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Computer underground Digest Wed July 6, 1994 Volume 6 : Issue 60
Editors: Jim Thomas and Gordon Meyer (TK0JUT2@NIU.BITNET)
Archivist: Brendan Kehoe
Retiring Shadow Archivist: Stanton McCandlish
Shadow-Archivists: Dan Carosone / Paul Southworth
Ralph Sims / Jyrki Kuoppala
Copper Ionizer: Ephram Shrustleau
CONTENTS, #6.60 (Wed, July 6, 1994)
File 1--USACM Calls for Clipper Withdrawal
File 3--Re: Ghost in the Modem
File 4--Closure on "Ghost in the Modem" Discussion
File 5--"Repetitive Strain Injury" by Pascarelli
File 6--Response to "Egalitarianism as Irrational" (CuD 5.51)
File 7--Proposed New Zealand legislation
File 8--nonviolent action against Clipper
File 9--Some thoughts on the AA BBS
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Date: Thu, 30 Jun 1994 16:35:37 +0000
From: "US ACM, DC Office"
Subject: File 1--USACM Calls for Clipper Withdrawal
U S A C M
Association for Computing Machinery, U.S. Public Policy Committee
* PRESS RELEASE *
Thursday, June 30, 1994
Barbara Simons (408) 463-5661, firstname.lastname@example.org (e-mail)
Jim Horning (415) 853-2216, email@example.com (e-mail)
Rob Kling (714) 856-5955, firstname.lastname@example.org (e-mail)
COMPUTER POLICY COMMITTEE CALLS FOR WITHDRAWAL OF CLIPPER
COMMUNICATIONS PRIVACY "TOO IMPORTANT" FOR
WASHINGTON, DC - The public policy arm of the oldest and
largest international computing society today urged the White
House to withdraw the controversial "Clipper Chip" encryption
proposal. Noting that the "security and privacy of electronic
communications are vital to the development of national and
international information infrastructures," the Association for
Computing Machinery's U.S. Public Policy Committee (USACM) added
its voice to the growing debate over encryption and privacy
In a position statement released at a press conference on
Capitol Hill, the USACM said that "communications security is too
important to be left to secret processes and classified
algorithms." The Clipper technology was developed by the National
Security Agency, which classified the cryptographic algorithm that
underlies the encryption device. The USACM believes that Clipper
"will put U.S. manufacturers at a disadvantage in the global
market and will adversely affect technological development within
the United States." The technology has been championed by the
Federal Bureau of Investigation and the NSA, which claim that
"non-escrowed" encryption technology threatens law enforcement and
"As a body concerned with the development of government
technology policy, USACM is troubled by the process that gave rise
to the Clipper initiative," said Dr. Barbara Simons, a computer
scientist with IBM who chairs the USACM. "It is vitally important
that privacy protections for our communications networks be
developed openly and with full public participation."
The USACM position statement was issued after completion of a
comprehensive study of cryptography policy sponsored by the ACM
(see companion release). The study, "Codes, Keys and Conflicts:
Issues in U.S Crypto Policy," was prepared by a panel of experts
representing various constituencies involved in the debate over
The ACM, founded in 1947, is a 85,000 member non-profit
educational and scientific society dedicated to the development
and use of information technology, and to addressing the impact of
that technology on the world's major social challenges. USACM was
created by ACM to provide a means for presenting and discussing
technological issues to and with U.S. policymakers and the general
public. For further information on USACM, please call (202) 298-
USACM Position on the Escrowed Encryption Standard
The ACM study "Codes, Keys and Conflicts: Issues in U.S Crypto
Policy" sets forth the complex technical and social issues
underlying the current debate over widespread use of encryption.
The importance of encryption, and the need for appropriate
policies, will increase as networked communication grows.
Security and privacy of electronic communications are vital to
the development of national and international information
The Clipper Chip, or "Escrowed Encryption Standard" (EES)
Initiative, raises fundamental policy issues that must be fully
addressed and publicly debated. After reviewing the ACM study,
which provides a balanced discussion of the issues, the U.S.
Public Policy Committee of ACM (USACM) makes the following
1. The USACM supports the development of public policies and
technical standards for communications security in open forums in
which all stakeholders -- government, industry, and the public --
participate. Because we are moving rapidly to open networks, a
prerequisite for the success of those networks must be standards
for which there is widespread consensus, including international
acceptance. The USACM believes that communications security is
too important to be left to secret processes and classified
algorithms. We support the principles underlying the Computer
Security Act of 1987, in which Congress expressed its preference
for the development of open and unclassified security standards.
2. The USACM recommends that any encryption standard adopted by
the U.S. government not place U.S. manufacturers at a disadvantage
in the global market or adversely affect technological development
within the United States. Few other nations are likely to adopt a
standard that includes a classified algorithm and keys escrowed
with the U.S. government.
3. The USACM supports changes in the process of developing
Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) employed by the
National Institute of Standards and Technology. This process is
currently predicated on the use of such standards solely to
support Federal procurement. Increasingly, the standards set
through the FIPS process directly affect non-federal organizations
and the public at large. In the case of the EES, the vast
majority of comments solicited by NIST opposed the standard, but
were openly ignored. The USACM recommends that the standards
process be placed under the Administrative Procedures Act so that
citizens may have the same opportunity to challenge government
actions in the area of information processing standards as they do
in other important aspects of Federal agency policy making.
4. The USACM urges the Administration at this point to withdraw
the Clipper Chip proposal and to begin an open and public review
of encryption policy. The escrowed encryption initiative raises
vital issues of privacy, law enforcement, competitiveness and
scientific innovation that must be openly discussed.
5. The USACM reaffirms its support for privacy protection and
urges the administration to encourage the development of
technologies and institutional practices that will provide real
privacy for future users of the National Information
Date: Mon, 4 Jul 94 11:15:16 EDT
From: Jerry Leichter
Subject: File 2--Standards
Thousands of years ago, King Canute is said to have ordered that the tides
stop coming in; he wanted a standard shoreline. The tides continue to come
in and out as before.
In the early 1980's, the US government, tired of "incompatible" input/output
devices whose cost was much higher than they would have been had the market
not be segmented by connector type, proposed to establish a standard I/O
connection interface for all devices henceforth to be purchased by government
agencies. They chose a well-defined, widely used industrial standard: The
IBM channel connection architecture. Even IBM opposed the establishment of
this standard, on the grounds that it was already on its way to obsolesence.
Starting some time in the late 1970's or early 1980's, the International
Standards Organization, representing many of the worlds governments, began
the development of a series of networking standards intended to define a
future truly open network architecture. Many governments subscribed to
this vision of a soon-to-arrive new world, and established policies that
would require their agencies to purchase only OSI-compatible networking
systems once they became available. The US government was among these.
The standards, however, took many years to arrive - and the implementations,
for the most part, have still not arrived. It's hard to find anyone who
believes that OSI networking will ever play a significant role in the real
world. A few months ago, the US government, tired of granting exceptions to
its OSI requirements so that government agencies could buy equipment actually
available on the market, canceled its OSI mandates.
Undeterred by a history of failures, Wade Riddick, "graduate student ... in
the Department of Government at the University of Texas.... B.A. in English
from Louisiana State University", a computer expert as a result of his reading
of such publications as Byte magazine, proposes in an open letter to Vice
President Gore published in a recent CuD, that the US government establish
a standard for computers, operating systems, user interfaces, compilers, and
who can tell what else. Mr. Riddick, unsatisfied with existing system
architectures, doesn't even propose selecting one of those as the basis for
this standard. No, based on his years of experience in, ahem, English and
government and the reading of Byte magazine, Mr. Riddick even sketches out a
new design of his own. Well aware of the importance of acronyms in his
adopted field, he has gone so far as to choose one: DNA.
But let's ignore Mr. Riddick's credentials, or lack thereof. Let's look at
some of the "facts" he bases his proposals on:
- John Udell, a the senior technical editor of *BYTE*, is quoted
from the January, 1994, issue as saying that "the battle
is no longer about whether to layer object-oriented services
and emulation systems . . . on a small kernel . . . nor
whether to build an operating system in this style but how to
do the job right."
Mr. Riddick might want to look at a more recent Byte - the
June issue, I think - whose cover-page leadin to a story
starts out "With the death of object-oriented programming..."
The fact of the matter is that "object-oriented services ...
build on a small kernel" describes a completely insignificant
portion of systems in use today. The two operating systems
*actually available now* that are closest to fitting this
description are Mach - by design, an academic experiment -
and NextStep, a much-admired commercial failure. Whether
they will play a significant role in the systems of tomorrow
remains to be seen. The very question of what "object-
oriented" and "microkernel" *mean*, much less how useful
they are as design and implementation approaches, remain
the subject of debate among serious system designers, both
in academia and in industry.
Mr. Riddick, like most non-specialists (and all-too-many
specialists who should know better) is mislead into believing
that buzzwords represent significant advances. "Microkernel"
and "object-oriented" are the buzzwords of today. What ever
happened to "(artificially) intelligent machines"? "User
friendliness?" "Closing the semantic gap?" "Fourth-genera-
tion languages"? "*Fifth* generation systems"? "Pure rela-
tional models?" Somewhere there must be a warehouse full of
the dust-covered, mouldering remains of yesterday's computer
- Mr. Riddick says that "...proprietary standards have acted as unfair
exchange standards, making it unnecessarily expensive for
consumers to move their investments in data-and particularly
software-around from one platform (operating system) to
another. This deters investment, just as the asset-trapping
nature of a command economy or non-convertible currency was
for many years a substantial deterrent to foreign investment
in Eastern Europe." A remarkable stream of words with little
attempt at justification - but a great deal of emotional
content. "Unfair exchange standards." "Unnecessarily expen-
sive". Has Mr. Riddick been learning his economics from
Marxist textbooks? Or perhaps very old Catholic writings on
"fair" business practices? In free market economics, the
market-clearing price is the only relevent measure of price;
there's no room for appeals to emotion.
Ah, but Mr. Riddick isn't a Marxist - like all good buzz-word
followers, he, too, knows that contrasting a proposal to the
"command economies" of Eastern Europe - which we all know
failed miserably, though go back 15, 20 years and see how
those who attacked such economies were derided as short-
sighted - is the best way of strengthening a proposal. Any
proposal. Of course, he seems not to notice that the problem
with command economies is not *what* they commanded, but
*that* they commanded. What is Mr. Riddick's proposal but an
attempt to have the government dictate to an industry that
forms a large and growing portion of our economy just how they
should do things? If industry fails to go along with the
standards he'd like to see, will his next step be to order
them to build the machines he likes? If consumers fail to buy
them, what then?
If Mr. Riddick had actually ever tried to start a high-tech
company, he'd know that the first thing investors want to hear
about is what the company will have that is *unique* and not
readily copied by the competition. Besides, he himself talks
elsewhere about what happened to IBM, which invested R&D
dollars in developing the PC standard only to watch as others
made money by cloning IBM products. Ah, but of course, the
standard Mr. Riddick wants developed will be developed by
the *government*. That makes it *different*. (Besides, we
all know that getting stuff done by the government doesn't
cost any money.)
Mr. Riddick also believes that the non-standardized nature
of the computer business has "deterred investment". Given
the many, many billions of dollars spent on computer equipment
over the last two decades, I'd really love to see the analysis
that justifies that claim. Perhaps if Mr. Riddick had had
his way, by now we'd be fulfilling the old dream of "a PC
on every desk, a Newton in every hand".
Really, I can't go on with a point-by-point analysis. There's just too much
verbiage, too much half-digested industry self-praise (the Macintosh is
successful because it relies on interpretation?), too many quotes from people
who don't deserved to be believed (John Scully comments that decisions about
computers can no longer be left to the technologists - an arguable claim, but
it rings false coming from someone whose basic failure to understand the
technology on which his company was built led to the failure of the Newton,
which Scully saw as the future of Apple). Mr. Riddick actually gives examples
(Japanese HDTV) of the dangers of imposing a standard too early - but, like
all those who live by the buzzword, he is somehow convinced that *now* things
have finally reached a point where we can safely put down roots. I will give
Mr. Riddick credit for one thing: At least he looks at the near-future
buzzwords (multiple-personality OS's, for example - though really only the
name is new; systems like this have existed for at least 20 years); he doesn't
make the mistake of believing that what he can buy in the store today is going
to be *it* for the next 20 years. Of course, in doing so he ignores the
lessons of the OSI experience: Standardizing what *is* sometimes works;
standardizing what *may later be* is a recipe for disaster.
Then, of course, there's the long section in which Mr. Riddick sketches out
his view of how his proposed standards would work on a technical level. What
Mr. Riddick makes clear in this section is that (a) he knows nothing about
the history of computer science; many of the idea he presents have been
proposed, and tried without notable success, repeatedly since the 1950's;
(b) he's never actually designed or built a system, and has no idea where the
difficulties and tradeoffs actually lie.
Since I've attacked Mr. Riddick's credentials, I suppose I should quote
my own: Jerrold Leichter (Phd, Computer Science, Yale University) is an
assistant professor of computer science at Rutgers University, specializing in
parallel processing, programming languages, and operating systems. He was an
employee of Digital Equipment Corporation for 12 years, working on diverse
projects ranging from the automation of Digital's in-house manufacturing
operations to the design of Digital's terminals. He holds three patents,
assigned to Digital. Dr. Leichter is also the founder and president of
LRW Systems, a supplier of software for the development of distributed
Date: Sun, 3 Jul 94 18:39:21 PDT
From: mvp@LSIL.COM(Mike Van Pelt)
Subject: File 3--Re: Ghost in the Modem
>I'm certain other people will make this point to you also -
>> And *definitely* don't turn it into some kind of welfare-statist
>> entitlement where making a profit is forbidden. That will turn it
>> into the information equivalent of Cabrini-Green.
>Excuse me, but the .com sites are the newcomers. It was built as an
>environment where making a profit was forbidden. The jury is still out
>on whether letting the moneygrubbers in was a good idea.
>(My own views aren't quite a strident as that, but I do want to take
>issue with your understanding of history. All commercial traffic is
>a new thing on the internet, new within the last several years.)
True, to some extent. But before the commercial traffic appeared, the
net was not the information equivalent of Cabrini-Green. It was, for
better or worse, the information equivalent of the Government funded
research project of your choice. It *was* a government-funded research
project. The companies of the ever-popular Military-Industrial Complex
doing Government research using the ARPAnet were making a profit, or
trying to, and the free flow of information fostered by ARPAnet,
including the presence of the educational institutions on ARPAnet,
helped them to do so.
It was a mix of good features and bad features. The current net is
a mix of different good and bad features.
Obviously, as the net continues to grow, it will have to keep
changing. But like any other good thing, there are a lot more ways
to screw it up than to improve it.
What I really want to see is a lot of diverse approaches, and what I
fear most is the whole thing turned into One Big Government Public
Works Project, which must all be done The One Government Way. That One
Way will almost certainly be unusable. With a lot of diverse ad-hoc
approaches to the problem, the bad ones will die, and the better ones
will flourish. (Hmmm... this reminds me of something...)
Date: Fri, 1 Jul 1994 08:22:02 -0600
Subject: File 4--Closure on "Ghost in the Modem" Discussion
In CuD 6.58 David Gersic, "email@example.com" wrote:
> [...] I agree with you on the second to
> last paragraph, that policies and programs that are, or could be,
> destructive should be opposed, but I don't understand the connection
> between the ideal that every citizen that cares to connect up and
> start surfing the net should be allowed to and a policy that's
> destructive to either the "cyberspace" that we keep hearing about or
> the real society in which we live.
> Maybe I'm misunderstanding your position, but you seem to favour a
> "status quo" position that only the technologically knowledgable
> should be allowed to use the networks. A sort of nerd-priesthood, if
> you will, paying homage to the net.gods. If this is, in fact, your
> position, how would one go about joining this priesthood? What sort
> of controls will have to be implemented to keep out the
(Note: David Gersic sent a copy of this message to me privately
before it was published in CuD, and I have already responded to him.
In the interests of the public dialogue, however, I will respond
This certainly is a misunderstanding of my position and I'm sorry I
wasn't more clear! I, too, envision a future where billions of
individuals frequent the net for uses ranging from the casual to the
sublime. The difference is that in *my* daydream each of these users
has *earned* and *paid for* their access.
The fact is that net access doesn't grow on trees. The money,
and effort that is going in to creating this future cyberspace is
staggering. *Someone* has to pay for it. Currently corporations that
are developing the future-net are paying for it with the intention of
making money off of it from paying subscribers when it is
up-and-running. This is the way that it should be. There is only one
alternative to having each user pay his or her own way. That
alternative is to take money from other people (including from people
who can't afford or who don't care about net access) through taxes and
pay for those users who can't or won't pay for themselves. It is this
approach which I call "immoral", and which I believe poses a great
threat to the cyberspace that we all want to inhabit.
There are many dangers associated with this egalitarian ideal of
cyberspace. One danger that is perhaps especially interesting to CuD
readers is the fact that asking for government subsidy for net access
is tantamount to asking for control and censorship! If one expects
the tax-payers of America to pay for one's access, then one gives them
the right, via majority vote and representative government, to control
what information one has access *to*. The Loka Institute's implicit
assumptions about the proper funding of and access to cyberspace are
contradictory to the ideals of privacy and freedom of speech which CuD
I hope this makes my concerns more understandable. "Thank you" to
Jim Thomas and Gordon Meyer for encouraging this important public
Date: Sat, 02 Jul 1994 23:41:05 -0600 (MDT)
From: "Rob Slade, Ed. DECrypt & ComNet, VARUG rep, 604-984-4067"
Subject: File 5--"Repetitive Strain Injury" by Pascarelli
((MODERATORS' NOTE: The follow review of "repetitive strain injury"
may seem to some a bit beyond CuD's normal interests. But, over the
past few years we've encountered an increasing number of active
computer users who've developed apparent typing-related injuries
ranging from tolerable soreness to incapacitating symptoms. We are
convinced that RSI is both real, serious, and growing. So, we find
the following both relevant and helpful)).
5353 Dundas Street West, 4th Floor
22 Worchester Road
605 Third Avenue
New York, NY 10158-0012
"Repetitive Strain Injury", Pascarelli, 1994, 0-471-59533-0, U$18.50
My first actual case of repetitive strain injury (or RSI), as a first
aid attendant, was not in the logging camps, railway gangs or spacing
crews, but with a young student athlete at an outdoor school. He had,
literally, outdone himself the day before on a steep downhill hike.
He was one of the best jocks in the school and had no problems with
stairs and hill climbs--none of which had prepared him for the
repeated extension of his foot which downhill walking required.
Work-related repetitive strain injury has been known for a long time
now. Writer's cramp shows up in an Italian treatise almost three
hundred years old. Research and treatment, however, has lagged. For
one thing, RSI generally involves soft tissue damage which does not
show up on x-rays (or, indeed, on anything much besides microscopic
examination of the tissue). For another, few jobs up until this
century have required the kind of environment where actions had to be
repeated so often without variation. Until very recently, the most
common repetitive strain situations involved gross motor activities,
where strains showed up early and responded well to exercise. With
the advent of the computer keyboard and data entry as major factors in
job situations, RSI has become a serious issue in the workforce.
This is a comprehensive, factual and practical guide to RSI. It is
directed primarily to the computer user or repetitive strain injury
sufferer, covering facts about RSI, symptoms and warning signs,
diagnosis, choosing a physician, recovery, legal aspects, maintenance
and prevention. A major emphasis is to put users/sufferers in charge
of, and responsible for, their own health.
The book continually counsels patience. My student athlete, when
asked if he could walk out with the rest of the group, visibly tried
to calculate how much better he could be in the three days before they
had to leave. I had to ask him if he could do it right then, since I
knew it wasn't going to heal very fast, and he had to admit he
couldn't. His case was actually extremely mild, after only a few
hours, and would have faded within a week or so of reduced activity.
Most RSI cases, however, traumatize the area for months or even years,
and the healing process is correspondingly lengthy.
Although the book is written for users, I would strongly recommend
that every manager get a copy. Averaged over all employees, RSI
accounts for about $200 expense per year and per person. If you have
four people working for you, using computers, it is almost certain
that at least one will develop RSI at some point. RSI is almost
entirely preventable, and is almost entirely caused by ignorance.
Most of you reading this are probably nodding your heads and muttering
something about carpal tunnel syndrome--unaware that this
over-diagnosed syndrome actually accounts for only one percent of RSI,
according to one study cited in the book.
Highly recommended. A very minor investment in keeping free of an
ailment which could severely affect your job--not to mention
everything else you do with your hands and body.
copyright Robert M. Slade, 1994 BKRSI.RVW 940401
Date: Sun, 3 Jul 1994 00:49:59 -0700
From: jonpugh@NETCOM.COM(Jon Pugh)
Subject: File 6--Response to "Egalitarianism as Irrational" (CuD 5.51)
> The statement is: "And the risk of inequity in contriving and
> distributing electronic services [...] is clear."
> This statement seems to assume that access to information technology
> should be equally distributed among individuals. The reason that I
> find this assumption disturbing enough to write about is because I
> often see variations on such a theme echoed in Computer underground
> Digest, but I rarely if ever see a contradictory opinion stated.
I think the reason contradictory opinions do not appear is that most people
understand the issues. It's not about giving every person a modem and a
computer and making them use the net or even about paying them so that they
can. It's simply allowing them to use it if they want to and can afford
it. Some people also mean "cheap" so that more people can use it, but
there will always be people who cannot afford to.
It appears to me that some people believe that "equal access" means
funding. While there are phone company programs, for example, which reduce
the cost of basic phone service for the low income contingent, I do not
think that anyone is trying to build that notion into the coming network
Equal Access just means that you cannot be denied access. Unfortunately, I
think it implies that spammers like Canter & Siegel cannot be denied access
though. Even if we allow individual service providers like Netcom to
refuse them service, I think this will promote the ever popular blacklist,
which is already in use by many sysops. I think spamming them back is much
more effective. ;)
Date: Tue, 5 Jul 1994 14:03:06 +1200
From: Nathan Torkington
Subject: File 7--Proposed New Zealand legislation
In response to problems with foolhardy minors injuring themselves with
recipes found on bulletin board systems, one of New Zealand's more
right-wing politicians drafted a piece of legislation called the
"Technology and Crimes Reform Bill" which was intended to provide a
means for prosecution of BBS operators.
Unfortunately, the legislation was hijacked along the way and it was
extended to cover live sex shows (!) and raunchy 0900 telephone
services. These sidetracks make the fundamental problems of the bill
harder to identify, but make no mistake: there are problems.
The bill expects New Zealand telecommunications companies to prevent
NZ citizens accessing foreign telecommunications services (eg,
pornography BBS, hot sex numbers, etc) which is impossible.
Furthermore, the bill piggybacks onto old (1989) legislation that
makes no allowance for services provided over telephone lines (eg,
BBS, CompuServe, ...). These problems, and others, make the bill
Possibly the biggest problem is that because of the failure to
acknowledge multilayered network services like CompuServe or bulletin
boards, the bill makes the service provider liable for the actions of
their users. This is obviously unreasonable, and stands to jeopardise
everyone from CompuServe to universities and other Internet providers.
I have been informally speaking to people about this, and several
large telecommunications companies are preparing their own submissions
on the bill, and various government departments as well. The bill has
to be approved by a committee, who will hear the submissions, before
it becomes law. From the number and size of the groups making
submissions, I don't believe it will become law (thank goodness).
The text of the bill is available on the World Wide Web as
and the text of my (draft) submission is available as
Date: 5 Jul 1994 14:06:20 +1100
From: "Brian Martin"
Subject: File 8--nonviolent action against Clipper
Methods of nonviolent action provide a way to challenge
government-sponsored encryption. It's important to make a careful
assessment of these methods and to develop a sound strategy.
The Clipper chip symbolises the National Security Agency's agenda for
ensuring that encryption of digital communications does not undermine
the power of government police and spy organisations. Because of its
origins and for a number of practical reasons, many people are
strongly opposed to Clipper, Skipjack, Digital Telephony, key escrow,
etc., and favour systems of encryption designed to be impossible for
anyone to break. There is also strong support for free communication
about and dissemination of encryption systems.
So far, enormous effort has been devoted to developing arguments
against Clipper and to applying pressure to government to prevent its
introduction. These efforts are useful, but direct action is worth
Nonviolent action includes techniques such as petitions, rallies,
wearing symbols of resistance, boycotts, strikes, sit-ins, fasts, and
setting up alternative institutions. But nonviolent action as an
approach to social change involves more than a collection of methods.
It is an integrated approach designed to build popular support and
undermine systems of oppression.
There are numerous examples of nonviolent action, both successful and
unsuccessful. These include blockades of forest logging and shipments
of nuclear weapons; women's marches against sexual violence;
resistance to the Nazis in many parts of occupied Europe during World
War II; resistance within Soviet prison camps during the 1950s; the
toppling of many Central American dictatorships by nonviolent
insurrection; the collapse of East European regimes in 1989; the US
civil rights movement led by Martin Luther King, Jr.; and the struggle
for independence of India led by Gandhi.
Nonviolent action works by the withdrawal of consent from individuals
and groups in positions of power. Even the most ruthless dictator
cannot rule without acquiescence or support from most of the
population, including the army. Violence against oppression tends to
unify the oppressors and to alienate bystanders. Nonviolent methods,
by contrast, have the potential to undermine the will of the
oppressors and to win support from third parties. The aim of
nonviolent action should be to open up dialogue, to encourage
discussion of solutions that serve the interests of all parties.
In the case of Clipper, the government has a great deal of power. It
does not need to convince critics, since it can use economic
pressures, the legal system and ultimately its police powers to impose
its preferred option. Opponents, by refusing to cooperate, are
essentially insisting that no action be taken until the issue is fully
discussed and a mutually agreeable solution is found.
There are many examples and many writings about nonviolent action, but
not much of this material deals with struggles in cyberspace. Here are
a few suggestions.
* Symbolic actions. A number of methods are already being pursued,
such as petitions. It might be worth developing a symbol or brief
slogan (e.g. "Free encryption") that could be used routinely in
communications. An important thing here is to take the message to
other media besides computer networks, such as newspapers, magazines
and public meetings. This is a challenge. In cyberspace anyone can
speak, and the role of editors and publishers is minimised. Elsewhere
this is not so.
* Boycotts. These are difficult to carry off, but can be effective if
prepared for properly. Possible targets need to be researched and
justified. Notice should be given to the potential target of a
boycott, giving it a chance to change. The boycott should be one that
allows many people to participate and which highlights the principles
* Noncooperation by workers. The key "production" workers are in the
NSA, other relevant government agencies and factories where Clipper is
produced. Any dissent or noncooperation within these areas is
important, including strikes, go-slows or an open statement of
protest. System administrators and technicians could refuse to install
* Civil disobedience. An obvious possibility here is to export
encryption openly. It would be worthwhile designing the campaign so
that large groups of people challenge laws or procedures collectively.
For example, one hundred or one thousand people could simultaneously
export encryption while circulating widely a well-written account of
why they are doing it.
Another approach is to provide alternative solutions to problems
raised by advocates of Clipper. For example, how can securely
encrypted communication systems be used to challenge organised crime?
Whatever methods are used, it is vital to use them coherently as part
of a well-thought out and agreed-upon set of campaigns. The ultimate
goals of the actions need always to be kept in mind. Short-term
successes are less important than building support and commitment for
unfettered participatory communication and undermining the will of
Clipper advocates. The issue seems urgent now but, if it is like most
other social issues, the struggle will require years of effort and
commitment. Hence, it is crucial to take a principled stand and aim
always to build long-term support. Expedient compromises are likely to
undermine the commitment of supporters.
A crucial part of the struggle is to make cyberspace a people's space.
At the moment, most people in the world know little about it.
Struggles over encryption mainly involve an "information elite",
namely those individuals with the greatest access to and involvement
with computer networks. Improving access and user-friendliness is
Another important mode of action is to use computer networks to serve
the interests of oppressed people elsewhere: the poor, persecuted
minorities, people under dictatorships, etc. This already happens to a
considerable extent. The more that computer networks serve those who
are oppressed, the more the general population will support arguments
of network activists against threats such as Clipper.
Before collective action is begun, it is essential that there be
extensive discussion of possible campaigns, including what types of
public education should be undertaken, what groups need to be
influenced, what the goals of campaigns should be, and what methods of
nonviolent action should be used. The most effective campaigns are
ones for which there is a high degree of support achieved by extensive
discussion before beginning formal action. Fortunately, cyberspace is
an ideal place for such discussion to occur.
Brian Martin, Department of Science and Technology Studies, University
of Wollongong, NSW 2522, Australia, phone: +61-42-287860 home,
+61-42-213763 work, fax: +61-42-213452, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
FURTHER READING Virginia Coover, Ellen Deacon, Charles Esser and
Christopher Moore, Resource Manual for a Living Revolution
(Philadelphia: New Society Publishers, 1981).
Per Herngren, Path of Resistance: The Practice of Civil Disobedience
(Philadelphia: New Society Publishers, 1993).
Brian Martin, Social Defence, Social Change (London: Freedom Press,
Michael Randle, Civil Resistance (London: Fontana, 1994).
Gene Sharp, The Politics of Nonviolent Action (Boston: Porter Sargent,
Date: Tue, 5 Jul 1994 19:17:55 -0400 (ADT)
From: The Advocate
Subject: File 9--Some thoughts on the AA BBS
Stuff about the AABBS case. This case is essentially a war of ideas.
Can a backwards, pigheaded state like tennessee set the moral and
cultural standard of a sophisticated state like california?
I say not, and like minded individuals agree with us.
These "Reagan-Jungen" need to be beaten back. The best light is that
of the First Amendment. Bring the press in, point out the vital issues.
The judge will be embarassed if the AP or Court TV is televising
what this action is about.
Has anyone tried contacting the Playboy Foundation or the Guccione
Foundation. Contact people like Spider Robinson or WIlliam Gibson.
Publicity can only help.
Especially given the candy ass tricks the prosecutors are trying out.
Bring heat to Reno and Clinton.
If this case is to be tried, it should be in california.
End of Computer Underground Digest #6.61
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank