Computer underground Digest Wed Dec 15 1994 Volume 5 : Issue 94
Editors: Jim Thomas and Gordon Meyer (TK0JUT2@NIU.BITNET)
Archivist: Brendan Kehoe
Shadow-Archivists: Dan Carosone / Paul Southworth
Ralph Sims / Jyrki Kuoppala
Copy Editor: Craig Shergold, III
CONTENTS, #5.94 (Dec 15 1994)
File 1--EFF Policy on Cryptography and Privacy / 8 Dec '93
File 2--CPSR Clipper Letter to Clinton
File 3--EFF Statement on Markey Infrastructure Bill
File 4--Child Porn Bust in North Carolina
File 5--Complaints prompt Patent Office hearings on SOFTWARE PATENTS
File 6--Edited ASIS '94 Mid Year Meeting Announcement
Cu-Digest is a weekly electronic journal/newsletter. Subscriptions are
available at no cost electronically from email@example.com. 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 (126.96.36.199) in /pub/text/CuD.
EUROPE: ftp.funet.fi in pub/doc/cud. (Finland)
aql.gatech.edu (188.8.131.52) in /pub/eff/cud
etext.archive.umich.edu (184.108.40.206) in /pub/CuD/cud
ftp.eff.org (220.127.116.11) in /pub/cud
halcyon.com( 18.104.22.168) in /pub/mirror/cud
ftp.warwick.ac.uk in pub/cud (United Kingdom)
KOREA: ftp: cair.kaist.ac.kr in /doc/eff/cud
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, 13 Dec 93 12:13:24 -0800
Subject: File 1--EFF Policy on Cryptography and Privacy / 8 Dec '93
EFF ANNOUNCES ITS OFFICIAL POLICY ON CRYPTOGRAPHY AND PRIVACY
Strongly opposes original Clipper/Skipjack plan,
reiterates the need to lift restrictions on encryption
December 8, 1993
The Electronic Frontier Foundation is pleased to announce its
formal policy on encryption.
This is particularly timely, because yesterday the New York Times
announced that the Digital Privacy and Security Working Group had
proposed to trade support for the administration's proposed Clipper
Chip for a lifting of the long-standing export embargo on robust
This was a misunderstanding of what the DPSWG offered the
administration in this proposal, leading to the belief that both the
DPSWG (a coalition of over 50 computer, communications, and privacy
organizations and associations) and it's principal coordinating
organization, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, have offered to ease
their opposition to Clipper.
We see it as a pragmatic effort to get the government to wiggle on
these issues: one step in the right direction, with many more to
follow. This step is that we insist that use of Clipper and key
escrow must be completely voluntary. It's not voluntary if users of
the Skipjack algorithm are forced to use key escrow. It's not
voluntary if users who do choose escrow are forced to use the
government's choice of escrow agents. It's not voluntary if
manufacturers such as AT&T are pressured into withdrawing competing
products. It's not voluntary when competing products can't be sold in
a worldwide market. It's not voluntary if the public can't see the
algorithm they are "volunteering" to use. It's not voluntary if the
government will require anyone to use Skipjack or escrow, even when
communicating with the government.
The Working Group chose to state this in a diplomatic fashion by
applauding "repeated statements by Administration officials that there
is no intent to make the clipper chip mandatory". They were diplomatic
for two reasons. First, they believe the Administration has gotten this
message. Clipper was announced in April and was supposed to be
available in the Summer. It is December, the escrow system is still
uncertain, and the Administration is still drafting a report which was
due in July. If they still don't get it, the coalition has a 100 page
white paper documenting the case against clipper and the case for
lifting export controls, which they will release in response to any
Administration position favoring Clipper.
The second reason is that the coalition was trying to use the
introduction of the Rep. Cantwell's bill eliminating many export
controls on crypto to try, one more time, to urge the Administration
to make voluntariness meaningful by unilaterally lifting export
controls. Even if the Working Group and the Administration can't
agree on Clipper, EFF and the Working Group needed to continue
pressing the export issue.
But NSA is digging in, and a legislative fight looks more likely.
If diplomacy fails, EFF must fight for our rights. Thus, we are
going to need all the allies we can find, from IBM, Apple, Lotus,
and Sun, to cryptographers, cypherpunks, and folks on the net.
EFF wants the public and the Administration to know (as we have
frequently stated to them face to face) that the Electronic Frontier
Foundation would fight to the end any attempt by the Administration to
do any more than let companies use Clipper if they want and to let people
buy it if they want -- and only in a market which has other strong
encryption schemes available because export controls have been lifted.
Under truly voluntary conditions, the EFF would be proud to say, "We
have expressed ... tentative acceptance of the Clipper Chip's
encryption scheme ... only if it is available as a voluntary
alternative to widely-available, commercially-accepted encryption
programs and products." We would applaud the Government for employing
NSA's substantial expertise to devise improved encryption schemes --
like DES and Skipjack -- and deploying them to improve our society's
privacy and security.
We hope that the Clinton Administration can agree to take this single
step. Here is the whole journey we'd like to begin. If you share our
path, we need your help and support -- please join EFF. Send the end of
this document for details.
Electronic Frontier Foundation Policy on Cryptography & Privacy
(Approved November 11, 1993)
Digital technology is rapidly rendering our commercial activities and
communications -- indeed, much of our personal lives -- open to scrutiny by
strangers. Our medical records, political opinions, personal financial
transactions, and intimate affairs now pass over digital networks where
governments, employers, insurance companies, business competitors, and
others who might turn our private lives against us can examine them with
increasing ease and detail.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation believes that Americans must be allowed
access to the cryptographic tools necessary to protect their own privacy.
We will work toward making the following principles the official policies
of the U. S. Government:
1. Private access to cryptography must be unhindered:
* There must be no laws restricting domestic use of cryptography.
* There must be no restrictions on the export of products, services,
or information because they contain cryptographic algorithms.
2. Cryptography policy and technical standards must be set in open,
* All participants in the policy debate on these issues, particularly
law enforcement and national security agencies, must submit their arguments
to public scrutiny.
* Any civilian encryption standard must be published and exposed to
rigorous public challenge.
3. Encryption must become a part of the information infrastructure to
provide security, to protect privacy, and to provide each individual
control over his or her own identity.
* Each user must be free to choose whether or not to use key escrow,
and who should have copies of their keys, if anyone.
* Government at all levels should explore cryptography's potential to
replace identity-based or dossier-based systems, such as driver's licenses,
credit cards, checks, and passports with less invasive technology.
4. New technologies must not erode constitutional protections,
particularly the right to speak, publish, and assemble, and to be free from
unreasonable searches and seizures .
* There must be no broadening of governmental access to private
communications and records, through wiretap law or otherwise, unless there
is a public consensus that the risks to safety outweigh the risks to
liberty and that our safety will actually be increased by the broadened
The Electronic Frontier Foundation recognizes that the combination of
digital communications and encryption technology does indeed threaten
some of law enforcement's current investigative techniques.
We also recognize that encryption will prevent many of the online
crimes that will likely occur without it. We further believe that
these technologies will create new investigative tools for law
enforcement, even as they obsolete old ones. Entering this new
environment, private industry, law enforcement, and private citizens
must work together to balance the requirements of both liberty and
security. But technology halts for no one, not even the law.
For Electronic Frontier Foundation membership info, send email to
firstname.lastname@example.org. For basic EFF details, send email to email@example.com.
Other queries should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stanton McCandlish email@example.com 1:109/1103 EFF Online Activist & SysOp
Date: Thu, 9 Dec 1993 11:21:50 EST
From: David Sobel
Subject: File 2--CPSR Clipper Letter to Clinton
Clipper Letter to Clinton
On December 6, the Digital Privacy and Security Working Group, a
"coalition of over 50 communications and computer companies and
associations, and consumer and privacy advocates" coordinated by the
Electronic Frontier Foundation, sent a letter to President Clinton
concerning cryptography policy. The letter states, "In our
discussions with Administration officials, we have expressed the
Coalition's tentative acceptance of the Clipper Chip's encryption
scheme (as announced on April 16, 1993), but only if it is available
as a voluntary alternative to widely-available, commercially-accepted,
encryption programs and products."
The Washington Office of Computer Professionals for Social
Responsibility (CPSR) has sent the following letter to the President.
We believe that the position stated in this letter continues to
represent the views of the vast majority of network users, as
reflected in the overwhelmingly critical comments submitted to the
National Institute of Standards and Technology in response to its
recent solicitation of public comments on the Clipper proposal.
December 8, 1993
The White House
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President,
We are writing to you regarding the Clipper cryptography
proposal now under consideration by the White House and a
letter you may have received about the proposal from a group
called the "Digital Privacy and Security Working Group."
This group wrote to you recently and expressed their
"tentative acceptance" of the Clipper Chip encryption scheme.
We disagree with their views. This group has made a grave
mistake and does not speak for the many users of computer
networks and developers of network services who have
vigorously opposed this proposal.
We are very much concerned about the Clipper proposal.
At its core is the dubious premise that the government
should have the authority to design communications networks
that facilitate wire surveillance. The plan was developed in
secret by the National Security Agency over the objection
of U.S. firms, professional associations and public interest
organizations. Key details about the proposal remain
This proposal must not be endorsed. The development of
open, unclassified standards is critical for the future of the
nation's communications infrastructure. Progress and
innovation depend on the free exchange of scientific and
technical information. It is essential to the integrity of
the scientific process that standards are openly created and
available for public review.
There is also a great need to ensure that future networks
are designed with the highest levels of privacy and security
possible. As our country becomes ever more dependent on the
high-speed network, the need for secure systems will only
increase. The Clipper proposal purposefully cripples the
security of the network and reduces the privacy protection
that users could otherwise obtain.
There is another still more serious problem with the
Clipper proposal. An agency with the authority to conduct
wiretaps must not be allowed to impose technical standards to
facilitate wire surveillance. The threat to Constitutional
democracy is clear. A system of checks and balances is
essential to ensure that the powerful investigative tools of
government are properly controlled.
We have followed the development of this proposal with
great concern. We have testified before Congressional
committees. We have appeared before agency panels, provided
reports on wire surveillance, and debated the former FBI
Director on national television. We have also sponsored
conferences with full participation from across the federal
government. We believe that the best policies will result from
an open and unrestricted exchange of views.
It is our assessment that you must not permit adoption of
the Clipper technical standard, even on a voluntary basis. At
a time when the country should be moving toward open standards
designed for commercial networks, the Clipper proposal asks
future users of the nation's information infrastructure to
accept a standard intended for the Cold War era. It is a
backward-looking plan that serves neither the interests of the
American people nor American business.
The adoption of the Clipper proposal would also ratify an
unlawful process that has undermined the authority of Congress
and weakened the mechanisms of government accountability. The
proper authority for the development of this standard never
rested with the NSA. Under the Computer Security Act of 1987,
it was a civilian agency that was to develop appropriate
standards for the nation's commercial networks. Through a
series of secret executive orders, the NSA usurped the
authority of the National Institute of Standards and
Technology, substituted its own proposal for those of NIST,
and effectively derailed this important policy process.
When the computer user community had the opportunity to
voice its position on this proposal, it rejected the plan
overwhelmingly. The notice and comment process conducted by
the Department of Commerce earlier this year resulted in
nearly uniform opposition to the Clipper proposal. It would be
hard to find a technical standard more disliked by the
potential user community.
While we support the relaxation of export controls on
cryptography, we are not willing to concede to the NSA the
right to develop secret standards. It is only because the
National Security Agency also exerts influence on export
control policy that the Digital Privacy coalition is prepared
to endorse the Clipper standard in exchange for new
opportunities to market products. It may be a good deal for
the coalition members, but it is a terrible outcome for the
rest of the country.
We very much appreciate your efforts on behalf of open
government, and your work with the Vice President and the
Secretary of Commerce to develop the nation's information
infrastructure. We believe that these efforts are sending our
country in the right direction, helping to develop advanced
technologies appropriate for a democratic nation and to
preserve open and accountable government.
But the Clipper proposal was not a creation of your
administration. It is a relic from a period that is now
moving rapidly into the history books, a time when secret
agencies made secret decisions and when backroom deals with
powerful, private interests sustained these arrangements.
It is time to end this cynical form of policy making.
We ask you to reject the deal put forward by the Digital
Privacy and Security Working Group. The Clipper proposal
should not go forward.
We would be pleased to meet with members of your
administration to discuss this matter further.
Marc Rotenberg, Director
David Sobel, Legal Counsel
Dave Banisar, Policy Analyst
CPSR Washington office
cc: The Vice President
Secretary Ron Brown, Department of Commerce
Anthony Lake, National Security Council
Computer System Security and Privacy Advisory Board
Date: Wed, 15 Dec 1993 11:19:32 EST
From: Electronic Frontier Foundation
Subject: File 3--EFF Statement on Markey Infrastructure Bill
((Reprinted from EFFector On-Line, #6.07 - 10 December, '93))
EFF Position Statement on and Summary of Bill HR-3636
National Communications Competition and Information Infrastructure Act
of 1993 Introduced by Reps. Markey, Fields and Boucher
On Monday, November 22, 1993, House Telecommunications and Finance
Subcommittee Chairman Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Minority Chairman Jack
Fields (R-Tex.), and other cosponsors introduced the "National
Communications Competition and Information Infrastructure Act of
1993." The legislation, which incorporates EFF's Open Platform
philosophy, is built on four concepts: open platform services, the
entry of telephone companies into video cable service, universal
service, and competition in the local telephone market.
Of all pending telecommunications legislation, Markey's bill is the
only one with a vision of an open, accessible network which supports a
true diversity of information sources. The legislation proposes a
major restructuring of the Communications Act of 1934 in order to
account for changes in technology, market structure, and people's
increasingly advanced information access needs.
EFF recommends strong support for the bill. For the bill to realize
its goals however, the following key changes are necessary:
* Require Open Platform Services to be tariffed at reasonable, affordable
* Strengthen non-discriminatory video dialtone access rules and eliminate
current five year sunset provision;
* Add information infrastructure access to the definition of universal
service, and ensure public interest participation in redefinition of
universal service obligations;
* Ensure that all telecommunication providers pay a fair share of
universal service costs.
These are EFF's primary concerns about the bill. We hope to broaden our
position and understanding of the bill based on the views of other
interested groups. This is a summary of the main points of the legislation
along with EFF positions and comments.
Open platform service is designed to give residential subscribers
access to voice, data, and video digital telephone service on a switched,
end-to-end basis. With Open Platform service widely available, individuals
and organizations would have ready access to a variety of important
applications on the information highway, including distance learning,
telemedicine, telecommuting, the Internet, and many more. The bill directs
the Federal Communications Commission to investigate the policy changes
needed to provide open platform service at affordable rates, but fails to
require telecommunications carriers to tariff the service.
ACTION NEEDED: The Open Platform concept should be enthusiastically
supported, but the bill as written fails to ensure that Open Platform
service will be widely available at affordable rates. Those who care about
affordable, equitable access to new information media should demand that
local telephone companies be required to tariff Open Platform services
within a specific timeframe.
ENTRY OF TELEPHONE COMPANIES INTO VIDEO PROGRAMMING
The bill promotes the entry of telephone companies into video cable
service and seeks to benefit consumers by spurring competition in the cable
television industry. The bill would rescind the ban on telephone company
ownership and delivery of video programming that was enacted in the Cable
Act of 1984. Telephone companies would be allowed to provide video
programming, through a separate subsidiary, to subscribers in its telephone
Telephone companies would be required to provide video services
through a "video platform," that would be open, in part, to all video
programming providers. The bill adopts a set of regulations originally
proposed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) called "Video
Dialtone." Under video dialtone rules, telephone companies would be
required to allow other content providers to offer video programming to
subscribers using the same video platform as used by the telephone company,
on a non-discriminatory basis. Other providers would be allowed to use up
to 75 percent of the video platform capacity. To encourage telephone
companies to actually invest in new information infrastructure, they would
be prohibited from buying existing cable systems within their telephone
service territory, with only tightly drawn exceptions.
However, the video dialtone requirement would end in five years, after
which telephone companies would have no requirement at all to provide
non-discriminatory access to their video platform.
ACTION NEEDED: Video dialtone is a useful starting point for structuring
non-discriminatory video access, but its provisions must be strengthened.
First, there should be no fixed expiration date for the video dialtone
requirements. An open platform for video information is critical to the
free flow of information in society. These requirements should be relaxed
only when it is clear than there are sufficient alternatives throughout the
country for distribution of video and multimedia information Alternatives
would include widely available, affordable Open Platform service capable of
carrying full-motion, video programming. Second, stronger safeguards
against anti-competitive behavior are necessary.
Finally, more explicit provisions assuring access for third party video
servers are needed to ensure the all programmers can use video dialtone to
disseminate their video programs. Video dialtone rules fail to consider
how to guarantee third party access to interactive functions of a video
dialtone platform. Interactive technology is so new and untested that it
has hard to legislate about it at this point. The FCC should, however, be
instructed to study this issue as new interactive capabilities become
One of the goals of the bill is to "preserve universal
telecommunications at affordable rates." To achieve this goal, the bill
would establish a joint Federal-State Board (made up of FCC members and
state regulators) to devise a framework for ensuring continued universal
service. The Board would be required to define the nature and extent of
the services encompassed within a telephone company's universal service
obligation. The Board also would be charged with promoting access to
advanced telecommunications technology.
The FCC is required to prescribe standards necessary to ensure that
advances in network capabilities and services deployed by common carriers
are designed to be accessible to individuals with disabilities, unless an
undue burden is posed by such requirements. Additionally, within one year
of enactment, the bill requires the FCC to initiate an inquiry to examine
the effects of competition in the provision of both telephone exchange
access and telephone exchange service furnished by rural carriers.
ACTION NEEDED: Include an explicit requirement that advanced digital
access services be included in the universal service definition as soon as
is practical. Create a mechanism for public interest participation in the
process of defining the components of universal service in the information
VIDEO PLATFORM AND FRANCHISE REQUIREMENTS
Any telephone company that establishes a video platform would be required
to meet 1992 Cable Act standards concerning customer privacy rights,
consumer protection, and customer service. Telephone companies would be
required to meet the same standards as cable companies for diversity in
commercial programming, to assure that the broadest possible information
sources are made available to the public. Like cable companies, telephone
companies would be required to comply with public, educational, and
governmental (PEG) access rules. Telephone companies also would be
required to meet standards concerning re-transmission consent for cable
Some Cable Act requirements concerning cable companies would expressly not
be applicable to telephone companies. These include: general franchise
requirements; franchise fees; regulation of rates; regulation of services,
facilities, and equipment; consumer electronics equipment compatibility;
modification of franchise obligations; renewal proposals; conditions of
sale; unauthorized reception of cable service; equal employment; limitation
on franchising authority liability; and coordination of federal, state, and
Instead of Cable Act compliance, the legislation provides that a video
programming affiliate of any telephone company that establishes a video
platform would be subject to the payment of fees imposed by a local
franchising authority. The rate at which these fees would be imposed cannot
exceed the rate at which franchise fees are imposed on any operator
transmitting video programming in the same service area.
In order to promote competition in local telecommunications
service, the bill requires that local telephone companies open their
networks to competitors who wish to interconnect with the public switched
telephone network. These interconnect rules will enable any other network
operator to offer basic telephone service as well as advanced data services
in direct competition with the local phone company. The FCC would be
required to establish rules for compensating local telephone companies for
providing interconnection and equal access.
ACTION NEEDED: Local competition can be a benefit to consumers and spur
the development of innovative new services, as long as all interconnecting
networks pay their fair share of the cost of using the public telephone
network. All who interconnect should be required to support the cost of
basic universal service.
For More Information Contact:
Daniel J. Weitzner, Senior Staff Counsel
Copies of the legislation and this summary are available on EFF's
Internet FTP site: ftp.eff.org, in the directory
pub/eff/legislation/hr3636 and hr3636.summary. More information on
EFF's Open Platform initiative can be found in pub/eff/papers/o*,
particularly the file op2.0.
Date: Mon, 13 Dec 1993 13:57:12 EST
From: Bill Seward
Subject: File 4--Child Porn Bust in North Carolina
The following item is from the Dec. 12, 1993 Greensboro (NC) News &
"Police charge man with pornography" (Associated Press)
A Salisbury [NC] man was charged Friday with operating a computer
bulletin board known as "Munchkin-Land," which povided access to nude
photographs of young girls, federal authorities said.
Charges were filed in federal court in Greensboro against Terry James
Closner, 37. Closner has agreed to forfeit 58 computer disks and more
than $9,000 in computer equipment seized in September from his home, a
federal agent said.
If convicted, Closner faces up to 10 years in federal prison and fines
up to $250,000 that depend partly on whether he profited from child
Closner was charged in a bill of information alleging that he traded
in minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct of masterbation, sexual
intercourse and lascivious exhibition," the Winston-Salem (NC)
A two-year international investigation into the
computerized-pronography trade in the United States led to 31 searches
in 15 states and U.S. cities.
I assume that this must have been one of the 31 searches, although it is
not explicitly stated as such.
Date: Wed, 15 Dec 1993 19:04:44 -0800
From: Jim Warren
Subject: File 5--Complaints prompt Patent Office hearings on SOFTWARE PATENTS
Complaints prompt Patent Office hearings on SOFTWARE PATENTS
Just got these [incomplete] details from Jon Erickson, Editor-in-Chief
of my old "home," Dr. Dobb's Journal [please repost freely]:
The Patent and Trademark Office will be issuing (or, perhaps, has just
issued) a, "Request for Comments on Intellectual Property Protection
for Software-Related Inventions," with at least some of the comments
apparently to be presented at two 2-day public hearings:
Jan 26-27, San Jose Convention Center, San Jose CA
Feb 11-12, Crystal Forum, Crystal City Convention Center, Arlington VA
Jon first heard of this as an incidental comment by Patent
Commissioner Bruce Lehman (an ex-D.C. patent attorney) at the joint
BRIE-DoC conference held in the San Francisco Bay Area in October.
BRIE is the Berkeley Roundtable on the International Economy, in which
Clinton Economist Laura Tyson was active. Reportedly, all sorts of
DoC undersecretaries were in attendance, as was DoC Ron Brown. And,
reportedly, they and Undersecretary Lehman received a heated earfull
of vehement complaints about the software-patent mess. It was at that
time that Lehman made an incidental comment that they were planning
hearings on this, early in '94. As of three weeks ago, they still
hadn't firmed up dates - so this is apparently "hot off the wire."
(Jon will be addressing it in the Feb'94 DDJ, the earliest issue in
which he could insert details, once he got 'em.)
Seems to me that of us who prefer freedom of logic, rather than
corporate monopoly of rationality (sez I, provocatively :-) should get
geared up to saturate that RFC and those hearings with pro-freedom
testimony and specific proposals. I got these details after business
hours in D.C., so don't yet know how to file a comment or request to
be heard. When I know more, you'll know more.
[I'm *wildly* backlogged on my email - perhaps 2,000 messages behind.
So, if you need to communicate with me about this, better call
(415-851-7075). But, I *will* send new details as I get 'em.]
Totally off the top of my head, I suspect testimony and comments
should - in total - cover the following, as possible:
* Clearly support software copyright protections, as separate from
opposing software patents.
* Detail horror stories of rank stupidity in some current software
* Detail the financial waste, staff waste, product delays, innovation
* Detail the *harm* to U.S. business and commerce of permitting the
patenting of logical instruction-sequences - giving specific costs
* Detail the historical harm, abuse and disregard accorded ill-funded
individuals and small companies when they patented technology desired
by dorporate giants (e.g., TV inventor Filo Farnsworth, who never got
a penny; xerography inventor Carlson who was old and gray before he
finally won compensation from the corporate monoliths, etc.). We need
to address and dispell the delusion that patents protect the small
* Illustrate the chilling effect on technologists' creativity and
innovation if/when they must check each line of code the create
against all possible software patents - once they are public.
* Address the difficulty -verging on impossibility -of separating
"properly-protectable," "significant" software "invention" from
improperly-protected incremental software innovation. * Outline the
dangers to U.S. competitiveness as foreign corporations - less
preoccupied with the near-term quarterly bottom-line - rigorously
research software-applications areas (e.g., fuzzy logic), and patent
every comma and semicolon of trivia.
* Outline dangers to national security and proper governmental
processes from some software patents (e.g., tax-funded creation of
public-key crypto, West Publishing's copyright of federal case-law
citation numbers, etc.).
* Someone(s) better research the NAFTA and GATT agreements and see
what hidden gotchas we have - or are about to - lock ourselves into re
software processes. E.g., there has been mention that both the GATT
and NAFTA functionally mandate software patents; also, there are
rumors that the GATT (at least at one time) prohibited reverse
engineering! I.e., is this RFC too late?
* Assuming that we will continue to be screwed by software patents in
some form, propose concrete limitations on what can be patented.
* Assuming ditto, propose a concrete structure for the
software-patent process - one that will at least deter or catch some
of the more idiotic patents that have been granted.
* Assuming ditto, urge normalising U.S. patents - software and
otherware - with those of the rest of the world, expecially regarding
issues of first-to-use versus first-to-file and disclosure-upon-filing
versus disclosure-upon-patent. (How the hell can programmers
determine whether they're violating an already-used
potentially-patentable procedure, when it's often not disclosed until
several years after its holy first use?!!)
* Assuming ditto, propose a *very* short protection period for
software patents - given the very short development period, speed to
market and brief useful life of a given software product.
* Asumming ditto, propose a comprehensive public PTO library of prior
art, with penalties against the PTO and PTO staff for issuing software
patents when there is prior art in that library. (The Draconian
* And then there are the trivial matters of Constitutional Principles
and software-industry history: The Constitution authorizes patents,
"To promote the progress of science and useful arts." Software
patents do the opposite. Computing and software innovation has grown
vigorously and generated unending millionaires and corporate successes
*without* the protection of software patents. There are endless
examples of developments that would not have happened at all, or would
have occured decades later, if earlier software developments had been
patented - b-trees, shell-sort, relational DBMS, GUIs, object-oriented
programming, n-way tape merges, packet nets, etc.
More flames later. THIS IS THE TIME TO SPEAK UP! NOW!
Date: Thu, 9 Dec 93 11:45:45 PST
From: Susan Evoy
Subject: File 6--Edited ASIS '94 Mid Year Meeting Announcement
----- Forwarded message begins here -----
From--American Society for Information Science
Subject--ASIS '94 Mid-Year Meeting
1994 Mid-Year Meeting, American Society for Information
Navigating the Networks
May 22 - 25, 1994
Red Lion Hotel, Columbia River
With amazing speed electronic networking systems have
grown up around us; once simple roads leading directly to
our destination have become a complex of interchanges and
intersections, whether seen or not. Networking has
experienced a phenomenal rate of growth (11,000 networks
currently); the need for road maps, directional signs and
directories is painfully clear and the implementation of
wireless communications has barely begun.
What will the interfaces be in the future? Will there be
"smart highways" guiding drivers speed, direction, etc.
and determining the best routing? Will knowbotsc become
the search vehicle of choice? Who, if anyone, will be
the electronic traffic cops and can we rely on either the
legislatures or the courts to determine our future? Will
there be toll roads? Can the electronic highways as we
now know them (public networks) support both individual
users (passenger cars) and commercial users (the tractor
trailers of the digital highways)? What changes will
take place in publishing, both scholarly and commercial?
While online communicating via networks was once
predominantly academic/research, the corporate world is
the fastest growing sector (over 500,000 users) of
national and international network users. Commercial
How will legitimate U.S. and corporate security concerns
and individual privacy fears be ameliorated in the new
high speed data highway system? Will commercial traffic
fundamentally alter the education/research sense of
community that has grown up with Internet?
Will "sneaker nets," LANs and WANs, be replaced by
wireless networks, groupware and collaborative computer-
supported work. What changes will result in how we work
and what we do? Will decisions inexorably become more
democratic but slower as has been predicted? Will the
horns and shouts of inner city traffic be a metaphor for
the "white noise" of computer lists and discussion
groups? What tools exist for filtering out "noise" and
what impact will that have on our work?
The 1994 ASIS Mid-Year Meeting, "Navigating the Networks"
has as its focus the human side of networks, the
psychology and sociology of using networks. What has
been and will be the impact of networking technology on
the individual and on organizations, their structure and
ASIS 1994 Mid-Year Meeting
8720 Georgia Avenue, Suite 501
Silver Spring, MD 20910
End of Computer Underground Digest #5.94