Computer underground Digest Wed Oct 6 1993 Volume 5 : Issue 78
Editors: Jim Thomas and Gordon Meyer (TK0JUT2@NIU.BITNET)
Archivist: Brendan Kehoe
Shadow-Archivists: Dan Carosone / Paul Southworth
Ralph Sims / Jyrki Kuoppala
Copie Editor: Etaoin Shrdlu, III
CONTENTS, #5.78 (Oct 6 1993)
File 1--The Elansky Case (A Response to CuD's Editors)
File 2--CuD and the Elansky Case (Response to L. Detweiler)
File 3--CA state Legislative Info Bill
File 4--U. Minn. Campus Police Investigate Software Theft Ring
File 5--Computers & Writing Call for Proposals
File 6--ACTIVIST ALERT-CPSR Solicits CLIPPER/SKIPJACK comments
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 (815-753-0303), 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:
AUSTRALIA: ftp.ee.mu.oz.au (220.127.116.11) in /pub/text/CuD.
EUROPE: nic.funet.fi in pub/doc/cud. (Finland)
aql.gatech.edu (18.104.22.168) in /pub/eff/cud
etext.archive.umich.edu (22.214.171.124) in /pub/CuD/cud
ftp.eff.org (126.96.36.199) in /pub/cud
halcyon.com( 188.8.131.52) in /pub/mirror/cud
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: Tue, 28 Sep 93 02:23:12 -0600
From: "L. Detweiler"
Subject: File 1--The Elansky Case (A Response to CuD's Editors)
Editor: your theories on the "hacker culture" among adolescents,
including the ideas of unique vocabulary and initiation ceremonies
etc. in the line of sophisticated and evolved social customs, are
interesting, and certainly have some degree of validity in general and
apropos application to the Elansky case in particular.
Nevertheless, your agenda in painting Elansky as a clear cut "victim"
is very obvious. Now, I agree that the Elansky case shows some rather
outrageous excesses of the legal system and the rooted paranoias
therein. In particular, I find the latest news that Elansky is
languishing" and that the extraordinary bail of $500K has not been
challenged or revised quite shocking.
However, I'm writing because you note in a previous newsletter that
Elansky supposedly had a record of breaking into a high school science
supply room to steal chemicals. Now this is an extremely incriminating
action that you wholly failed to address. In fact, you skipped right
over this piece of information almost without comment. It really
rather significantly damages your argument and portrayal of Elansky as
nothing but a victimized BBS operator with nothing but an academic
interest in explosives recipes. To the contrary, your own academic
bias is revealed.
Very rarely are we ever afforded an opportunity to have such clear cut
villains and heroes as in, say, the Steve Jackson Games case.
Polarized accounts condemning law enforcement for various overreaction
that selectively present various data are not a service to *any*
community. If you wish to continue to adhere to high academic
standards in your own published analyses and opinions, please exercise
the utmost impartiality. In burying the information about Elansky's
possible breaking-and-entering crime, and failing to follow it up as
diligently as all the other claims that tend to extenuate his guilt,
this standard has been compromised to the detriment of your own
journalistic, editorial, and academic integrity. I'm hopeful you will
rectify this partiality in future editorials.
Date: Wed, 6 Oct, 1993 21:18:20 CDT
From: CuD Moderators
Subject: File 2--CuD and the Elansky Case (Response to L. Detweiler)
In criticizing CuD comments on the Elansky/Hartford case, in which
which Michael Elansky, a BBS sysop was arrested for two having to
"anarchist" text files on his board (see CuD #5.69, 5.71), "L.
Detweiler" (previous file)
>However, I'm writing because you note in a previous
>newsletter that Elansky supposedly had a record of breaking
>into a high school science supply room to steal chemicals.
>Now this is an extremely incriminating action that you
>wholly failed to address. In fact, you skipped right over
>this piece of information almost without comment. It really
>rather significantly damages your argument and portrayal of
>Elansky as nothing but a victimized BBS operator with
>nothing but an academic interest in explosives recipes. To
>the contrary, your own academic bias is revealed.
His above post perceives some unspecified "obvious agenda" that we
presumably hide, challenges our integrity, and objects to an
"academic bias," whatever that might mean. We thank him for sharing
his opinion. However, we're less charitable toward his beliefs that
more should have been mentioned of Elansky's previous legal troubles
and that the lack of primacy of previous charges, unrelated to the BBS
anarchist files, somehow subverts CuD commentary on the case and
weakens any First Amendment issues the case raises.
The basic facts in the Elansky case: 1) Elansky was arrested in early
August, '93, for making to common anarchy files available; 2)
According to existing public information, the arrest was solely for the
two anarchy files, written four years ago by a 15 year old teenager;
3) Elansky's bond for this offense was set at half a million dollars;
4) Elansky remains in jail as of October 6, awaiting his next hearing
on October 10. In CuD 5.72, we reprinted the Connecticut laws under
which Elansky was charged. Although both are felonies, neither
justifies the excessive bond. CuD explicitly summarized Elansky's
previous legal problems. Despite current evidence that those offenses
may have been far less serious than the language of the charges
indicates, they are not the issue. Cud was careful to qualify comments
by acknowledging that, because the relevant court documents are
sealed, it is always possible that the prosecutor possesses evidence
of more serious behavior. We think we were sufficiently clear: THE
ISSUE IS NOT ELANSKY, BUT THE CRIMINALIZATION OF TEXT FILES THAT ONLY
THE HARTFORD PROSECUTOR DEEMS ILLEGAL. This is a First Amendment
issue, pure and simple, and whether Elansky is a serial murder or a
squeaky-clean choirboy is irrelevant.
Elansky, we repeat for those who skipped the first 50 lines, was
arrested and remains in jail for posting two anarchist files on his
BBS. CuDs 5.69, 5.71 and 5.72 summarized the case, reprinted the
anarchy files, and reprinted what apparently was an investigation
report justifying the arrest. The files do not support the charges.
The two "anarchy" files in question are not only legal, and therefore
protected by the First Amendment, but they are, by "anarchy"
standards, considered mild, even "lame." As any highschool graduate
should know, the files contain little that cannot be constructed from
a highschool chemistry course. They contain absolutely nothing that
cannot be found in over-the-counter literature and television. The
_Anarchists' Cookbook_, in it's 29th printing since 1971, contains
hundreds of recipes for home-made weapons, pyrotechnics, and
psychedelics. It is legal. We note with amusement that the latest
catalogue from Delta Press, Ltd (PO Box 1625 Dept 93W; 215 S.
Washington St., El Dorado, AR 71731; fax (501) 862-9671; voice: (501)
862-4984) is available, along with its contents, without obvious
restrictions to anybody with the purchase price for publications.
Delta Press's inventory includes:
CIA Explosives for Sabotage ($9.00)
Improvised Munitions from Ammonium Nitrate ($7.50)
Death by Deception: Advanced Improvised Booby Traps ($14.00)
Terrorist Explosives Handbook ($6.95)
Counterbomb ("assassination by explosives") ($14.00)
Improvised Land Mines ($12.00)
Improvised Explosives ($12.00)
The list is extensive. It includes manuals on full-auto conversion
and silencer construction for weapons; military manuals;
poaching manuals; killing manuals; survival manuals;
blowing-people-away manuals; poisoning manuals. They are legal. They
appear easily accessible. Yet, Elansky posts two juvenile files
demonstrably written by others, both of which are "lame," and he's
arrested and slapped with a $500,000 bond. This is the issue.
Is CuD off-base in the assessment of the case? Perhaps. If so, though,
we're in excellent company.
Lance Rose, perhaps the most knowledgeable legal guru on BBS law, and
columnist for BOARDWATCH MAGAZINE, calls the case "ridiculous." He
summarizes the facts of the case in his October, '93, column, and
alludes to Elansky's cat-and-mouse game with local police. He
Regardless of their motivations, however, the police made a
big mistake in jailing Elansky for a text file on his BBS.
The 1ST AMENDMENT prohibits government officials from acting
against anyone for distributing material containing
political content. If, as Elansky's parents claim, he did
not even know the file was on his BBS until after he was
arrested, then he is entitled to even greater legal
protection from prosecution, such as accorded to book stores
and magazine distributors. Distributors are not responsible
for materials like obscene or infringing publications, unless
they are specifically aware of the material in question. This
rule is necessary to assure the smooth flow of 1st Amendment
materials through mass distribution systems for both printed
and electronic materials.
Even if Elansky made bombs all those years as the police
believe, this gives no support to jailing him based on the BBS
file. The police acted criminally in penalizing him for
speech on his BBS.
The Harford Courant, on September 17 (pp A1, A3: "Free Speech and
Computers Central to Bomb-Recipe Case," by John M. Moran), was equally
adamant. The reporter, John Moran, is an experienced user of the Net
and of BBSes, and it shows in a thoughtful and incisive commentary.
Moran, too, distinguishes between Elansky's run-ins with the police
and the issues underlying his arrest. His well-researched article
alludes to the availability of _The Anarchists' Cookbook_ in local
bookstores and libraries, and concludes by raising what appears to be
the double standard between Constitutional protections granted to
print and electronic media:
This apparent double standard between printed text and The
Deth Vegetable's ((the author of the disputed files))
computer text files is precisely what makes the Ionizer
((Elansky's BBS handle)) so important, say public interest
groups familiar with the Elansky case.
"It's pretty clear that the First Amendment's been trampled
on the way to the riot in this case," said David Banisar, a
policy analyst for Computer Professionals for Social
Responsibility. "It appears that the prosecutor doesn't
realize that electronic publications have the same
protection as printed publications."
Ralph G. Elliot, a Hartford lawyer who has represented The
Courant on First Amendment issues, agreed that the Elansky
case does raise free-speech questions. He likened it to a
well-known case in which The Progressive, a Wisconsin
magazine, was found to have the right to publish publicly
available information about how to construct a nuclear bomb.
Mike Godwin, legal counsel for the Electronic Frontier
Foundation, another advocacy group, said Connecticut's
"inciting injury to persons or property" charge is
"Traditionally, we've understood the First Amendment to
apply to all forms of expression," Godwin said. "I think the
prosecutor in this case has shown monstrous disregard for
the Constitution that he has sworn to uphold."
"There are very few law-enforcement actions that qualify as
genuinely evil, but I think this is one of them," he said.
The relevance of this case for cyberspace lies in the danger of any
local prosecutor to define Constitutionally protected electronic forms
of expression as illegal. If Elansky is guilty of crimes, then it is
those crimes for which he should be charged. However, on no account
ought prosecutors be allowed to subvert the Constitution in order to
develop a case against any U.S. citizen, regardless of what other
offenses they might be *suspects*. To compound the error with an
excessive bond while the suspect languishes in jail strikes us as a
gross abuse of prosecutorial power. Perhaps the wrong people are in
Date: Thu, 30 Sep 1993 20:00:09 GMT
From: kiddyr@GALLANT.APPLE.COM(Ray Kiddy)
Subject: File 3--CA state Legislative Info Bill
Here is the text of the bill that is waiting on Gov Pete Wilson's desk.
i hope other states begin to use this as a model.
thanx - ray kiddy, email@example.com
AMENDED IN SENATE AUGUST 30, 1993
AMENDED IN SENATE AUGUST 25, 1993
AMENDED IN SENATE AUGUST 16, 1993
AMENDED IN SENATE JUNE 17, 1993
AMENDED IN ASSEMBLY MAY 18, 1993
CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE--1993-94 REGULAR SESSION
ASSEMBLY BILL No. 1624
Introduced by Assembly Member Bowen
(Principal coauthor: Senator Torres)
(Coauthors: Assembly Members Areias, Bornstein,
Goldsmith, Isenberg, Johnson, Karnette, Katz
Mountjoy, Nolan, Polanco, Speier, and
(Coauthors: Senators Dills, Hayden, Killea, Morgan, and
March 4, 1993
An act to add Section 10248 to the Government Code,
relating to the Legislature;
LEGISLATIVE COUNSELUS DIGEST
AB 1624, as amended, Bowen. Legislature: legislative
information: access by computer network.
Under existing law, all meetings of a house of the Legislature
or a committee thereof are required to be open and public, unless
specifically exempted, and any meeting that is required to be open
and public, including specified closed sessions, may be held only
after full and timely notice to the public as provided by the
Joint Rules of the Assembly and Senate.
This bill would make a legislative finding that it is desirable
to make information regarding matters pending before the Legislature
and its proceedings available to the citizens of this state,
irrespective of where they reside, in a timely manner and for the
least possible cost.
This bill would require the Legislative Counsel, with the advice
of the Assembly Committee on Rules and the Senate Committee on Rules,
to make available to the public, by means of access by way of the
largest nonproprietary, nonprofit cooperative public computer network,
specified information concerning bills, the proceedings of the
houses and committees of the Legislature, statutory enactments,
and the California Constitution.
Vote: majority. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: yes.
State-mandated local program: no.
The people of the State of California do enact as follows:
1 SECTION 1. The Legislature finds and declares that
2 it is now possible and feasible in this electronic age to
3 more widely distribute legislative information by way of
4 electronic communication in order to better inform the
5 public of the matters pending before the Legislature and
6 its proceedings. The Legislature further finds that it is
7 desirable to make information regarding these matters
8 and proceedings available to the citizens of this state,
9 irrespective of where they reside, in a timely manner and
10 for the least possible cost.
11 Sec. 2. Section 10248 is added to the Government
12 Code, to read:
22 (a) The Legislative Counsel shall, with the advice of
1 the Assembly Committee on Rules and the Senate
2 Committee on Rules, make all of the following
3 information available to the public in electronic form:
4 (1) The
5 legislative calendar, the
6 schedule of legislative committee hearings, a list of
7 matters pending on the floors of both houses of the
8 Legislature, and a list of the committees of the
9 Legislative and their members.
10 (2) The text of each bill introduced in each current
11 legislative session, including each amended, enrolled,
12 and chaptered form of each bill.
13 (3) The bill history of each bill introduced and
14 amended in each current legislative session.
15 (4) The bill status of each bill introduced and
16 amended in each current legislative session.
17 (5) All bill analyses prepared by legislative
18 committees in connection with each bill in each current
19 legislative session.
20 (6) All vote information concerning each bill in each
21 current legislative session.
22 (7) Any veto messages concerning a bill in each
23 current legislative session.
24 (8) The California Codes.
25 (9) The California Constitution.
26 (10) All statutes enacted on or after
27 January 1, 1993.
34 (b) The
36 information identified in
37 subdivision (a) shall be made available to the public by
38 means of access by way of the largest nonproprietary,
39 nonprofit cooperative public computer network.
1 information shall be made available in one or more
2 formats and by one or more means in order to provide the
3 greatest feasible access to the general public in this state.
4 Any person who accesses the information may access all
5 or any part of the information. The information may also
6 be made available by any other means of access that
7 would facilitate public access to the information.
11 The information that is maintained in the
12 legislative information center that is operated and
13 maintained by the Legislative Counsel shall be made
15 in the shortest feasible after
16 the information is available in the information system.
17 The information that is not maintained in the information
18 system shall be made available in the shortest feasible
19 time after it is available to the Legislative Counsel.
26 (c) Any documentation that describes the electronic
27 digital formats of the information identified in
28 subdivision (a) and is available to the public shall be
29 made available by means of access by way of the
30 computer network specified in subdivision (b).
2 Personal information
3 concerning a person who accesses the information may
4 be maintained only for the purpose of providing service
5 to the person.
6 (e) No fee or other charge may be imposed by
7 the Legislative Counsel as a condition
8 of accessing the information that is accessible by way of
9 the computer network specified in subdivision (b).
10 (f) The electronic public access provided by
11 way of the computer network specified in
12 subdivision (b) shall be in addition to other electronic or
13 print distribution of the information.
14 (g) No action taken pursuant to this section shall be
15 deemed to alter or relinquish any copyright or other
16 proprietary interest or entitlement of the State of
17 California relating to any of the information made
18 available pursuant to this section.
Date: Sat, 02 Oct 93 04:15:34 EDT
Subject: File 4--U. Minn. Campus Police Investigate Software Theft Ring
Minnesota Campus Police Investigating Software Theft Ring
By Nancy Livingston
Saint Paul Pioneer Press
Sep. 30--Call it a hijacking on the nation's information
superhighway - a crime of the 90s.
University of Minnesota police are investigating allegations that
a group of university students have copied computer software games and
other programs protected by copyright and sold them via Internet, the
international computer network.
Internet is a global network of 1.7 million computers used by 15
million to 30 million people. Growing by one million users a month,
Internet has been dubbed the information superhighway. It is heavily
used in academia for research, electronic mail, software transfer and
other purposes, and many faculty members and students have accounts to
use the Internet.
Last May, a supervisor in the Institute of Technology computer lab
became concerned when he noticed that the amount of disk space on the
lab's Sun Microsystems computer system was running low.
A search for users who had taken up unusual amounts of disk space
revealed that three users had a large amount of commercial software in
their files that cannot be used on the Sun computer. It was stored in
a format for transmission over the Internet.
The university supervisor surmised that the students were selling
the software in violation of Minnesota law, and he locked the
More extensive checking turned up six more users with what
appeared to be a large amount of commercial software in their
directories along with a large amount of mail. Their accounts were
also locked and police were contacted.
University police Capt. Francis Gernandt obtained a search warrant
in June to gain access to the computer files in question, but he did
not receive the information he needed until this week. The delay was
due to a change in personnel at the computer lab.
Gernandt said Wednesday that he will be asking university computer
experts to help him analyze the computer files. Meanwhile, Gernandt is
checking on the whereabouts of nine students who had the commercial
software in their files. He is also looking into how much the software
is worth and how the students came to possess it.
Date: Sat, 11 Sep 1993 16:04:37 CDT
From: Eric Crump
Subject: File 5--Computers & Writing Call for Proposals
Please forward this announcement to appropriate mailing
lists, newsgroups, bbs, and individuals.
***Heartfelt apologies to those poor souls who see this
announcement several million times***
Call for Proposals
COMPUTERS AND WRITING CONFERENCE
Hosted by the University of Missouri
May 20-23, 1994
The Global Web of Writing Technologies
This conference serves a growing and diverse community of writing
teachers, students, and scholars who are interested in the
convergence of computer technology and writing education. Many
schools are now poised for their first leap into computer writing
instruction, while in other places writing teachers and their
students are making forays into new domains such as the wide world
of the Internet. This conference brings together people from those
extremes and from all points on the intervening continuum to share
their ideas, research, and experiences. ************************
+---------------- * Tight travel budget? *
ELECTRONIC ACCESS |
The program for this year's conference will emphasize the role of |
the wide-area academic networks in writing education. And |
electronic access will, we hope, make attending the event possible|
to people who for some reason cannot travel to Columbia. It seems |
only appropriate that conferences--especially those that are |
concerned with computers and computer networks--should employ |
the reach of the Internet in order to give more people access |
to the conversation. ******************** <--|
+---------------- * Attend C&W94 via *
* the Internet (at *
* a reduced fee) *
We invite proposals that pertain in some way to the use of
computers at any level of writing education, K-12 to community
colleges to colleges and large universities, from technologically
rich environments to places where instruction with computers is
just getting started. Hands-on sessions, demonstrations, or any
other format that encourages audience participation and interaction
are particularly welcome. Here is a short list from among
innumerable possible topics:
--The latest reports from teachers and students--K-12 through
college level--who are exploring the possibilities of networked
--Tales of adventure from teachers and students who are venturing
from the classroom into the wider network world
--Help taking the first steps toward incorporating computers into
writing instruction and research
--Possibilities for using computers to forge better connections
between K-12 and college educators
--Hypertext theory, its classroom applications and cultural
--Hypermedia applications and their impact on how we view "text,"
"rhetoric," and "writing"
--Writing in distance education programs
--Computers and networks in writing across the curriculum programs
--The legal, economic, and cultural impact of computer technology
--The latest studies of and experiences with word processing and
computer-assisted instruction programs
--The impact of computer technology on writing and editing in
--How global information networks may affect the nature of journalism
--Hypertext and network collaboration and new shapes in creative
--The changing relationship between writers and information
sources: libraries and librarians of the future
--The history and future of the computers and writing field
The tenth Computers and Writing Conference seems like an
appropriate place and time in which to indulge in some
retrospection, introspection, and prognostication. We hope veterans
and novices in the field will suggest opportunities for exploring
the State of the Field, whether via special forums or by weaving
the subject into regular sessions.
We hope to have adequate access to a multiple user environment
(MediaMOO, probably, or Internet Relay Chat) for conference
activities. Presenters who are interested in trying something
rather new might want to consider proposing sessions that include
realtime conferencing over the Internet using these systems.
The electronic forum offered this year by the University of
Michigan was a great success, and we plan to continue the
practice. Although the technical details have not yet been
nailed down, we expect to make available a similar bulletin-
board-type conferencing system that will allow participants
to read presentation summaries and discuss the issues they
raise well in advance of the May 20-23 gathering in Columbia.
Presenters whose proposals are accepted will be asked to
submit longer versions for use in conjunction with the
electronic conference. Details will be included in
Proposals for sessions on any subject related to computers and
writing will be accepted from August 1 to November 1, 1993. We
encourage electronic submission, but acceptance is not in any way
contingent upon it. Submissions can also be made in print or on 3.5
inch computer disks, initialized either in Macintosh or IBM format,
as long as the text is saved in ASCII (text) format. Notification
will be made in January 1994.
Please submit a 200- to 300-word abstract plus title for individual
presentations, for poster sessions, and for each portion of panel
presentations. For roundtables, think tanks, and readings (creative
writing, for example), please submit a single 300-word abstract with
names and addresses of each participant along with descriptions of the
contribution each participant will make. For workshops, please include,
in addition to a single 300-word abstract, an estimated timetable of
We also invite alternative session formats to the ones listed
here. Past conference-goers have expressed interest in more
of the hands-on and demo-type sessions, but presenters should
also feel free to suggest presentation formats that best fit
their work (although in the interest of the organizers' sanity,
it might be good to also suggest standard options in case the
preferred version simply can't be made to fit the program).
Include name, institutional affiliation, postal address, and electronic
mail address for each presenter.
Each submission should include a description, as precise as possible,
of equipment needs, if any. We do not guarantee absolutely that
equipment requests will be fulfillable, but we will do our best to
provide excellent technical support and will work with presenters to
make the best arrangements we can. Computer classrooms and labs
sporting IBM 55s with OS/2 2.1 or DOS 6.0 and Macintosh Centris
computers with System 7.1 will be available. Any additional hardware
or software requirements will need to be arranged on a case-by-case
Send electronic submissions (and any other correspondence) to: Eric Crump
at LCERIC@mizzou1.bitnet or LCERIC@mizzou1.missouri.edu. Please include
somewhere in the subject line: CWC94.
Send disks and print submissions to: Eric Crump, 231 Arts & Science,
University of Missouri. Columbia, MO 65211.
Date: Fri, 24 Sep 1993 17:35:54 -0400
From: ssimpson@EFF.ORG(Sarah L Simpson)
Subject: File 6--ACTIVIST ALERT-CPSR Solicits CLIPPER/SKIPJACK comments
ACTIVIST ALERT - The Government Is Messin' With Your Privacy!
Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility (CPSR) posted the
following call for comments to the Net. As the deadline for comments on
the proposed Escrow Encryption Standard (CLIPPER/SKIPJACK) looms near, EFF
wholeheartedly supports CPSR's work to bring attention to the proposal and
encourages everyone who reads this to respond with comments.
We have added a sample letter and additional information at the end of the
text of CPSR post
Call for Clipper Comments
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has
issued a request for public comments on its proposal to establish
the "Skipjack" key-escrow system as a Federal Information
Processing Standard (FIPS). The deadline for the submission of
comments is September 28, 1993. The full text of the NIST notice
CPSR is urging all interested individuals and organizations to
express their views on the proposal and to submit comments
directly to NIST. Comments need not be lengthy or very detailed;
all thoughtful statements addressing a particular concern will
likely contribute to NIST's evaluation of the key-escrow proposal.
The following points could be raised about the NIST proposal
(additional materials on Clipper and the key escrow proposal may
be found at the CPSR ftp site, cpsr.org):
* The potential risks of the proposal have not been assessed and
many questions about the implementation remain unanswered. The
NIST notice states that the current proposal "does not include
identification of key escrow agents who will hold the keys for the
key escrow microcircuits or the procedures for access to the
keys." The key escrow configuration may also create a dangerous
vulnerability in a communications network. The risks of misuse of
this feature should be weighed against any perceived benefit.
* The classification of the Skipjack algorithm as a "national
security" matter is inappropriate for technology that will be used
primarily in civilian and commercial applications. Classification
of technical information also limits the computing community's
ability to evaluate fully the proposal and the general public's
right to know about the activities of government.
* The proposal was not developed in response to a public concern
or a business request. It was put forward by the National
Security Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation so that
these two agencies could continue surveillance of electronic
communications. It has not been established that is necessary for
crime prevention. The number of arrests resulting from wiretaps
has remained essentially unchanged since the federal wiretap law
was enacted in 1968.
* The NIST proposal states that the escrow agents will provide the
key components to a government agency that "properly demonstrates
legal authorization to conduct electronic surveillance of
communications which are encrypted." The crucial term "legal
authorization" has not been defined. The vagueness of the term
"legal authorization" leaves open the possibility that court-
issued warrants may not be required in some circumstances. This
issue must be squarely addressed and clarified.
* Adoption of the proposed key escrow standard may have an adverse
impact upon the ability of U.S. manufacturers to market
cryptographic products abroad. It is unlikely that non-U.S. users
would purchase communication security products to which the U.S.
government holds keys.
Comments on the NIST proposal should be sent to:
Director, Computer Systems Laboratory
ATTN: Proposed FIPS for Escrowed Encryption Standard
Technology Building, Room B-154
National Institute of Standards and Technology
Gaithersburg, MD 20899
Submissions must be received by September 28, 1993. CPSR has
asked NIST that provisions be made to allow for electronic
submission of comments.
Please also send copies of your comments on the key escrow
proposal to CPSR for inclusion in the CPSR Internet Library, our
ftp site. Copies should be sent to .
end of CPSR post
EFF joins with CPSR in urging you to send your comments to NIST as soon as
possible. To help get your creative juices flowing, we're attaching a
sample letter. You will probably want to personalize any letter you
And because time is so tight, EFF has set up an Internet address where you
can send your electronic comments in lieu of mailing them through the U.S.
Postal Service. Send your letters to:
We will be printing out all letters and hand-delivering them before the
deadline, so please make sure to send us any letter you want included no
later than 8pm on Monday, September 27.
If you would like additional background materials, you can browse the
pub/EFF/crypto area of our anonymous ftp site (ftp.eff.org). The original
solicitation of comments can be found there and is called
DO NOT WAIT TO WRITE YOUR COMMENTS! TIME IS SHORT!
National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST)
ATTN: Proposed FIPS for Escrowed Encryption Standard
Technology Building, Room B-154
National Institute of Standards and Technology
Gaithersburg, MD 20899
I am writing to oppose the Proposed Federal Information Processing Standard
(FIPS) for and Escrowed Encryption Standard, docket # 930659-3159.
Encryption is vital for the protection of individual privacy in the
Information Age. As more and more personal information flows around
electronic networks, we all need strong encryption to safeguard information
from unwanted intrusion
NIST should not be moving forward with technical standards specification
until critical policy decisions are made. These policy issues include:
o Continued Legal Use of All Forms of Encryption: When the Clinton
Administration announced the Clipper Chip, it assured the public that this
would be a purely voluntary system. We must have legal guarantees that
Clipper isn't the first step toward prohibition against un-escrowed
o Legal Rights of Escrow Users: If people choose to deposit their
keys with the government or any other escrow agent, they must have some
legal recourse in the event that those keys are improperly released. The
most recent draft of the escrow procedures specifically states, however:
"These procedures do not create, and are not intended to create,
any substantive rights for individuals intercepted through electronic
surveillance, and noncompliance with these procedures shall not provide the
basis for any motion to suppress or other objection to the introduction of
electronic surveillance evidence lawfully acquired."
Leaving users with no recourse will discourage use of the system
and is a tacit acceptance of unscrupulous government behavior.
o Open Standards: People won't use encryption unless they trust it.
Secret standards such as Clipper cannot be evaluated by independent experts
and do not deserve the public trust.
In addition, the current proposed technical standard is incomplete.
It should not be approved until further comment on the complete proposal is
o Operating Procedures Unclear: The full operating procedures for
the escrow agents has yet to be issued. Public comment must be sought on
the complete procedures, not just the outline presented in the draft FIPS.
Even the government-selected algorithm review group has declared that it
needs more information on the escrow process.
o Identity of Escrow Agents: The identity of one or both of the
escrow agents has not been firmly established.
o Algorithm Classified: Asking for comments on an algorithm that is
classified makes a mockery of citizen participation in government
NIST will be involved in making many critical decisions regarding the
National Information Infrastructure. The next time NIST solicits public
comments, it should be ready to accept reply by electronic mail in addition
to paper-based media.
Sarah L. Simpson
Electronic Frontier Foundation
1001 G Street, NW
Suite 950 East
Washington, DC 20001
End of Computer Underground Digest #5.78