Google Groups

ACM ethics complaint against Cerf - first draft

Socks the Whitehouse Cat Feb 18, 2005 10:08 PM
Posted in group:


Here is my first draft. I could really use the Cerf/Linford quotes if
anyone has them.

We the undersigned are writing to draw the committee's attention to what
we believe meets the definition of ACM's Code of Conduct as 'Gross
Misconduct'. We ask that membership for Vinton G. Cerf be terminated per
that Code. We also ask that the committee share all information
contained herein, and any other relevant information, with the Turing
Award Committee for their review.

Dr. Cerf is Vice President of Technology for MCI and as such wields a
great deal of influence with the company. MCI is currently the worlds
largest producer of spam and is knowingly hosting a company that sells
software that's sole purpose is to spam. This software, and Dr. Cerf's
defense and support of MCI's hosting of it, is the basis for our

The software in question is Send-Safe. It is designed to attack Trojan
infected computers and use them to send out millions of unsolicited
commercial emails. This is in violation of The Federal Computer Fraud
and Abuse Act sections 3, 4 and 5 at a minimum. By helping transmit this
software over their network MCI might also be in violation of the same.
Dr. Cerf turns a blind eye, and in fact defends MCI in their actions.

This software also uses forged 'from' email addresses to send its
messages. This is in violation of the Federal Can-Spam Act and Virginia
State law where MCI is headquartered.

It should also be noted that Send-Safe has been selling their illegal
software from MCI's network for close to two years now. This is after
being kicked off no less than four other internet providers for their
activities. Further details of Send-Safe and their relationship with MCI
will be provided upon request.

Dr. Cerf and MCI maintain that Send-Safe is protected by Free Speech.
This is untrue. Free Speech is a government issue, and even then it does
not allow one to break laws. Just as you can not yell fire in a theater
you can not hijack someone else's computer and expect Free Speech
protection. They also maintain that Send-Safe is a customer of a
customer. This is disingenuous at best. The 'customer' is a well know
spam operation and Send-Safe is an integral part of that. Regardless, it
is MCI's network and their responsibility.

We believe that Dr. Cerf is guilty of violating a great many sections of
the ACM Code of Ethics. Below are the sections that he is violating in a
most grievous fashion.

1.2 Avoid harm to others.
"Harm" means injury or negative consequences, such as undesirable loss
of information, loss of property, property damage, or unwanted
environmental impacts. This principle prohibits use of computing
technology in ways that result in harm to any of the following: users,
the general public, employees, employers. Harmful actions include
intentional destruction or modification of files and programs leading to
serious loss of resources or unnecessary expenditure of human resources
such as the time and effort required to purge systems of "computer

There is no question that Dr. Cerf's actions and defense of Send-Safe is
an extreme violation of the above. His support of Send-Safe's place on
MCI's network has ensured that countless users are spammed, their
addresses are used as the 'from' and their computers are hijacked to
send this spam.  The reference in the above to 'computer viruses' is
most telling. The software that Dr. Cerf defends relies upon the use and
spread of viruses.

2.3 Know and respect existing laws pertaining to professional work.
ACM members must obey existing local, state,province, national, and
international laws unless there is a compelling ethical basis not to do

This is obvious. Dr. Cerf is blatantly supporting the violation of
numerous Federal and Sate laws. State laws where MCI is headquartered.
And there is no compelling ethical basis for helping spammers break the

3.1 Articulate social responsibilities of members of an organizational
unit and encourage full acceptance of those responsibilities.
Because organizations of all kinds have impacts on the public, they must
accept responsibilities to society. Organizational procedures and
attitudes oriented toward quality and the welfare of society will reduce
harm to members of the public, thereby serving public interest and
fulfilling social responsibility. Therefore,organizational leaders must
encourage full participation in meeting social responsibilities as well
as quality performance.
This is Dr. Cerf's most grievous violation of the ACM Code of Ethics. It
is so severe that we believe it alone is cause for immediate
termination. Dr. Cerf is a respected high level executive at MCI. His
defense of MCI and Send-Safe is an extreme violation of the above. He
has demonstrated no concern for the welfare of society. His defense of
Send-Safe and MCI is exactly the opposite, he is aiding and abeting the
harm of society.

As stated earlier, there are a great many violations of the Code of
Ethics in Dr. Cerf's actions. If the committee would please take a
moment and read the Code of Ethics from top to bottom, with the above
facts in mind we believe you will understand how massive the list of
violations is.  We are confident that you will reach the same conclusion
that we have; Anyone involved in this situation has no business being a
member of ACM, let alone being honored by that organization.

Should you require any additional information or clarification please
let us know. We thank you for your time and consideration.

[Instructions for signing onto the complaint will be posted when