facts straight--if he had, he might have written a very different column. The following are only a few of Dorn's major factual errors: He writes that "It is sophistry to claim [Internet Worm author Robert] Morris did not know what he was doing--his mistake was being slovenly." Yet even the most casual reading of the case, and of most of the news coverage of the case, makes eminently clear that the sophists Dorn decries don't exist--no one has argued that Morris didn't know what he was doing. This was never even an issue in the Morris case. Dorn also writes that "Any effort to break into a system by an unauthorized person, or one authorized only to do certain things only to do certain things, should per se be illegal." This is also the position of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which Dorn nevertheless criticizes for being "out of step with the industry." Yet the issue of whether unauthorized computer access should be illegal also was never an issue in the Morris case. Dorn writes that "Those defending Morris squirm when trying to explain why his actions were harmless." No doubt such defenders would squirm, if they existed. But none of the people or organizations Dorn quotes has ever claimed that his actions were harmless. This too was never an issue in the Morris case. Dorn makes much of the fact that Morris received only "a trivial fine and community service." But the focus both in the trial and in its appeal was never on the severity of Morris's sentence, but on whether the law distinguished between malicious computer vandalism and accidental damaged caused by an intrusion. EFF's position has been that the law should be construed to make such a distinction. Dorn writes that "To say that those who intrude and do no lasting damage are harmless is to pervert what Congress and those who drafted the legislation sought to do: penalize hackers." Indeed, this would be a perversion, if anyone were making that argument. Unfortunately, Dorn seems unwilling to see the arguments that were made. "It is sickening," writes Dorn, "to hear sobbing voices from the ACLU, the gnashing of teeth from Mitch Kapor's Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), and caterwauling from the Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility--all out of step with the industry. They seem so frightened that the law may reach them that they elected to defend Morris's indefensible actions." Dorn's distortions here verge on libel, since we neither defend Morris's actions nor are motivated out of fear that the law will apply to us. Instead, we are concerned, as all citizens should be, that the law make appropriate distinctions between intentional and unintentional harms in the computer arena, just as it does in all other realms of human endeavor. A more glaring factual error occurs one paragraph later, when he writes that "The Supreme Court says intruders can be convicted under the law because by definition an intrusion shows an intent to do harm. That takes care of Morris." The Supreme Court has never said any such thing--after all, the Court declined to hear the case. Even the lower courts in the Morris case made no such claim. What is far more "sickening" than even Dorn's imaginary versions of our concerns about the Morris case is his irresponsibility in making unsubstantiated charges that even a cursory familiarity with the facts could have prevented. In the course of his article, Dorn manages to get one thing right--he writes that "The law is not perfect--it needs clarification and reworking." This has been our position all along, and it is the basis for our support of Morris's appeal. It is also public knowledge--Dorn could have found out our position if he had bothered to ask us. Mike Godwin Staff Counsel EFF -==--==--==-<>-==--==--==- MCI FRIENDS & FAMILY: From Problem To Solution by Craig Neidorf email@example.com An alarming situation was brought to my attention a couple of weeks ago. A friend called me up and said, "Hey did you know I can get your MCI Friends & Family calling list?" I asked him what he was talking about and he explained by use of a demonstration. He proceeded to three-way us to the 800-FRIENDS (800-374-3637) We were greeted by an automatic electronic messaging system: "Welcome to MCI Friends & Family Circle Update line!" "Please enter your telephone number beginning with your area code." (He did) "Thank you." "One moment please while we access your account." "To verify your MCI account, Please enter your 5-digit zip code." (He did) "Congratulations and thank you for being one of our valued friends and family customers." "Your calling circle consists of 5 members." "If you would like to inquire about a specific member or nominee to your circle press one (1)." "To hear the status of each person in your calling circle press two (2)." (He choose 2) "The following people are active members of your calling circle. You will receive a 20% discount every time you place a call to them. "Your friend at (XXX)YYY-ZZZZ" "The person at (XXX)YYY-ZZZZ" "Your sister at (XXX)YYY-ZZZZ" "Your mother at (XXX)YYY-ZZZZ" "Your friend at (XXX)YYY-ZZZZ" "Your home number is active on your circle so that you will save 20% when are traveling and call home." "To inquire about a specific circle member press one(1)." "To speak to an MCI operator press zero (0)." We played with this for a few minutes and then hung up. I could not believe what he had found or the potential for invasion of privacy against MCI customers that this FRIENDS program created. My friend told me that the FRIENDS line also carried status about other people you may have chosen, but are not actually on your list. In one case, he had found that the FRIENDS automated service even identified a number that belonged to another friend's mother in Spain. How did you access this information on people? Just by entering their telephone number and zip code. After that, their calling list is an open book. I contacted MCI Customer Service at 800-444-3333. I spoke with a supervisor named Rose Acri who was very charming, but initially of little assistance. She took down my name and number and told me she would pass this information on to Alan Postell, a manager at MCI who could help me. I was skeptical. I received a call the next evening from Mr. Postell who was very interested in learning about and correcting the situation. He took down lots of information about my concerns and said he was sending a full report to Julie Smith at the corporate office who is in charge of the Circle program. My advice was to use a unique identifier like part of the billing identification number found only on the bill the customer receives in the mail. It was much better protection than a zip code. I was still a little worried that only a few voices may not be enough to gain the attention of a major corporation like MCI, but I waited. The news circulated across RISKS and Telecom Digest and finally it attracted the attention of Emmanuel Goldstein (the editor of 2600 Magazine, published in Long Island, New York). Emmanuel hosts a radio program on WBAI in New York called "Off The Hook." He proceeded to demonstrate MCI's problem very graphically by putting the MCI Friends number on the air and calling it up. This incident brought even more attention on the issue and along with hundreds of other calls, finally forced MCI to realize that changes were necessary. On November 6, 1991, MCI changed its policy. You can still call 1-800- FRIENDS and enter your telephone number, but now instead of your zip code, the system asks you for the last three digits of your billing identification number. Mr. Postell called me on November 8th to inform me about these changes and thank me since it was my idea that they decided to implement. Additionally, he claimed that very soon, customers will also be able to enter the telephone numbers of people they believe are on the list and then the computer service will respond by telling them if this is the case. I was very impressed that MCI had changed its policy with relatively little argument. I would still prefer something longer than 3 digits of the billing identification number, but I can live with it. -==--==--==-<>-==--==--==- GERALDO! HACKER MANIA CONTINUES! How It Wasn't Told Over the Tube In early October, Geraldo Rivera's "up market" TV show took a crack at Hackers. A mish-mosh of disinformation, lurid film clips, and unrestrained ignorance, the show demonstrated once again how much work is left for all of us to do in educating the media and the general public to the realities, rather than the fantasies, that are engendered through computer-based communications. For those who might have missed the "report", here's a transcript of key sections of the show. Excerpts from: _Now_It_Can_Be_Told_: "Mad Hackers' Key Party" Hosted by Geraldo Rivera (Sept. 30, 1991) Geraldo: I'm Geraldo Rivera. And now, It can be told.
- Our Work
- Take Action