Computer underground Digest Sun Nov 15, 1992 Volume 4 : Issue 58 Editors: Jim Thomas and G

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Computer underground Digest Sun Nov 15, 1992 Volume 4 : Issue 58 Editors: Jim Thomas and Gordon Meyer (TK0JUT2@NIU.BITNET) Archivist: Brendan Kehoe Shadow-Archivists: Dan Carosone / Paul Southworth Ralph Sims / Jyrki Kuoppala Coop Eidolator: Etaion Shrdlu, Junior CONTENTS, #4.58 (Nov 15, 1992) File 1--Special Issue: A Computer & Information Technologies Platform Cu-Digest is a weekly electronic journal/newsletter. Subscriptions are available at no cost from The editors may be contacted by voice (815-753-6430), fax (815-753-6302) or U.S. mail at: Jim Thomas, Department of Sociology, NIU, DeKalb, IL 60115. Issues of CuD can also be found in the Usenet news group; on CompuServe in DL0 and DL4 of the IBMBBS SIG, DL1 of LAWSIG, and DL0 and DL12 of TELECOM; on Genie in the PF*NPC RT libraries; from America Online in the PC Telecom forum under "computing newsletters;" on the PC-EXEC BBS at (414) 789-4210; in Europe from the ComNet in Luxembourg BBS (++352) 466893; and using anonymous FTP on the Internet from ( in /pub/cud, ( in /cud, ( in /pub/mirror/cud, and ( in /pub/text/CuD. European readers can access the ftp site at: pub/doc/cud. Back issues also may be obtained from the mail server at European distributor: ComNet in Luxembourg BBS (++352) 466893. COMPUTER UNDERGROUND DIGEST is an open forum dedicated to sharing information among computerists and to the presentation and debate of diverse views. CuD material may be reprinted for non-profit as long as the source is cited. Some authors do copyright their material, and they should be contacted for reprint permission. It is assumed that non-personal mail to the moderators may be reprinted unless otherwise specified. Readers are encouraged to submit reasoned articles relating to computer culture and communication. Articles are preferred to short responses. Please avoid quoting previous posts unless absolutely necessary. DISCLAIMER: The views represented herein do not necessarily represent the views of the moderators. Digest contributors assume all responsibility for ensuring that articles submitted do not violate copyright protections. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Date: Tue, 27 Oct 1992 22:00:03 -0800 From: James I. Davis Subject: File 1--A Computer & Information Technologies Platform ((MODERATORS' NOTE: The potential of computer technology to liberate also carries with it the potential to repress. Computer applications contain the risks of intruding on privacy, increasing our vulnerability to crime, and altering the social sphere by revising laws, class structure, and power/control systems. The consequences of computer technology are *social* and affect us all. Responsibility for recognizing the impact of expanding technology is not something that should be left to others--to "experts"--but that should be aggressively confronted by all of us. This special issue presents a platform statement drafted by the Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility's Berkeley chapter as one way to begin recognizing the *political* implications of computer technology. We invite responses to it with the intent of sharpening the debates over the issues it raises. The bibliography has been deleted because of spatial constraints. Those interested can obtain the complete text, including biblio, from the CuD ftp site ( +++++++++++++ A COMPUTER AND INFORMATION TECHNOLOGIES PLATFORM Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility Berkeley Chapter Peace and Justice Working Group ***************************************************************** INTRODUCTION As computer and information technologies become all pervasive, they touch more and more on the lives of everyone. Even so, their development and deployment remains unruly, undemocratic and unconcerned with the basic needs of humanity. Over the past 20 years, new technologies have dramatically enhanced our ability to collect and share information, to improve the quality of work, and to solve pressing problems like hunger, homelessness and disease. Yet over the same period we have witnessed a growing set of problems which are eroding the quality of life in our country. We have seen the virtual collapse of our public education system. Privacy has evaporated. Workplace monitoring has increased in parallel with the de-skilling or outright disappearance of work. Homelessness has reached new heights. Dangerous chemicals poison our environment. And our health is threatened by the growing pandemic of AIDS along with the resurgence of 19th century diseases like cholera and tuberculosis. As a society, we possess the technical know-how to resolve homelessness, illiteracy, the absence of privacy, the skewed distribution of information and knowledge, the lack of health care, environmental damage, and poverty. These problems persist only because of the way we prioritize research and development, implement technologies, and distribute our social wealth. Determining social priorities for research, development, implementation and distribution is a political problem. Political problems require political solutions. These are, of course, everyone's responsibility. As human beings, we have tried to examine these problems, and consider possible solutions. As people who design, create, study, and use computer and information technologies, we have taken the initiative to develop a political platform for these technologies. This platform describes a plausible, possible program for research, development, and implementation of computer and information technologies that will move towards resolving our most pressing social needs. This document also unites many groups and voices behind a common call for change in the emphasis and application of these technologies. This platform addresses Computer and Information Technologies, because we work with those technologies, and we are most familiar with the issues and concerns related to those technologies. We do not address other key technologies like bioengineering or materials science, although some issues, for example, intellectual property rights or research priorities, apply equally well to those areas. We would like to see people familiar with those fields develop platforms as well. Finally, we do not expect that this platform will ever be "finished." The rate of scientific and technical development continues to accelerate, and new issues will certainly emerge. Likewise, our understanding of the issues outlined here will evolve and deepen. Your comments are necessary for this document to be a relevant and useful effort. We encourage candidates, organizations and individuals to adopt the provisions in this platform, and to take concrete steps towards making them a reality. Peace and Justice Working Group Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility, Berkeley Chapter August, 1992 ***************************************************************** PLATFORM GOALS The goals of this platform are: * To promote the use of Computer and Information Technologies to improve the quality of human life and maximize human potential. * To provide broad and equal access to Computers and Information Technology tools. * To raise consciousness about the effects of Computer and Information Technologies among the community of people who create and implement these technologies. * To educate the general public about the effects Computers and Information Technologies have on them. * To focus public attention on the political agenda that determines what gets researched, funded, developed and distributed in Computer and Information Technologies. * To democratize (that is, enhance the public participation in) the process by which Computer and Information Technologies do or do not get researched, funded, developed and distributed. ***************************************************************** PLATFORM SUMMARY A. ACCESS TO INFORMATION and INFORMATION TECHNOLOGIES 1. Universal access to education 2. Elimination of barriers to access to public information 3. An open National Data Traffic System 4. Expansion of the public library system 5. Expansion of public information treasury 6. Freedom of access to government data 7. Preservation of public information as a resource 8. Restoration of information as public property B. CIVIL LIBERTIES and PRIVACY 1. Education on civil liberties, privacy, and the implications of new technologies 2. Preservation of constitutional civil liberties 3. Right to privacy and the technology to ensure it 4. Community control of police and their technology C. WORK, HEALTH and SAFETY 1. Guaranteed income for displaced workers 2. Improved quality of work through worker control of it 3. Emphasis on health and safety 4. Equal opportunity to work 5. Protection for the homeworker 6. Retraining for new technologies D. THE ENVIRONMENT 1. Environmentally safe manufacturing 2. Planning for disposal or re-use of new products 3. Reclamation of the cultural environment as public space E. INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION 1. Replacement of "national competitiveness" with "global cooperation" 2. Global distribution of technical wealth 3. An end to the waste of technical resources embodied in the international arms trade 4. A new international information order 5. Equitable international division of labor F. RESPONSIBLE USE OF COMPUTERS and INFORMATION TECHNOLOGIES 1. New emphasis in technical research priorities 2. Conversion to a peacetime economy 3. Socially responsible engineering and science ***************************************************************** THE PLATFORM ***************************************************************** A. ACCESS TO INFORMATION and INFORMATION TECHNOLOGIES The body of human knowledge is a social treasure collectively assembled through history. It belongs to no one person, company, or country. As a public treasure everyone must be guaranteed access to its riches. We must move beyond the division between information "consumer" and "provider" -- new information technologies enable each of us to contribute to the social treasury as well. An active democracy requires a well-informed citizenry with equal access to any tools that facilitate democratic decision-making. This platform calls for: 1. UNIVERSAL ACCESS TO EDUCATION: "23 Million adult Americans cannot read above fifth-grade level."[1] We reaffirm that quality education is a basic human right. We call for full funding for education through the university level to insure that everyone obtains the education they need to participate in and contribute to the "Information Age." Education must remain a public resource. Training and retraining to keep skills current with technology, and ease transition from old technologies to new technologies must be readily available. All people must have sufficient access to technology to ensure that there is no "information elite" in this society. Computers should be seen as tools to accomplish tasks, not ends in themselves. The public education system must provide students with access to computers, as well as the critical and analytical tools necessary to understand, evaluate and use new technologies. Staffed and funded computer learning centers should be set up in low-income urban and rural areas to provide such access and education to adults as well as children. Teachers require an understanding of the technology to use it effectively, and to communicate its benefits and limitations to students. These skills must be an integral part of the teacher training curriculum, and must also be available for teachers to continue to upgrade their skills as new tools become available. Finally, to learn, children need a nurturing environment, including a home, an adequate diet, and quality health care. Pitting "welfare" versus "education" is a vicious prescription for social failure. We call for adequate social services to ensure that our children have the environment in which they can benefit from their education. 2. ELIMINATION OF BARRIERS TO ACCESS TO INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY: Democracy requires an informed public, with generous access to information. However, access to information increasingly requires tools such as a computer and a modem, while only 13% of Americans own a personal computer, and of them, only 10% own a modem.[2] In addition, requiring fees to access databases locks out those without money. We must assure access to needed technology via methods such as a subsidized equipment program that can make basic computer and information technologies available to all. We call for the nationalization of research and public information databases, with access fees kept to a minimum to ensure access to the data. In many cases, the technology itself is a barrier to use of new technologies. We strongly encourage the research and development of non-proprietary interfaces and standards that simplify the use of new technology. 3. AN OPEN NATIONAL DATA TRAFFIC SYSTEM: An Information Society generates and uses massive amounts of information. It requires an infrastructure capable of handling that information. It also determines how we communicate with each other, how we disseminate our ideas, and how we learn from each other. The character of this system will have profound effects on everyone. The openness and accessibility of this network will determine the breadth and depth of the community we can create. We call for a "National Data Traffic System" that can accommodate all traffic, not just corporate and large academic institution traffic, so that everyone has access to public information, and has the ability to add to the public information. This traffic system must be accessible to all. The traffic system will include a "highway" component, major information arteries connecting the country. We propose that the highway adopt a model similar to the federal highway system -- that is, a system built by and maintained publicly, as opposed to the "railroad" model, where the government subsidizes private corporations to build, maintain and control the system. The "highway model" will guarantee that the system serves the public interest. At the local level, the existing telephone and cable television systems can provide the "feeder roads", the "streets" and the "alleys" and the "dirt roads" of the data network through the adoption of an Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) system, along the lines proposed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The features proposed by EFF include affordable, ubiquitous ISDN; breaking the private monopoly control of the existing communication networks; short of public takeover of the networks, affirmation of "common carrier" principles; ease of use; a guarantee of personal privacy; and a guarantee of equitable access to communications media.[3] 4. EXPANSION OF THE PUBLIC LIBRARY SYSTEM: The public library system represents a public commitment to equal access to information, supported by community resources. Yet libraries, in the era of Computer and Information Technologies, are having their funding cut. We call for adequate funding of public libraries and an extension of the library system into neighborhoods. Librarians are the trained facilitators of information access. As such, librarians have a unique, strategic role to play in the "information society." We call for an expansion of library training programs, for an increase in the number of librarians, and for additional training for librarians so that they can maximize the use of new information-retrieval technology by the general public. Every public library must have, and provide to their clientele, access to the national data highway. 5. EXPANSION OF THE PUBLIC INFORMATION TREASURY: A market economy encourages the production of those commodities that the largest market wants. As information becomes a commodity, information that serves a small or specialized audience is in danger of not being collected, and not being available. For example, the president of commercial database vendor Dialog was quoted in 1986 as saying "We can't afford an investment in databases that are not going to earn their keep and pay back their development costs." When asked what areas were not paying their development costs, he answered, "Humanities."[4] Information collection should pro-actively meet broad social goals of equality and democracy. We must ensure that the widest possible kinds of social information are collected (not just those that have a ready and substantial market), while ensuring that the privacy of the individual is protected. 6. FREEDOM OF ACCESS TO GOVERNMENT DATA: Public records and economic data are public resources. We must ensure that the principles of "Freedom of Information" laws remain in place. Government agencies must comply with these laws, and should be punished for non-compliance. Government records that are kept in a digital format must be available electronically to the general public, provided that adequate guarantees are in place to protect the individual. 7. PROTECTION OF PUBLIC INFORMATION RESOURCES: Recently, we have seen a dangerous trend in which the Federal government sells off or licenses away rights to information collected at public expense, which is then sold back to the public at a profit. Access to public data now often requires paying an information-broker look-up fees.[5] Public resources must be public. We call for a halt to the privatization of public data. 8. RESTORATION OF INFORMATION AS PUBLIC PROPERTY: "Since new information technology includes easy ways of reproducing information, the existence of these [intellectual property] laws effectively curtails the widest possible spread of this new form of wealth. Unlike material objects, information can be shared widely without running out."[6] The constitutional rationale for intellectual property rights is to promote progress and creativity. The current mechanisms -- the patent system and the copyright system -- are not required to ensure progress. Other models exist for organizing and rewarding intellectual work, that do not require proprietary title to the results. For example, substantial and important research has been carried out by government institutions and state-supported university research. A rich library of public domain and "freeware" software exists. Peer or public recognition, awards, altruism, the urge to create or self-satisfaction in technical achievement are equally motivators for creative activity. Authors and inventors must be supported and rewarded for their work, but the copyright and patent system per se does not ensure that. Most patents, for example, are granted to corporations or to employees who have had to sign agreements to turn the ownership over to the employer through work-for-hire or other employment contracts as a condition of employment. The company, not the creating team, owns the patent. In addition, in many ways, patents and copyrights inhibit the development and implementation of new technology. For example, proprietary research is not shared, but is kept secret and needlessly duplicated by competing companies or countries. Companies sue each other over ownership of interfaces, with the consumer ultimately footing the bill. Software developers must "code around" proprietary algorithms, so as not to violate known patents; and they still run the risk of violating patents they don't know about. We call for a moratorium on software patents. We call for the abolition of property rights in knowledge, including algorithms and designs. We call for social funding of research and development, and the implementation of new systems, such as public competitions, to spur development of socially needed technology. B. CIVIL LIBERTIES and PRIVACY Advances in Computer and Information Technologies have facilitated communications and the accumulation, storage and processing of data. These same advances may be used to enlighten, empower and equalize but also to monitor, invade and control. Alarmingly, we witness more instances of the latter rather than of the former. This platform calls for: 1. EDUCATION ON CIVIL LIBERTIES, PRIVACY, AND THE IMPLICATIONS OF NEW TECHNOLOGIES: New technologies raise new opportunities and new challenges to existing civil liberties. In the absence of understanding and information about these technologies, dangerous policies can take root. For example, police agencies and the news media have portrayed certain computer users (often called "hackers") as "pirates" out to damage and infect all networks. While some computer crime of this sort does take place, such a demonization of computer users overlooks actual practice and statistics. This perception has led to an atmosphere of hysteria, opening the door to fundamental challenges to civil liberties. Homes have been raided, property has been confiscated, businesses have been shut down, all without due process. Technology skills have taken on the quality of "forbidden knowledge", where the possession of certain kinds of information is considered a crime. In the case of "hackers", this is largely due to a lack of understanding of the actual threat that "hackers" pose. We must ensure that legislators, law-enforcement agencies, the news media, and the general public understand Computer and Information Technologies instead of striking out blindly at any perceived threat. We must also ensure that policy caters to the general public and not just corporate and government security concerns. 2. PRESERVATION OF CONSTITUTIONAL CIVIL LIBERTIES: The U.S. Constitution provides an admirable model for guaranteeing rights and protections essential for a democratic society in the 18th century. Although the new worlds opened up by Computer and Information Technologies may require new interpretations and legislations, the freedoms guaranteed in the Bill of Rights must continue no matter what the technological method or medium. Steps must be taken to ensure that the guarantees of the Constitution and its amendments are extended to encompass the new technologies. For example, electronic transmission or computer communications must be considered as a form of speech; and information distributed on networked computers or other electronic forms must be considered a form of publishing (thereby covered by freedom of the press). The owner or operator of a computer or electronic or telecommunications facility should be held harmless for the content of information distributed by users of that facility, except as the owner or operator may, by contract, control information content. Those who author statements and those who have contractual authority to control content shall be the parties singularly responsible for such content. Freedom of assembly should be automatically extended to computer-based electronic conferencing. Search and seizure protections should be fully applicable to electronic mail, computerized information and personal computer systems. 3. RIGHT TO PRIVACY AND THE TECHNOLOGY TO ENSURE IT: Because Computer and Information Technologies make data collection, processing and manipulation easier, guaranteeing citizen privacy rights becomes problematic. Computer and Information Technology make the job of those who use data en-masse -- marketing firms, police, private data collection firms -- easier. We need to develop policies that control what, where, whom and for what reasons data is collected on an individual. Institutions that collect data on individuals must be responsible for the accuracy of the data they keep and must state how the information they obtain will be used and to whom it will be made available. Furthermore, we must establish penalties for non-compliance with these provisions. Systems should be in place to make it easy for individuals to know who has information about them, and what that information is. We must ensure that there is no implementation of any technological means of tracking individuals in this country through their everyday interactions. Technology exists that can ensure that electronic transactions are not used to track individuals. Encrypted digital keys, for example, provide the technical means to achieve anonymity in electronic transactions while avoiding a universal identifier. Where government financial assistance is now provided electronically, we must ensure that these mechanisms help empower the recipient, and do not become sophisticated means of tracking and policing behavior (e.g., by tracking what is bought, when it is bought, where it is bought, etc.). The technology to effectively ensure private communications is currently available. The adoption of a state-of-the-art standard has been held up while the government pushes for mandatory "back-doors" so that it can monitor communication. (Computer technology is treated differently here; for example, we do not legislate how complex a lock can be.) We must ensure that personal communication remains private by adopting an effective, readily available, de-militarized encryption standard. 4. COMMUNITY CONTROL OF POLICE AND THEIR TECHNOLOGY: New technologies have expanded the ability of police departments to maintain control over communities. The Los Angeles Police Department is perhaps an extreme example: they have compiled massive databases on African-American and Latino youth through "anti-gang" mass detainments. These databases are augmented by FBI video and photo analysis techniques. "But the real threat of these massive new databases and information technologies is... their application on a macro scale in the management of a criminalized population."[7] With new satellite navigational technology, "we shall soon see police departments with the technology to put the equivalent of an electronic bracelet on entire social groups."[8] We call for rigorous community control of police departments to protect the civil liberties of all residents. C. WORK, HEALTH and SAFETY Computer and Information Technologies are having a dramatic effect on work. New technologies are forcing a reorganization of work. The changes affect millions of workers, and are of the same level and magnitude as the Industrial Revolution 150 years ago. The effects have been disastrous -- the loss of millions of manufacturing jobs, a fall in wages over the past 15 years, the lengthening of the work week for those who do have jobs, a rise in poverty and homelessness. Employed Americans now work more hours each week that at any time since 1966, while at this writing 9.5 million workers in the "official" workforce are unemployed, and millions more have given up hope of ever finding work.[9] Too often, products and profitability are given priority over the needs and health of the workers who produce both. For example, research is done on such matters as how humans contaminate the clean room process,[10] not on how the chemicals used in chip manufacturing poison the handlers. Or new technologies are implemented before adequate research is carried out on how they will affect the worker. This misplaced emphasis is wrong. This platform calls for: 1. GUARANTEED INCOME FOR DISPLACED WORKERS: New technologies mean an end to scarcity. Producing goods to meet our needs is a conscious human activity. Such production has been and is currently organized with specific goals in mind, namely the generation of the greatest possible profit for those who own the means of production. We can re-organize production. With production for private profit, corporations have implemented robotics and computer systems to cut labor costs, primarily through the elimination of jobs. Over the last ten years alone, one million manufacturing jobs have disappeared in the U.S. Workers at the jobs that remain are pressured to take wage and benefits cuts, to "compete" in the global labor market made possible by digital telecommunications and modern manufacturing techniques. Most new jobs have been created in the low-pay service sector. As a result, earnings for most workers have been falling.[11] The corporate transfer of jobs to low-wage areas, including overseas, affects not only low-skill assembly line work or data entry, but also computer programming and data analysis. Wages and benefits must be preserved in the face of automation or capital flight. Remaining work can be spread about by shortening the work week while maintaining the weekly wage rate. At the same time, steps must be taken to acknowledge that the nature of work is changing. In the face of the new technologies' ever-increasing productivity utilizing fewer and fewer workers, the distribution of necessities can no longer be tied to work. We must provide for workers who have lost their jobs due to automation or job flight, even if no work is available, by guaranteeing a livable income and retraining opportunities (see #6 below). 2. IMPROVED QUALITY OF WORK THROUGH WORKER CONTROL OF IT: Millions work boring, undignified jobs as a direct result of computer and information technology. Work is often degraded due to de-skilling, made possible by robotics and crude artificial intelligence technology; or by job-monitoring, made simple by digital technology. (Two-thirds of all workers are monitored as they work.[12]) Workers face greater difficulties in organizing to protect their rights. Technologies are often foisted on the workers, ignoring the obvious contributions the workers can make to the design process. The resulting designs further deprive the worker of control over the work process. In principle, tools should serve the workers, rather than the workers serving the tools. But new technologies could relieve humans of boring or dangerous work. Technology enables us to expand the scope of human activity. We could create the possibility of "work" becoming leisure. We call for the removal of all barriers to labor organizing as the first step toward giving workers the power to improve the quality of their work. Workers must be protected from intrusive monitoring and the stress that accompanies it. We must ensure worker involvement in the design process. We must also improve the design of user interfaces so that users can make full use of the power of the technology. Furthermore, it is not enough just to "participate" in the design process -- worker involvement must correspond with increased control over the work process, goals, etc. In other words, we must ensure that there is "no participation without power." Computer and Information Technologies facilitate peer-to-peer work relationships and the organization of work in new and challenging ways. Too often, though, in practice we see a tightening of control, with management taking more and more direct control over details on the shop floor. We must ensure that new technologies improve rather than degrade the nature of work. 3. EMPHASIS ON HEALTH AND SAFETY: Technologies are often developed with little or no concern for their effect on the workers who manufacture or use them. Electronics manufacturing uses many toxic chemicals. These chemicals are known to cause health problems such as cancer, birth defects and immune system disorders. Workers are entitled to a safe working environment, and must have the right to refuse unsafe work without fear of penalty. Workers have the right to know what chemicals and processes they work with and what their effects are. We call for increased research into developing safe manufacturing processes. We call for increased research into the effects of existing manufacturing processes on workers, and increased funding for occupational safety and health regulation enforcement. The rate of repetitive motion disorders has risen with the introduction of computers in the workplace -- they now account for half of all occupational injuries, up from 18% in 1981.[13] Musculo-skeletal disorders, eyestrain and stress are commonly associated with computer use. There is still no conclusive study on the harmful effects of VDT extremely low frequency (ELF) and very low frequency (VLF) electromagnetic field emissions.[14] Together these occupational health tragedies point to a failure by manufacturers, employers and government to adequately research or implement policies that protect workers. We call for funding of major studies on the effects of computers in the workplace. We call for the immediate adoption of ergonomic standards that protect the worker. We must ensure that pro-active standards exist before new technologies are put in place. Manufacturers and employers should pay now for research and worker environment improvement rather than later, after the damage has been done, in lawsuits and disability claims. We must ensure that worker safety always comes first, not short-sighted, short-term profits that blindly overlook future suffering, disabilities and millions in medical bills. 4. EQUAL OPPORTUNITY TO WORK: Computer and Information Technology institutions are overwhelmingly dominated by white males. Programs must be adopted to increase the direct participation of under-represented groups in the Computer and Information Technology industries. 5. PROTECTION FOR THE HOMEWORKER: Computer and Information Technologies have enabled new patterns of working. "Telecommuting" may be preferred by many workers, it may expand opportunities for workers who are homebound, and it would reduce the wastefulness of commuting. At the same time, homework has traditionally increased the exploitation of workers, deprived them of organizing opportunities, and hidden them from the protection of health and safety regulations. We must guarantee that crimes of the past do not reappear in an electronic disguise. Computer and Information Technologies make possible new forms of organization for work beyond homework, such as neighborhood work centers: common spaces where people who work for different enterprises can work from the same facility. Such alternative structures should be supported. 6. RETRAINING FOR NEW TECHNOLOGIES: As new technologies develop, new skills are required to utilize them. Workers are often expected to pay for their own training and years of schooling at no cost to the employer. Training workers in new skills must be a priority, the cost of which must be shared by employers and the government, and not the sole responsibility of the worker. D. THE ENVIRONMENT We share one planet. While our understanding of the environment increases, and the impact of previous technologies and neglect become more and more apparent, too little attention is paid to the effects of new technologies, including Computer and Information Technologies, on the environment, both physical and cultural. The creation of a global sustainable economy must be a priority. This platform calls for: 1. ENVIRONMENTALLY SAFE MANUFACTURING: The manufacture of electronics technology is among the most unhealthy and profoundly toxic human enterprises ever undertaken.[15] The computer and information technology industries must be cleaned up. Manufacturers cannot continue their destruction of our environment for their profit. They must be made to pay the actual cost of production, factoring in environmental cleanup costs for manufacturing methods and products that are environmentally unsafe. Priority must be placed on developing and implementing new manufacturing techniques that are environmentally safe, such as the "no-clean" systems which eliminate ozone-shredding chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) from the production of electronic circuit boards.[16] We must ensure that these standards are adopted globally, to prohibit unsafe technologies from migrating to other countries with lax or non-existent environmental protection laws. No manufacturing technique should be implemented unless it can be proven to be environmentally safe. We must ensure industry's responsiveness to the communities (and countries) in which they are located. Neighborhoods and countries must participate in the planning process, and must be informed of the environmental consequences of the industries that surround them. They must have the right to shut down an enterprise or require the enterprise to cleanup or change their manufacturing processes. 2. PLANNING FOR DISPOSAL OR RE-USE OF NEW PRODUCTS: As new technologies become commodities with a finite life-cycle, new questions loom as to what happens to them when they are discarded. Little is known about what happens to these products when they hit the landfill. We must ensure that manufacturers and designers include recycling and/or disposal in the design and distribution of their products. Manufacturers must be responsible for the disposal of commodities once their usefulness is exhausted. Manufacturers must make every effort to ensure longevity and re-use of equipment. For example, product specifications might be made public after a specified period of time so that future users could continue to find support for their systems. Or manufacturers might be responsible for ensuring that spare parts continue to be available after a product is no longer manufactured. Manufacturers could sponsor reclamation projects to strip discarded systems and utilize the components for training projects or new products, or they could facilitate getting old equipment to people who can use it. 3. RECLAMATION OF THE CULTURAL ENVIRONMENT AS PUBLIC SPACE: We live not only in a natural environment, but also in a cultural environment. "The cultural environment is the system of stories and images that cultivates much of who we are, what we think, what we do, and how we conduct our affairs. Until recently, it was primarily hand-crafted, home-made, community-inspired. It is that no longer."[17] Computers and information technologies have facilitated a transformation so that our culture is taken and then sold back to us via a media that is dominated by a handful of corporations. At the same time, new technologies promise new opportunities for creativity, and new opportunities for reaching specific audiences. But both older (e.g., book and newspaper publishing) and newer (e.g., cable television and computer games) media throughout the world are controlled by the same multi-national corporations. We advocate computer and information technology that fights the commodification of culture and nurtures and protects diversity. This is only possible with a rigorous public support for production and distribution of culture. We must use new technologies to ensure the diverse points of view that are necessary for a healthy society. We must ensure a media that is responsive to the needs of the entire population. We must ensure true debate on issues of importance to our communities. We must ensure that our multi-faceted creativity has access to an audience. And we must also recognize that in many cultural instances computer and information technology tools are intrusive and inappropriate.[18] ***************************************************************** E. INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION Historically, information flow around the world has tended to be one-way, and technology transfer from developed countries to underdeveloped countries has been restricted. These policies have reinforced the dependency of underdeveloped countries on the U.S., Japan and Western Europe. As international competition for markets and resources intensifies, "national competitiveness" has become a negative driving consideration in technology policy. This platform calls for: 1. REPLACEMENT OF "NATIONAL COMPETITIVENESS" WITH "GLOBAL COOPERATION": The most popular rationale for investing in high technology in the United States is "national competitiveness." This is an inappropriate rhetoric around which to organize technology policy. It ignores the fact that the largest economic enterprises in the world today are international, not national. "National competitiveness" is also inappropriate in a world of increasing and accelerating global interdependence and a detailed division of labor that now routinely takes in the entire planet's workforce. Finally, "national competitiveness" is inappropriate in a world in which two-thirds of the world's population lives in abject poverty and environmental collapse -- the rhetoric of "national competitiveness" should be replaced by a rhetoric of "global cooperative development." 2. GLOBAL DISTRIBUTION OF TECHNICAL WEALTH: The global division of labor is fostering a "brain drain" of scientists and engineers, transferring badly-needed expertise from the developing world to the industrialized world. Fully 40% of the engineering graduate students in American universities are from foreign countries, typically from countries with little or no advanced technological infrastructure. A large majority of these graduate students stay in the U.S. when they complete their studies. American immigration laws also favor immigrants with advanced scientific or technical education. This intensifies the disparity between the advanced countries and those with widespread poverty. This concentration of technical expertise reinforces a global hierarchy and dependence. Expertise on questions of international import, such as global warming, toxic dumping, acid rain, and protection of genetic diversity becomes the exclusive domain of the developed countries. With so much of the world's scientific and technical expertise located in the monoculture of the industrialized world, the developing world has the disadvantage not only of meager financial resources and dependence on foreign capital, but the added disadvantage of living under the technical domination of the rich countries. This platform calls for a conscious policy of distributing scientific and technical talent around the world. For example, incentives can be given to encourage emigration to countries in need of technological talent. 3. AN END TO THE WASTE OF TECHNICAL RESOURCES EMBODIED IN THE INTERNATIONAL ARMS TRADE: The world currently spends about $1 trillion annually on weapons. This is a massive transfer of wealth to arms-producing countries, and especially the United States, the world's largest arms exporting nation.[19] Weapons of interest to all countries are increasingly high tech, so a continuing disproportion of international investments in high technology will be in weapons systems. Weapons sales not only increase international tensions and the likelihood of war, but they also reinforce authoritarian regimes, deter democratic reform, support the abuse of human rights, divert critical resources from urgent problems of human and environmental need, and continue the accelerating disparity between rich and poor nations. We call for a complete and permanent dismantling of the global arms market. 4. A NEW INTERNATIONAL INFORMATION ORDER: The growing disparity between "information rich" and "information poor" is by no means limited to the U.S. Disparities within industrialized countries are dwarfed by international disparities between the industrialized countries and the developing world. A global telecommunications regime has developed that favors the rich over the poor, and the gap is growing steadily. As a simple example, rich countries are able to deploy and use space-based technologies such as earth-surveillance satellites and microwave telecommunications links to gather intelligence and distribute information all over the globe. The concentration of information power in single countries is even more advanced when viewed internationally. We call for the placement of international information collection and distribution under international control. 5. EQUITABLE INTERNATIONAL DIVISION OF LABOR: Improved communication and coordination made possible by Computer and Information Technologies has accelerated the development of a new global division of labor where dirty manufacturing industries are moved to developing countries, and "clean" knowledge industries are promoted in the developed countries. This pattern of development ensures that underdeveloped countries remain underdeveloped and turns them into environmental wastelands. We must ensure a truly new world order that equitably distributes work, and ends the destruction and enforced underdevelopment of vast sections of the world's population. F. RESPONSIBLE USE OF COMPUTERS and INFORMATION TECHNOLOGIES Computer and Information Technologies were born of the military and to this day are profoundly influenced by the military. People often talk of the "trickle down" or "spin-off" effect, in which money spent on military applications yields technology for general, non-military applications. This makes little sense when the military pursues absurd or irrelevant technology such as computer chips that will survive a nuclear war. There are very few, if any, cases of military technology producing tangible commercial breakthroughs. At the same time, various studies have shown that money invested in non-military programs creates more jobs than money invested in military hardware. Also, new technologies are developed with little or no public discussion as to their social consequences. Technologies are developed, and then their developers go in search of problems for their technology to solve. Pressing social needs are neglected, while elite debates about technology focus on military applications or consumer devices like high definition television (HDTV). Or pressing social problems are approached as "technical" problems, fixable by new or better technology. This platform calls for: 1. NEW EMPHASIS IN TECHNICAL RESEARCH PRIORITIES: Current research planning is either in private hands, or closely controlled by government agencies. As a result, research priorities are often shielded from public discussion or even knowledge. New technologies are often developed as "tools looking for uses, means looking for ends"[20] or to serve destructive rather than constructive goals. HDTV and the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) are examples. Substantial university research on new technologies is still financed and controlled by the Department of Defense. While military-based research has occasionally led to inventions which were of general use, this effect has been mostly coincidental, and the gap between the interests of military research and the needs of society has widened to the point that even such coincidental "public good" from military controlled technology research now seems unlikely. These misguided research priorities not only waste financial resources, but drain away the intellectual resources of the scientific community from pressing social problems where new technological research might be particularly useful such as in the area of the environment. We must ensure that Computer and Information Technology research is problem-driven and is under the control of the people it will affect. We must ensure that new technologies will not be harmful to humans or the environment. We must ensure that human and social needs are given priority, as opposed to support for military or police programs. We must ensure that technical research is directed toward problems which have a realistic chance of being solved technically rather than blindly seeking technical solutions for problems which ought to be addressed by other means. 2. CONVERSION TO A PEACETIME ECONOMY: There is no justification for the power the Pentagon holds over this country, particularly in light of recent international developments. We must dismantle our dependency on military programs. We must realign our budget priorities to focus on social problems rather than on exaggerated military threats. The released research and development monies should be redirected toward solving pressing social and environmental problems. We must move towards the goal of the elimination of the international market in weapons. Job re-training in socially useful skills must become a priority. 3. SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE ENGINEERING AND SCIENCE: "Proposed technological projects should be closely examined to reveal the covert political conditions and artifact/ideas their making would entail. It is especially important for engineers and technical professionals whose wonderful creativity is often accompanied by appalling narrow-mindedness. The education of engineers ought to prepare them to evaluate the kinds of political contexts, political ideas, political arguments and political consequences involved in their work."[21] To this list we can add developing an appreciation for the interconnectedness of the environments -- the natural, social and cultural -- we work in. We call for an increased emphasis on training in social education in the engineering and science departments of our schools and universities, public and private research laboratories and manufacturing and development facilities in order to meet these goals. Engineers must be exposed to the social impact of their work. This could be done through work-study projects or special fellowships. We need to also expand the body of people who "can do technology", that is, not only "humanize the hacker", but "hackerize the humanist" or "engineerize the worker." ------------------------------ End of Computer Underground Digest #4.58 ************************************


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