EFFector Online

---
Master Index Current Directory Index Go to SkepticTank Go to Human Rights activist Keith Henson Go to Scientology cult

Skeptic Tank!

________________ _______________ _______________ /_______________/\ /_______________\ /\______________\ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ \ ||||||||||||||||| / //////////////// \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\/ ||||||||||||||||| / //////////////// \\\\\\_______/\ ||||||_______\ / //////_____\ \\\\\\\\\\\\\ \ |||||||||||||| / ///////////// \\\\\\\\\\\\\/____ |||||||||||||| / ///////////// \\\\\___________/\ ||||| / //// \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ \ ||||| / //// \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\/ ||||| \//// ========================================================================= EFFector Online Volume 6 No. 6 12/06/1993 editors@eff.org A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation ISSN 1062-9424 In This Issue: A Superhighway Through the Wasteland? Patent Office Seeks Advice on "Information Super-Highway" Please Help Us Get EFF's BBS Up and Running! Government Accounting Office Report on Communications Privacy Industry Leaders Join in Demo of Pioneering Telecom Technology --==--==--==-<>-==--==--==-- Subject: A Superhighway Through the Wasteland? New York Times Op-Ed by Mitchell Kapor and Jerry Berman Mitchell Kapor is chairman of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit group that promotes civil liberties in digital media. He was a founder of the Lotus Development Corporation, from which he resigned in 1986. Jerry Berman is executive director of the foundation. (Washington) Telecommunications and cable TV executives, seeking to allay concerns over their proposed megamergers, insist that the coming electronic superhighway will be an educational and informational tool as well as a cornucopia of interactive entertainment. Allow the marriage between entertainment and communications giants, we are told, and they will connect students with learning resources, provide a forum for political discourse, increase economic competitiveness and speed us into the multimedia information age. Both broadcast and cable TV were introduced with similar fanfare. The results have been disappointing. Because of regulatory failure and the limits of the technology, they failed to be saviors of education or political life. We love the tube but recognize that it is largely a cultural wasteland. For the Government to break this cycle of promise and disappointment, communications mergers should be approved or barred based on detailed, enforceable commitments that the electronic superhighway will meet public goals. The amount of electronic material the superhighway can carry is dizzying compared to the relatively narrow range of broadcast TV and the limited number of cable channels. Properly constructed and regulated, it could be open to all who wish to speak, publish and communicate. None of the interactive services will be possible, however, if we have an eight-lane data superhighway rushing into every home and only a narrow footpath coming back out. Instead of settling for a multimedia version of the same entertainment that is increasingly dissatisfying on today's TV, we need a superhighway that encourages the production and distribution of a broader, more diverse range of programming. The superhighway should be required to provide so-called open platform services. In today's channel-based cable TV system, program producers must negotiate for channel space with cable companies around the country. In an open platform network, we would avoid that bottleneck. Every person would have access to the entire superhighway, so programmers could distribute information directly to consumers. Consumers would become producers: individuals and small organizations could create and distribute programs to anyone on the highway who wants them. Open platform services will spur diversity in the electronic media, just as low production and distribution costs make possible a wide variety of newspapers and magazines. To prevent abuses by media giants that because of recent Federal court decisions will control the pipeline into the home and much of the content delivered over it, we need new laws. Like today's phone companies, the companies controlling the superhighway must be required to carry other programmers' content, just as phone companies must provide service to anyone who is willing to pay for it. We must guarantee that anyone who, say, wants to start an alternative news network or a forum for political discussion is given an outlet to do so. Americans will come to depend on the superhighway even more than they need the telephone. The guarantee of universal telephone service must be expanded to include universal access to the superhighway. Although market forces will help keep the new technology affordable, we need laws to protect consumers when competition fails. And because several companies will operate the highway, each must be required to interconnect with the others. Likewise, the new computers that will give us access to the superhighway should be built according to commonly accepted standards. Also, even an open, competitive market will leave out organizations with limited resources such as schools and libraries. To compensate for market oversights, we must insure that money -- whether through Federal support or a tax on the companies that will control the superhighway -- is made available to these institutions. Finally, people won't use the new technology unless they feel that their privacy is protected. Technical means, such as recently developed encryption techniques, must be made available to all users. And clear legal guidelines for individual control over access to and reuse of personal information must be established. Companies that sell entertainment services will have a record of what their customers' interests are; these records must remain confidential. Bell Atlantic, T.C.I., Time-Warner, U.S. West and other companies involved in proposed mergers have promised to allow the public full access to the superhighway. But they are asking policy makers to trust that, profits aside, they will use their new positions for the public good. Rather than opposing mergers or blindly trusting competition to shape the data highways, Congress should make the mergers hinge on detailed commitments to provide affordable services to all Americans. Some legislators, led by Representative Ed Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts, are working to enact similar requirements; these efforts deserve support. The best approach would be to amend these requirements to the Communications Act of 1934. Still the central law on open access, an updated Communications Act would codify the terms of a new social contract between the the telecommunications industry and the American people. [From the New York Times Op-Ed Page, Wednesday, November 24, 1993. Copyright 1993 The New York Times Company.] --==--==--==-<>-==--==--==-- Subject: Patent Office Seeks Advice on "Information Super-Highway" The Patent Office is soliciting suggestions and comments on intellectual property aspects of the National Information Infrastructure. (They had a public meeting on the 18th at the Patent Office). Some of the questions they seek comments on are: Is the existing copyright law adequate to protect the rights of those who will make their available via the NII? What statutory or regulatory changes, if any, should be made? Should standards or other requirements be adopted for the labeling or encoding of works available via the NII so that copyright owners and users can identify copyrighted works and the conditions for their use? Should a licensing system be developed for certain uses of any or all works available via the NII? If so, should there be a single type of licensing or should the NII support a multiplicity of licensing systems? What types of education programs might be developed to increase public awareness of intellectual property laws, their importance to the economy, and their application to works available via the NII. (More information can be found in the November 9, 1993 Official Gazette). You can send your ideas to the Patent Office up until December 10, 1993. Address your comments to: Terri Southwick c/o Commissioner of Patents and Trademarks US Patent and Trademark Office Box 4 Washington, DC 20231 fax: 703-305-8885 tel: 703-305-9300 Greg Aharonian Internet Patent News Service --==--==--==-<>-==--==--==-- Subject: Please Help Us Get EFF's BBS Up and Running! The Electronic Frontier Foundation is working to start an EFF bulletin board system to reach the "other half of cyberspace" -- BBSs, including the tens of thousands of participants in BBS networks such as FidoNet. EFF considers these hobbyist grassroots pioneers as important to the future of communications as experienced net.surfers, and both cultures of the online world have much to gain or lose by the issues at stake. The EFF BBS will provide a full mirror of our FTP/gopher/WAIS archives, as well as networked messaging, including FidoNet's and UseNet's relevant conferences, such as BBSLAW, SYSLAW, comp.org.eff.talk, alt.security.pgp, alt.politics.datahighway, and more. The board will serve as a place for those with modems but no Internet access to get the information they need to avoid pitfalls and to support campaigns to preserve our rights online. However, money does not grow on trees, and EFF is asking for contributions and hardware donations so that the project can get rolling. Still needed: Basic system - 486DX2-66 or 468DX-50 Large SCSI hard drive, and controller 8-16 MB RAM SVGA card and monitor ethernet card SCSI or parallel tape backup 4 fast modems (19.2 USR DS, 28.8 Hayes V.fc, 19.2 ZyXEL, and one other, undecided yet, probably Telebit V.terbo) We're interested in new or used equipment in working condition, and any donations will be gratefully accepted. Donators of funds or equipment over $40 will receive a one-year membership in EFF if they wish, and all contributors will be listed in a "thank you" notice in our online newsletter, and in a permanent bulletin on the BBS. Please note that donations are tax deductible. BBS software has already been donated, though various other software is still needed (utils, editors, Fido mailer, etc.) --==--==--==-<>-==--==--==-- Subject: Government Accounting Office Report on Communications Privacy A few days ago, the Government Accounting Office (GAO) -- an important internal government investigative organization that's about a lot more than accounting -- issued a report on communications privacy. The report makes four very important findings: 1. Privacy-protecting technology (crytopgraphy) is increasingly important for protecting the security of business communications and personal information. But federal policy is getting in the way of this technology. "Increased use of computer and communications networks, computer literacy, and dependence on information technology heighten US industries risk of losing proprietary information to economic espionage. In part to reduce the risk, industry is more frequently using hardware and software with encryption capabilities. However, federal policies and actions stemming from national security and law enforcement concerns hinder the use and the export of U.S. commercial encryption technology and may hinder its development." 2. The NSA's role in this area is has been extensive, and possibly beyond the spirit of the Computer Security Act. "Although the Computer Security Act of 1987 reaffirmed NIST's reponsibility for developing federal information-processing standards for security of sensitive, unclassified information, NIST follows NSA's lead in developing certain cryptographic standards" 3. Opportunity for public input in the standards process has been insufficient, leading to proposals like Clipper which lack public support. "These policy issues are formulated and announced to the public, however, with very little input from directly affected business interests, academia, and others." The report draws no specific policy conclusions, but provides excellent ammunition for those of us who are trying to open up the standards process and get export controls lifted. Full text of the report (GAO/OSI-94-2 Communications Privacy: Federal Policy and Actions) has been made available by ftp from GAO. The document can be obtained from EFF's FTP site as ~pub/eff/papers/osi-94-2.txt --==--==--==-<>-==--==--==-- Subject: Industry Leaders Join in Demo of Pioneering Telecom Technolgy Project Represents First-in-the-Nation Collaboration Among Local Cable Companies Boston, MA (November 16, 1993) - In an unprecedented collaboration among Massachusetts' leading cable companies, Cablevision of Boston, Continental Cablevision and Time Warner Cable today demonstrated a breakthrough wireless telephone call using interconnected cable television systems bypassing the local telephone company. The demonstration, which occurred at Faneuil Hall, illustrated how cable technology can be utilized to create what developers call a Personal Communication Network (PCN). "The implications of this pilot project are enormous for Massachusetts," said Henry J. Ferris, Jr., General Manager of Cablevision. "The cable-based PCN will give consumers a competitive choice in the wireless communication market as the cable industry moves towards seamless service areas on the electronic superhighway." The PCN makes use of existing cable systems to transmit voice, data and video communications with increased clarity. Cable transmissions are carried over fiber and coaxial broad band networks, offering improved sound quality and capacity. "This first-ever cooperative experiment among three cable companies signals the enormous possibilities which exist when we combine out resources and expertise," said Terry O'Connell, President of Time Warner Cable's Greater Boston Division. Frank Anthony, Senior Vice President of Continental Cablevision noted, "By exploiting the enormous technological potential of the cable networks already in place throughout New England, our Personal Communications Network significantly advances the creation of a powerful electronic superhighway for the region. With this kind of cohesive infrastructure, opportunities for advancements in the telecommunications industry are limitless." The Faneuil Hall test used existing Boston-area cable lines to deliver a wireless phone conversation from Boston to Newton, demonstrating how cable television infrastructure can be a regional provider of wireless communications services. Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor Paul Cellucci, using a wireless handset, placed a call to Newton Mayor Theodore Mann via cable. Cablevision's system in Boston carried the call through Boston to Continental Cablevision's service border; Continental routed the call through Dedham, Needham, Newton and Cambridge to Teleport Communications Group where a #5 ESS switch enabled the call to come back over Continental's regional fiber network where it was received by Mayor Mann using a portable phone on Heartbreak Hill in Newton. Following the Newton call, the Lieutenant Governor placed a wireless call to Malden Mayor Edwin Lucey, which again traveled via the Cablevision network, through Continental's system, then along Time Warner Cable infrastructure in Malden. By using Teleport Communications Group switching capabilities, both calls were routed independently of the local telephone company, demonstrating the autonomous power of the interconnected cable infrastructure to provide seamless telephone call transport. The demonstration calls also highlighted the audio clarity provided by cable technology. A main focus of the demonstration was the PCN architecture itself which is the result of extensive research and development by the cable industry. Calls routed over two or more cable system are connected via a fiber-optic-based regional network and a centralized switching center. The quality of voice transmission surpasses that of cellular services. Because the cable television systems are already in place, obviating the need for large capital investments in infrastructure, the cable industry can offer a cost-effective alternative to cellular telephone service. Recognizing strong consumer demand for competitive alternatives to cellular technology, the cable industry's wireless telephone service features full mobility in vehicles moving at various speeds, far-ranging, "ubiquitous" coverage and reduced cost as imperative for commercial viability in wireless communications. The PCN facilitates the marriage of portable computer, telephone and fax technology to wireless telecommunications. Users of the PCN are assigned a personal telephone number, which is not tied to a particular address but, rather, travels with the person allowing users to communicate with other users at any location. Such a system frees individuals from the constraints of wired networks which leave devices such as telephones, fax machine and computers limited to a single location. This "lifestyle" coverage goes where the user goes and allows for person-to-person rather than point-to-point communication. Cablevision of Boston, Continental Cablevision and Time Warner Cable officials expect that this local network will pave the way for futuristic telecommunications application on the electronic superhighway in Massachusetts. --==--==--==-<>-==--==--==-- EFFector Online is published biweekly by: Electronic Frontier Foundation 1001 G Street, N.W., Suite 950 East Washington, DC 20001, USA Phone: +1 202 347 5400, FAX: +1 202 393 5509 Internet Address: eff@eff.org or ask@eff.org Coordination, production and shipping by: Stanton McCandlish, Online Activist Reproduction of this publication in electronic media is encouraged. Signed articles do not necessarily represent the view of the EFF. To reproduce signed articles individually, please contact the authors for their express permission. *This newsletter is printed on 100% recycled electrons.* --==--==--==-<>-==--==--==-- MEMBERSHIP IN THE ELECTRONIC FRONTIER FOUNDATION In order to continue the work already begun and to expand our efforts and activities into other realms of the electronic frontier, we need the financial support of individuals and organizations. If you support our goals and our work, you can show that support by becoming a member now. Members receive our bi-weekly electronic newsletter, EFFector Online (if you have an electronic address reached through the Net), and special releases and other notices on our activities. But because we believe that support should be freely given, you can receive these things even if you do not elect to become a member. Your membership/donation is fully tax deductible. Our memberships are $20.00 per year for students and $40.00 per year for regular members. You may, of course, donate more if you wish. --==--==--==-<>-==--==--==-- Mail to: Membership Coordinator Electronic Frontier Foundation 1001 G Street, N.W. Suite 950 East Washington, DC 20001 USA Membership rates: $20.00 (student or low income membership) $40.00 (regular membership) [ ] I wish to become a member of the EFF. I enclose: $_______ [ ] I wish to renew my membership in the EFF. I enclose: $_______ [ ] I enclose an additional donation of $_______ Name: Organization: Address: City or Town: State: Zip: Phone: ( ) (optional) FAX: ( ) (optional) E-mail address: I enclose a check [ ]. Please charge my membership in the amount of $ to my Mastercard [ ] Visa [ ] American Express [ ] Number: Expiration date: Signature: ______________________________________________ Date: Optional: I hereby grant permission to the EFF to share my name with other nonprofit groups from time to time as it deems appropriate. Initials:______________________

---

E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank