Computer underground Digest Wed Aug 3, 1994 Volume 6 : Issue 70 ISSN 1004-042X Editors: Ji
Computer underground Digest Wed Aug 3, 1994 Volume 6 : Issue 70
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, #6.70 (Wed, Aug 3, 1994)
File 1--"Porn" and Security at Lawrence Livermore Labs (LAT Rprnt)
File 2--Re--"Porn" and Security at Lawrence Livermore Labs
File 3--ACTION: Outlaw "Electronic Redlining" on NII. (fwd)
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
UNITED STATES: etext.archive.umich.edu (188.8.131.52) in /pub/CuD/
ftp.eff.org (184.108.40.206) in /pub/Publications/CuD
aql.gatech.edu (220.127.116.11) in /pub/eff/cud/
world.std.com in /src/wuarchive/doc/EFF/Publications/CuD/
uceng.uc.edu in /pub/wuarchive/doc/EFF/Publications/CuD/
wuarchive.wustl.edu in /doc/EFF/Publications/CuD/
EUROPE: nic.funet.fi in pub/doc/cud/ (Finland)
ftp.warwick.ac.uk in pub/cud/ (United Kingdom)
JAPAN: ftp.glocom.ac.jp /mirror/ftp.eff.org/
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: Thu, 28 Jul 94 18:22:39 PDT
From: CuD Moderators
Subject: File 1--"Porn" and Security at Lawrence Livermore Labs (LAT Rprnt)
Computer at Nuclear Lab Used for Access to Porn
By ADAM S. BAUMAN, TIMES STAFF WRITER
Los Angeles Times Tuesday July 12, 1994
Home Edition Part A Page 1 Column 5 Metro Desk
Dramatically illustrating the security problems posed by the rapid
growth of the Internet computer network, one of the nation's three
nuclear weapons labs confirmed Monday that computer hackers were using
its computers to store and distribute hard-core pornography.
Embarrassed officials at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory,
which conducts a great deal of classified research and has highly
sophisticated security procedures, said the incident was among the
most serious breaches of computer security at the lab in Livermore,
The computer, which was shut down after a Times reporter
investigating Internet hacking alerted lab officials, contained more
than 1,000 pornographic images. It was believed to be the largest
illicit cache of hard-core pornography ever found on a computer
Computer hackers once were primarily mischief-makers aiming to
prove their computer prowess, and they devoted their efforts to
disrupting computer systems at large organizations or stealing
technical information. But today, a new breed of hackers has developed
methods for seizing partial control of Internet-linked computers and
using them to store and distribute pornography, stolen computer
software and other electronic information--often for profit.
The Internet, a "network of networks" originally designed to
connect computers at universities and government research labs, has
grown dramatically in size and technical sophistication in recent
years. It is now used by many businesses and individual computer
users, and is often viewed as the prototype for the information
superhighway of the future.
But the Internet has an underside, where so-called "pirates" with
code names such as "Mr. Smut," "Acidflux" and "The Cowboy" traffic in
illegal or illegally obtained electronic information. The structure of
the Internet means that such pirates can carry out their crimes from
almost anywhere in the world, and that tracing them is nearly
The FBI late last week confirmed that it was investigating software
piracy on the Internet. A Times reporter discovered a number of sites
at prestigious institutions that were being used to distribute stolen
software, including one in the office of the UC Berkeley chancellor
and another at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
Pirate sites, which carry exotic monikers such as "3 Days Till
Death," "Impact of Chaos" and "Field of Dreams," can generally be
found only by highly sophisticated computer users who are
well-schooled in the intricacies of the Internet. The pirates use a
new and relatively obscure method for transferring information, known
as the "file service protocol," and they often change the location of
their sites every few weeks to avoid detection.
In April, MIT student David LaMaccia was arrested on felony
conspiracy and wire fraud charges for allegedly using the protocols to
distribute more than $1 million worth of commercial software. The
protocol allows files to be sent to large numbers of computer users
easily with minimal disruption of other computer functions.
Pirates also have their own "chat" lines, a series of channels
within a service called the Internet Relay Chat. An elaborate pecking
order determines who will be allowed to take part in these
conversations--newcomers can often wangle their way in if they have a
particularly hot piece of software to offer.
Garden-variety copyrighted software is known as "warez" on these
channels, while especially good software is called "kewl," and
brand-new software that has not even reached stores is called
"zero-day software." At the Lawrence Berkeley pirate site, the
offerings last week included Power Japanese, which retails for $395,
as well as IBM DOS 6.3 and a game called Alien Legacy, which is not
yet available in stores.
Sandy Merola, deputy director of information and computing at the
Berkeley lab, said the pirate site was shut down last week after The
Times investigation revealed its existence. Merola said the Department
of Energy, which oversees lab operations, as well as the FBI, had been
notified of the incident.
At Lawrence Livermore, officials said Monday they believe that at
least one lab employee was involved in the pornography ring, along
with an undetermined number of outside collaborators. Chuck Cole,
deputy associate director of computing at the lab, said that nearly
2,000 megabytes of unauthorized graphic images have been found in a
Livermore computer. He confirmed that they were pornographic.
The employee has been placed on "investigatory leave" and his or
her security badge confiscated while an investigation is under way,
the lab said. It was unclear whether the pornographic images were
being sold or how many people had gained access to them. The pictures
were sufficiently graphic that they could be considered obscene by
courts in some jurisdictions, in which case transmitting them over the
Internet might be illegal.
The massive amount of storage capacity used in the Livermore scheme
shows how Internet hacking could be quite profitable. Seizing partial
control of large and sophisticated computer systems at universities or
government laboratories can save unscrupulous entrepreneurs large sums
There were indications that the person operating the pornography
database had become aware of possible scrutiny. On June 27, a message
left in a file labeled READ ME!!! said: "It appears that news about
this site has escaped. In the past two weeks, I have had 27
unauthorized hosts attempt to access my server. This does not give me
a warm-fuzzy feeling. I would hate to have to shut this down, but I
may have no choice."
One computer expert, who requested anonymity, said there might be
more to the incident than meets the eye. The expert suggested that the
hard-core pornography may be a cover for an ultra-sophisticated
espionage program, in which a "sniffer" program combs through other
Livermore computers, encodes the passwords and accounts it finds, and
then hides them within the pornographic images, perhaps to be
downloaded by foreign agents.
But Cole said there was no possibility of a computer intruder
gaining access to classified data at Livermore Labs. "We use an air
gap security method in which no electronic connection of any kind is
maintained between the classified computer world and the unclassified
Cliff Stoll, a former computer systems manager at Lawrence Berkeley
who chronicled his experiences with a computer hacker in the book "The
Cuckoos Egg," said there would be easier ways to conduct espionage
over the Internet than to use pornographic pictures as an encoding
Still, the computer penetrations at Livermore and Lawrence Berkeley
"show very poor management on the part of the national labs," Stoll
The problem of pirate sites extends far beyond U.S. government
laboratories and universities: Many popular sites discovered by The
Times are located in Mexico, France, Britain and other countries. One
system operator of a pirate site in Istanbul, Turkey, openly bragged
on-line that his country has no laws preventing the distribution of
copyrighted software; thus, he claimed, he was breaking no laws by
The Software Publishers Assn., a trade association representing
major software manufacturers, has made software piracy on the Internet
a major priority. Peter Beruk, the association's litigation manager,
said: "We are currently tracking over 1,600 pirate sites on the
Internet in a joint investigation with the FBI. It is a very serious
and costly problem.
"In the case of David LaMaccia, we estimate over a million dollars
of software was downloaded from his site in a two-week period. We will
start going after the universities next. . . . The Internet, in our
view, is now getting a very bad name."
Hal Hendershot, manager of the fraud and computer crime abuse
initiative of the FBI, though declining to give any details,
acknowledged that the bureau was cooperating with the association in
regard to Internet piracy. As the popularity of the Internet surges,
the problem of net piracy will increase, Hendershot said.
Date: Thu, 28 Jul 94 18:22:55 PDT
From: Mike Farren
Subject: File 2--Re--"Porn" and Security at Lawrence Livermore Labs
((MODERATORS NOTE: On The Well, Mike Farren posted the following
response to Adam Bauman's article)).
> Dramatically illustrating the security problems posed by the rapid
>growth of the Internet computer network, one of the nation's three
>nuclear weapons labs confirmed Monday that computer hackers were using
>its computers to store and distribute hard-core pornography.
Security problems? This is hyperbole of the worst sort - there were no
security problems of any kind posed by this activity, beyond the
problems of managing large sites. There certainly were no break-ins,
no illicit access, nothing like that.
> The computer, which was shut down after a Times reporter investigating
>Internet hacking alerted lab officials, contained more than 1,000
>pornographic images. It was believed to be the largest illicit cache of
>hard-core pornography ever found on a computer network.
1,000 images? Small potatoes. There are sites which have orders of
magnitude more than that available. There are commonly hundreds of
pornographic images available at any given time on any system which
carries the Usenet alt.binaries.pictures.erotica.* groups.
> Computer hackers once were primarily mischief-makers aiming to prove
>their computer prowess, and they devoted their efforts to disrupting
>computer systems at large organizations or stealing technical
Oh, please, not this old wheeze again. Read Stephen Levy's HACKERS if
you want a realistic appraisal. In any event, misuse of the term or not,
the actual number of "hackers" who are interested in destructive or
malicious activity per se is, and always has been, extremely small.
>But today, a new breed of hackers has developed methods for
>seizing partial control of Internet-linked computers and using them to
>store and distribute pornography, stolen computer software and other
>electronic information--often for profit.
Bushwah. This capability is there for everyone who uses the Net. All
it takes is two things: to be on a net site which allows outside access
(nearly 100% of them, barring the large commercial services), and to
have some storage thereon. It's not "seizing partial control" of anything.
It's using capabilities which are explicit in the fact of net access.
It's control which is explicitly granted, not illicitly seized.
> But the Internet has an underside, where so-called "pirates" with code
>names such as "Mr. Smut," "Acidflux" and "The Cowboy" traffic in illegal
>or illegally obtained electronic information. The structure of the
>Internet means that such pirates can carry out their crimes from almost
>anywhere in the world, and that tracing them is nearly impossible.
Again, bushwah. Tracing capability is built into the system, should
you really need to do it. And the existence of pirates is nothing
new - you don't even bother to mention the fact that private pirate
BBS systems have existed for decades. That some such exist on the Internet
is no surprise - and neither is it an earthshaking problem, per se.
> Pirate sites, which carry exotic monikers such as "3 Days Till Death,"
>"Impact of Chaos" and "Field of Dreams," can generally be found only by
>highly sophisticated computer users who are well-schooled in the
>intricacies of the Internet.
This deserves better than "bushwah" - I'll say, right out, that it's
bullshit. You need no more sophistication than any 12-year-old can gain
within a few days of obtaining an account - that, plus a lead to a site,
which is very easy to obtain. There is no intricacy involved in typing
the line "ftp pirate.software.com".
> The pirates use a new and relatively obscure
>method for transferring information, known as the "file service
>protocol," and they often change the location of their sites every few
>weeks to avoid detection.
Relatively obscure? fsp, as a variant of ftp, is extremely well known,
and well used, I assure you. It's one of the standard ways of doing
file transfers between Internet sites, hardly something thought up by
Evil Pirates for their own Nefarious Purposes. I use fsp all the time,
for example, and ftp (which is the same thing, with a different interface)
>Chuck Cole, deputy
>associate director of computing at the lab, said that nearly 2,000
>megabytes of unauthorized graphic images have been found in a Livermore
I point out that, at current market rates, this amounts to a cost of
approximately $1200 for the disk drive, and represents an amount of
storage which many home computer owners have already exceeded. I have
a friend, for example, whose computer system at home contains nearly
ten times as much storage. 2 gigabytes seems large, and it is large,
but compared to the total storage capability available on LLL systems,
it's about like the floppy disk on a typical PC.
>It was unclear whether the pornographic images were being sold or
>how many people had gained access to them.
If they were available via fsp, they *could not* have been sold - fsp
does not come with MasterCharge interfaces built in. Typically, sites
such as this are explicitly for free access - if people want to pay
money for such things, there are many publically accessible BBS systems
with far more than "1,000 images" or "2,000 Megabytes" of porn imagery
available. The briefest persual of any local computer-related magazine
provides any number of alternatives, should one be willing to pay.
>The pictures were sufficiently
>graphic that they could be considered obscene by courts in some
>jurisdictions, in which case transmitting them over the Internet might be
Might be. But you'll have a hard time proving it, I think, and an even
harder time coming up with a justification for doing so, let alone one
which will hold for the entire Internet, much of which is international.
> The massive amount of storage capacity used in the Livermore scheme
>shows how Internet hacking could be quite profitable.
No, what it actually shows is that system managers should properly
pay more attention to the resources that are being used. The storage
space in question was not stolen, it was merely used.
> There were indications that the person operating the pornography
>database had become aware of possible scrutiny. On June 27, a message
>left in a file labeled READ ME!!! said: "It appears that news about this
>site has escaped. In the past two weeks, I have had 27 unauthorized hosts
>attempt to access my server. This does not give me a warm-fuzzy feeling.
>I would hate to have to shut this down, but I may have no choice."
This is a very standard thing. Here's the scenario, as it most often
works its way out: somebody has what he feels to be an interesting
collection of erotic images. Creating a site for them and letting it
be public knowledge is self-defeating, as the traffic to such sites
more often than not is so heavy that it causes ordinary operations to
that site, such as email, to become badly delayed or even impossible.
The site, therefore, is created secretly - not in the sense of "hidden
from authority", necessarily, but more in the sense of "let's try to
keep access to reasonable levels by limiting the number of people who
know about us." Sooner or later, the name of the site "leaks" - and
traffic starts to increase. In order to avoid potential problems, be
they interference with ordinary operations, or a possible bad reaction
on the part of the site management, the site is shut down - and
messages like the one you quote are quite often the prelude to a
Many sites do consider things like pornographic images to be
undesirable on their face - but many do not. Most of the sites which
aren't tied to businesses, academia, or government, I believe, are far
more concerned with the effects on traffic than they are with the
"problem" of pornography
> One computer expert, who requested anonymity, said there might be more
>to the incident than meets the eye. The expert suggested that the
>hard-core pornography may be a cover for an ultra-sophisticated espionage
>program, in which a "sniffer" program combs through other Livermore
>computers, encodes the passwords and accounts it finds, and then hides
>them within the pornographic images, perhaps to be downloaded by foreign
This is simply ridiculous on its face. Why would anyone tie their
espionage activity to something which is otherwise frowned upon, when
they could just as easily do so in a manner which would never cause
> Still, the computer penetrations at Livermore and Lawrence Berkeley
>"show very poor management on the part of the national labs," Stoll said.
This is the salient point. The person who set up this site may, or may
not, have been guilty of anything illegal (with regard to the porn, anyhow -
the pirated software is a different issue). The LLL management, however,
is certainly guilty of a lack of oversight. But that's as far as it goes,
a lack of oversight. And I recommend, before the hammer of condemnation
gains too much momentum, a bit of talk with people who have to manage
sites as large, and with as many users, as LLL. Like any other large-scale
operation, there simply isn't the opportunity to examine every corner of
the system all the time. The best you can do is to try your best, and
deal with problems as they arise.
>operator of a pirate site in Istanbul, Turkey, openly bragged on-line
>that his country has no laws preventing the distribution of copyrighted
>software; thus, he claimed, he was breaking no laws by doing so.
What's worse is that he was perfectly correct. The pertinent example
here is Italy, which for years had the same loose attitude towards
software copyright - to the point where many companies would not
sell software in Italy at all. My point is only that trying to attach
this issue to Internet, per se, is missing the larger point entirely,
and represents a grave distortion of the actual picture, of which
the Internet is only a small part.
> The Software Publishers Assn., a trade association representing major
>software manufacturers, has made software piracy on the Internet a major
>priority. Peter Beruk, the association's litigation manager, said: "We
>are currently tracking over 1,600 pirate sites on the Internet in a joint
>investigation with the FBI. It is a very serious and costly problem.
Will this have the same impact as their tracking of private pirate BBS
systems, which have been around for decades now? That impact, for what
it's worth, is fairly close to zero. Again, the point is that the Internet
is only a part of the picture. There are many other points to be made
about the actual nature of software piracy and its actual impact on the
software industry, but that's another (although closely related) rant.
Suffice it to say that the SPA has a vested interest in making the problem
seem as costly and widespread as it possibly can.
> "In the case of David LaMaccia, we estimate over a million dollars of
>software was downloaded from his site in a two-week period. We will start
>going after the universities next. . . . The Internet, in our view, is
>now getting a very bad name."
If you're using retail prices like $395 for Power Japanese, you can get
up to a million bucks real fast. This reminds me very much of the
newspaper reports of cocaine busts "worth $42 million dollars on the
street", and is using exactly the same distortions. And as far as
the SPA's ability to determine what's getting a bad name, well, I point
out that their position is hardly unbiased. Nor, for that matter, has
it ever been particularly well-informed.
In summary, this was about as highly distorted and inaccurate a view of
the Internet as I've ever seen in a newspaper. You might as well have
written an article which claimed that because Hayward, California, has
one adult bookstore, that it's proof that that city is a "haven for
pornographers", or that because one car theft ring operated out of
Eugene, Oregon, that the entire Northwest was teeming with car thieves,
and nobody's Ford Escort was safe. In other words - it's bullshit.
If you narrow your focus enough, you can prove any point you care to
make about 'most *anything*, the Internet being no exception. That's
a long, long way from finding the truth, though.
Date: Sat, 23 Jul 1994 20:41:35 -0500 (CDT)
From: Charles Stanford
Subject: File 3--ACTION: Outlaw "Electronic Redlining" on NII. (fwd)
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date--Sat, 23 Jul 1994 23:18:08 GMT
From--Center for Media Education
ACTION ALERT From People For the American Way (DC)
SENATE TO ACT ON INFO-HIGHWAY BILL--ACTIVISTS NEEDED TO PREVENT
DISCRIMINATORY PRACTICES BY TELECOMMUNICATIONS GIANTS.
- The "Baby Bells'" plans to begin construction of the "information
superhighway" have already displayed stark patterns of by-passing
minority, low income and rural communities. This practice, known as
"redlining," is a serious problem in the deployment of advanced
- A diverse coalition (listed below) of public interest organizations has
proposed that an Anti-Redlining amendment be introduced as part of S.
1822, the NII (info highway) bill now pending in the Senate.
- The amendment prohibits telecommunications carriers from deploying new
systems in a way that discriminates on the basis of race, color, national
origin, income or residence in a rural area.
- Without this amendment, the much-heralded advent of the "information
superhighway" may serve to aggravate differences in opportunities that
already exist along lines such as race, income and geographical location.
For example, "telemedicine" can provide increased access to health care
information -- such as pre-natal nutrition or poison control procedures --
to rural and low-income areas. However, for these technologies to benefit
everybody, it is vital that minority, low-income and rural communities are
not the last to reap the benefits of the information superhighway.
- This amendment guarantees that minority, low-income, and rural
Americans won't be the last ones connected. Without it, these communities
will lag far behind the rest of our country in access to advanced
Senator Hollings (D-SC), Chairman of the Commerce Committee, and Senator
Danforth (R-MO), Ranking Minority Member of the Commerce Committee are
busily working on amendments to S. 1822, a major telecommunications reform
bill. Next week, the full Committee is expected to consider these
amendments. Therefore, an Anti-Redlinig provision must be added now.
- Please call Senator Hollings at the Commerce Committee and Senator
Danforth (Ranking Minority Member) immediately!! Ask them to guarantee
that an Anti-Redlining provision will be included in the Chairman's Mark.
Phone calls on this issue by the public will have a profound effect on the
outcome of this amendment--so please call!
Senator Hollings 202-224-5115
Senator Danforth 202-224-6154
- Please try to find the time to make a few calls and ask the other
Senators on the Commerce Committee to guarantee non-discriminatory
deployment of the information superhighway by supporting an Anti-Redlining
Amendment. The Senators on the Commerce Committee are:
Inouye (D-HA) 202-224-3934
Exon (D-NB) 202-224-4224
Ford (D-KY) 202-224-4343
Rockefeller (D-WV) 202-224-6472
Kerry (D-MA) 202-224-2742
Breaux (D-LA) 202-224-4623
Bryan (D-NV) 202-224-6244
Robb (D-VA) 202-224-4024
Dorgan (D-ND) 202-224-2551
Matthews (D-TN) 202-224-4944
Packwood (R-OR) 202-224-5244
Pressler (R-SD) 202-224-5842
Stevens (R-AK) 202-224-3004
McCain (R-AZ) 202-224-2235
Burns (R-MT) 202-224-2644
Gorton (R-WA) 202-224-3441
Lott (R-Miss.) 202-224-6253
Hutchison (R-TX) 202-224-5922
- Calling these Senators *works*!!
(1) Letter written to Commerce Committee Members by Anti-Redlining
(2) Public Interest Organizations that support this measure
(3) Elements of the Anti-Redlining amendment
(4) FAQ on 'electronic redlining'
(5) Text of proposed amendment
Letter written to Commerce Senate Commerce Committee Members:
Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510
We write on behalf of a diverse coalition of civic organizations to urge
you to adopt, as part of S. 1822, strong anti-redlining protections for
the deployment and provision of advanced telecommunications services. The
organizations in our coalition represent civil rights, consumer,
educational, local government, religious, and other constituencies
concerned that all Americans share in the benefits of the "information
Discrimination in deployment of advanced telecommunications services
poses a threat to equal opportunity over the next several decades.
Already, an increasing amount of critical information and services are
available "on-line." And, as the National Information Infrastructure
(NII) develops, it will play an increasingly important role in economic
development, education, access to health care, informing the public about
employment opportunities, and participation in the political process, to
name only a few. For example, advanced telecommunications services may be
the principal means through which businesses reach and sell to potential
customers, and the only major source of classified advertisements for
However, if minority, low income and rural areas are given access to
advanced telecommunications services well after the rest of our country,
the much-heralded advent of the "information superhighway" may serve to
aggravate differences in opportunities that already exist along
discriminatory lines such as race, income and geographical location.
Indeed, allegations that plans for the deployment of video dialtone
services constitute "electronic redlining" have recently appeared on the
front pages of newspapers across the country. As Vice-President Gore
warned, America cannot afford to permit the NII to divide our society
among "information haves and have nots."
The Communications Act of 1994, S. 1822, must include specific
anti-redlining provisions that assure that minority, low income, and rural
areas will not be the last to enjoy the important economic and civic
benefits of advanced telecommunications services. It is insufficient for
Congress to tackle this very serious problem by simply including general
admonitions that discrimination in the deployment and provision of
telecommunications services should be avoided. Instead, specific
anti-redlining requirements should be added to S.1822 before the bill is
reported out of Committee.
Although there has been considerable public debate concerning S. 1822 and
the NII, anti-redlining has not yet received the attention it deserves.
We suggest that the Senate examine the risk of discriminatory deployment
of advanced telecommunication services with additional hearings on the
problems posed by electronic redlining. Hearings would allow
representatives from civil rights, educational, community, government,
health care, religious, and other civic organizations as well as potential
individual users of future technologies the opportunity to discuss the
problem of discriminatory deployment and offer possible solutions.
The Senate must mandate that the NII promotes equal opportunities in the
use of current and future developments in information technologies. As S.
1822 moves through the Senate, the interests of racial minorities, low
income and rural Americans must not be left behind. We urge you to
support an anti-redlining amendment that has specific provisions to
guarantee equal deployment of advanced telecommunications services.
American Association of Retired Persons
Appalachian Consortium of Enterprise Networks
Alliance for Communications Democracy
Alliance for Community Media
American Association of Museums
American Library Association
Association of Art Museum Directors
Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers
Association of Research Libraries
Association of Systematics Collections
Big Sky Telegraph
Center for Media Education
Center for the Study of Responsive Law
Chittendon Community Television (Burlington, VT)
Citizens for Media Literacy
Consumer Federation of America
Council of Jewish Federations
Deep Dish Television Network
Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund
Government Accountability Project
Institute for Public Representation
Media Access Project
Museum Computer Network
Minority Media Ownership and Employment Council
National Alliance for Media Arts & Culture
National Asian American Telecommunications Association
National Association of College Broadcasters
National Association of People with AIDS
National Black Caucus of State Legislators
National Black Programming Consortium
National Campaign for Freedom of Expression
National Council of LaRaza
National Education Association
National Federation of Community Broadcasters
National Humanities Alliance
National Latino Communications Center
National Minority Public Broadcasting Consortia
National Puerto Rican Coalition
National School Boards Association
National Writers Union (UAW Local 1981)
Native American Public Broadcasting Consortium
New York Foundation for the Arts
Pacific Islanders in Communications
People For the American Way Action Fund
Public Citizen's Congress Watch
Self Help for Hard of Hearing People, Inc.
Taxpayer Assets Project
The Rural Coalition
AFGE Local 3354 (Missouri); Alabama Council on Human Relations; American
Indian Movement (Minnesota); Appalachian Community Board (Tennessee);
Arkansas Land & Farm; Association for Community Based Education (DC);
Boggs Rural Life Center, Inc. (Georgia); California Action Network;
California Rural Legal Assistance Fund; Center for Community Change (DC);
Center for Democratic Renewal (Georgia); Christian Children's Fund, Inc.
(Virginia); Citizen Alert (Nevada); Commission on Religion in Appalachia
(Tennessee); Community Enterprise Development Corporation of Alaska;
Community Transportation Association of America (DC); Cornucopia Network
of New Jersey, Inc.; Frente Democratic Compensino (Mexico); General Board
of Church and Society (DC); Gulf Coast Tenants Organization (Louisiana);
Heartwood (Indiana); Highlander Research and Education Center
(Tennessee); H.O.M.E., Inc. (Maine); Housing Assistance Council (DC);
Institute for Alternative Agriculture(Maryland); Institute for Local
Self-Reliance (DC); Institute for Southern Studies ; (North Carolina);
Intertribal Agriculture Council(Montana); Junior Achievement, Inc.
(Colorado); La Mujer Obrera (Texas); Land Loss Prevention Project ;
(North Carolina); Bert and Mary Meyer Foundation(Florida); Missouri Rural
Crisis Center; National Catholic Rural Life Conference(Iowa); Native
Action (Montana); North American Farm Alliance (Ohio); Northern Neck
Rural Development Coalition (Virginia); Northwest Housing Association
(Vermont); Oyati Zani (Healthy People) ; (South Dakota); Pennsylvania
Farmers Union; Prairiefire Rural Action, Inc. (Iowa); Rural Advancement
Fund ; (North Carolina); Rural Alliance for Military Accountability
(Nevada); Rural Development Leadership Network(New York); Rural Community
Assistance Program(Virginia); Rural Life Office (Kentucky); Rural
Southern Voice for Peace ; (North Carolina); Rural Virginia, Inc.; Save
Our Cumberland Mountains (Tennessee); Save Sierra Blanca (Texas); School
of Human Services, Springfield College (Vermont); Sin Fronteras
Organizing Project(Texas); Solidarity Committee of the Capital District
(New York); Stueben Churchpeople Against Poverty (New York); University of
Arizona, Rural Health Office; Vermonters Organized for Clean Up (Vermont);
Virginia Water Project, Inc.
Office of Communications, United Church of Christ
United Methodist Church, General Board of Church & Society
United States Catholic Conference
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
(1) What is electronic redlining?
In violation of Fair Housing and Fair Lending laws, many banks have
refued to lend money to people who live in minority or low-income areas.
Red lines would be drawn on a map indicating neighborhoods which would be
Electronic redlining occurs when a telecommunications carrier -- such as
a telephone or cable television company -- refuses to provide service, or
provides lower quality service to minority, low-income or rural areas.
(2) Is electronic redlining really happening?
Yes. On May 23, 1994, a coalition of civil rights, public interest, and
consumer groups filed petitions with the Federal Communications Commission
showing that several Regional Bell Operating Companies plan to deploy
video dial tone services in a manner that excludes minority and low-income
For example, Bell Atlantic's initial plans for video dialtone service in
the Washington, DC area would have served Montgomery County and Northern
Virginia, both suburbs, but excluded the District of Columbia which has
much higher concentrations of minority and low-income residents.
(3) Don't the telecommunications carriers promise that everyone is going
to be connected?
Some companies have responded that they will eventually get around to
providing these new services to everyone. But hooking up everyone
eventually could mean that disadvantaged areas lag a generation behind
advantaged areas. Some offer only a vague commitment to deploy service in
a non-discriminatory way; others have announced more concrete but limited
plans after facing heavy criticism and the threat of congressional action.
The anti-redlining amendment would require companies to provide
deployment plans that indicate exactly which communities they intend to
serve. Telecommunications carriers would not be permitted to build
advanced networks in wealthy suburbs first, followed eventually by
build-outs in minority, low-income and rural areas.
(4) Doesn't this mean minority, low-income and rural areas would have to
be hooked up first?
The anti-redlining amendment does not require that any areas be provided
with advanced telecommunications services first. Instead, it simply
mandates that service be deployed in a non-discriminatory manner in
keeping with a core principle of the 1934 Communications Act. That is, a
telecommunications company may not deploy new services in a discriminatory
For example, suppose Bell Atlantic chooses to deploy "video dial-tone" to
100,000 homes in a city with a substantial minority of black or hispanic
residents. The anti-redlining amendment would require that a substantial
minority of homes served be those of minority residents. The amendment
would make it illegal for a telecommunications carrier to deploy a new
service to wealthy, predominantly white, suburbs first, only to hook up
minority communities later.
(5) Would this amendment hurt industry?
The RBOCs' own MFJ-Task force has done a study showing that minority
households at all income levels spend significantly more on
telecommunications services than non-minority households. For instance,
minority households spend more on premium cable services -- probably due
to fewer alternatives for entertainment. Industry's perception that
minority markets are not profitable seems largely based on out-moded
stereotypes of the very sort that civil rights laws commonly address.
TEXT OF PROPOSED ANTI-REDLINING AMENDMENT
(1) It shall be unlawful for any telecommunications carrier to refuse to
provide access to telecommunications services with either the purpose or
effect of discriminating on the basis of race, national origin, income, or
residence in a rural area. A telecommunications carrier shall offer
service to representative percentages of members of classes protected by
this subsection as compared to the percentages of protected class members
in the relevant local area.
(2) SUBMISSION OF PLAN FOR PROVISION OF SERVICE. As a condition of
receiving or renewing a license, franchise, permit or other authorization
to provide telecommunications service, each telecommunications carrier
shall submit, to the responsible regulatory authorities, a plan
demonstrating compliance with subsection (1). The plan shall include all
relevant tract-level census data in a standard form to be prescribed by
(3) ENFORCEMENT BY THE COMMISSION. Within one year after the date of
enactment of this subsection, the Commission shall complete a rulemaking
procedure for the purpose of prescribing regulations that set forth the
requirements for compliance with subsection (1), public comment,
complaint, enforcement procedures under this section, and procedures for
annual certification of compliance with subsection (1).
People For the American Way is 300,000-member nonpartisan constitutional
liberties public interest organization.
People For the American Way, 2000 M Street NW, Suite 400, Washington DC 20036
Anthony E. Wright firstname.lastname@example.org
Coordinator, Future of Media Project Center for Media Education
End of Computer Underground Digest #6.70
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank