Computer underground Digest Wed July 7 1993 Volume 5 : Issue 50
Editors: Jim Thomas and Gordon Meyer (TK0JUT2@NIU.BITNET)
Archivist: Brendan Kehoe
Shadow-Archivists: Dan Carosone / Paul Southworth
Ralph Sims / Jyrki Kuoppala
Copy Editor: Etaoin Shrdlu, Seniur
CONTENTS, #5.50 (July 7 1993)
File 1--New information on Public Key Patents
File 2--Galactic Hacker Party, '93
File 3--On-Line Congressional Hearing
File 4--Hacker Listens to Secretary's Aides
File 5--Virtually no Reality in "Virtual Reality"
File 6--Donation Distinctions (By E-Zine Editors/Moderators)
Cu-Digest is a weekly electronic journal/newsletter. Subscriptions are
available at no cost electronically from firstname.lastname@example.org. 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
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 DL1 of TELECOM; on GEnie in the PF*NPC RT
libraries and in the VIRUS/SECURITY library; from America Online in
the PC Telecom forum under "computing newsletters;"
On Delphi in the General Discussion database of the Internet SIG;
on the PC-EXEC BBS at (414) 789-4210; and on: Rune Stone BBS (IIRG
WHQ) (203) 832-8441 NUP:Conspiracy; RIPCO BBS (312) 528-5020
CuD is also available via Fidonet File Request from 1:11/70; unlisted
nodes and points welcome.
EUROPE: from the ComNet in LUXEMBOURG BBS (++352) 466893;
In ITALY: Bits against the Empire BBS: +39-461-980493
ANONYMOUS FTP SITES:
UNITED STATES: ftp.eff.org (18.104.22.168) in /pub/cud
uglymouse.css.itd.umich.edu (22.214.171.124) in /pub/CuD/cud
halcyon.com( 126.96.36.199) in /pub/mirror/cud
aql.gatech.edu (188.8.131.52) in /pub/eff/cud
AUSTRALIA: ftp.ee.mu.oz.au (184.108.40.206) in /pub/text/CuD.
EUROPE: nic.funet.fi in pub/doc/cud. (Finland)
ftp.warwick.ac.uk in pub/cud (United Kingdom)
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. Authors hold a presumptive copyright, 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: Mon, 28 Jun 1993 17:59:54 -0800 (PDT)
Subject: File 1--New information on Public Key Patents
Date--Mon, 28 Jun 93 17:25:32 edt
Fromemail@example.com (Noah Friedman)
Subject--Digital Signature Scandal
[The following is an official announcement from the League for
Programming Freedom. Please redistribute this as widely as possible.]
Digital Signature Scandal
Digital signature is a technique whereby one person (call her J. R.
Gensym) can produce a specially encrypted number which anyone can
verify could only have been produced by her. (Typically a particular
signature number encodes additional information such as a
date and time or a legal document being signed.) Anyone can decrypt
the number because that can be done with information that is
published; but producing such a number uses a "key" (a password) that
J. R. Gensym does not tell to anyone else.
Several years ago, Congress directed the NIST (National Institute of
Standards and Technology, formerly the National Bureau of Standards)
to choose a single digital signature algorithm as a standard for the
In 1992, two algorithms were under consideration. One had been
developed by NIST with advice from the NSA (National Security Agency),
which engages in electronic spying and decoding. There was widespread
suspicion that this algorithm had been designed to facilitate some
sort of trickery.
The fact that NIST had applied for a patent on this algorithm
engendered additional suspicion; despite their assurances that this
would not be used to interfere with use of the technique, people could
imagine no harmless motive for patenting it.
The other algorithm was proposed by a company called PKP, Inc., which
not coincidentally has patents covering its use. This alternative had
a disadvantage that was not just speculation: if this algorithm were
adopted as the standard, everyone using the standard would have to pay
(The same patents cover the broader field of public key cryptography,
a technique whose use in the US has been mostly inhibited for a decade
by PKP's assiduous enforcement of these patents. The patents were
licensed exclusively to PKP by the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology and Stanford University, and derive from taxpayer-funded
PKP, Inc. made much of the suspect nature of the NIST algorithm and
portrayed itself as warning the public about this.
On June 8, NIST published a new plan which combines the worst of both
worlds: to adopt the suspect NIST algorithm, and give PKP, Inc. an
*exclusive* license to the patent for it. This plan places digital
signature use under the control of PKP through the year 2010.
By agreeing to this arrangement, PKP, Inc. shows that its concern to
protect the public from possible trickery was a sham. Its real desire
was, as one might have guessed, to own an official national standard.
Meanwhile, NIST has justified past suspicion about its patent
application by proposing to give that patent (in effect) to a private
Instead of making a gift to PKP, Inc., of the work all of us have paid
for, NIST and Congress ought to protect our access to it--by pursuing
all possible means, judicial and legislative, to invalidate or annul
the PKP patents. If that fails, even taking them by eminent domain is
better (and cheaper in the long run!) than the current plan.
You can write to NIST to object to this giveaway. Write to:
Michael R. Rubin
Active Chief Counsel for Technology
Room A-1111, Administration Building,
National Institute of Standards and Technology
Gaithersburg, Maryland 20899
The deadline for arrival of letters is around August 4.
Please send a copy of your letter to:
League for Programming Freedom
1 Kendall Square #143
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139
(The League for Programming Freedom is an organization which defends
the freedom to write software, and opposes monopolies such as patented
algorithms and copyrighted languages. It advocates returning to the
former legal system under which if you write the program, you are free
to use it. Please write to the League if you want more information.)
Sending copies to the League will enable us to show them to elected
officials if that is useful.
This text was transcribed from a fax and may have transcription
errors. We believe the text to be correct but some of the numbers
may be incorrect or incomplete.
** The following notice was published in the Federal Register, Vol.
58, No. 108, dated June 8, 1993 under Notices **
National Institute of Standards and Technology
Notice of Proposal for Grant of Exclusive Patent License
This is to notify the public that the National Institute of
Standards and Technology (NIST) intends to grant an exclusive
world-wide license to Public Key Partners of Sunnyvale, California
to practice the Invention embodied in U.S. Patent Application No.
07/738.431 and entitled "Digital Signature Algorithm." A PCT
application has been filed. The rights in the invention have been
assigned to the United States of America.
The prospective license is a cross-license which would resolve a
patent dispute with Public Key Partners and includes the right to
sublicense. Notice of availability of this invention for licensing
was waived because it was determined that expeditious granting of
such license will best serve the interest of the Federal Government
and the public. Public Key Partners has provided NIST with the
materials contained in Appendix A as part of their proposal to
Inquiries, comments, and other materials relating to the prospec-
tive license shall be submitted to Michael R. Rubin, Active Chief
Counsel for Technology, Room A-1111, Administration Building,
National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg,
Maryland 20899. His telephone number is (301) 975-2803. Applica-
tions for a license filed in response to this notice will be
treated as objections to the grant of the prospective license.
Only written comments and/or applications for a license which are
received by NIST within sixty (60) days for the publication of this
notice will be considered.
The prospective license will be granted unless, within sixty (60)
days of this notice, NIST receives written evidence and argument
which established that the grant of the license would not be
consistent with the requirements of 35 U.S.C. 209 and 37 CFR 404.7.
Dated: June 2, 1993.
Raymond G. Kammer
Acting Director, National Institute Standards and Technology.
The National Institute for Standards and Technology ("NIST") has
announced its intention to grant Public Key Partners ("PKP")
sublicensing rights to NIST's pending patent application on the
Digital Signature Algorithm ("DSA").
Subject to NIST's grant of this license, PKP is pleased to declare
its support for the proposed Federal Information Processing
Standard for Digital Signatures (the "DSS") and the pending
availability of licenses to practice the DSA. In addition to the
DSA, licenses to practice digital signatures will be offered by PKP
under the following patents:
Cryptographic Apparatus and Method ("Diffie-Hellman")
Public Key Cryptographic Apparatus and Method
("Hellman-Merkle") No. 4,315,552
Exponential Cryptographic Apparatus and Method
("Hellman-Pohlig") No. 4,434,414
Method For Identifying Subscribers And For Generating
And Verifying Electronic Signatures In A Data Exchange
System ("Schnorr") No. 4,995,082
It is PKP's intent to make practice of the DSA royalty free for
personal, noncommercial and U.S. Federal, state and local
government use. As explained below, only those parties who enjoy
commercial benefit from making or selling products, or certifying
digital signatures, will be required to pay royalties to practice
PKP will also grant a license to practice key management, at no
additional fee, for the integrated circuits which will implement
both the DSA and the anticipated Federal Information Processing
Standard for the "key escrow" system announced by President Clinton
on April 16, 1993.
Having stated these intentions, PKP now takes this opportunity to
publish its guidelines for granting uniform licenses to all parties
having a commercial interest in practicing this technology:
First, no party will be denied a license for any reason other that
(i) Failure to meet its payment obligations,
(ii) Outstanding claims of infringement, or
(iii) Previous termination due to material breach.
Second, licenses will be granted for any embodiment sold by the
licensee or made for its use, whether for final products software,
or components such as integrated circuits and boards, and regard-
less of the licensee's channel of distribution. Provided the
requisite royalties have been paid by the seller on the enabling
component(s), no further royalties will be owned by the buyer for
making or selling the final product which incorporates such
Third, the practice of digital signatures in accordance with the
DSS may be licensed separately from any other technical art covered
by PKP's patents.
Fourth, PKP's royalty rates for the right to make or sell products,
subject to uniform minimum fees, will be no more than 2 1/2% for
hardware products and 5% for software, with the royalty rate
further declining to 1% on any portion of the product price
exceeding $1,000. These royalty rates apply only to noninfringing
parties and will be uniform without regard to whether the licensed
product creates digital signatures, verifies digital signatures or
Fifth, for the next three (3) years, all commercial services which
certify a signature's authenticity for a fee may be operated
royalty free. Thereafter, all providers of such commercial
certification services shall pay a royalty to PKP of $1.00 per
certificate for each year the certificate is valid.
Sixth, provided the foregoing royalties are paid on such products
or services, all other practice of the DSA shall be royalty free.
Seventh, PKP invites all of its existing licensees, at their
option, to exchange their current licenses for the standard license
offered for DSA.
Finally, PKP will mediate the concerns of any party regarding the
availability of PKP's licenses for the DSA with designated
representatives of NIST and PKP. For copies of PKP's license
terms, contact Michael R. Rubin, Acting Chief Counsel for Technolo-
gy, NIST, or Public Key Partners.
Dated: June 2, 1993.
Robert B. Fougner, Esq.,
Director of Licensing, Public Key Partners,
310 North Mary Avenue, Sunnyvale, CA 94033
[FR Doc. 93-13473 Filed 8-7-93; 8:45 am]
Trewesday, 21 Forelithe S.R. 1993, 20:56
Date: Wed, 23 Jun 1993 18:22:31 (EDT)
From: Crypt Newsletter <70743.1711@COMPUSERVE.COM>
Subject: File 2--Galactic Hacker Party, '93
Remember the Galactic Hacker Party back in 1989? Ever wonder what
happened to the people behind it? We sold out to big business, you
think. Think again, we're back!
That's right. On august 4th, 5th and 6th 1993, we're organising a
three-day summer congress for hackers, phone phreaks, programmers,
computer haters, data travellers, electro-wizards, networkers,
hardware freaks, techno-anarchists, communications junkies,
cyberpunks, system managers, stupid users, paranoid androids, Unix
gurus, whizz kids, warez dudes, law enforcement officers (appropriate
undercover dress required), guerilla heating engineers and other
assorted bald, long-haired and/or unshaven scum. And all this in the
middle of nowhere (well, the middle of Holland, actually, but that's
the same thing) at the Larserbos campground four metres below sea
The three days will be filled with lectures, discussions and workshops
on hacking, phreaking, people's networks, Unix security risks, virtual
reality, semafun, social engineering, magstrips, lockpicking, viruses,
paranoia, legal sanctions against hacking in Holland and elsewhere and
much, much more. English will be the lingua franca for this event,
although some workshops may take place in Dutch. There will be an
Internet connection, an internet ethernet and social interaction
(both electronic and live). Included in the price are four nights in
your own tent. Also included are inspiration, transpiration, a
shortage of showers (but a lake to swim in), good weather (guaranteed
by god), campfires and plenty of wide open space and fresh air. All of
this for only 100 dutch guilders (currently around US$70).
We will also arrange for the availability of food, drink and smokes of
assorted types, but this is not included in the price. Our bar will be
open 24 hours a day, as well as a guarded depository for valuables
(like laptops, cameras etc.). You may even get your stuff back! For
people with no tent or air mattress: you can buy a tent through us for
100 guilders, a mattress costs 10 guilders. You can arrive from 17:00
(that's five p.m. for analogue types) on August 3rd. We don't have to
vacate the premises until 12:00 noon on Saturday, August 7 so you can
even try to sleep through the devastating Party at the End of Time
(PET) on the closing night (live music provided). We will arrange for
shuttle buses to and from train stations in the vicinity.
H O W ?
Payment: In advance only. Even poor techno-freaks like us would like
to get to the Bahamas at least once, and if enough cash comes in we
may just decide to go. So pay today, or tomorrow, or yesterday, or in
any case before Friday, June 25th 1993. Since the banks still haven't
figured out why the Any key doesn't work for private international
money transfers, you should call, fax or e-mail us for the best way to
launder your currency into our account. We accept American Express,
even if they do not accept us. But we are more understanding than they
are. Foreign cheques go directly into the toilet paper recycling bin
for the summer camp, which is about all they're good for here.
H A !
Very Important: Bring many guitars and laptops.
M E ?
Yes, you! Busloads of alternative techno-freaks fromanet will descend
on this event. You wouldn't want to miss that, now, would you?
Maybe you are part of that select group that has something special to
offer! Participating in 'Hacking at the End of the Universe' is
exciting, but organising your very own part of it is even more fun. We
already have a load of interesting workshops and lectures scheduled,
but we're always on the lookout for more. We're also still in the
market for people who want to help us organize this during the
congress. In whatever way you wish to participate, call, write,
e-mail or fax us soon, and make sure your money gets here on time.
Space is limited.
S O :
> 4th, 5th and 6th of August
> Hacking at the En (a hacker summer congress)
> ANWB groepsterrein Larserbos
> Cost: fl. 100,- (+/- 70 US$) per person
(including 4 nights in your own tent)
M O R E I N F O :
1100 DL Amst Netherlands
tel : +31 20 6001480
fax : +31 20 6900968
E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: Tue, 6 Jul 1993 16:25:47 CDT
From: Jim Milles
Subject: File 3--On-Line Congressional Hearing
Forwarded by Gleason Sackman, net-happenings moderator
++++++++++ Text of forwarded message ++++++++++
Date--Mon, 5 Jul 93 14:28:25 -0400
Subject--On-Line Congressional Hearing
Station--Internet Multicasting Service
Channel--Internet Town Hall
Program--On-Line Congressional Hearing
Release--July 5, 1993
Content--First Announcement/On-Line Congressional Hearing
On July 26 at 9:30AM EDT, the Subcommittee on Telecommunications
and Finance of the U.S. House of Representatives will hold the first
Congressional Hearing ever held over a computer network. The oversight
hearing on "The Role of Government in Cyberspace" will take place in
the Grand Ballroom of the National Press Club at 14th and F Streets,
N.W., Washington, D.C. The hearing is open to the public. An open
house will be held from 3-5PM on the same day in the same location and
is also open to the public.
Chairman Markey has asked that this historic occasion demonstrate
the potential and diversity of the global Internet. Thirty Sparcstations
will be in the hearing room, allowing members of Congress, staff, and
their guests to read e-mail, use Gopher menus, read testimony in WAIS
databases, browse the World Wide Web, and otherwise use the resources
of the global Internet as part of the hearing.
Some witnesses for the hearing will testify remotely, sending audio
and video over the Internet. Audio and video of the hearing will also
be multicast over the Multicast Backbone (MBONE). We are hoping that
C-SPAN and other traditional media will also carry the event. *MORE
DETAILS ON MBONE AND OTHER WAYS TO WATCH THE HEARINGS REMOTELY WILL BE
One of the primary points that we are hoping to demonstrate is
the diversity and size of the Internet. We have therefore established
an electronic mail address by which people on the Internet can communicate
with the Subcommittee before and during the hearing:
We encourage you to send your comments on what the role of government
should be in the information age to this address. Your comments to this
address will be made part of the public record of the hearing. Feel free
to carry on a dialogue with others on a mailing list, cc'ing the e-mail
Your cards and letters to email@example.com will help
demonstrate that there are people who use the Internet as part of their
personal and professional lives. We encourage you to send comments on
the role of government in cyberspace, on what role cyberspace should play
in government (e.g., whether government data be made available on the
Internet), on how the Internet should be built and financed, on how you
use the Internet, and on any other topic you feel is appropriate. This
is your chance to show the U.S. Congress that there is a constituency
that cares about this global infrastructure.
If you would like to communicate with a human being about the
hearing, you may send your comments and questions to:
Support for the Internet Town Hall is provided by Sun Microsystems
and O'Reilly & Associates. Additional support for the July 26 on-line
congressional hearing is being provided by ARPA, BBN Communications,
the National Press Club, Xerox PARC, and many other organizations.
Network connectivity for the Internet Town Hall is provided by
From: adunkin@SDF.LONESTAR.ORG(Alan Dunkin)
Subject: File 4--Hacker Listens to Secretary's Aides
Date: Sat, 3 Jul 93 14:59:35 CDT
TELEPHONE HACKER LISTENS TO SECRETARY OF STATE'S AIDES
This morning (July 2nd, 1993) the _Dallas Morning News_
reiterated a _Business Week_ report dated Thursday that "an
electronic hacker eavesdropped on telephone conversations of
aides to Secretary of State Warren Christopher concerning
Sunday's missile attack on Baghdad, Iraq".
The magazine claimed it received a tape of calls by aides on
Saturday, before President Clinton's announcement of the
cruise missile attack.
The state department said no comment was to be made about any
Date: Wed, 23 Jun 1993 18:22:31 (EDT)
From: Crypt Newsletter <70743.1711@COMPUSERVE.COM>
Subject: File 5--Virtually no Reality in "Virtual Reality"
((MODERATORS' NOTE: The following is reprinted from CRYPT NEWSLETTER
#15. We're waiting for the "Virtual Reality" comic books, perhaps
patterned after the mercifully defunct "Hacker Chronicles," and the
Saturday morning cartoon series brought to the kiddies by some frosted
"Virtual reality. What a concept." Yup, we kid you not - that's the
lead to the June Popular Science's cover story on the buzz-concept of
1993. But what concept does the story deliver? None, except more
phlogiston and shopworn photos on Virtuality's Dactyl Nightmare game -
the same press-release photos and animations that, uh, you've already
read in TIME, OMNI, MONDO 2000, OMNI, WIRED, MONDO 2000, NEWSWEEK,
TIME and POPULAR SCIENCE. Is there an echo in here? And THEN
reporter Michael Antonoff burbles about the exciting new SEGA "virtual
reality" helmet which is about to pop off the assembly line. It will
replace the TV with the usual goofy-looking, Nazi-helmet which the
company brags, will deliver a "feeling of total immersion in a
completely realistic 360-degree game world." That's if you consider
SEGA games realistic, of course.
Next comes the Virtual Kitchen, we are told. Why, you'll even be able
to turn on the faucet and listen to running water. Wow. We're really
pushing the boundaries of science, now. And there's virtual skiing as
a possibility, writes Antonoff. You won't really learn how to ski, but
it will be fun.
The story wraps up with 30 socko column inches on the usual wild
speculation on "Virtual Reality" applications in everything from
medicine to alchemy. Much of this talk is reminiscent of the inflated
claims which surrounded the science of molecular genetics in the
mid-'80's and persists to this day. Molecular biology was going to
cure cancer, eliminate viral and inherited illness and provide
everything from miracle drugs to custom-made enzymes which would
eliminate the threat of oil spills while replacing The Hair Club for
It was bullshit then and it's bullshit now. The theories are nice, but
nature doesn't yield her secrets easily just because
science/entertainment reporters have decided to be flacks for newly
minted professaurus's seeking tenure and grant money.
Of course, molecular biology HAS provided a key to understanding
cellular mechanisms at a very low level. However, it hasn't set the
world on edge. Despite superhuman effort, diseases like malaria,
although well understood, aren't playing dead.
And we suspect, so it will be with "virtual reality." A lot of idiots
will throw a ton of money at it and they'll get what they already
have: games and sex toys.
Even the tabloid TV journalists of the salacious "Hard Copy" sneered
at the "Virtual Reality" mavens on a recent evening segment. A couple
of women, whose names we forget, bleated on about "virtual sex" and
wound up showing Darth Vader-style helmets, rushes from "The Lawnmower
Man" and the kind of animations which tipped over Max Speegle's apple
cart. Crypt editors couldn't help jeering along with the "Hard Copy"
anchormen at the oh-so-novel idea of attaching "data gloves" to the
schlong. (Actually, such tools have been around for a long time. You
find them listed under "Penisator" in magazines published by Larry
Indeed, if you think a minute you realize there is no such thing as
"virtual sex". It's like being "slightly pregnant." Or having a
"minor" case of gonorrhea. You either have sex with another person,
skin to skin, or you don't. "Virtual sex" is just another fluffy,
meaningless euphemism for computerized team masturbation. The Crypt
Newsletter supports the use of "virtual hooker" or "virtual love
automaton" if you must have jargon; the latter is better, particularly
if you're in need of some reassuring corporate-mumble for conning a
roomful of investment bankers. The mind reels at the possibilities.
Imagine the Michelangelo virus, or some descendant of it, activating
on Ted and Alice's Virtual Sex PC, crashing the system and causing a
"virtual" convulsion in their "data gloves" just as they're booting up
for some afternoon delight. Ouch. Lawsuit. So the next time someone
mentions the word "virtual" to you in dinner conversation, gracefully
dump your side-plate of collard greens into their lap.
And, lo, just as this issue of the Crypt Newsletter went to the
electronic press Newsweek magazine trumped Popular Science with a
cover story on "interactive" - that curious admixture of virtual
reality, information superhighways and CD-ROM squeaking/talking books.
"Virtual reality," claimed the magazine, ". . . with a mighty computer
and New Age goggles . . . you'll eventually be able to simulate sex,
drugs, rock and roll and just about every other human activity." Even
sicking up on your date after a night of too many Long Island Iced
Date: Thu, 1 Jul 93 14:49 PDT
From: john@ZYGOT.ATI.COM(John Higdon)
Subject: File 6--Donation Distinctions (By E-Zine Editors/Moderators)
((MODERATORS' NOTE: John Higdon's post raises important issues
involving the status of moderators of digests. His comments focus on
the recent *FALSE* rumors announcing the elimination of CuD from one
of the ftp sites and the the difference between solicitation of funds
to maintain an organization and solicitation of funds by private
individuals who may need external support to enable them to eke out a
living while moderating digests.
Editors of electronic journals/digest are in an odd position. Unlike
organizations, they have no formal constituency that they represent.
Therefore, collecting "dues," "subscription fees," or other
compensation seems tacky. On the other hand, editing a journal such as
Telecom Digest (or CuD), which comes out several times a week,
requires a considerable investment of time and resources. Hard-copy
editors receive a living wage for their efforts. E-zine editors
generally perform the same tasks, reach a larger audience, and require
capital investment of equipment for which they receive no
compensation. Some electronic publishers are fortunate enough to be
tenured professors at a state university. This allows them to pursue
editorship as part of their "service." Others are not so fortunate.
Editing or moderating an electronic publication dramatically eats into
time that might otherwise be spent pursuing their livelihood.
Organizations, such as CPSR or EFF, have paid staff whose duties
include dissemination of newsletters or digests. Most other digests
How should e-Zine editors be compensated (if at all)? Is it proper for
editors to ask for compensation for efforts that are materially (and
substantially) rewarded in other forums? Should editors/moderators of
forums such as RISKS or TELECOM DIGEST receive compensation?
For now, we only raise the question without laying out the arguments.
At issue here is where altruism ends and reasonable compensation
begins. We would like to here from others: Should moderators/editors
We must note that CuD editors have no material stake in the outcome of
such a discussion, because we are disallowed from receiving any form
of remuneration. However, we are well aware of the investment of time
and other resources that moderators and editor contribute, and we feel
that some discussion of of the issues are necessary.))
The following remarks concern issues and fact that should be obvious to
everyone, but need to be said in the absence of comment by others.
Recently, there was a rumor that the EFF was dumping its archives of
CuD. The Telecom Digest moderator grabbed this opportunity to deliver
yet another diatribe condemning those who support the EFF and its work,
and casting aspersions on the motives behind the policies and practices
of the EFF itself. Further, he complained that there seemed to be a
dual standard when it came to the practices of the EFF and its fund
raising vs the Digest and the moderator's attempt to drum up cash.
Note: The rumor was a gross distortion in that it was indeed Phrack
that was offloaded to another site for reasons most aptly cited by
Mitch Kapor himself.
The overriding consideration is that the EFF is not in any way to be
compared with Telecom Digest. Leaving the legal definitions aside, the
EFF is an organization, staffed with experts and support personnel,
that has taken on the responsibility of observing, guiding, and even
changing laws that affect everyone in the telecommunications and
computing industry. It supports a paid staff, offices, communications
facilities, and has as its output legal consultations, legal
presentations, legislative commentary (formal and informal), and
provides invaluable assistance to those caught in the vacuum of
cyberspace non-protections. The organization maintains its own Internet
site with the attendant costs, issues hard publications and has,
incidental to its divergent operations, a newsletter (or digest if you
The Telecom Digest is a mailing list. It is maintained on facilities
provided and paid for by a university. The moderator spends time
editing and transmitting issues of the Digest (a job done voluntarily
by moderators all over the Internet world). The Digest is the only
output. The $195/month office is strictly an option, as most mailing
lists are edited by people from their job worksites or their homes. The
same goes for the telephone expenses.
These comments are not to be construed to in any way minimize the work
done by the moderator of Telecom Digest (or any other moderator). But
there is hardly any comparison between the work done by an organization
such as the EFF and that done by the moderator of a mailing list. It is
obvious that there is also a difference between the request for funds
by a fully-qualified activist organization and someone who needs money
to pay the rent. Not everyone agrees with the positions taken by the
EFF or any other activist group and it is certainly anyone's right to
contribute to those with whom he agrees. But be it the EFF or the NRA,
the output of bonafide organizations on behalf of members and those
whose interests fall within an organization's scope of activity is
substantially more significant and appropriate to the consumption of
donated money than that of a simple e-publication, regardless of how
well it is produced.
I subscribe to many, many mailing lists and have done so for many
years. At no time has anyone who was in charge of any of them (except
one) suggested that funds were needed to keep the list going. Neither
direct contributions nor suggestions to buy resold products have been
mentioned in any way, with that one exception.
Whether it is appropriate for a moderator to solicit funds in this
manner I leave for others to debate. But to compare those solicitations
to those of an organization with the prestige and stature of the EFF is
most inappropriate by any standard of consideration. It seems obvious
that it is much more useful and more within the purposes of the net to
contribute money so that important cases get a fairer hearing rather
than so that a mailing list coordinator can be saved the inconvenience of
going out and getting a real job. If the powers that be determine that
the latter is within the scope of the intent of the Internet, then I
bow to that determination.
But let us all be clear on the important distinctions between mailing
lists and hard-working activist organizations.
John Higdon | P. O. Box 7648 | +1 408 264 4115 | FAX:
firstname.lastname@example.org | San Jose, CA 95150 | 10288 0 700 FOR-A-MOO | +1 408 264 4407
End of Computer Underground Digest #5.50