Computer underground Digest Wed Oct 12, 1994 Volume 6 : Issue 89
Editors: Jim Thomas and Gordon Meyer (TK0J...@NIU.BITNET)
Archivist: Brendan Kehoe
Retiring Shadow Archivist: Stanton McCandlish
Shadow-Archivists: Dan Carosone / Paul Southworth
Ralph Sims / Jyrki Kuoppala
Urban Legend Editor: E. Greg Shrdlugold
CONTENTS, #6.89 (Wed, Oct 12, 1994)
File 1--Chatting with Martha Siegel (reprint)
File 2--On-Line Obscenity Prosecution
File 3--ALERT: New Jersey Internet Bill Pending
File 4--EPIC Seeks FBI Docs
File 5--Re: Kurt Dahl's 2020 Column, "Emily Is Illiterate" (CuD 687)
File 6--Cu Digest Header Information (unchanged since 10 Sept 1994)
CuD ADMINISTRATIVE, EDITORIAL, AND SUBSCRIPTION INFORMATION APPEARS IN
THE CONCLUDING FILE AT THE END OF EACH ISSUE.
Date: Sat, 1 Oct 1994 00:08:58 -0400
From: K.K.Campbell <zod...@io.org)
Subject: File 1--Chatting with Martha Siegel (reprint)
A NET.CONSPIRACY SO IMMENSE...
Chatting With Martha Siegel
of the Internet's Infamous Canter & Siegel
Laurence A Canter and Martha S Siegel have the distinction of being
the most detested husband-and-wife team in the history of the
Internet. And we are talking global hatred, my friends, true
These Arizona lawyers not only subjected Usenet news (the Internet's
discussion forums) to repeat and destructive posting blasts (called
"spams"), they then gloated about it and convinced HarperCollins to
publish a book called "How To Make A Fortune On The Information
Superhighway" (due out soon).
The concept of Canter & Siegel instructing businesses how to generate
goodwill on the net usually elicits gales of laughter from netters.
But I had to stop and wonder. Maybe HarperCollins knew something I
didn't. Maybe C&S were just misunderstood. Maybe they just needed a
friendly ear, a fair hearing. Maybe they loved their net.kin and were
just having "technical difficulties" communicating the fact.
I had to find out.
So I grabbed the phone and dialed their Arizona law office. A
secretary passed me over to Martha Siegel.
MARTHA, MY DEAR
In our lengthy chat, I'm informed Siegel hates the Electronic Frontier
Foundation; she hates the MIT Media Labs; she hates the Internet
Society; a Washington Post reporter who did a story on C&S is an
immature kid; a NY Times reporter who did a series of stories on C&S
"turned against" them after being "frightened into submission" by the
net.conspiracy; a North Carolina student who claims to be making
non-profit T-shirts satarizing C&S is lying and raking in the cash...
There's a Conspiracy of Great Immensity against her and hubby -- who
are merely decent citizens trying to scrape out an honest living the
Almost immediately, she demands to know what I'm "going to write
about? Are you a computer writer?"
Odd question, am I a computer writer... But it dawns on me: she wants
to know my degree of familiarity with the Internet, if I'm _one of
them_. I know she'll hold me higher in esteem if I plead
net.illiteracy, but I cannot lie to her.
Just as well. For I later learn that even business writers are
ultimately corrupted by the net.conspiracy. Reporters are
_frightened_. Those who file stories supportive of C&S experience
anonymous phone call threats and email-bombing until they repent their
sins. She points to Peter Lewis, a NY Times freelancer who's written a
series of articles about C&S.
"Peter Lewis was telling me his mailbox was over-flowing with flames
because he didn't write bad things about us his first couple of
articles," she says. But Lewis finally caved-in. "About the third
article he wrote. He had been very objective, a good journalist, with
principles, and then, I guess, basically he saw he was losing his
Siegel doesn't attribute large negative responses like this to any
legitimate reaction from a community that sees itself as being
misrepresented. She believes it's really only a few conspiratorial
troublemakers always out to wound C&S.
"Maybe she's right," says Mike Godwin (mnemo...@eff.org), chief legal
counsel for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The EFF is an American
cyberspace rights group. "Martha's perfectly capable of inspiring a
Siegel's hatred of Godwin is intense. Indeed, I have to call Godwin in
Washington DC to get his reaction to her calling him, at various
points in our conversation, "a big schmuck," "a jerk," and "a
"Ok," Godwin nods. "Ok, I deny all those," he notes for the record. "I
actually hope you quote her. I would love to be quoted as being hated
by Martha Siegel. That would make my day."
Godwin has just wrote a Sept. article for _Internet World_ about C&S.
"I think one of things that bugs her about it -- well, there are _a
lot_ of things that bug _her_ -- was that I made certain to include
the text of a cancellation message aimed at them, so it'll be
relatively easy for people to figure out how to cancel Canter & Siegel
posts." He's referring to Norwegian Arnt Gulbrandsen, who issues
cancel messages that erase C&S spam attacks.
That does indeed bug Siegel. But she thinks Gulbrandsen is a dupe of
the conspiracy. "There were many indications on the Internet that they
chose this individual as a front man for all of them."
All of who, I have to ask?
"They say that no one is in control on the Internet, but that's a
myth," she explains. "There are a lot of very arrogant people who
control things. If an active provider carries a client [like C&S] they
don't particularly like, then they threaten that provider.
"These people are self-serving and they should be exposed for what
they are," Siegel says. "People are having a lot of fun pointing the
finger at us. And it's very amusing to gang up on someone. To go 'Ha
Ha.' Real schoolyard stuff." Unknown individuals have jammed the law
firm's phones, faxes computer, sometimes for days. Some "Phantom Phone
Beeper" created an auto-dialer that called C&S 40 times a night,
filling the voice-mail system with electronic garbage. (Pretty fancy
schoolyard, you ask me...)
She's willing to finger suspects leading the international conspiracy.
She particularly loathes MIT Media Laboratory's Ron Newman
(rnew...@media.mit.edu), who she tells me is "in need of psychiatric
help." Siegel concedes Newman has never mailbombed C&S, but has
"lobbied against us. He gets others to do the dirty work."
I later call Newman at MIT and find he's also charmed at topping
Siegel's Hate List. "Now I know how the members of Richard Nixon's
enemies list must have felt," he told me. "It's quite an honor to be
hated by Martha Siegel."
Siegel says she's "outraged" these people, "who are vicious and doing
illegal acts, are treated very, very gently by the press. Where's the
morality in what they are doing? We never set out to hurt anyone. We
put up messages for a commercial venture. We didn't set out to hurt
Here, the majority of netters vehemently disagree and claim Siegel is
disingenuous. C&S know exactly what they are doing, netters say, and
C&S don't give a damn if they sink the net in the process.
They spam without conscience.
SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM
Canter and Siegel live near Tucson AZ. They're registered to vote in
Pima County. Siegel was born in 1948, Canter in 1953, and both are law
graduates of St. Mary's University of San Antonio.
It's not the first time a community has contested their honesty. In
Sept 1987, when they were practising law in Florida, that state's
supreme court suspended them for 90 days for a "deliberate scheme to
misrepresent facts." On Oct 13, 1988, the Florida Supreme Court
allowed Canter to resign permanently the state bar rather than fight
new charges of "neglect, misrepresentation, misappropriation of client
funds and perjury." Siegel would later tell the NY Times the charges
were unfounded and were lodged by a "very rabid bar" out to discredit
them for "unknown motives."
C&S shifted practice to immigration law and trekked to Arizona. They
are not part of the Arizona bar.
It was April 12 this of year that Canter unleashed the first mega-spam
against Usenet. (He'd done local, mini-spams before; he was now going
"Spamming" involves sending the same message to huge numbers of
newsgroups, usually without regard to group content. It is _not_ the
same as "crossposting to hell and back." Both permit the message to be
read in scores of newsgroups, but with crosspostings, newsreader
software lets you read it once, then never again; spamming posts it
individually every time. It can take hours to fully delete.
It's called spamming in honor of a tinned pig product called Spam --
an acronym of Spiced Pork And Ham. In the 1970s, British comedy troupe
Monty Python did a sketch involving Spam. The diner menu, as recited
by a waitress (Terry Jones in drag), consisted of "egg and bacon; egg
sausage and bacon; egg and Spam; egg bacon and Spam; egg bacon sausage
and Spam; Spam bacon sausage and Spam; Spam egg Spam Spam bacon and
Spam; Spam sausage Spam Spam bacon Spam tomato and Spam; Spam Spam
Spam egg and Spam; Spam Spam Spam Spam Spam Spam baked beans Spam Spam
Spam; etc." All the while, Spam-loving Vikings in the background sing
Hence: repetition = spam. Spamming is intended to force readers to see
something over and over and over. Since this works in TV-land, why not
the net? the logic runs.
But it is not like TV. On TV, advertisers pay for time. C&S only paid
$30/month and passed the costs of their spam on to the readers and
providers of the planet. In economics, it's called a "free rider."
Leech is a more colloquial term. C&S' spams are not "speech,"
something issued without cost. They are rather more like unsolicited
fax ads. Faxes cost the _recipient_ -- in paper, ink, electricty and
wear on the fax machine, etc. But those costs are very visible, which
is why fax advertising is banned in so many places.
C&S didn't care. Canter spammed almost 6,000 groups in less than 90
minutes through an Internet Direct account (an Arizona Internet
provider). The post was a C&S ad for the U.S. "Green Card lottery" --
a chance for non-Americans to enter a very low-odds US-work-permit
raffle. C&S offered to fill in forms for a mere $95 per person, or
$145 a couple (not mentioning it's free to enter).
Jeff Wheelhouse, sysadmin for Internet Direct, was soon bombed into
oblivion by world-wide complaints. He told the NY Times this caused
Internet Direct computers to crash at least 15 times -- "that's when
we stopped counting." Internet Direct terminated the lawyers' account,
making it clear it doesn't oppose advertising, just spamming. Canter,
Siegel, and two other lawyers appeared at Internet Direct offices,
threatening to sue for $250,000 unless their account was reinstated.
Internet Direct refused. Nothing came of the C&S threats.
Canter soon appeared on CNN's Sonya Live (sonyal...@aol.com).
Slow-witted Sonya hailed Canter as a Business Pioneer instead of
Wanton Vandal. Canter boasted he'd spam again.
On Fri, May 20, John Whalen, president of NETCOM On-Line Communication
Services, notified the net.community that NETCOM cancelled the
Business Pioneer's account there because of this boast. Netcom didn't
want to be the vehicle.
"Our position is that NETCOM can be compared to a public restaurant
where a customer may be refused service if the customer is not wearing
shoes. For the health of the other customers and the good of the
restaurant, that customer may be turned away. NETCOM believes that
being a responsible provider entails refusing service to customers who
would endanger the health of the community."
Siegel condemns the EFF for instructing netters how to issue cancel
messages, erasing C&S posts. And Godwin acknowledges the dangers of
cancel wars. But what are the current options? Let C&S continue
spamming, thereby attracting other free riders, until Usenet is so
clogged with spams it becomes unreadable?
"We believe in freedom of speech," Godwin says in a phone interview.
"But in order for this forum to function _as_ a freedom of speech
forum, it can't be destroyed. What you have here is the problem of the
Tragedy of the Commons -- a single user so abusing the commons that it
will ultimately be rendered valueless to everyone.
"If she posted to a single newsgroup, or crossposted to a reasonable
number of newsgroups, even a message that was clearly offensive, I
would be in the front lines defending her right to do that," Godwin
says. His opposition is _not_ to content but posting strategy
--spamming. "But Martha is not a subtle person so I doubt this
argument that will fly with her."
Indeed, it doesn't.
"We're a free speech issue. If the EFF really has the courage of its
convictions, it would be for us, not against us. It might not like
what we say, but it would defend our right to say it to the death.
_If_ it were a legitimate free speech advocate."
It should be noted business does exist, and will exist, on the net.
For instance, in May, Electronic Press (i...@elpress.com) ran an ad in
the Washington Post about using the Internet "the right way!" -- a
direct reference to the hated C&S. And last month, Mark Carmel
(usalaw...@aol.com), an immigration lawyer, began a mailing list for
people actually interested in things like Green Cards.
Despite all the complaints, most of the net.community doesn't call for
government regulation. It's looking for internal solutions, even
things like cancel messages, to prevent the sociopathic activities C&S
Considering her openly misanthropic attitude toward the net.community,
I have to ask Siegel, in closing, why she doesn't just abandon it?
"No way," she says. "Why would I want to? We made over $100,000 from
No one I talked to takes C&S' claim to making $100,000 from their
Green Card spam seriously. But, as one put it, "the IRS might."
In August, as part of their ongoing PR campaign with the
net.community, C&S threaten to sue a North Carolina university student
over a T-shirt he proposed to make. The shirt logo would state "Green
Card Lawyers: Spamming The Globe", the words encircling a hand
clutching a Green Card bursting forth from Planet Earth.
Joel Furr (jf...@acpub.duke.edu) specifically stated he'd avoid
mentioning C&S by name, knowing how sue-happy they are. But on Sun,
Aug 7, Canter sent Furr private email using his wife's account
(c...@crl.com). In it, Canter quotes a statement from Furr's original
post: "To avoid getting sued, the Canter & Siegel shirt will not have
the names Canter & Siegel on it. Instead, they'll be referred to as
the Green Card Lawyers."
Furr says Canter told him he was "most curious" why Furr thought
calling them "Green Card lawyers" was legal protection. Furr says
Canter claimed "any form of likeness, or using our name or nickname in
any form without our express written permission, which you do not
have, is strictly prohibited." In the next email, Canter claimed C&S
had been approached by "several large companies" interested in the
rights to C&S T-shirts. In a third letter, Furr was warned that if he
doesn't drop the T-shirt, "there will likely be consequences."
Furr informed the net community C&S was threatening him. "I think I
have lots and lots of legal legs to stand on, but I can't afford to
fight a lawsuit," Furr wrote publicly. He had no choice but to remove
even the phrase "Green Card Lawyers" from the shirt.
In no time, Furr's emailbox brimmed with help offers. "Several people
offered large sacks of money to help defend me, and several others
offered to be my pro bono attorney," he told me in a phone interview.
Electronic Frontier Foundation's chief legal counsel, Mike Godwin
(mnemo...@eff.org), replied to Furr's request for advice. Godwin
assured Furr the C&S threats were toothless bluster because 1) C&S are
not members of the Arizona bar; 2) they are under investigation by the
Tennessee bar; 3) they can sue only in the state in which Furr does
business; and 4) they have no trademark over the term "Green Card
Martha Siegel bristles when I mention C&S threats against this
student, asking if I "_really_ think that is interesting." Damn right
I do. I point out the Washington Post did, too -- it ran an Aug 18
article by Rob Pegararo (ro...@aol.com) about those threats.
"I know, but how old are you?" she asks.
I tell her I'm 34.
"Right. So, you know who wrote that article? A 23-year-old kid," she
laughs. I assume this is supposed to make me dismiss the whole thing.
"I don't know why the Washington Post would hire a 23-year-old
reporter. I thought that probably you had to serve in some far-out
place and work your way up to the Washington Post. At least when I was
a reporter for a newspaper. T-shirts are a child's game."
Ya, ya, ya. But is it a true story?
"What happened is that Mr Furr was going to put out shirts with Canter
& Siegel's name on it. He has no right to capitalize on our name." I
point out Furr stated he'd use the phrase "Green Card Lawyers" from
"No, he did that _after_ my husband wrote him a couple of email
letters. And _then_ he said he would change it to Green CardLawyers."
She then says Furr is using the net to sell his C&S T-shirts and that
makes him a hypocrite. I point out he's using appropriate groups, that
the T-shirt ridicules C&S for spamming not commercial advertising, and
besides, it's non-profit, Furr's just out for a bit of fame and
producing a historical net.collector's item.
"He's lying," she says.
"What proof do you need? He's not giving them away free. He can _say_
that he's just breaking even. But he's charging for them. Do you
believe he's not making any money? And I'll tell you this much: After
he got his little friend at the Washington Post to write a story, I'm
sure he sold a whole lot more T-shirts."
Furr dismisses this as more Crazy Martha talk. "I'm going to such
lengths to _not_ make a profit on the shirt that, when the price
dropped because the volume of orders got larger, I added a _fifth_
color to the front to make the shirts cost more again. The only money
I'm making is about $35 that one orderer from Florida threw in, with a
note attached - 'Have a pizza.'"
As to Pegararo being Furr's "little friend," Furr says before the Post
story he'd "never heard of him in my entire life." I called Pegararo
at the Post. He concurs.
As to that Post story being something only of interested to
23-year-old, Pegararo points out his editor, Joel Garreau, is indeed
older and was the one who decided to run it.
Even if one grants that the Post was "silly" for reporting on T-shirts
(and me too for writing this), what the hell does that make C&S for
threatening a student over them?
Furr went ahead with his original design. No law suit resulted.
Til next week's exciting new C&S adventure, kids...
On May 6, C&S formed Cybersell (sell.com), a company to make
commercial advertising pervasive on net. Cybersell will teach new
companies the tricks of Internet trade.
Such as stealing other people's homepages, perhaps.
On Fri, Aug 26, Thomas Michlmayr (m...@cosy.sbg.ac.at) of the
University of Salzburg in Austria, alerted the general public to C&S's
WWW-Server on cyber.sell.com:80 .
Wasn't much to see, a few empty html pages. One had an 1152x900
picture (129KB) proclaiming CYBERSELL to be "internet marketing
"I think they're going after the market of people with 50" monitors,
since that's about the only way it can be read without scrolling
around," wrote Paul Phillips (pa...@nic.cerf.net) in a newsgroup.
Another page, called home2.html, was clearly an _exact copy_ of the
homepage of a business in Chicago called Internet Marketing Inc.
(adver...@mcs.com). It even still had a link called "Editorial Staff"
to http://venus.mcs.com/=advertiz/html/IntMarket.html .
Internet Marketing president Peter Bray angrily denied any association
with C&S and began asking around for legal help in protecting his
creative work. (For the record, check out the real CyberSight at
Date: Thu, 6 Oct 94 10:28:10 PDT
Subject: File 2--On-Line Obscenity Prosecution
To Subscribers to Computer underground Digest --
I am an attorney in Burlington, Vermont, and presently serve on the
Planning Board for the Computers and Computer Law Committee of the ABA
Young Lawyers Division. The Committee has asked me to research and
prepare a draft resolution regarding the prosecution of the Thomases
in Memphis, TN for distributing allegedly obscene materials from their
bulletin board in California. The Committee's intent is to present
its resolution to the Young Lawyers Assembly in Chicago next August.
If passed by the full Assembly, it would then be forward to the House
of Delegates of the American Bar Association for consideration.
The Committee has not yet taken a position on the prosecution, but I
hope to persuade it that we should propose language strongly
condemning the de facto establishment of a national obscenity
standard. I would appreciate hearing the comments of members of this
subscription list on this prosecution, as well as suggestions for
materials (on- or off-line) to consult. (I am in the process of
collecting the various CuD issues which talk about the Thomas case.)
I need to have an initial draft of the resolution prepared by early
January, and will post a copy to this list.
Thanks for taking the time to review this posting, and for any
I look forward to corresponding with people on this issue.
Frederick S. Lane III (802) 864-0880
Miller, Eggleston & Rosenberg, Ltd. (802) 864-0328 fax
P.O. Box 1489 AOL: fsl3@aolcom
Burlington, VT 05402-1489
Date: Sat, 8 Oct 1994 21:34:56 -0700
From: email list server <lists...@SUNNYSIDE.COM>
Subject: File 3--ALERT: New Jersey Internet Bill Pending
On September 26 the New Jersey State Senate's Government Committee voted
5-0 in favor of a bill to make information on laws, legislation and
legislative activity available to the public without charge via the Internet.
The bill is scheduled for full consideration by the State Senate in the
very near future.
You can show your support for S1068 by writing or faxing your State Senator.
A copy of your letter should also be sent to:
Senator Donald DiFrancesco Senator Joseph Bubba
(Senate President) (bill sponsor)
1816 Front Street 1117 Rt. 46 East Suite 202
Scotch Plains, New Jersey 07076 Clifton, New Jersey 07013
FAX: 908-322-9347 FAX: 201-473-2174
Future ACTION ALERTS for New Jersey's Internet bill will be issued. If you
want to remain informed and placed on the S1068 Mailing List or need the
address of your State Senator email to: swa...@pilot.njin.net
Your support is appreciated.
<<<THIS MESSAGE MAY BE REPRODUCED AND RECIRCULATED TO OTHER PARTIES>>>
SENATE, No. 1068
STATE OF NEW JERSEY
INTRODUCED MAY 16, 1994
By Senator BUBBA
An ACT providing for public access to legislative information in
electronic form, and supplementing P.L.1979, c.8. (C.52:11-54
BE IT ENACTED by the Senate and General Assembly of the
State of New Jersey:
1. a. The Office of Legislative Services shall make available to
the public in electronic form the following information:
(1) the most current available compilation of the official
text of the statutes of New Jersey;
(2) the texts of all bills introduced during the two-year
session of the Legislature, including amended versions, as well as
sponsor statements, committee statements, fiscal notes, and veto
(3) bill-indexing data on all bills pending in the
Legislature, including indexing by subject and sponsor and, where
appropriate, by citation of the section of law to be amended by a
(4) bill-tracking data on all bills pending in the
Legislature, including the history of actions and current status;
(5) a current calendar of legislative events, including the
schedule of legislative committee meetings, and a list of bills
scheduled for legislative action;
(6) a current directory of the members of the
Legislature, including complete committee membership information;
(7) the texts of all chapter laws beginning with laws
enacted during 1994; and
(8) such other information as the Legislative Services
Commission shall direct.
b. The information specified in subsection a. shall be made
available to the public through the largest nonproprietary
cooperative public computer network.
c. No fee or usage charge shall be imposed by the Office of
Legislative Services as a condition of accessing the information
specified in subsection a. of this section through the network
described in subsection b. of this section.
d. The Office of Legislative Services may offer a fee-based
electronic legislative information service which may include, in
addition to the information specified in subsection a., the
following information and capabilities:
(1) the ability for users to automatically maintain
updated private databases and receive notification of scheduled
action on specific bills or subject matter;
(2) the ability for users to retrieve information by various
means of searching full text; and
(3) archives of bill texts and related information from
prior sessions of the Legislature.
e. Nothing contained in this section shall be construed as
prohibiting a private individual or entity from using the
information specified in subsection a. to provide, either
commercially or on a voluntary basis, services similar to those
provided by the Office of Legislative Services pursuant to
2. This act shall take effect on the second Tuesday in January
This bill would require the Office of Legislative Services (OLS)
to make available to the public, in electronic form, the following
information: the texts of statutes (in both a compiled format and
by chapter law beginning with laws enacted during 1994); the
texts of pending bills along with sponsor statements, committee
statements, fiscal notes and veto messages; bill indexing and
tracking information; a calendar of legislative events; a directory
of members of the Legislature, including a listing of committee
memberships; and such other information as the Legislative
Services Commission shall direct. Information would be provided
through the largest nonproprietary cooperative public computer
network (Internet). No fee or usage charge would be imposed by
OLS for the privilege of accessing this information. The bill
would also permit OLS to offer, via Internet, a fee-based
legislative information service which, in addition to providing the
foregoing information, would enable users to: automatically
update private databases; receive notification of scheduled action
on specific bills or subject matter; retrieve information by
various means of searching full text; and access archives of bill
texts and related information from prior sessions of the
At present, four states (California, Hawaii, Minnesota and
Utah) offer "full-text" legislative information through Internet
without usage fees. OLS currently offers an electronic
information system which is available to users for a monthly fee.
The bill would make this information available to a broader range
of users with no fee imposed by OLS. By enhancing public access
to the texts of statutes the bill would increase compliance with
existing law. In addition, facilitating access by members of the
public to information on pending legislation would increase
awareness of, and participation in, the legislative process.
Requires Office of Legislative Services to make information on
laws, legislation and legislative activity available to the public in
Michael Swayze |"Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of
swa...@pilot.njin.net |the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the
|beginning of wisdom." --Bertrand Russell
Date: Fri, 30 Sep 1994 13:59:00 EST
From: Marc Rotenberg <rotenb...@WASHOFC.EPIC.ORG>
Subject: File 4--EPIC Seeks FBI Docs
Reply to: EPIC Seeks FBI Docs
Embargoed until 10 a.m.,
September 30, 1994
Marc Rotenberg, EPIC Director
David Sobel, EPIC Legal Counsel
202 544 9240 (tel)
EPIC Opposes FBI Delay
Seeks Documents About Wiretap Plan
WASHINGTON, D.C.- The Electronic Privacy Information Center today
opposed a government motion to delay release of two documents in a
lawsuit concerning the FBI's "digital telephony" proposal. The case
is pending in federal court as the Congress considers legislation that
will authorize the expenditure of $500 million to make the nation's
communications system easier to wiretap.
EPIC, a public interest research group based in Washington, DC, filed
the Freedom of Information Act requests earlier this year. The group
is seeking the public release of two surveys cited by FBI Director Lou
Freeh in support of the FBI's plan.
EPIC filed the FOIA lawsuit on August 9th, the day the wiretap
legislation was introduced in Congress. The FBI then moved to stay
proceedings in the case until June 1999, more than five years after
the filing of the initial request.
The FBI asserted it was confronted with "a backlog of pending FOIA
requests awaiting processing." The FBI revelead that there are "an
estimated 20 pages to be reviewed" but said that the materials will
not be reviewed until "sometime in March 1999."
In the papers filed today, EPIC charged that the materials are far too
important to be kept secret. "The requested surveys were part of the
FBI's long-standing campaign to gain passage of unprecedented
legislation requiring the nation's telecommunications carriers to
redesign their telephone networks to more easily facilitate
court-ordered wiretapping," said the EPIC brief.
EPIC contends that the federal court should give special consideration
to the fact that the records have already been reviewed for public
release and also that the records concern a matter of great public
"It is disingenuous for the Bureau to suggest that the twenty pages of
material at issue in this case are at the end of a long queue awaiting
review for possible disclosure. The FBI has already considered Rep.
Don Edwards' request to make the information public and has made a
determination to release only a one-page summary," said EPIC.
EPIC argues that under new procedures developed by the Department of
Justice for FOIA cases, the processing should be expedited. "There
can be no doubt that the subject matter of plaintiff's requests --
legislation to re-design the nation's telephone network to facilitate
wiretapping -- is of considerable interest to the news media."
The brief concludes, "The records sought by plaintiff are of
substantial current interest to news media and the general public.
Moreover, the FBI has already reviewed the material to determine
whether it should be publicly disclosed. Under these circumstances,
the Bureau's request for a five-year stay of these proceedings is
wholly lacking in merit."
Earlier documents obtained through the FOIA in similar litigation with
the FBI revealed no technical obstacles to the exercise of
court-authorized wire surveillance.
The Electronic Privacy Information Center is a project of Computer
Professionals for Social Responsibility, a membership organization
based in Palo Alto, California, and the Fund for Constitutional
Government, a Washington-based foundation dedicated to the protection
of Constitutional freedoms. 202 544 9240 (tel), 202 547 5482 (fax),
Date: Thu, 6 Oct 1994 13:03:47 -0400 (EDT)
From: Stanton McCandlish <m...@EFF.ORG>
Subject: File 5--Re: Kurt Dahl's 2020 Column, "Emily Is Illiterate" (CuD 687)
Kurt says: "Does Emily really need to read and write in 2020world? I don't
think so. Do you?"
Beside a bit of rancor at the rhetorical tactic of giving cutesy names to
purely hypothetical people to elicit emotional responses, I have to
comment that though the article was good and well thought out in most
areas, and entertaining, it missed possible the most significant point,
which is that the answer to the question, "In 2020world, with the ability
to create, store and send audio and video as easily as written words, why
would we need to read and write?" is "storing and sending are the easy
part - but *creation* of audio and video are unlikely to become easier
that creation of text." It takes me less than 15 seconds to fire off a
short email to someone. No matter how fast the video technology is, it is
almost certain to take longer than that to record a video clip with the
same message content.
There are various other concerns:
1) Bandwidth - audio and video consume about an order of magnitude more
bandwidth (and storage space) than text.
2) Receiving time - it takes me probably 2 seconds or less to read the
text content of a 15-second a/v clip. But unless I like Alvin & the
Chipmunks as a default speed, it takes precisely 15 seconds to listen to
or view a 15-second a/v clip. No big deal when we're talking about
15-second emails. Very big deal when we're talking about 30-minute
presentations. (I am here talking about wetware recieving, not hardware
receiving; I'm presuming that transmission time from machine to machine,
and processing by the local CPU of the material, is near instantaneous,
which today it is most certainly not.)
3) Text will remain important - I find it difficult to believe that all
print media will vanish, because they have a utility that cannot be
replaced by the features of other media. For one thing, text is malleable -
I can re-present text almost any way I want. An a/v clip of a President
North >;) speech cannot be printed in a different font, nor can it be
otherwise modified to suit aesthetics without severly distorting it. I
could go on, but the point is made.
4) All of these technologies have, and will continue to have, a learning
curve. Online tutorials still show no signs of replacing good ol'
5) Computing relies upon text, even in the gooiest of GUIs, to
differentiate between items, options, processes, and procedures - without
text, 50 desktop icons look pretty much alike. If you've ever used a word
processor or other program with a tool bar, check me if I'm wrong, but I
bet you still use the text menus above that toolbar with great frequency.
6) Copyright snafus are unlikely to be resolved by 2020, by anyone's calendar.
Illiteracy, even presuming a revolution in computing interface design
allowing effective operation by the illiterate, will bar one from access
to a large proportion of society's intellectual product.
7) Personally, it takes a great stretch of the imagination for me to
suspend disbelief and pretend that the government would ever give up text.
Illiteracy would bar one from effective participation in government. A
nation of illiterate would-be-activists would become a nation of slaves to
a regime, unable to even read the information on govt. actions they could have
8) Our culture highly prizes literacy, and there is no evidence that I'm
aware of pointing to a decline in the value we place on the ability to
read and write (or, increasingly, type.) Considering the force that
the expectations and prejudices of others can exert on the course of one's
own life (e.g. being considered for employment), illiteracy would be a
crippling liability in a world where the majority of people still alive
and in some sort of "power" (e.g. the power to hire you and thus pay your
rent, or say "get lost" and let you starve on the streets) are literate.
9) There is also a general consensus among computing professionals that
being online *increases* the desire and ability to read and write (both in
the aesthetic sense of improvements in critical thinking, rhetoric, and
writing style, and in the mechanics sense of information processing speeds
and output speed.) Most serious net.surfers would agree that the net,
BBSs, even vertical online service like Prodigy, are educational and
cathartic, even if you go looking only for entertainment.
10) The prediction that "multimedia email" will sweep the globe is,
IMNERHO, relatively unsupported. The capability has been there for years
(ever heard of MIME and MetaMail?) but is seldom used (in fact, I'd wager
that the most frequent use of MIME file attachments is the transport of
*text* material in non-ASCII formats - PostScript, DVI, word processor,
etc., files.) Even though it is perfectly capable of transporting
graphics images, by far the most common method of doing so in the
Internet/Usenet community is uuencoding the file and inserting it in the
body of the message[s]. Even in FidoNet, which has supported file
attaches since the late 80s, there are no tools (that I know of) that
treat the output as "multimedia email", but rather as text message that
happen to have files attached to them, which must be saved and dealt with
later (or in a temporary shell) individually, as items. It is closer to
parcel post than TV. This will change, but the current situation leads me
to believe that the focus of such messaging is and will remain
transmission of text.
11) The proposition that text will vanish is a highly "normal-centric"
prediction, and appears to neglect that fact that some people are deaf,
blind, stutterers, ugly, shy or otherwise unsuited to hearing/watching
their "email" or appearing in their own minimovies every time they need to
send a memo.
12) Textless multimedia communications are redundant enough with current
(telephone) and imminent (videophone) technology that there is not reason
to expect them to supplant text-based communications. Both have their own
niche, and until I see people leaving the internet in droves because their
new set-top videophone system gives them all the communications
functionality they could ever want, I remain stubbornly unconvinced by
predictions of the death of networked text communications.
Enough of what's unlikely. What DO I think will happen?
1) Increased integration of "traditional" media - Expect video phones,
expect "interactive" television, expect, at some point, books and
magazines that are actually small interactive computers or disks (or
other, more advanced media) for computers. Bruce Sterling had an
interesting idea of a computer as a cloth-like item that could be worn,
folded, whathaveyou, then flattened out to form a touch-controlled viewing
screen. Many things are possible, but the general path appears to be one
2) Increased integration of networking tools - The explosive popularity of
World Wide Web points in this direction as obviously as a 200-foot Las
Vegas billboard in the middle of Antarctica. Multimedia email *will*
probably be a reality, as a seamless, transparently-handled, process,
before too much longer. Yet even the web is *centered on text* and uses
graphics and sound as adjuncts. Text is, and will remain, the focus.
Please show me a WWW server anywhere that features no text whatsoever.
3) Increased literacy as networking technology continues to spread from
the office and the CS lab to the living room and the nursery. People love
to communicate, and there are and will remain situations in which text is
the medium of choice. If you don't believe this, try submitting testimony
to the next Congressional hearing in the form of a video tape. Imagine
sending every memo you "write" as an audio file. Try passing on a copy
of Shakespeare's _The_Tempest_ as an MPEG animation. The fact is, and
will be for as far ahead as I can see, that a mixture of media is
essential. We all know how limited ASCII is, but I think we can all expect
ASCII to die, and be replaced with something on the order of a
standardized word-processing format that allows for integration of
graphics, video and sound (and, hell, maybe even Smell-o-Vision). I won't
try to predict whether this will be in a creator-intensive, user-easy form
like WWW (compare composing 10 pages of HTML to composing 10 pages of MS
Word material), or a creator-easy, user-intensive (or, rather, users'-machine-
intensive) form. This will probably depend on how well HTML and other
SGML derivatives do over the long haul, and on whether bandwidth and
storage constraints continue their spiral toward effective infinity at a
fast enough rate to keep up with demands. If I can send you a binary
document full of sound and video clips and the fonts and other aesthetics I
want to apply to the text, I won't care, and neither will you, if it takes
up 10MB, when 10MB is like grains of sand in a desert. If 10MB continues
to be a lot of space, then I may have to settle on HTML or something like
it, with it's constraints, unpredictable final appearace, and the inconvenient
method of authoring.
No matter which way those winds blow, however, I don't expect to be
illiterate, and I do expect my decendents if any to be able to read and
write, probably better than I do.
Date: Thu, 13 Aug 1994 22:51:01 CDT
From: CuD Moderators <tk0j...@mvs.cso.niu.edu>
Subject: File 6--Cu Digest Header Information (unchanged since 10 Sept 1994)
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