Computer underground Digest Wed Mar 16, 1994 Volume 6 : Issue 25 ISSN 1004-042X Editors: J
Computer underground Digest Wed Mar 16, 1994 Volume 6 : Issue 25
Editors: Jim Thomas and Gordon Meyer (TK0JUT2@NIU.BITNET)
Archivist: Brendan Kehoe (He's Baaaack)
Acting Archivist: Stanton McCandlish
Shadow-Archivists: Dan Carosone / Paul Southworth
Ralph Sims / Jyrki Kuoppala
Koppa Ediqor: Phirho Shrdlu
CONTENTS, #6.25 (Mar 16, 1994)
File 1--Documenting the Rigged & Deadly Cultural Context of Info Age
File 2--Privacy, Communications, and Cryptography
File 3--How Citizens can Pursue Net Grassroots Polit. Action
File 4--Gray Areas (Magazine) and The Computer underground
Cu-Digest is a weekly electronic journal/newsletter. Subscriptions are
available at no cost electronically.
CuD is available as a Usenet newsgroup: comp.society.cu-digest
Or, to subscribe, send a one-line message: SUB CUDIGEST your name
Send it to LISTSERV@UIUCVMD.BITNET or LISTSERV@VMD.CSO.UIUC.EDU
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 RIPCO BBS (312) 528-5020 (and via Ripco on internet);
and on Rune Stone BBS (IIRGWHQ) (203) 832-8441.
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
FTP: UNITED STATES: etext.archive.umich.edu (22.214.171.124) in /pub/CuD/
aql.gatech.edu (126.96.36.199) in /pub/eff/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: Wed, 9 Mar 1994 23:44:29 CST
From: Vigdor Schreibman - FINS
Subject: File 1--Documenting Rigged & Deadly Cultural Context of Info Age
FINS SPECIAL REPORT MARCH 7, 1994
FINS INFORMATION AGE LIBRARY ADDITIONS
Documenting the Rigged & Deadly Cultural
Context of the Emerging Information Age
Washington, DC--Fins Information Age Lib will release, Mar 8, 1994, a new
online directory: Periodicals_and_Newspapers. This directory will contain
thoughtful, thorough, and provocative articles of special relevance to the
emerging Information Age. In this undertaking, Fins intends to track the
antidemocratic propaganda model of the mass media developed by American
business that has been discussed by writers during the last half of the
twentieth century (Arendt, 1950; Lindblom, 1977; Herman & Chomski, 1988).
Special emphasis will be placed on the technological imperative of the
Information Age now being pursued by the "one-eyed prophets" of the
Clinton-Gore Administration, which threaten totalitarian dangers of the
"Technopoly" described by communications critic Postman (1992). Finally,
articles that discuss alternative possibilities that can sustain and enhance
democracy will also be highlighted.
The articles now presented in the Periodicals_and_Newspapers directory
disclose the rigged and lopsided competition of core ideas, and deadly
cultural context of the emerging Information Age. In addition to several
articles previously released in electronic format there are two articles new
to the Internet. This includes a three-part series on "The Capital and
Capitol Hill," written by Vigdor Schreibman, which describes the core values
and systemic foundation for soaring youth homicide in the United States,
nested in an economic system with undue reliance placed upon the ethic of
profit maximization, guided by narrow individualism and the morality of the
marketplace. The directory also contains an original article by Schreibman
on, "Preservation of an American Heritage," which discusses the conflict
between technology and the preservation of America's cultural
heritage. The article was originally scheduled for publication by
Washington's HILL RAG, Mar 4, 1994, but was killed without
explanation. It is now included online in
Now included in Periodicals_and_Newspapers are the following
Fins-PaN-01 Vigdor Schreibman, "The Politics of Cyberspace"
(Fins ed., Jan 1994) (Figures 1-3, of this work are included in
separate files, uuencode version: Fins-PaN-01a to 01c)
Fins-PaN-02 Richard E. Sclove, "Democratizing Technology," in
THE CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION, Jan 12, 1994, pp. B1-B2
Fins-PaN-03 Patryk Silver, Bell Atlantic-TCI: Merger Mania,
and Edward S. Herman, Peter Pangloss Predicts, and Herbert I.
Schiller, The Corporate Pipeline Into Our Heads, in LIES OF OUR TIMES,
Fins-PaN-041 Vigdor Schreibman, Part 1, "The Capital and
Capitol Hill: Propagating a counter-culture of madness" (Fins ed.,
Mar 1994) (Figure 1, of this work is included in a separate file,
uuencode version: Fins-PaN-04b)
Fins-PaN-042 Vigdor Schreibman, Part 2, "The Capital and
Capitol Hill: A setting for madness (Fins ed., Mar 1994) (Table 1, of
this work is included in a separate file, uuencode version:
Fins-PaN-043 Vigdor Schreibman, Part 3, "The Capital and
Capitol Hill: The triumph of Jeffersonian Democracy (Fins ed., Mar
Fins-PaN-05 Vigdor Schreibman, "Preservation of an American
Heritage" (Fins ed., Mar 1994)
Follow these directions to browse the Fins Information Age Lib:
If you have a Gopher client :
gopher to inform.umd.edu
and go to the directory
If you have ftp :
ftp to inform.umd.edu
cd to inforM/Educational_Resources/Computers_and_Society/Fins_Information_Age
BECOME A MEMBER OF FINS--COLLABORATE IN PROTECTING THE SPIRIT OF CYBERSPACE
Membership rate: $30.00 a year. United States and International members
receive 24 issues of Fins News Columns a year; plus networking, or print
reproduction rights in primary markets; plus Fins Information Age Library.
Federal Information News Syndicate, Vigdor Schreibman, Editor & Publisher,
18-9th St. NE #206, Washington, DC 20002. Internet: email@example.com.
Date: Thu, 3 Mar 1994 22:12:58 -0500 (EST)
From: "Shabbir J. Safdar"
Subject: File 2--Privacy, Communications, and Cryptography
Have you ever wondered why so many people get caught talking on
their cellular phones?
Or perhaps why people laugh when they talk about the security of
The reason we cannot assure the privacy of our personal communications
is because the government places strict controls on the only
technology that protects our privacy: cryptography.
Cryptography can assure our privacy unlike anything else in history.
Let's say you are given a driver's license by the state of NY. If
you do something to annoy the state, you can lose your driver's
Cryptographic privacy cannot be taken away. A tyrannical government
or a rogue police dept. cannot eavesdrop on your well-encrypted
conversations or read your well-encrypted email by stealing your
However cryptographic technology in recent years has been carefully
controlled by the government. Anyone who wanted to build a product
with real privacy built into it, such as an encrypting cellular
telephone, would be subjected to a litany of absurd government
regulations. Ultimately they would be limited to producing their
product for US use only. The legal fees just to get this far
may still be daunting enough to have discouraged most manufacturers
from putting cryptographic technology into their products. Their
markets would be automatically diminished to be US-only, perhaps
not enough to warrant developing the product for market.
The gov't. claims this is done in the interest of national
security. Can this be true? Many of these products are
available outside the US already. In fact many stronger products
are available outside the US both from vendors and on the Internet
anonymous ftp sites.
US companies are constrained by these regulations since they cannot
compete with other international companies in the global
marketplace. US citizens lose their privacy because their own
firms are unable to provide them with the products they need.
You can change this!
Rep. Maria Cantwell has introduced legislation (cryptographic export bill
HR 3627) that would fix the cryptographic export laws to allow
businesses to produce eqiupment with strong cryptography for sale
in the global marketplace.
This will mean more privacy-enhancing products for ordinary citizens
like you and me.
HR 3627 currently has five co-sponsors. The current co-sponsors are:
Shepherd - Utah
Wyden - Oregon
Orton - Utah
Manzulo - Illinois
Edwards - California
Can one person make a difference? Sure, just ask Colin Campbell
from Utah. He wrote Rep. Karen Shepherd and asked her to co-sponsor
Rep. Cantwell's bill. Rep. Shepherd's office had been thinking about
the bill, and between constituent support, her own good judgement,
and good advice from several software companies she decided to
co-sponsor the bill.
Would she have co-sponsored if Colin hadn't written his letter?
Perhaps not. In the last election (1992) Shepherd (who is now only a
freshman legislator) defeated her challenger, Enid Greene with only a
2% margin (52% vs. 48%). Had she thought that this might be a
sensitive issue with voters, she might have merely passed it up, like
so many other pieces of legislation that get filed every year and go
Help your legislator make this difference. Ask them to co-sponsor
or support HR 3627. It's very very easy. All you do is call, write,
or fax (you bought that fax modem for a reason, right?!) your
representative. Ask them to support HR 3627 because its good for
privacy and its good for business.
Once when working in another state, I asked a state legislator what sort of
mail they got. One said "five letters is a landslide". Although
US reps and Senators get significantly more, it shows how much of an
impact one group of individuals can have.
HERE'S WHAT TO DO
Act now! This bill will be in "mark-up" next week! The last step
before it is reported to the House floor!
1. Find out your legislator's name or number. You can do this by calling
the League of Women Voters in your area, or by calling the
City Board of Elections. If you're truly lazy, you can write to
me with your city and I'll find it for you. (If you recognize
your legislator's name or district, ftp the current list of
Reps and Senators from una.hh.lib.umich.edu in the directory
2. Call/write/fax your representative and tell them you would like them
to support HR 3627. Colin Campbell's letter below is a good
example. (It's a success story!) Let me know what his/her
reaction is by dropping me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
3. Continue reading EFFector Online, Computer Underground Digest, and
other publications for progress announcements.
4. If you want to help coordinate the legislators in your state,
join the mailing list email@example.com. It's dedicated to
passing HR 3627 and other similar legislation. Join and send
mail saying, "I'll make sure gets taken care of!"
Colin Campbell's successful letter
A copy of HR 3627
[excerpt of email from Colin Cambpell]
I faxed a message to Rep. Karen Shepherd on Feb 16 (see below for
text). A member of her staff called me on the telephone a few days
later. I can't quote verbatim, but he said:
1) Rep. Shepherd hadn't been aware of the issue previously.
2) After receiving my letter, they did some research and
decided the Cantewll bill was a good idea. I got the
impression that they contacted some software industry
3) She will be co-sponsoring the bill.
A copy of what I faxed to her is attached. You may use my name and
city publicly, as well as any of the text of my letter.
Glad to help a worthy cause,
;;; text of Fax sent Feb 16, 1994
Rep. Karen Shepherd
U.S. House of Representatives
Dear Rep. Shepherd:
I would like to register my strong support for H.R. 3627, Legislation
to Amend the Export Administration Act of 1979. The bill proposes to
end the ban on the export of privacy and data-security software from
As a longtime worker in the software industry, I can attest to the
senseless and counter-productive effects of the current export
restrictions on cryptographic software.
For me, the issue is simple:
1) The current ban is ineffective. There is no way to control
the availability of privacy software in other countries.
Software is not a commodity that is consumed and continually
reexported to replenish supply; it is information and technology.
The encryption technology in question is already fully available
wherever there are computers. Whether we like it or not,
the genie is out of the bottle and will not be put back.
2) The U.S. software industry is severely hampered by not
being able to export products with privacy
and data-security features. This is about jobs.
I think cryptography has a bit of an image problem. I think it is
inaccurately associated in popular thinking with secrecy, espionage
and even crime or terrorism. In fact, privacy software is just an
electronic "envelope." It is as common and unexotic as paper
envelopes or locking file cabinets.
I regularly send my mail sealed in envelopes made of opaque paper, and
no one would interpret this practice as evidence of criminal intent.
Similarly, I file my business documents in a locking file cabinet. In
the future, nearly all electronic communication will be enclosed in
secure, software "envelopes." This is proper, natural and in no way
suspect. And it is a growth industry for the U.S., if we are only
sensible enough to recognize and take advantage of the opportunity.
I believe that the arguments of national security offered by opponents
of the proposed legislation are not compelling. I suspect that many
in the law enforcement and national security communities, who pursued
the majority of their careers with the technology and politics of the
Cold War, regret the wide availability of electronic privacy;
undeniably, it does make their job harder. However, whether or not we
allow privacy software to be exported will not change this.
Classifying privacy software as a "munition" makes about as much sense
as classifying personal computers and photocopy machines as implements
of war. Are we willing to forbid the export of personal computers and
photocopy machines for national security reasons as well?
Now is an opportunity for progressive, forward-thinking approaches to
electronic communications and the software industry. Our national
policy should reflect the realities of the technology and the public
interest. Needlessly crippling one of our most vital industries with
a policy which is ineffective at meeting its stated goals is not in
that interest. I urge you to support and even co-sponsor H.R. 3627. As
you know, Utah is one of the country's major centers of software
development. This is an issue that is very important to the software
If there is any way I can help you in your effort pass HR 3627,
please let me know.
Thank you for your consideration.
Below is a copy of the Cantwell bill. It and much more valuable
information about pending legislation is also available at ftp.eff.org
103D CONGRESS H.R. 3627
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
MS. CANTWELL (for herself and ___) introduced the following bill which
was referred to the Committee on __________.
To amend the Export Administration Act of 1979 with
respect to the control of computers and related equipment.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representa-
tives of the United States of America in Congress Assembled,
SECTION 1. GENERALLY AVAILABLE SOFTWARE
Section 17 of the Export Administration Act of 1979
(50 U.S.C. App. 2416) is amended by adding at the end
thereof the following new subsection:
``(g) COMPUTERS AND RELATED EQUIPMENT.---
``(1) GENERAL RULE.---Subject to paragraphs
(2) and (3), the Secretary shall have exclusive au-
thority to control exports of all computer hardware,
software and technology for information security
(including encryption), except that which is specifi-
cally designed or modified for military use, including
command, control and intelligence applications.
``(2) ITEMS NOT REQUIRING LICENSES.---
No validated license may be required, except pursuant
to the Trading With The Enemy Act or the Inter-
national Emergency Economic Powers Act (but only
to the extent that the authority of such act is not
exercised to extend controls imposed under this act),
for the export or reexport of---
``(A) any software, including software with
encryption capabilities, that is---
``(i) generally available, as is, and is
designed for installation by the purchaser; or
``(ii) in the public domain or publicly
available because it is generally accessible
to the interested public in any form; or
``(B) any computing device soley because
it incorporates or employs in any form software
(including software with encryption capabilities)
exempted from any requirement for a validated
license under subparagraph (A).
``(3) SOFTWARE WITH ENCRYPTION CAPABILITIES.
--- The Secretary shall authorize the export or
reexport of software with encryption capabilities for
nonmilitary end-uses in any country to which ex-
ports of software of similar capability are permitted
for use by financial institutions not controlled in fact
by United States persons, unless there is substantial
evidence that such software will be---
``(A) diverted to a military end-use or an
end-use supporting international terrorism;
``(B) modified for military or terrorist end-
``(C) reexported without requisite United
``(4) DEFINITIONS.---As used in this subsection---
``(A) the term `generally available' means,
in the case of software (including software with
encryption capabilities), software that is offered
for sale, license, or transfer to any person with-
out restriction through any commercial means,
including, but not limited to, over-the-counter
retail sales, mail order transactions, phone
order transactions, electronic distribution, or
sale on approval;
``(B) the term `as is' means, in the case of
software (including software with encryption ca-
pabilities), a software program that is not de-
signed, developed, or tailored by the software
company for specific purchasers, except that
such purchasers may supply certain installation
parameters needed by the software program to
function properly with the purchaser's system
and may customize the software program by
choosing among options contained in the soft-
``(C) the term `is designed for installation
by the purchaser' means, in the case of soft-
ware (including software with encryption capa-
``(i) the software company intends for
the purchaser (including any licensee or
transferee), who may not be the actual
program user, to install the software pro-
gram on a computing device and has sup-
plied the necessary instructions to do so,
except that the company may also provide
telephone help line services for software in-
stallation, electronic transmission, or basic
``(ii) that the software program is de-
signed for installation by the purchaser
without further substantial support by the
``(D) the term `computing device' means a
device which incorporates one or more
microprocessor-based central processing units
that can accept, store, process or provide out-
put of data; and
``(E) the term `computer hardware', when
used in conjunction with information security,
includes, but is not limited to, computer sys-
tems, equipment, application-specific assem-
blies, modules and integrated circuits.''
Date: Mon, 14 Mar 1994 14:31:04 -0800
From: Jim Warren
Subject: File 3--How Citizens can Pursue Net Grassroots Polit. Action
((This is a slightly-modified version of will appear in my "Access to
Government" column in the April, 1994, issue of BOARDWATCH magazine,
the oldest rag for bulletin-board sysops and users; 8500 W. Bowles Ave
#210, Littleton CO 80123; 800-933-6038;
firstname.lastname@example.org . ]
HOW CITIZENS CAN PURSUE PRACTICAL, POTENT, GRASSROOTS POLITICAL
ACTION - NET-BASED, COMPUTER-AIDED
by Jim Warren
(c) 1994. May be copied-in-full at any time after Apr.15, 1994, in any form,
provided this notice is included and no fee is charged for the specific copy
nor for a paper publication of which it is a part.
This details how individuals can personally pursue powerful, effective
political action. I am convinced that its use will explode in the '96
presidential elections and will mature by 1999.
Delightfully, this only works for positions that have broad public support,
though usually among disorganized and geographically scattered citizens. It's
useless for covert special interests; in fact, it can overpower their
Let me not understate this:
*I believe that the mature version of this approach will dominate
irresistable citizen-based political action in the 21st Century.*
There are two reasons for wanting access to government:
* A docile serf's interest and fear concerning what benefit and harm his or
her Master has decided to impose.
* A free[wo]man's interest in participating in the process of his own
governance - exercising citizen control over government power.
The latter requires the power to act - to effectively participate in shaping
one's own destiny, the difference between a slave and a freeman - as well as
timely access to information on which to base informed action.
I stumbled into developing parts of this while pursuing last year's effort to
mandate free online access to Californica's [sic] legislative and statutory
information, outlined in my December, 1993, *BoardWatch* column.
However, this adds *major* features and enormously expands its empowerment
of individual citizens.
As time permits, I expect to personally use it this year to:
(1) help make state political disclosures and other public records freely and
timely available, electronically,
(2) redress the Clinton/Gore administration's bizarre anti-privacy efforts to
prohibit peep-proof personal and business communications, and
(3) reverse the Patent Office's zeal to grant 20-year monopoly-patents for
every iota of software innovation - but only to those with enough wealth and
lawyers to obtain them and defend them.
[If interested, send me email.]
However, this political-action system is presented here, in general terms.
TYPES OF APPLICATIONS
Typical citizen uses include:
* Persuade one decision-maker - an elected official, appointed commissioner,
public administrator, President, etc.
* Persuade a controlling percentage of a small legislative or policy-making
group - typically a majority of a state or Congressional legislative committee
or Commission or Board.
* Persuade a controlling percentage of a larger group - usually the upper or
lower house of a state legislature or Congress.
The following first outlines some political fundamentals, then offers nuts-
'n'-bolts details of how to apply networked computers to those fundamentals to
achieve citizen-based control over government.
The body politic - when given (1) adequate information on which to base
informed decisions, (2) adequate time in which to fully consider the
information, and (3) the belief that its actions *can* make a difference -
*will* act for the common good, better than any single overseer or governing
body. The only alternative is a Master Class ruling subservient citizen-
Government is force. (George Washington said it.)
Politics is persuasion. (I said it, though surely thousands have said it
before me.) Thus, political power is the power of persuasion - the power to
motivate others to do as you wish - company politics, community politics,
sexual politics, etc. This concerns governmental politics - using persuasion
to control government force.
Given that government imposes its will upon us all, it is absolutely justified
for any citizen - hoping to control his or her own destiny - to pursue maximum
political action, seeking to persuade as many others as possible to join
together in directing government.
It's also absolutely inescapable.
Politics is about persuading government decision-makers - singularly and in
globs - to use government force as it "should" be used, which of course, is
determined by the eye of the beholder.
It particularly concerns persuading constituents to direct their
representatives, and voters to replace unresponsive elected officials with
candidates who appear like they *will* be responsive, or - in the case of
ballot initiatives - to vote as they "should" vote on such measures.
Politics had its own "modern math" - memorized by every successful
Most of the House of Representative's 535 Congressional Districts have
perhaps 560,000 population. But only about half of the population is
registered to vote - maybe 280,000 per District. And only about half to two-
thirds of those who are registered typically vote - 140,000 to about 180,000,
often identifiable by how recently they registered and the number and types of
recent elections in which they voted.
Naive potential activists might then think they need to persuade at least
half of about 160,000 voters to support their views - and promptly give up,
wheezing, "You can't fight city hall." Not so!
Most contested elections (with *numerous* exceptions) are won by a 5% to 10%
margin, or less - perhaps 7,000 to 18,000 of the typical number of actual
voters in a typical House race. And that's the backbone-dissolving hidden
horror haunting professional politicians:
*A single individual who can swing 35,000 to 9,000 voters from one side to
the opposite side can often control an election!*
Furthermore, the most-persuasive advocacy is by non-partisan citizens
contacting other citizens - for elections - or by groups of them to their
elected representative(s) - for government action. Politicians *know* how
powerful any single persuasive, tenacious citizen can be.
FURTHER POLITICAL PRAGMATICS
Elected officials enter and remain in the meat-grinder of public office for
some shifting combination of three rewards: ego to feel good, power to do
good, and salary+percs as compensation for difficult work - just like most
folks who hold jobs that they like. Ego, however, tends to play a *much*
bigger part than in most other jobs. Thus stroking it and flailing it can be
more persuasive in politics than in most other environs.
Excluding physical force, there are three approaches that are irresistibly
persuasive to elected officials:
* Praise and/or other rewards for desirable action,
* Criticism and/or other penalties for undesired action, and
* *Apparent* ability to *potentially* impact their ability to remain in the
elective offices from which all their rewards flow.
And the *belief* by an elected official that a citizen can deliver
significant support for or opposition to their re-election completely
overshadows the power of the first two rewards - including financial "rewards"
from lobbyists and special interests.
To emphasize: *The potential ability to sway only a few-thousand voters for
or against an elected official is the most persuasive tool in this nation's
And our interconnected thinkertoys massively-enhance citizens' personal
political power - as individuals, ignoring wealth (but requiring tenacity).
Here's tomorrow's grassroots political-action system, available now:
A user must have at least the following equipment:
* Desktop computer with a diskette or "large" hard disk (size hints, later),
* Modem, 2400-baud or higher and basic datacomm software, connected to a
residential-quality dial-up telephone or better (a fax-modem increases the
system's political power),
* Plain-paper, solid-character printer with a typewriter-style monofont;
laser-printer optional but preferred (color printer may be useful; dot-matrix
printers are harmful), and
* For state or federal action, a personal account on an Internet host is
essential, typically costing under $30/month.
Caveat: Such equipment and connections should belong to an individual
citizen-activist and be used on their own time - protected by the First
Amendment's speech and assembly freedoms - or be owned and operated by a
registered political organization.
They'd best not belong to a school, nonprofit organization, business or
corporation nor operated during work-hours. Otherwise, they become "in-kind"
political contributions that may be prohibited or require disclosure in formal
campaign filings. (Incidentally, the same holds true for telephones, copying
machines, etc., used for political action - Beware!)
The body politic must be able to communicate with itself; i.e., it must be
able to identify and locate its decision-makers - its voters.
A soapbox in Hyde Park is no longer sufficient for effective political
action. *Modern* activism, if it is to be significant, *requires* access to
voter-registration data in machine-readable form - at least names and mailing
addresses for the action's targeted area(s). These are almost-universally
available, usually at very low cost, though often only on 9-track dinosaur-
compatible magtape. (Beware! Some incumbent politicians and political
machines, that already have well-developed voter lists, want to severely
restrict such citizen access to the nation's most-powerful decision-makers,
the voters, in the name of privacy.)
It is *preferable* but not essential to also have computerized names,
addresses and fax numbers of broadcast and print news-media and reporters, and
of radio talk-show hosts, and for community organizations and businesses and
their leaders, and of elected officials and senior public administrators -
helpful but not essential.
Colonial times and the radio era required oratorical skills to be
politically effective; that excludes many of us. In the TV era, a pretty face
and svelte body are perhaps the most important political prerequisite; which
excludes most of us. In contrast, this citizen-action system is based on
content; not slick voice nor trite facade. Our computers are our Great
Equalizers. But we *do* need ability:
1. At least one person must be skilled in writing persuasive communications -
just as was essential in the times of Patrick Henry's electrifying pamphlets
and the anonymously-authored Federalist Papers.
2. Someone must have working knowledge of how the targeted real-world
political environment actually operates - local, state, federal, legislative,
executive, administrative, elective or regulatory, and so on.
3. One or several people need to be able to build and maintain simple
datafiles - most being rather small except for an area's voter-reg files,
which can still fit easily on a micro. E.g., something less than 800,000
voter-reg records for Silicon Valley's Santa Clara County take less than 275
megabytes in uncompressed fixed-field format.
3.5. Desktop-computer graphic-arts skills sufficient to create 8-1/2" x 11"
leaflet-copy about the advocacy subject may be useful.
There's one final prerequisite - *always* required for effective political
action: A monumental amount of time and personal tenacity. But, for this
system, it's only needed by one or a very few organizers or coordinators.
No powerful boss or dictatorial director is needed.
No traditional political organization is needed.
No large or established operation is needed.
No fatcats or big political bankrolls are needed. In fact, no one needs to
receive, have or control loot beyond pocket change - just enough to cover the
cost of net-connections and the above-noted equipment and data-files and their
use, as follows.
TUTORIAL FOR NEW USERS
Let's say the Awful Bill (e.g., the administration's anti-privacy/anti-
crypto bill) has been introduced in Congress, is to be heard by the Committee
on Stuff, and Rep. Gladhand is a key member of that committee - and you don't
live in Gladhand's District. So how can you - as a mere peon citizen - impact
Gladhand's vote or the committee's decision?
"Important" people have greatest sway over Gladhand's vote - especially
hustlers inside the Washington Beltway. Excluding them, individualized
letters and faxes might help (though only one of Gladhand's minor staff will
see 'em), phone calls are counted, and form letters and form postcards might
be better than nothing. So write Gladhand a one-page personal letter and make
sure it arrives no earlier than about a week before the hearing.
But a dribble of communications from outside of an elected official's
district is often ignored. Some legislators even instruct their staff to
discard anything from well-beyond their district.
So what else can you do to participate in *your* governance?
Throughout history and including today's mass-market Herding Era, citizen-
to-citizen personal advocacy has *always* been, by far, the most persuasive.
Even between strangers. Therefore:
Get the names and addresses of as many voters in Gladhand's district as you
are willing to contact by mail. Write to them as a concerned citizen, writing
to a fellow citizen who "should" be concerned. Seek to escalate their concern
to a level where *they* will contact *their* Representative, Gladhand - who
*will* be attentive to those voters' comments. Limit the letter to one page,
apparently-*typed*, addressed to the individual voter - possibly enclosing
several additional pages of supplementary information and references. *Don't*
use fancy fonts and graphics.
Unlike semi-useless form-letters to Gladhand directly, letters to voters in
Gladhand's turf can be fixed form, individualized only in their address and
personal signature (with ink that is clearly different from the printer's
Well-crafted letters to Gladhand's voters can prompt them to draft their own
individualized letters to their representative. Even though most addressees
won't actually contact their legislator, their awareness of the issue will be
escalated - and that's infectious. Gladhand *will* hear about it.
MAGNIFYING YOUR IMPACT
How can you further seek to shape your governance? Urge others to do as you
have done - everywhere; not just in Gladhand's district. The net's perfect
Offer copies of your form letter(s), supplementary information, and letter-
printing scripts for popular word-processors, by anonymous ftp [file transfer
protocol]. Encourage others to customize everything to their own style,
perspectives and concerns.
Use the nets to help coordinate this grassroots action: Obtain the full
voter-reg list for Gladhand's district. Offer to provide any desired quantity
of names and addresses of Gladhand's voters to those who are willing to
similarly-send some quantity of letters. When providing names, do nth-name
selection so as to spread the individual sender's letters widely across the
Note that volunteers *always* do what they want to do, rather than what you
want them to do. Those who are cooperating in the action need to know what's
actually being sent and when it's really arriving. Therefore, include at
least one "seed"-name in each voter-list sent to a letter-emitting volunteer,
fully disclosing what you are doing and why. This will require having at
least one and preferably several cooperating addressees in the target District
who can feed back what they receive from whom, when.
Almost all of this can and should be fully disclosed - the best kind of
political action, an open grassroots effort.
As you connect with supporters in or near Gladhand's district, also offer
them digital copies of handbills and door-stuffers that they can print on
their own laserprinters and post on local bulletin boards or distribute to
friends' and neighbors' message boxes (with the caution that stuffing U.S.
Snail Service boxes is ill-eagle).
Newspaper surveys typically report that the Letters-to-the-Editor column is
*the* most-widely read section of a newspaper! Suggest the topics, but not
the wording, for "Letters to the Editor" to local newspapers, along with lists
of their addresses and names of their Editorial-Page Editors. Even if the
letters aren't printed, a floodlette of them can stampede media interest among
herds of reporters and editors.
Do the same regarding radio talkshow hosts in Gladhand's turf.
If the issue is likely to be of interest to community organizations, offer
the same kinds of information organizations and their chair-creatures. Ditto
for local business leaders if the issue impacts business.
Back to Congress, these same techniques can be equally applied to all the
members of the Committee on Stuff - especially those who are leaning in the
"wrong" direction. (Voters are much more-likely to complain about their rep's
wrong-headedness, than to write letters supporting desired action.) And, by
the time the issue comes to a floor vote, you will have built a potent net-
based, computer-aided grassroots political-action volunteer-mob with which to
flog 50%+one of the legislative body.
Effective community action is never easy, but you no longer have to be
handsome, wear a tie, walk a precinct, nor subvert yourself to the dictates of
an established political organization in order to have a *potent* impact.
*Make waves!* Net-surf for Freedom!
JUST LIKE THE OL' DAYS
Neat, huh? This is akin to the last time a rag-tag minority of malcontents
revolted against "established leaders and proper authority."
Patrick's descendants will again draft inflammatory rhetoric, provoking the
disorganized but discontented colonists to act. Ben's descendants will again
crank up their household printing presses, leafleting friends and strangers
around the colonies. George's descendants will map their plans on digital
foolscap and coordinate volunteer MinutePersons with electronic carrier-
pigeons. And Paul's fleet-fingered descendants will again race around the
bumpy electronic roads, disturbing the peace with shouted warnings about the
royal efforts to resist the irresistable - *citizens*, once again voluntarily
acting in concert to regain control of their own destinies.
Mount up, folks. We have a heritage to honor.
Warren [345 Swett Rd., Woodside CA 94062; (415)851-7075;
email@example.com] led the 1993 citizen effort to make state legislation
and statutes freely available online, is now pushing for similar access to
campaign-finance disclosures, received the Electronic Frontier Foundation
first-year Pioneer Award and the Society of Professional Journalists-Northern
California James Madison Freedom-of-Information Award (1994). He founded
*InfoWorld*, was founding host of PBS' television's "Computer Chronicles,"
founding Editor of *Dr. Dobb's Journal* and has chaired various computer
He began working as a programmer in 1968 after ten years teaching
mathematics, holds three graduate degrees and has taught computing at various
universities including Stanford.
Date: Wed, 16 Mar 1994 16:34:51 EST
From: CuD Moderators
Subject: File 4--Gray Areas (Magazine) and The Computer underground
We've often recommended GRAY AREAS Magazine as a source of information
about the computer culture, "underground" and otherwise. The
magizine's eclecticism in the laters (Spring, 1994) issue includes
articles on Dead-heads and the law, an interview with an S&M
dominatrix, info on "smart drugs," and a section on U.S. prisons. But,
what caught our attention were a series of articles covering several
1) "Can Virus Writing become a Crime," by Paul G. Melka: Melka breaks
down virus writing into several parts and argues that ill-considered
laws against virus writing could severely undermine existing
2) "Inside Today's Hacking Mind," by "Clacker:" The author dispairs
for the future of "hacking." No-brainer "hacking" software tools, the
retirement of older "hackers" and the delcine in competence of new
ones, over-developed egos, and tougher laws are changing the scene.
3) A "phone phreak" interview provides a description of one PP's
expriences and perspective.
4) Two reviews, one of PumpCon II, the other of HoHoCon '93, by Netta
Gilboa: Nice summary of both.
5) The most interesting of the batch of pieces is two separate
interviews with two "hackers" who cracked into The Well's system last
All in all, an excellent issue for those into "gray" cultures or
those who just want to know what's happening in them.
Gray Areas is on-line at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Various subscription packages are available, all reasonably priced.
The cheapest is $18 for a four-issue one-year sub and $200 for a
lifetime sub. Contact:
Gray Areas, Inc.
Po Box 808
Broomall, PA 19008-0808
End of Computer Underground Digest #6.25
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank