Computer underground Digest Sat July 11, 1992 Volume 4 : Issue 30 Editors: Jim Thomas and
Computer underground Digest Sat July 11, 1992 Volume 4 : Issue 30
Editors: Jim Thomas and Gordon Meyer (TK0JUT2@NIU.BITNET)
Copy Editor: Etaion Shrdlu, Jr.
Archivist: Brendan Kehoe
Archivist in spirit: Bob Kusumoto
Shadow-Archivist: Dan Carosone
CONTENTS, #4.30 (July 11, 1992)
File 1--MOD Busts in New York
File 2--New York Computer Crime Indictments
File 3--MOD Bust (Press Release, US Atty, S. District of NY)
File 4--EFF responds to MOD Indictments...
File 5--LoD t-shirts
File 6--AT&T's fight against toll fraud continues
File 7--Boston BBS Shutdowns
File 8--OMB A130 REVISION
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Date: 10 Jul 92 18:33:32 EDT
Subject: File 1--MOD Busts in New York
Federal Agents indicted five members of MOD, a group of computer
crackers, last week on 11 counts that included conspiracy, wire fraud,
unauthorized access to computers, unauthorized possession of access
devices, and interception of electronic communications. Julio
Fernandez (Outlaw), John Lee (Corrupt), Mark Abene (Phiber Optik),
Elias Ladopoulos (Acid Phreak), and Paul Stira (Scorpion) were
indicted under various provisions of Title 18, including 18 USC S.
1029(a)(3); 18 USC S. 371; 18 USC S. 2511(1)(a) and 2); and 18 USC S.
1343. The charges allege that the defendants broke into
telephone switching computers of several Bell systems, engaged in
"phreaking," and computer tampering.
Phiber Optik, perhaps the best-known of the group, Scorpion, and Acid
Phreak were raided by federal agents in January, 1990. Felony charges
against Phiber Optik were dropped in January, 1991, when he pled
guilty to misdemeanor offenses. The bulk of the allegations listed
in last week's indictment occured in November, 1991.
Members of MOD received national attention in 1990 as the result of an
article on "hackers" in the Village Voice (Dibbell, Julian. 1990.
"On Line and Out of Bounds," Voice, 35(July 24): 27-32.) Phiber Optik,
an occasional active participant in The Well's "Hacker's conference,"
demonstrated his abilities to other members by obtaining credit and
and similar private information, and by defending "hacking" and
computer intrusion (see Harper's Forum. 1990. "Is Computer Hacking a
Crime? A Debate from the Electronic Underground." Harper's,
Among some "hackers," MOD was considered the "bad boys" of the
computer underground because of alleged disruptiveness and harassment
that was perceived to be their trademark. According to some, MOD had a
reputation for arrogance and for vindictive retaliation against those
who "crossed" them that ran counter to the "hacker ethic." A few,
however, saw MOD as skilled teenagers whose apparent eccentricities
should be tolerated because of their skill.
Prosecution of malicious behavior is appropriate, but as the articles
below suggest, much of the evidence against the group derives from
wiretap information. As the NEWSBYTES article suggests, the case may
be raised as an example of the importance of passing proposed
legislation to expand the wire-tapping capability of law enforcement
agents. One need not support alleged destructive behavior to be
suspicious of law enforcement methods and attempts to expand intrusive
powers that have been demonstrably abused in the past.
Date: 10 Jul 92 21:14:29 EDT
Subject: File 2--New York Computer Crime Indictments
NEW YORK, N.Y., U.S.A., 1992 JULY 9 (NB) -- Otto G. Obermaier, United
States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, has announced
the indictment of five "computer hackers" on charges of computer
tampering, computer fraud, wire fraud, illegal wire tapping and
conspiracy. The announcement was made at a press conference at 2:00 PM
on Wednesday, July 8th at the Federal Court hose in Manhattan
Named in the indictment were Julio Fernandez, 18, known as the
"Outlaw"; John Lee, 21, a/k/a "Corrupt"; Mark Abene, 20, a/k/a "Phiber
Optik"; Elias Ladopoulos, 22, a/k/a "Acid Phreak"; and "Paul Stira,
22, a/k/a "Scorpion". In addition to alleged specific illegal acts
involving computers, the five individuals were also charged with
According to the indictment, the five were members of a group known as
MOD (standing for either "Masters of Disaster" or "Masters of
Deception") and the goal of the conspiracy was "that the members of
MOD would gain access to and control of computer systems in order to
enhance their image and prestige among other computer hackers; to
harass and intimidate rival hackers and people they did not like; to
obtain telephone, credit, information, and other services without
paying for them; and to obtain. passwords, account numbers and other
things of value which they could sell to others."
The indictment defines computer hacker as "someone who uses a computer
or a telephone to obtain unauthorized access to other computers."
Obermaier stated that this investigation was "the first investigative
use of court-authorized wiretaps to obtain conversations and data
transmissions of computer hackers." He said that this procedure was
essential to the investigation and that "It demonstrates, I think, the
federal government's ability to deal with criminal conduct as it moves
into new technological areas." He added that the interception of data
was possible only because the material was in analog form and added
"Most of the new technology is in digital form and there is a pending
statute in the Congress which seeks the support of telecommunications
companies to allow the federal government, under court authorization,
to intercept digital transmission. Many of you may have read the
newspaper about the laser transmission which go through fiber optics
as ernment needs the help of Congress and, indeed, the
telecommunications companies to able to intercept digital While all of
those indicted were charged with some type of unlawful access to one
or more of computer systems belonging to the following: Southwestern
Bell, BT North America, New York Telephone, ITT, Information America,
TRW, Trans Union, Pacific Bell, the University of Washington, New York
University, U.S. West, Learning Link, Tymnet and Martin Marietta
Electronics Information and Missile Group, Fernandez and Lee were also
charged with selling illegally obtained credit information to a person
that later re-sold the information to private detectives.
Assistant United States Attorney Stephen Fishbein announced that
Morton Rosenfeld has been indicted and pled guilty to purchasing
credit information and access codes from persons named "Julio" and
"John". Fishbein said that Rosenfeld, at the time of his arrest on
December 6, 1991, has approximately 176 TRW credit reports in his
possession. Rosenfeld, 21, pled guilty on June 24, 1992 and is
scheduled to be sentenced on September 9th. He faces a maximum of five
years imprisonment and a fine of the greater of $250,000 or twice the
gross gain or loss incurred.
Fishbein also announced the outcome of a "separate but related court
action, Alfredo De La Fe, 18, pled guilty on June 19, 1992 to the use
and sale of telephone numbers and codes for Private Branch Exchanges
(PBX's). De La Fe said that he had sold PBX numbers belonging to Bugle
Boy Industries to a co-conspirator who used the numbers in a
call-selling operation. He also said that he and a person that he knew
as "Corrupt" had made illegal long difference conference calls. De La
Fe faces the same maximum penalty as Rosenfeld and is scheduled for
sentencing on August 31st.
Among the charges against the five charged as conspirators is the
allegation that Fernandez, Lee, Abene and "others whom they aided and
abetted" performed various computer activities "that caused losses to
Southwestern Bell of approximately $370,000. When asked by Newsbytes
how the losses were calculated, Fishbein said that there was no
breakdown beyond that stated in the indictment -- "expenses to locate
and replace computer programs and other information that had been
modified or otherwise corrupted, expenses to determine the source of
the unauthorized intrusions, and expenses for new computers and
security devices that were necessary to prevent continued unauthorized
access by the defendants and others whom they aided and abetted."
In answer to a Newsbytes question concerning the appropriateness of
making an intruder into a computer system totally responsible for the
cost of adding security features "which possibly should have been
there to begin with", Obermaier said "That theory would make the
burglar the safety expert since one can't have people going around
fooling around with other people's relatively private information and
then claiming that I'm doing it for their good."
Paul Tough of Harper's Magazine followed up on the same topic by
saying "In the Craig Neidorf case a regional telephone company claimed
that a document was worth over $100,000. When it was found to be worth
only $12, the case was thrown out. In view of that, are you concerned
that they (Southwestern Bell) may have overreported? In response,
Obermaier "No, we are not concerned. It's a matter of proof and, if
the accused stand trial and have a similar experience to as happened
the case you cite, not in this district, then the results predictably
will be the same." Fishbein said that the conspiracy change carries a
maximum sentence of five years imprisonment while each of the other
counts (there are 10 additional counts) carries a maximum of five
years imprisonment and a fine of the greater of $250,000 or twice the
gross gain or loss incurred. A single exception is a count charging
Fernandez with possessing fifteen or more unauthorized access devices.
That count carries a maximum penalty of ten years imprisonment.
In response to a statement by Alex Michelini of the New York Daily
News that "What you've outlined, basically, except for the sales of
credit information, this sounds like a big prank, most of it",
Obermaier said "Really, Well, I suppose, if you can characterize that
as a prank but it's really a federal crime allowing people without
authorization to rummage through the data of other people to which
they do not have access and, as I point out to you again, the burglar
cannot be your safety expert. He may be inside and laugh at you when
you come home and say that your lock is not particularly good but I
think you, if you were affected by that contact, would be somewhat
Obermaier also said that "The message that ought to be delivered with
this indictment is that such conduct will not be tolerated,
irrespective of tensible purpose."
Obermaier also said that "The message that ought to be delivered with
this indictment is that such conduct will not be tolerated,
irrespective of the ag of the particular accused or their ostensible
Others participating in the news conference were Raymond Shaddick,
United States Secret Service assistant director - Office of
Investigations; William Y. Doran, FBI special agent in charge, New
York criminal division; Scott Charney, United States Dept. of Justice
chief of computer crime unit. All stressed the cooperation that had
gone on between the various law enforcement agencies during the
Charney told Newsbytes that, in spite of the fact that the search
warrants executed on Stira and Ladopoulos preceded those executed on
Lee and Fernandez by almost two years and that the last specific
allegation against Stira proceeds the first against Lee by 16 months
and the first against Fernandez by 21 months, there is evidence that
links them together in the conspiracy. Charney also told Newsbytes
that the counts against Abene were not related to a misdemeanor
conviction in early 1991 for which he served community service. Those
indicted have been asked to present themselves at New York Service
Services headquarters at 9:00 AM on July 8th for fingerprinting.
Arraignment for the indicted is scheduled for Thursday, July 16th.
Abene told Newsbytes that while he couldn't comment on anything
related to the indictment until he obtained legal counsel, "I've been
participating i conferences with law enforcement personnel and guest
lecturing to college classes for the last year and a half. In every
case, I have said how those responsible for information about us have
the responsibility to protect that data. I have also tried to explain
the great difference between a true hacker and a person who uses
computers for criminal profit. I hope that I have increased
understanding with these efforts."
(Barbara E. McMullen & John F. McMullen/Press Contacts:Federico E.
Virella, Jr., United States Attorney's Office, 212 791-1955; Betty
Conkling, United States Secret Service, 212 466-4400; Joseph Valiquette,
Jr, Federal Bureau of Investigation, 212 335-2715/19920709)
Date: 09 Jul 92 21:14:29 EDT
From: Gordon Meyer <72307.1502@COMPUSERVE.COM>
Subject: File 3--MOD Bust (Press Release, US Atty, S. District of NY)
From-- J.MCNEELY6 Jack C. Mcneely
To-- GRMEYER Gordon R. Meyer
Sub: MOD Bust
Group of "Computer Hackers" Indicted;
First Use of Wiretaps in Such a Case
To: National Desk
Contact: Federico E. Virella Jr., 212-791-1955, or
Stephen Fishbein, 212-791-1978, of the Office of
the U.S. Attorney, Southern District of New York; or
Betty Conkling of the U.S. Secret Service, 212-466-4400; or
Joseph Valiquette Jr. of the Federal Bureau of
NEW YORK, July 8 /U.S. Newswire/ -- A group of five "computer hackers"
has been indicted on charges of computer tampering, computer fraud,
wire fraud, illegal wiretapping, and conspiracy, by a federal grand
jury in Manhattan, resulting from the first investigative use of
court-authorized wiretaps to obtain conversations and data
transmissions of computer hackers.
A computer hacker is someone who uses a computer or a telephone to
obtain unauthorized access to other computers.
The indictment, which was filed today, alleges that Julio Fernandez,
a/k/a "Outlaw," John Lee, a/k/a "Corrupt," Mark Abene, a/k/a "Phiber
Optik," Elias Ladopoulos, a/k/a "Acid Phreak," and Paul Stira, a/k/a
"Scorpion," infiltrated a wide variety of computer systems, including
systems operated by telephone companies, credit reporting services,
and educational institutions.
According to Otto G. Obermaier, United States Attorney for the
Southern District of New York, James E. Heavey, special agent in
charge, New York Field Division, United States Secret Service, William
Y. Doran, special agent in charge, Criminal Division, New York Field
Division, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Scott Charney, chief of
the Computer Crime Unit of the Department of Justice, the indictment
charges that the defendants were part of a closely knit group of
computer hackers self-styled "MOD," an acronym used variously for
"Masters of Disaster" and "Masters of Deception" among other things.
The indictment alleges that the defendants broke into computers "to
enhance their image and prestige among other computer hackers; to
harass and intimidate rival hackers and other people they did not
like; to obtain telephone, credit, information and other services
without paying for them; and to obtain passwords, account numbers and
other things of value which they could sell to others."
The defendants are also alleged to have used unauthorized passwords
and billing codes to make long distance telephone calls and to be able
to communicate with other computers for free.
Some of the computers that the defendants allegedly broke into were
telephone switching computers operated by Southwestern Bell, New York
Telephone, Pacific Bell, U.S. West and Martin Marietta Electronics
Information and Missile Group. According to the indictment, such
switching computers each control telephone service for tens of
thousands of telephone lines.
In some instances, the defendants allegedly tampered with the
computers by adding and altering calling features. In some cases, the
defendants allegedly call forwarded local numbers to long distance
numbers and thereby obtained long distance services for the price of a
Southwestern Bell is alleged to have incurred losses of approximately
$ 370,000 in 1991 as a result of computer tampering by defendants
Fernandez, Lee, and Abene.
The indictment also alleges that the defendants gained access to
computers operated by BT North America, a company that operates the
Tymnet data transfer ne twork. The defendants were allegedly able to
use their access to Tymnet computers to intercept data communications
while being transmitted through the network, including computer
passwords of Tymnet employees. On one occasion, Fernandez and Lee
allegedly intercepted data communications on a network operated by the
Bank of America.
The charges also allege that the defendants gained access to credit
and information services including TRW, Trans Union and Information
The defendants allegedly were able to obtain personal information on
people including credit reports, telephone numbers, addresses,
neighbor listings and social security numbers by virtue of their
access to these services.
On one occasion Lee and another member of the group are alleged to
have discussed obtaining information from another hacker that would
allow them to alter credit reports on TRW. As quoted in the
indictment, Lee said that the information he wanted would permit them
"to destroy people's lives... or make them look like saints."
The indictment further charges that in November 1991, Fernandez and
Lee sold information to Morton Rosenfeld concerning how to access
credit services. The indictment further alleges that Fernandez later
provided Rosenfeld's associates with a TRW account number and password
that Rosenfeld and his associates used to obtain approximately 176 TRW
credit reports on various individuals. (In a separate but related
court action, Rosenfeld pleaded guilty to conspiracy to use and
traffic in account numbers of TRW. See below).
According to Stephen Fishbein, the assistant United States attorney in
charge of the prosecution, the indictment also alleges that members of
MOD wiped out almost all of the information contained within the
Learning Link computer operated by the Educational Broadcasting Corp.
(WNET Channel 13) in New York City.
The Learning Link computer provided educational and instructional
information to hundreds of schools and teachers in New York, New
Jersey and Connecticut.
Specifically, the indictment charges that on Nov. 28, 1989, the
information on the Learning Link was destroyed and a message was left
on the computer that said: "Happy Thanksgiving you turkeys, from all
of us at MOD" and which was signed with the aliases "Acid Phreak,"
"Phiber Optik," and "Scorpion."
During an NBC News broadcast on Nov. 14, 1990, two computer hackers
identified only by the aliases "Acid Phreak" and "Phiber Optik" took
responsibility for sending the "Happy Thanksgiving" message.
Obermaier stated that the charges filed today resulted from a joint
investigation by the United States Secret Service and the Federal
Bureau of Investigation.
"This is the first federal investigation ever to use court-authorized
wiretaps to obtain conversations and data transmissions of computer
hackers," said Obermaier.
He praised both the Secret Service and the FBI for their extensive
efforts in this case. Obermaier also thanked the Department of Justice
Computer Crime Unit for their important assistance in the
investigation. Additionally, Obermaier thanked the companies and
institutions whose computer systems were affected by the defendants'
activities, all of whom cooperated fully in the investigation.
Fernandez, age 18, resides at 3448 Steenwick Ave., Bronx, New York.
Lee (also known as John Farrington), age 21, resides at 64A Kosciusco
St. Brooklyn, New York. Abene, age 20, resides at 94-42 Alstyne Ave.,
Queens, New York. Elias Ladopoulos, age 22, resides at 85-21 159th
St., Queens, New York. Paul Stira, age 22 , resides at 114-90 227th
St., Queens, New York. The defendants' arraignment has been scheduled
for July 16, at 10 a.m. in Manhattan federal court.
The charges contained in the indictment are accusations only and the
defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Fishbein stated that if convicted, each of the defendants may be
sentenced to a maximum of five years imprisonment on the conspiracy
count. Each of the additional counts also carries a maximum of five
years imprisonment, except for the count charging Fernandez with
possession of access devices, which carries a maximum of ten years
imprisonment. Additionally, each of the counts carries a maximum fine
of the greater of $ 250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss incurred.
In separate but related court actions, it was announced that Rosenfeld
and Alfredo De La Fe have each pleaded guilty in Manhattan Federal
District Court to conspiracy to use and to traffic in unauthorized
access devices in connection with activities that also involved
members of MOD.
Rosenfeld pled guilty on June 24 before Shirley Wohl Kram, United
States District Judge.
At his guilty plea, Rosenfeld admitted that he purchased account
numbers and passwords for TRW and other credit reporting services from
computer hackers and then used the information to obtain credit
reports, credit card numbers, social security numbers and other
personal information which he sold to private investigators.
Rosenfeld added in his guilty plea that on or about Nov. 25, 1991, he
purchased information from persons named "Julio" and "John" concerning
how to obtain unauthorized access to credit services.
Rosenfeld stated that he and his associates later obtained additional
information from "Julio" which they used to pull numerous credit
reports. According to the information to which Rosenfeld pleaded
guilty, he had approximately 176 TRW credit reports at his residence
on Dec. 6, 1991.
De La Fe pled guilty on June 19 before Kenneth Conboy, United States
At his guilty plea, De La Fe stated that he used and sold telephone
numbers and codes for Private Branch Exchanges ("PBXs").
According to the information to which De La Fe pleaded guilty, a PBX
is a privately operated computerized telephone system that routes
calls, handles billing, and in some cases permits persons calling into
the PBX to obtain outdial services by entering a code.
De La Fe admitted that he sold PBX numbers belonging to Bugle Boy
Industries and others to a co-conspirator who used the numbers in a
call sell operation, in which the co-conspirator charged others to
make long distance telephone calls using the PBX numbers.
De La Fe further admitted that he and his associates used the PBX
numbers to obtain free long distance services for themselves. De La Fe
said that one of the people with whom he frequently made free long
distance conference calls was a person named John Farrington, who he
also knew as "Corrupt."
Rosenfeld, age 21, resides at 2161 Bedford Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y.
Alfredo De La Fe, age 18, resides at 17 West 90th St., N.Y. Rosenfeld
and De La Fe each face maximum sentences of five years, imprisonment
and maximum fines of the greater of $250,000, or twice the gross gain
or loss incurred. Both defendants have been released pending sentence
on $20,000 appearance bonds. Rosenfeld's sentencing is scheduled for
Sept. 9, before Shirley Wohl Kram. De La Fe's sentencing is scheduled
for Aug. 31, before Conboy.
/U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/
Date: Fri, 10 Jul 1992 17:26:52 -0500
From: Craig Neidorf
Subject: File 4--EFF responds to MOD Indictments...
| F.Y.I. |Newsnote from the Electronic Frontier Foundation |July 9,1992|
FEDERAL HACKING INDICTMENTS ISSUED AGAINST FIVE IN NEW YORK CITY
Yesterday, Federal officials indicted five people in New York City for
computer crime. The indictments name Mark Abene (Phiber Optik), Julio
Fernandez (Outlaw), John Lee (Corrupt), Elias Ladopoulos (Acid
Phreak), and Paul Stria (Scorpion). The indictments charge that the
accused used their computers to access credit bureaus, other computer
systems, and make free long-distance calls.
Prosecutors revealed they relied on court-approved wiretaps to obtain
much of the evidence for their multiple-count indictment for wire
fraud, illegal wiretapping and conspiracy. Each count is punishable by
up to 5 years in prison. The defendants are scheduled to be arraigned
in Manhattan Federal Court on July 16. If found guilty on all counts
the defendants could face a maximum term of 50 years in prison and
fines of $2.5 million.
Otto Obermaier, U.S. Attorney, discounted suggestions that the acts
alleged in the indictment were only "pranks" and asserted that they
represented "the crime of the future." He also stated that one purpose
of the indictment was to send a message that "this kind of conduct
will not be tolerated."
Mark Abene, known to the computer community as Phiber Optik, denied
The Electronic Frontier Foundation's staff counsel in Cambridge, Mike
Godwin is carefully reviewing the indictments. Mitchell Kapor, EFF
President, stated today that: "EFF's position on unauthorized access
to computer systems is, and has always been, that it is wrong."
"Nevertheless," Kapor continued, "we have on previous occasions
discovered that allegations contained in Federal indictments can also
be wrong, and that civil liberties can be easily infringed in the
information age. Because of this, we will be examining this case
closely to establish the facts."
| EFF |155 Second Street, Cambridge MA 02141 (617)864-0665| email@example.com |
Date: 25 Jun 92 17:38:55 EDT
From: Gordon Meyer <72307.1502@COMPUSERVE.COM>
Subject: File 5--LoD t-shirts
++++ Original post follows ++++
Date-- Wed, 24 Jun 92 19--35--36 -0500
From-- firstname.lastname@example.org (Aston Martin)
With all the amazing hullabaloo going on in several newsgroups and
throughout the electronic community as a whole, I have decided to go
ahead and make one more, FINAL, print run on the LOD t-shirts.
Please, if anyone is interested, have your mail sent by the end of
July, so everyone who wants one can get one this time. I thought that
in the 6 print orders I made previously "Everyone" who wanted one got
one, but from the requests I have received apparently not.
I was amazed at the orders that came in from locations such as Hong
Kong, England, Netherlands and Australia. The list of luminaries who
came out of the woodwork with an interest in such item was equally as
impressive, security types at LLNL, government employees, hackers from
the golden days, and even a certain regular contributor to a few "not
for normal distribution" mail lists.
This run is for those of you who got left out. Again, I urge that you
respond before July 31, as that is when it the opportunity ends
Blatant promotion follows:
"LEGION OF DOOM--INTERNET WORLD TOUR" T-SHIRTS!
Now you too can own an official Legion of Doom T-shirt. This is the
same shirt that sold-out rapidly at the "Cyberview" hackers conference
in St. Louis. Join the other proud owners such as Lotus founder Mitch
Kapor and award-winning author Bruce Sterling by adding this
collector's item to your wardrobe. This professionally made, 100
percent cotton shirt is printed on both front and back. The front
displays "Legion of Doom Internet World Tour" as well as a sword and
telephone intersecting the planet earth, skull-and-crossbones style.
The back displays the words "Hacking for Jesus" as well as a
substantial list of "tour-stops" (internet sites) and a quote from
Aleister Crowley. This T-shirt is sold only as a novelty item, and is
in no way attempting to glorify computer crime.
Shirts are only $15.00, postage included! Overseas add an
additional $5.00. Send check or money-order (No CODs, cash or
credit cards--even if it's really your card) made payable to
Chris Goggans to:
5620 Glenmont #P-17
Houston, TX 77081
Date: Tue, 30 Jun 1992 16:57:47 -0400
From: Brendan Kehoe
Subject: File 6--AT&T's fight against toll fraud continues
AT&T is giving businesses a new way to fight telephone fraud and
abuse. The long-distance carrier is offering a calling card that
allows corporate customers to preselect specific phone numbers, area
codes, or countries that can be called by the card's user.
Non-designated calling areas cannot be accessed. The card, which
allows managers to designate up to 50 possible calling combinations,
will be available for free this year. Beginning next year, AT&T will
charge a service fee for the card.
Information Week, June 29, 1992.
Date: Tue, 30 Jun 92 21:22:00 PDT
From: Mark Coats
Subject: File 7--Boston BBS Shutdowns
Has anyone heard about several BBSs being shutdown in the Boston area?
I recently talked to Bob Chatelle, who told me that three boards, all
gay oriented, have ceased operation recently. The first was well
known, the Eagle's Nest, and was seized in conjunction with a raid on
a rowdy party. The second, the Boston Connection, ceased operation
and Bob has no info on it. The last, Doug's Den, was embroiled in a
sale of the BBS itself, when it is rumoured to have been seized by the
feds on child pornography charges.
If you know anyone tracking Cyberbusts and/or suspicious BBS shutdowns
please forward this to them.
Bob is not on the net but can be reached at 617-497-7193 or at:
296 Western Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02139
Date: Tue, 30 Jun 1992 18:19:13 EDT
From: James P Love
Subject: File 8--OMB A130 REVISION
Taxpayer Assets Project
Information Policy Note
June 23, 1992
THE APRIL 29, 1992 PROPOSED REVISION TO OMB CIRCULAR A-130.
SUMMARY AND INTRODUCTION
- Important policy advisory for all federal agencies
concerning the management of federal information resources.
- Proposed Revision is an improvement over the existing A-130,
but needs considerable work. Your comments are needed.
- Public comments due by August 27, 1992
- Comments can be filed at any time before the deadline by
email. Send to (Internet): email@example.com
On April 29, 1992 OMB published a notice in the Federal Register
asking for public comments on proposed revisions of its OMB
Circular A-130. This important circular is a policy advisory
from OMB to all federal agencies concerning the management of
government information resources.
Since it was first issued in 1985 A-130 has been a controversial
document. In its earlier versions A-130 was used to eliminate or
raise prices on many free publications, and to promote the
privatization of the dissemination of government information.
The April 29, 1992 draft is a major improvement from the 1985
circular or any of the previous attempts to revise it. There are
also a number of problems with A-130.
The best new features of the Circular are its decreased emphasis
on privatization, the much more generous mandate to use computer
technologies to disseminate government information (its ok for a
government agency to "add value"), and OMB's very good statement
on pricing of government information (no more than the cost of
OMB contends that federal agencies do not have to give electronic
information products and services to the federal depository
library program. There are 1,400 federal depository libraries,
including most major research libraries. They provide free
access to thousands of federal publications. By law all federal
agencies are required to provide copies of paper productions to
this program, which was organized in the middle of the 19th
century. OMB's proposal, which may not be legal, is a major
change of philosophy, and it should be criticized strongly. We
don't need a technological sunset of this important program which
provides universal access to federal information resources.
WHAT'S MISSING FROM THE CIRCULAR
CONFLICTS OF INTEREST
A surprisingly large number of agencies have contracts with
private firms to carry out data processing or information
dissemination tasks, when the contractor is also a potential
competing outlet for the information. The conflicts of interest,
both real and potential, are huge, and of great importance.
Consider the following examples:
SEC's Insider trading data. The SEC hires InvestNet to data
punch its insider trading reports. InvestNet provides a
copy of its work to the National Archives, missing the field
of the shareholder's address. This makes the government's
copy of the data worthless for many users. InvestNet then
the public sells access to the complete data for very high
SEC's EDGAR system. The SEC hires Mead Data Central to
disseminate the electronic records for EDGAR. Meanwhile,
Mead wants to sell the public access to those same records.
The result is one of the most restrictive systems for public
access that one could imagine.
LANDSAT. GM and GE are given a monopoly on the sale of
LANDSAT data. Forget GM's conflict of interest in making
data on air pollution and climate available to environmental
groups. GM, through its Hughes subsidiary, wants to force
people to buy its value added services, "enhancing" the
LANDSAT data, before its disseminated.
JURIS. The Department of Justice hires Westlaw to key punch
federal court decisions. Westlaw, of course, is one of two
commercial sources (with Mead Data Central) of legal
information online. West provides the government with its
headnotes, which West copyrights. West then can exercise a
copyright over the entire database, which otherwise consists
of the LAW itself. West has used this to prevent the public
from having access to the JURIS online system and from
preventing potential competitors from obtaining the records
There are dozens of other cases of conflicts of interest. OMB
should address this issue in A-130.
OMB is still acting as though the only reason for public notice
is if there is a major decision on the creation or termination of
an information product or service. We believe the public should
have regular opportunities to comment on agency policies and
practices. For example, since JURIS has never been available to
the public, there hasn't been any public notice. Or, the SEC's
public notice of EDGAR was years and years ago, before anyone
knew what it was really going to do. What if the public wants
something new that doesn't exist, or wants to criticize an agency
choice of standards? Some of the most important issues concern
the types of incremental adjustments that agencies need to make.
We support the extensive public comment provisions that are
described in Representative Owens' Improvement of Information
Access Act (IIA Act, HR 3459). Let's do it right in A-130, and
pay more attention to data users problems.
Ever since Congress required NTIS to operate without taxpayer
funds (funded entirely on user fees), it has used electronic
products and services to subsidize its money losing paper
products. Agencies now sell electronic products through NTIS,
splitting fees. The records are no longer available through
FOIA, and A-130's policy on pricing (no more than dissemination
costs) is completely undermined. NTIS charges huge prices for
its data in electronic formats. (As much as $1,000 or more for a
single real of magnetic tape). This loophole is causing immense
problems, and should be addressed in A-130.
If the three most important things about information in a
networked environment are standards, standards, and standards,
then A-130 should talk more about standards. And when you talk
about standards, you have to talk about *regular* public comment.
Users have to be involved. Again, we support the Owens bill (HR
3459) approach on this.
Omb Circular A-130 is a pivotal federal document, and it will be
important to file your comments by the August 27, 1992 deadline.
OMB is making this very easy by allowing comments to be filed by
email any time before the deadline, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information, contact OMB's Office of Information and
Information Policy Branch internet: ombA130@nist.gov
Office of Information and voice: 202/395-3785
New Executive Office Building
Washington, DC 20503
James Love voice: 609/683-0534
Director, Taxpayer fax: 202/234-5176
Assets Project internet: email@example.com
P.O. Box 19367
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank