Computer underground Digest Wed Nov 18, 1992 Volume 4 : Issue 59 Editors: Jim Thomas and G
Computer underground Digest Wed Nov 18, 1992 Volume 4 : Issue 59
Editors: Jim Thomas and Gordon Meyer (TK0JUT2@NIU.BITNET)
Archivist: Brendan Kehoe
Shadow-Archivists: Dan Carosone / Paul Southworth
Ralph Sims / Jyrki Kuoppala
Copy Eater: Etaion Shrdlu, Junior
CONTENTS, #4.59 (Nov 18, 1992)
File 1--FTP Sites / COMP Hierarchy
File 2--Another First-hand account of 2600 Disturbance
File 3--Re: viruses and "finding your calling"
File 4--Re: Viruses--Facts and Myths
File 5--NYT article on technology policy
File 6--Va. Hearing on SSNs
File 7--Am I a Techno-Junkie?
File 8--Any Technophiliacs Here Besides Me?
Cu-Digest is a weekly electronic journal/newsletter. Subscriptions are
available at no cost from email@example.com. 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 comp.society.cu-digest
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 ftp.eff.org (126.96.36.199) in
/pub/cud, red.css.itd.umich.edu (188.8.131.52) in /cud, halcyon.com
(184.108.40.206) in /pub/mirror/cud, and ftp.ee.mu.oz.au (220.127.116.11)
European readers can access the ftp site at: nic.funet.fi pub/doc/cud.
Back issues also may be obtained from the mail
server at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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: Wed, 17 Nov 92 18:11:52 CST
Subject: File 1--FTP Sites / COMP Hierarchy
Brendan Kehoe has added several shadow ftp sites where back-issues of
CuD and other documents are available. Thanks and kudos to Dan
Carosone, Paul Southworth, Ralph Sims, and Jyrki Kuoppala for their
efforts in maintaining them.
READERS ARE **URGED** TO USE THE SHADOW SITES RATHER THAN the
ftp.eff.org site, and to use them during off-hours. This reduces the
strain on a single site and makes us all good net citizens.
We also receive periodic complaints that, since the switch from
alt.society.cu-digest *TO* comp.society.cu-digest, some readers can no
longer obtain CuD. If this is a problem on your system, check with
your local sysad rather than us--we obviously have no control over
Date: Tue, 17 Nov 92 17:40:39 -0500
Subject: File 2--Another First-hand account of 2600 Disturbance
There has been much conjecture over what actually during the 2600
meeting in November. Ten days later, I have not yet seen a good
account of what actually happened. I've seen many opinions and
contradictory statements, however. I was there, and I'd like to clear
up a lot of misconceptions and give a more authoritative statement on
what actually happened. It is accurate to say that none of the
statements I've read from the participants are inaccurate, they are
Al Johnson's statements on the other hand are contradictory lies.
Besides his obvious contradictions such as whether or not the Secret
Service was involved (see the Brock Meek's transcript). Al Johnson
also stated that they merely confiscated a few things left on the
table which no one claimed. This is far from true, they confiscated
considerably more than just what was left on the table (including the
confiscation of Milk Dud boxes left on the table). The stuff that was
left on the table was left there because they intimidated us into
denying that they belonged to us.
I wish to rectify this situation by giving a thorough accurate
account of what actually happened. I will not give any names not
previously mentioned in other articles, it has done nothing but get
people in trouble. Two people have lost their jobs (and I don't mean
the security guards), and one will likely lose their job (despite an
excellent performance record).
I arrived at about 5:05 pm with another person (who has not yet
been named, and shall remain so). When we got there, we introduced
ourselves and began having small private conversations. On the table
there were some Xeroxed AT&T schematics and a bag of Milk Duds (they
sure went fast), a Mondo 2000, and a nice laser printed copy of the
PumpCon raid. No one was discussing anything illegal, at least that I
heard. During the time before the incident occurred many of us went
and got fast food from the local grease joints.
We took turns pointing out guys in suits who were staring at us.
One guy, who had a camera, would then proceed to photograph him, and
he'd turn nervously away. We even once joked about it once to KL, who
nervously turned and covered his head with his trenchcoat.
Around 5:30 "Knight Lightning" (KL) addressed the entire meeting.
By this time, there were probably about 15, or 20 of us there. He
passed out Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility membership
pamphlets, a 8 page newsletter called "Privacy Journal," and of course
the infamous ("ISPNews --Security Violators will get their access
kicked") buttons he had just received from ISPNews. KL began
lecturing us on how CPSR were just as nice people as the guys from
At around 6:00pm I began to notice some rent-a-cops congregating
on the balconies. Naively, I ignored them, figuring we weren't doing
anything illegal why should they bother us, and I gave it no second
though until they surrounded us. KL said "I think we may have some
trouble here," and proceeded to vanish only to be seen again after the
This is when the incident began. Someone (I never found out his
alias) came down the elevator, and whipped out his Whisper 2000 and
started passing it around. The guards then quickly ran down the
elevator and surrounded us, demanding to know who owned the "stungun."
(which is not illegal in VA) Apparently they believed this small
pocket amplifier was a stungun. The back of the amplifier was
removed, possibly making it look more like a weapon. After several
people commented, "What stungun? Oh, you mean the Whisper 2000. It's
a pocket amplifier, you know its the thing you see on TV. It's
nothing more than an amplifier." The person who had it at the time
gave it to the guard ("C. Thomas"). Thomas examined the device
carefully, and eventually convinced it wasn't a stungun, he returned
After Thomas was done with the Whisper 2000, he started asking
about "The Mad Hatter"'s handcuffs. After teasing "The Mad Hatter"
about the inferior quality of his handcuffs, he demanded to know how
he got them, and why he had them. Thomas refused to accept the answer
that was most logical. "The Mad Hatter" responded that they are easy
to get at stores, and he had them because he felt like it. Thomas
grabbed the handcuffs and kept them.
At this point a new guard (presumably Johnson) entered the scene.
The man looked a little stocky probably of middle age and Western
Asian descent, with slightly graying hair. He was wearing merely a
suit, and looked like he was in charge of everything. Many of the
guards were not wearing name tags, one was obviously undercover
complete with an ear piece. Johnson then clearly stated we were
computer hackers, and that he understood that we met here each month.
Johnson, saw the box owned by "MetalHead" sitting next to me. He
told "MetalHead" to open it. Having nothing to hide, he did. It
contained a fairly new looking keyboard. The immediate response by
Johnson was that he was obviously a juvenile delinquent and had
shoplifted it from Radio Shack. He explained that he had made prior
arrangements with someone else to sell it at the meet. Johnson,
calmly asked if he had a vendor's permit. When, he responded, he was
unaware that he needed one, Johnson went on a tirade about how "Don't
even think of selling that in MY mall without a vendor's permit!" The
guards grabbed it.
The tension was beginning to run high. Someone asked a guard
what his name was, and he responded that "[he] didn't have a name!
[his] name is unimportant..." We began demanding ID, and they refused
to show it to us. Instead, they turned around and demanded ID from
us. Some people refused. Those who did, were brought to the
Arlington police officers (who had come sometime during the incident)
and were informed that they could be held for up to ten hours for
failing to produce ID. In fact some of the guards threatened that "we
would be very sorry when the police got here, if we didn't give ID."
This convinced people to change their minds. I offered a library card
(my only form of ID), they were uninterested, as they apparently
wanted photographic ID and/or SS#.
"Loki" produced four forms of ID. Johnson couldn't stand this,
he kept demanding ID from him, and "Loki" kept asking him which he
wanted. Finally, Johnson just looked over all of them. Johnson
announced that our parents would be called. The legal adults
protested bitterly, and their parents were not called. They contacted
other guards over the radio discussing the contents of the IDs (if in
fact these were Secret Service agents, as suspected, this would be a
violation of the Privacy Acts).
"Hackrat" began writing down the few names he could get off their
uniforms (and not to many at that). When the guards became aware of
this, they grabbed the pencil and paper, and tore it up. Our
camera man decided to photograph the guards. The guards responded by
grabbing the camera, and forcibly removing the film (and probably
ruining it). The guards claimed they had every right to be doing what
they were doing, and the cops supported them. The cops said they
"were working for an outside party" (presumably the Secret Service,
which is illegal because of the Privacy Acts).
"Loki" was asked what was in his back pack, as was every one
else. "Loki" showed Johnson some of what was in it, and then put it
down. Johnson decided this was insufficient and he started going
through the pack grabbing whatever he felt like. "Loki" nor anyone
else granted permission for them to go through their equipment. The
guards decided to eject us from the mall at this point (despite
requests to use the bathroom).
The guards had taken the keyboard, a wiretap, a reel to reel
tape, a full set of VMS manuals, "Loki"'s backpack (including his
homework), a lineman's phone, and all the paperwork. They said we
could get our stuff back, yet they refused to write receipts (which
meant we couldn't).
We spent a long time down in the metro deciding what to do.
After we rejoined a number of people who were coming in during the
"raid," we decided to go upstairs and use the phone. We went up the
elevator, and we called the Washington Post. They responded that they
were uninterested and refused to produce any reporters on the scene.
The guards at this point came out to the area, at which point one
of us photographed them. This seemed to agitate them further. At no
time were the guards actually calm, at least one was upset at all
times. An incident with "Gentry" ensued when "Gentry" accidentally
touched him, and the guard ("C. Thomas") got terribly agitated. They
then threatened to ticket all of our cars. The cars were legally
parked, on the street, they therefore had no right to ticket them.
Right before I left the area, I noticed on last incident. A guard
came out of the mall in a car (which looked like a Jeep Cherokee), and
then quickly accelerated to 60mph (the street is like a 30 mph street)
without using sirens or headlights. At this point the group split up,
and the meeting (at least for me) was over.
Date: Mon, 9 Nov 92 08:39:58 EST
From: morgan@ENGR.UKY.EDU(Wes Morgan)
Subject: File 3--Re: viruses and "finding your calling"
>From: Guido Sanchez
>Subject--File 1--Response to the Virus Discussion
>Yes, virus authors are in it now more
>for making fun and avenging themselves of the anti-viral authors, who
>in turn do the same in their programs. Etc, Etc, Etc.
Apparently, neither side cares about 'collateral damage'; i.e. the
hundreds/thousands of third parties who are 'bitten' by virus attacks.
>So here's what I do. On my 'underground e-leet Vx' BBS, I make all
>viruses and other files free on the first call.
>Hopefully, besides using viruses as a commodity, the
>fledgling sysop will look at a few of the pro-viral utilities and some
>of the source code.
"pro-viral"? Gee, I was just thinking that Political Correctness had
not yet reached the digital world. I guess I'm mistaken, eh? Can't
you just say "yes, I write programs that destroy/impede the work of other
>We force nothing into the minds and computers of others,
>it's all part of curiosity and voluntary.
Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! Let me get this straight:
- You (and others) write viruses
- You release those viruses into the digital environment
- You then claim "we force nothing".
The notion that you "force nothing" is akin to saying "we distribute
weapons, but we aren't *forcing* you to install metal detectors in your
schools." As an argument, it holds no water.
I can tell you one thing which you force upon others. Those of us who
manage computer systems and networks for a living are *forced* to
spend extensive man-hours disinfecting our systems/networks and
attempting to devise means by which we can prevent reinfection. Of
course, we can't find/patch every loophole (that's the definition of
security; you can never catch everything), so the work becomes a
constant; periodic scans of ALL susceptible hardware/software,
constant efforts to improve security, and a constant stream of
>We help people to find their
>calling leader here..> in whatever field of modem-dom they like.
What about those people who want to be mere users? What about those
folks who don't really care about either your 'having fun....and avenging.."
OR the folks who write disinfectors/cleaners?
Apparently, you don't care one whit about them (except, perhaps, as a
vector for your product).
>May you all find your calling
In the real world , your efforts actually *silence* the
cal-ling(s) that users might hear. Our PC LANs serve 2300 people,
many of whom are taking their first steps into the digital world; in
fact, I'd guess that over 60% of my users never make significant use
of PCs before coming to this university. If, during their first
serious use of a PC, they are victimized by your viruses, they often
lose *all* desire to do *anything* further with a PC. You're actually
killing your own cause.
I'm getting rather tired of virus authors who claim that they're on some "noble quest for knowledge".
If this were truly the case, we'd never see a virus loosed upon the
digital environment; the worthy seeker of knowledge would test it on
their own hardware, find it successful, add the information to their
journals, and have no reason to loose it upon the rest of us. If such
people actually exist , they have my wholehearted support. The people who distribute
viruses for the heck of it are positioned at the bottom of the digital
Date: 13 NOV 92 21:26
Subject: File 4--Re: Viruses--Facts and Myths
It has been stated that a virus only needs "normal" write access to
files in order to infect. I'd like to point out that this is not true
on all computer systems. Most systems do not treat machine code as
anything special, and these systems are vulnerable to any program with
write capability. But some systems (such as Unisys A Series) include
the compilers in the Trusted Computing Base, and do not permit
ordinary users or programs to create executable files. On these
systems, a virus would have to have the highest possible privileges in
order to infect a program; with that level of privilege, *anything*
can be done.
I should point out that this was not done with viruses in mind. The
restrictions came about because of the architecture of the systems:
objects of various kinds are implemented in hardware, and the hardware
is aware of what operations are permitted on which objects to a
certain extent. The compilers are responsible for only emitting
dangerous operators, which override normal object access rules, in
well-defined situations. To allow users to emit such code would
destabilize the system. Of course, this only works because the
architecture was designed to implement high-level languages, and
languages are available with extentions that provide sufficient power
as to eliminate any need to write in assembly.
Date: Tue, 10 Nov 1992 08:52:13 -0500
From: "(Gary Chapman)"
Subject: File 5--NYT article on technology policy
The lead story, and a long one, in today's (11/10) Science Times
section of The New York Times is headlined "Clinton To Promote High
Technology, With Gore In Charge." The article is by regular Times
science/tech writer William Broad.
A caption to the large illustration says "President-elect Clinton
proposes to redirect $76 billion or so in annual Federal research
spending so it spurs industrial innovation. Areas likely to get
stimulus include robotics, batteries, computer chips, 'smart' roads,
biotechnology, machine tools, magnetic levitation trains, fiberoptic
communications, computer networks, digital imaging, data storage,
software, sensors, computer-aided manufacturing, advanced composite
materials, and artificial intelligence."
The article says that Clinton's civilian initiative will "spend money
twice as fast as the Pentagon's Star Wars anti-missile program, one of
the biggest research efforts of all time." It also says the aim of
the Clinton program is "a new wave of research discoveries and
applications that will flood the economy with innovative goods and
services, lifting the general level of prosperity and strengthening
American industry for the international trade wars of the 1990s and
To underscore what I've been saying about the adoption of Cold War
models of thinking in this new "civilian" research program, Kent
Hughes, president of the Council on Competitiveness, says, "This is a
watershed. We're now going to develop an economic strategy much in
the way we developed a national security strategy to fight the Cold
The article describes plans for business-government partnerships, and
says that Gore will be charged with coordinating this entire effort,
as well as to "create a forum for systematic private sector input into
U.S. government deliberations about technology policy and
competitiveness." (Those words are Clinton's.)
The Clinton administration plans to shift "at the very least" $7.6
billion per year, or about 10% of all Federal R&D, from the military
to civilian programs. They applaud efforts like SEMATECH and plan to
extend the SEMATECH model to other high technology sectors.
The article notes that a key player in the development of these plans
is Senator Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico. Bingaman says that
pork-barrel politics will be avoided by insisting on cost-sharing with
private partners. Bingaman says, "We'll sit down and say, 'What do
you think is important?' and require them to spend their own money
This is a long article, so I've skipped a lot of major points in this
brief summary. It serves to emphasize the importance of the things
we've been saying about trends in technology policy.
Date: Wed, 11 Nov 1992 09:29:42 EDT
From: Dave Banisar
Subject: File 6--Va. Hearing on SSNs
An ad hoc committee of the Virginia General Assembly met November 10
and agreed to draft legislation that will remove the SSN off the face
of the Va. drivers license and from voting records. The Special Joint
Subcommittee Studying State and Commercial use of Social Security
Numbers for Transaction Identification met for 3 hours and heard
witnesses from government, industry and public interest groups. It
appears that the draft will require the DMV and the Election Board to
continue to collect the information, but will no longer make it
publicly available. It was also agreed that the committee
would look into greater enforcement of Va. privacy laws, including the
feasibility of setting up a data commissioner.
All of the legislators in attendance agreed that using the SSN on the
face of the driver's license caused problems for both fraud and
privacy. The DMV representative admitted that it would cost a minimum
amount of money to modify their new computer system, which they have
not completed installing yet, to use another numbering system. She
estimated that this would take 3-7 years using the renewal process to
change all the licenses. She estimated a cost of $8 million for an
immediate change due to mailing costs.
Bob Stratton of Intercon Systems explained the inherent flaws in using
the SSN as an identifier and offered alternatives such as the SOUNDEX
system used by Maryland and New York as a better alternative for
licenses. A representative of the Va. State Police admitted that they
do not use the SSN to identify persons in their records because it was
"inherently inaccurate" and described cases of criminals with up to 50
different SSNs. Dave Banisar of CPSR Washington Office explained how
the SSN facilitates computer matching and offered options for the
board to consider to improve protection of personal privacy. Mikki
Barry of Intercon Systems described how any attorney in Virginia has
access to the DMV database to examine all records via a computer
Date: Tues 17 Nov 92 12:18:34 EST
Subject: File 7--Am I a Techno-Junkie?
Dear Cu-Digest people:
I'm your worst nightmare come to life: a housewife who's on
internet among all you techno-literati. I can't help myself. The
soft key strokes, the gentle motion of the cursor flowing across
my screen, the firm penetration of captured logs entering my
hard-drive---I'm hooked. Problem is, I hang out in usenet all
day, on IRC all night, and the rest of the time is spent
polishing the screen, vacuuming the vents, and dusting my disks.
The dishes pile up in the sink, the kids cook their own meals, my
husband has moved out, and the cat has run off. I've gone
through denial, anger, bargaining and acceptance, but my life is
still a mess. Life has no meaning when I log-off, and I suffer
headaches until I boot back up. What should I do?
Can you help?
Internet (I post therefore I am) Housewife
((MODERATORS' NOTE: Dear Hooked--perhaps the following file will help))
Date: Thu, 12 Nov 1992 22:20:20 +0100
From: Dennis Wier
Subject: File 8--Any Technophiliacs Here Besides Me?
An Introduction to Technophiliacs Anonymous
(By Dennis R. Wier )
The same Truth has many forms.
Technophiliacs Anonymous is a fellowship of persons and institutions
who desire to stop their addiction to technology.
Technophiliacs Anonymous is supported entirely through contributions
of its membership and is free to all those who need it.
To counter the destructive consequences of addiction to technology we
draw on these resources:
1. We use our personal willingness to stop our addictive behavior on
a daily basis.
2. We use the support of the fellowship of Technophiliacs Anonymous
to increase our capacity to stop our addiction.
3. We practice the principles of Technophiliacs Anonymous to
recognize and properly respond to addictive behavior.
4. We develop our perceptions and awareness of the correct use of
technology by the regular practice of meditation.
5. We support the efforts of those who expose the hidden side effects
of any technological activity.
Technophiliacs Anonymous is not affiliated with any other
organization, movement or cause, either religious or secular.
What is a Technophiliac?
The word technophiliac is a newly coined word and it means "having a
pathological love of technology." We use this new word to imply that
the love is a dysfunction of some kind. We are all technophiliacs in
the sense that we as a society are dependent on the wide-spread use
of technology --such as electricity, cars, telephone, TV, computers
and many other forms. We need to seriously ask ourselves if this
dependence helps or hurts our human relationships. We need to
constantly examine this dependence to see if the hidden-side effects
of technological dependence are destructive to our families, society
Are You A Technophiliac?
Has the use of technology improved or worsened your
relationships with friends and family,
relationships with your mate or lover,
relationship with your self?
How many hours a day do you
work on a computer,
operate technical equipment,
talk on the telephone,
tinker with your car?
Add those hours up.
Is your total use of technology an indication of your addictive
relationship to technology?
Now honestly look at your human relationships with the planet, your
environment your family and your inner self:
do you know what phase the Moon is in right now?
do you know which way the seasonal clouds are moving and their
can you comfortably walk alone in the woods at night without a
do you know the type of earth around your house?
do you tell your children stories, or do you let them watch TV so
they leave you alone?
are you aware of environmental stress through your personal
sensitivity to the behavior of local animals and plants?
Do you choose to spend time on your computer or watching TV or
talking on the telephone or tinkering with your car or with other
technology rather than being with your mate or children?
Long-term focused awareness on technology or on technological matters
to the exclusion of natural or human relationships indicates a life
profoundly out of balance.
The cumulative effect of many lives out of balance creates a
world-wide disaster with profound effects on the environment, social
and group interactions, institutional and political behavior, human
and family values and ethics, interpersonal relationships, and
physical and psychological health, with immense costs in all areas.
What is Technophiliacs Anonymous?
Technophiliacs Anonymous is a multi-faceted fellowship based on a
desire to know the hidden side-effects of technology, to popularize
the awareness of the hidden side-effects of technology on our social,
psychological, economic and spiritual beings, and to counter the
destructive consequences of technological addiction. With established
meetings in many cities in the United States and abroad, this
self-help fellowship is open to anyone, and any institution, who
suffers from a compulsive need to use technology, and those
desperately attached to a specific technology such as the telephone,
the computer, the television, the automobile, etc. Technological
addiction also includes a pathological interest in destructive,
coercive and invasive technologies. What all members have in common
is the realization that the compulsive attachment to technology has
become increasingly destructive to all areas of their lives --
family, career, environment, society and political institutions.
Technophiliacs Anonymous welcomes the participation of anyone
directly involved in technology or directly affected by technology
--either beneficially or otherwise, or in the government, or in the
spiritual areas corned with the subtle effects of technology. We
especially welcome the participation of human potential workers and
We seek to understand, and to make known to all, how technology,
generally and specifically, affects our spiritual, mental, emotional,
physical, economic, political and social lives, and to cure, whenever
possible, the deleterious effects of technology; and to learn, by
sharing information, the correct ways to manage our lives for the
continued benefits of life-supporting technology without subjecting
ourselves to the hidden malevolent side-effects.
Technophiliacs Anonymous was first begun in June, 1988 in Berkeley by
Dennis R. Wier, who realized that technological dependency was
affecting life in the same ways as chemical, alcohol and love
addictions, but not only were the deleterious effects felt in
personal lives, but also in ecological, political and spiritual
realms. Thus, what may be said of a personal addiction to a
technology also may be said in a global way as well, that is, one
side effect of our addiction to automobiles causes air pollution, one
side effect of our addiction to telephones causes separation between
people, one side effect of our addiction to television causes loss of
awareness through induction of trance, one side effect of our
addiction to computers causes loss of judgement and cognitive
abilities. There are other, more hidden and more sinister side
effects of technological addiction.
If a technophiliac is addicted to technology there are those around
him or her who are co-dependent. Co-dependents may not be addicted to
technology but they derive important benefits from the addiction.
Manufacturers of alcoholic beverages are co-dependent to alcoholics
in different ways than a person in a close personal relationship with
an alcoholic is co-dependent, but both are co-dependent in that their
common behavior supports the continued addiction of the alcoholic.
A technophiliac has the same problem. Manufacturers of the newest
computers are co-dependent with the technophiliac. And, if the
technophiliac is highly paid, those persons dependent financially on
the technophiliac psychologically support his dependence even though
it may be personally destructive to the technophiliac.
One of the differences between AA, SLAA and Technophiliacs Anonymous
is that many institutions --government, educational and business
--support and encourage technological addiction because they are not
aware of the hidden side-effect of technological addiction. It is
possible to make a change in awareness. A change in awareness will
help bring about an important social change. Some years ago,
cigarette smoking was socially acceptable and tolerated if not
encouraged by many social institutions. Smoking was generally
tolerated as a common and nearly harmless bad habit. Now, with
greater social awareness of the dangers of cigarette smoking, society
is now attempting to reduce cigarette addiction by prohibiting
smoking in public places and requiring manufacturers to place health
warning messages on tobacco products.
It may seem that technological addiction is a trivial and unimportant
matter compared to the more obvious and important issue of cigarette
smoking; yet, technological addiction has greater consequences for us
all the longer we ignore it. Technophiliacs are not the only victims
of their addiction, but their creations often are at the root of
important and world-wide dangers and all of us become victims.
Beneficial social changes came about because of increased social
awareness of the dangers of the hidden side-effects of tobacco
addiction, and the same social awareness now extends to alcohol and
drug addiction. The same social awareness is now beginning to be felt
in environmental and ecological areas, because of PCB contaminations,
acid rain, toxic waste treatment procedures, atmospheric pollution
and other technological hidden side effects now making themselves
known. It may become obvious that there is an increasing awareness of
the hidden side effects to technological things we think are simple,
It is the position of Technophiliacs Anonymous that society needs to
become aware of its dangerous addiction to technology and to begin to
cope with its co-dependent issues, as well as the underlying and
important hidden side effects.
Because technological addiction is so pervasive and is encouraged by
co-dependent governmental, educational, business and institutional
entities, the members of Technophiliacs Anonymous include not only
those who recognize their compulsive need for technology, and those
with a desperate attachment to one specific form of technology, but
also those leaders and visionaries who may conceive of the
possibilities of a right relationship to technology.
Why Technology Can Be Addicting
The use of technology for the purpose of lessening pain or augmenting
pleasure, by a person, institution, government or business who has
lost control over the rate, frequency or duration of its use, and
whose corporate or individual psychological, economic, social and
spiritual life has become progressively unmanageable as a result is
addicted to that technology.
Technological addiction extends from teenagers addicted to
television, to yuppie programmers making piles of money, to a
military establishment addicted to acquiring newer, faster and more
exotic destructive forces, to a government intent on knowing and
controlling everything possible, to real estate agents with a
perverted sense of "highest and best use."
Technophiliacs Anonymous believe that an addiction exists not just
because we need or use technology more than others, but because of
the motive. A technophiliac uses technology to lessen the pain that
comes from problems in other areas of life. Governmental and business
institutions use technology to regulate and control life, a behavior
which is typical of co-dependents.
As we collectively or individually seek someone or something to 'take
us away from all this,' we are really seeking to avoid reality
altogether. We come to use a technology as a substitution for other
satisfactions, to comfort ourselves for real or imagined needs, or to
avoid or try to make unnecessary attending to a life that seems to
give us too much pain.
Even the humble electric light, used to provide illumination at night
to read, has become a substitution for other satisfactions such as
observing the night, and it comforts us in driving away the
mysterious darkness, and helps us avoid our own thoughts, those same
thoughts we need to think in order to keep our life in balance. Even
the electric light has the side effect of keeping our life out of
balance in very subtle ways. The cumulative effect of millions of
lives out of balance causes disastrous effects over the entire planet.
More technology is not the answer.
In our addiction to technology it seems as though the power lies
elsewhere, and that our lives are being destroyed by forces and
tensions that cannot be denied and by problems that cannot be escaped.
For the technophiliac, closeness to others has become increasingly
rare and difficult. It is easier for the technophiliac to have a
relationship with his car, television or computer than with his mate,
his children, or his neighbors.
Within an institution, it may be easier for an institutional
technophiliac to buy more computers, hire more consultants, process
more data faster, make heavier reports, create ever more
sophisticated military hardware, than to have a real and meaningful
relationship with its clients, citizens or employees.
What can you do if you admit, however reluctantly, that technological
addiction might be the problem, instead of lack of 'enough' or the
'right kind' of technology?
The Road to Recovery
The road to recovery starts with an awareness of the existence of the
problem. To get aware that technological addiction is the problem,
try this experiment: turn off all your electricity for five days.
Most technological devices depend on electricity in order to work. If
the changes you go through during the five days are not painful, but
"business as usual," then you are not addicted to technology.
However, if the changes are painful, frightening, or perhaps so
difficult that you cannot finish the five days, then you are a
The beginning is simple, but not easy. The admission of powerlessness
has to be coupled with a readiness to break the addictive pattern --
to stay away from all technology for long periods of time. This
withdrawal from the addictive use of technology generally brings
symptoms just as physical and as painful as the withdrawal from drugs
or alcohol. On our own the tension would be too much, the temptation
to indulge just one more time would be unbearable, and the belief
that there could be another way to live would weaken.
First we find a sense of wholeness and dignity within ourselves. Even
while working with technology we need to keep balanced and at some
distance from it. To find wholeness within ourselves we first must
know that part of us which is human and then to explore the intimate
and mysterious relationship we have with the planet.
For information on meetings in your area, please write to us and we
will send you a local meeting schedule or give you information on
organizing a local chapter.
Evolving A Proper Relationship
The hard questions cannot be ignored. The most difficult questions
are ultimately the most important because they represent those
aspects of life which we tend to ignore or deny. In place of facing
these difficult questions which are different questions for each one
of us, we create substitute problems, such as technical problems, as
symbols for our own internal processes. There is the mistaken belief
that by solving these technical problems somehow the more difficult
questions will also be solved.
Technology can be known in many ways which will enhance our
relationship with ourselves and with the universe.
The proper relationship with technology is a distant and cautious
one. Without spiritual protection in place, dealing with any
technology ultimately is damaging to us. Any other relationship
ultimately damages our spiritual, social, environmental and
Developing spiritual protection is a life-long continuous practice
which is helped by meditation in all of its forms. The support of
others in a community devoted to personal awareness and growth lays
the foundation for right social action and planetary unity.
How you can help
If you want to help in a real way to popularize these concepts,
please discuss these ideas with your friends and the media, send
pertinent newspaper clippings, cartoons to us and write us for any
information. Help us start a chapter in your area. We will appear on
TV and talk on the radio about these concepts. Write for helpful
details, but ultimately the power, benefits and responsibility is
Comments on the above are welcome by e-mail. Yes, I am ALWAYS
on my computer!
End of Computer Underground Digest #4.59
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank