Computer underground Digest Wed May 10, 1995 Volume 7 : Issue 37 ISSN 1004-042X Editors: J
Computer underground Digest Wed May 10, 1995 Volume 7 : Issue 37
Editors: Jim Thomas and Gordon Meyer (TK0JUT2@MVS.CSO.NIU.EDU
Archivist: Brendan Kehoe
Shadow Master: Stanton McCandlish
Field Agent Extraordinaire: David Smith
Shadow-Archivists: Dan Carosone / Paul Southworth
Ralph Sims / Jyrki Kuoppala
Goddess of Judyism Editor: J. Tenuta
CONTENTS, #7.37 (Wed, May 10, 1995)
File 1--Response to "Digital Copyright Problem" (re: CuD 736)
File 2--Commentary on NPR in re the Exon Bill (EPIC fwd)
File 3--Noam Chomksy on the Internet (fwd)
File 4--Cu Digest Header Info (unchanged since 19 Apr, 1995)
CuD ADMINISTRATIVE, EDITORIAL, AND SUBSCRIPTION INFORMATION APPEARS IN
THE CONCLUDING FILE AT THE END OF EACH ISSUE.
From: "David Gersic"
Date: Tue, 9 May 1995 13:04:03 CDT
Subject: file 1--Response to "Digital Copyright Problem" (re: CuD 736)
-=> Subject--File 2--A solution to the digital copyright problem
-=> Fixing the Digital Copyright Dilemma with Telerights:
-=> Copying is easy; decryption is not
I have several problems with this proposal, not the least of which is
that it won't work.
-=> After reading the National Information Infrastructure debate on
-=> intellectual property reform in the digital age, one could conclude that
-=> computers and copyrights have come to an impasse.
They have. At best, the current copyright code does not map well onto
the computer information it is being applied to.
-=> Some have proposed drastically curtailing electronic technology in
-=> order to protect future publishers.
I think that this would be a Very Bad Thing. We are on the verge of
being able to disseminate more information, faster, and more
directly, than ever before. It's a cliche by now, but the computer is
doing to print media what the printing press did to the monks. And
just like the monks, the print media are attempting to maintain their
monopoly on information distribution. It didn't work last time, it'd
be a shame to let it work this time.
-=> disk into RAM. They want to ban the electronic resale or renting of
-=> copyrighted material fearing that the piracy which has plagued software
-=> will plague movies and books when they enter cyberspace.
Who are "they"? Pirating movies has been around forever, as has
music. Sure, the quality may be off a little on the copy, but that
has never stopped people from enjoying their illicit copies anyway. A
local couple (Chicago) was just arrested recently for bootlegging
movies. They were sneaking a pocket cam-corder into movie theaters,
taping the movies from the audience, then selling the copies. Sure,
it was a *lousy* copy, but they were making money anyway. Rock
concert boot-legs have been around forever too.
-=> I call this a system of 'telerights.'
-=> A user would buy an encrypted copy of the document from the author
-=> or publisher. Each individual version would have a different key, so
-=> the user could make many duplicates but in essence only own the one
-=> 'copy' that was paid for. When the user wanted to use the document, it
-=> would contact its publisher for the key. If no other versions with the
-=> same key were in use, the publisher would send the key to the user's
-=> machine and the document would decrypt itself into an area of temporary
-=> memory like RAM. When the user was done, the document would delete the
-=> decrypted version.
1) You're assuming that I'll have a network connection wherever I
might want to use this document that I've "bought". If I carry my
laptop out under a tree to sit in the sunshine, I'm screwed and have
to go back inside where the ethernet is. OTOH, if *you* want to run
the T1 to my house and provide a wireless network solution for a
five or six square mile area around my house, I'd be delighted to
talk about it...
2) You're assuming that the network connection in #1 is of no cost to
me. If I'm using an ISDN link to the 'net, I have to pay for it on a
per-call basis. So, each time I want to refer to a diagram in this
document I have to insert a quarter in the coin slot in the side of
my monitor. The phone company may love this idea, but it's going to
be expensive for the user. Plus, if that document has a link to
another document, there's another phone call to validate the new
document, and possibly a third one to get back to my original
3) What if I don't *want* the publisher to follow my actions and
interests? The civil libertarians will love this idea... Given the
current interest in the "militias" and people like Tim McVeigh,
wouldn't it be nice to be able to query the publishers of all bomb-
related documents to see who has been reading them? And, going back
to the ISDN mentioned in #2, it'd be even easier to figure out where
they were reading the documents from. I'm not paranoid, but I'm sure
that the FBI would love to be able to find/trace people that they are
interested in this easily, and given the current public mood to give
the FBI the power to investigate people who have not (to their
knowledge) violated any laws, that's a scary proposition. Or, maybe I
just don't think that it's anybody's business but mine what I read,
when I read it, or *where* I read it.
-=> The old problem of piracy would be turned on its head. The user
-=> instead of the publisher would have to worry about theft. When someone
-=> stole his copy, they would steal his use of it as well. There would be
-=> no assurance the person you buy used information from would delete their
-=> old copies.
This is the biggest falacy in the whole proposition. You've missed
the basic method of software piracy; remove the copy protection. What
is proposed here is not really that much different from a "key-disk"
protection that comes with many games. And, it will be no harder to
bypass. You've substituted high-tech for the simpler key-disk, but
basically it comes down to:
1) start the program
2) query something to see if this is valid to run
3) if ok, jump to real start of program
4) else exit
All you have to do to bypass this scheme is to find step #3 in the
code and change it to remove the "if ok" part. People have been doing
this since the Apple ][ was popular, and have gotten quite good at
it over the last decade. As long as the program is running on *my*
CPU, in *my* machine, you have no real way to keep me from changing
it to run the way *I* want it to. Unless all program execution will
be done on the other end of a network link with only display data
being shipped to me (see objection #1 and #2 above), the whole scheme
will be bypassed within the first *hour* of somebody trying it.
-=> The government does not need to alter existing copyright laws;
Actually, I don't think that modification of the existing laws will
work; I think that they're going to have to write an entire new set
to handle what the computer industry is doing to information and
-=> On the consumer end, there is the privacy issue. Any company that
-=> both maintains other people's teleright accounts and publishes its own
-=> documents will be tempted to use for financial gain private information
-=> about other companies' customers.
Tempted? I get enough junk mail, cold-callers on my phone, and other
unsolicited sales contacts for stuff that I'm *not* interested in
now. Given this sort of data collection ability, I'm sure that I'd
get a *lot* more.
-=> The issue of encryption itself is sticky because there are already
-=> two established and ideologically opposed groups fighting about it. The
-=> government must be coaxed into relaxing its objections to strong
-=> encryption and Clipper opponents must learn to accept a key escrow
-=> standard to which the government has warranted access.
There's also the "export" problem. What if I take my laptop to Iraq
with me? Can I still read my encrypted copy of Time magazine, or do I
have to wait until I get back to the US?
-=> The government must also encourage software and computer companies
-=> to accept some level of professionalization. With the proper tools and
-=> knowledge it will be possible to trap keys or decrypted documents stored
-=> in temporary memory. These tools and skills must be tightly regulated
-=> and those sections of the operating system must be shut off from amateur
Can't be done. As long as there is a book on programming available,
some people will mis-use their knowledge to pirate stuff. Just like
as long as there is a book on basic high school chemistry available,
people will be able to build bombs. That's the problem with
information; it's neither 'good', nor 'bad', it just is. It's the
people who *use* the information that make it helpful, or dangerous.
-=> This may cause angst among some programmers but for most of
-=> us this should not be a burden. It does, after all, take a license (and
-=> the proper employer) to tamper with phone boxes and electric meters.
It does? Since when? Sure, *legally* it takes that, but I can go to
the hardware store and purchase everything I need to actually do it.
Blowing up buildings is illegal too, and we can see how well *that*
set of laws protects us from having our building blown up.
-=> One would have to vastly restrict low level media access to make
-=> unencrypted telerights work because it would be easy to pull raw
-=> information off the disk with a sector editor. With encryption, the
-=> restrictions are narrower and easier to enforce because the data is
-=> coded wherever it is stored in permanent form. Only certain sections of
-=> the runtime environment need to be restricted.
As long as the decryption is done on the local machine, it's never
going to be secure. If you modify the operating systems in use (even
assuming that MSDOS finally goes away) to make it more secure, it's
no more difficult to remove the security from *my* copy of the
operating system, or to write my own O/S without your security
measures. Look at Linux. Sure, it's been a lot of work, but it's not
impossible to write an O/S that works.
-=> We are, to use the old Chinese pejorative, living in interesting
-=> times. Why the Chinese have historically found this undesirable I do
-=> not know. Their word for 'crisis' means both 'danger' and 'opportunity'
I think that they got the balance just about perfect with that
thought. There is a lot of opportunity right now, and there is also
quite a bit of danger. I include well-meaning proposals like this in
the "danger" category, because they involve a loss of privacy that
I'm not sure is balanced by any tangible gain for me, the user.
-=> Wade Riddick is a graduate student and National Science Foundation
-=> Fellow in the Government Department at the University of Texas at
-=> Austin. His email address is email@example.com.
Hmm. Ok. I'm just another net.admin/programmer out here in the world.
Maybe I don't know any better, but I worry when the government
(or, in this case, somebody majoring in government) wants to help me.
Interesting times indeed...
Date: 6 May 1995 21:34:29 -0400
From: Marc Rotenberg
Subject: file 2--Commentary on NPR in re the Exon Bill (EPIC fwd)
The transcript of yesterday morning's NPR program on the Exon bill
follows. Yours truly and EPIC Advisory Board member Eli Noam went at
it with Senator Exon. The program went very well. The bill is
obviously in trouble.
- - -
On another civil liberties front, we could really use your help with
the $500,000,000 for the FBI wiretap program. With the folks in
Washington falling over one another to see who can put together the
most draconian terrorism legislation, the money for the national
surveillance plan remains the key to the bills. The Clinton
administration just proposed raising all civil fines by 40% (!) to
fund the payoff to telephone companies so the FBI can wiretap more
Also, Dave Banisar just finished going through the wiretap reports for
1994. Here are the key numbers (Some of this will be in a Newsweek
story on the stands later this week):
-- wiretapping reached an all-time high in 1994, 1,154 taps authorized
for federal and state combined up from 976 in 1993.
-- 75% of all taps were authorized for narcotics investigations, 8%
for gambling, and 8% for racketeering
-- Not a single tap was authorized for investigations involving
"arson, explosives, or weapons" in 1994. In fact, such an order
hasn't been approved since the late 1980s. Keep that in mind when
people say wiretapping is necessary to prevent tragedies like Oklahoma
-- Only 17% of all conversations intercepted were deemed
"incriminating" by prosecutors. That figure is at an all-time low (in
the early '70s it was closer to 50%), and it means that the FBI is
gathering far more information through electronic surveillance
unrelated to a criminal investigation than ever before.
-- Also, the duration of the taps is way up, now around 40 days on
average. Twenty years ago, it was closer to 18.
We really need the help of civil liberties and free expression groups
with this campaign. For those who are sympathetic but think
wiretapping is not a First Amendment issue, take a look at Herbert
Mitgang, _Dangerous Dossiers: Exposing the Secret War Against
America's Greatest Authors_ or recall the FBI's "Library Awareness
Program" of the 1980s.
The FBI's claim that new technologies are frustrating wiretap is
completely without support. But if the $500,000,000 to make the
network wiretap ready is appropriated, the current trends will be
amplified: more surveillance, longer duration, less well targeted -->
less privacy for all Americans.
Check out our web page http://epic.org/terrorism/ or send a message to
firstname.lastname@example.org. We even set up an 800 number for folks who want to
And send comments to me if you have suggestions.
Copyright 1995 National Public Radio
SHOW: Morning Edition (NPR 6:00 am ET)
May 5, 1995
Transcript # 1600-3
SECTION: News; Domestic
LENGTH: 788 words
HEADLINE: Senator Wants to Police Internet Porno
GUESTS: Sen. J. JAMES EXON (D NB); ELI NOAM, Tele-Information
Institute, Columbia University; MARC ROTENBERG, Electronic Privacy
BYLINE: JOHN NIELSEN
The Senate telecommunications reform bill will now include an
amendment to ban materials considered lewd and lascivious on the
Internet. Some critics fear the government would become Internet
BOB EDWARDS, Host: Some senators are concerned about sexually
oriented communication on the Internet, the global network of
computers. An amendment to the Senate's telecommunications reform
bill would ban materials considered indecent, lewd, or lascivious.
Supporters say the idea is to protect children. NPR's John Nielsen
JOHN NIELSEN, Reporter: Democratic Senator James Exon of Nebraska
says he marvels at the Internet. With it, people all over the
world can now meet and interact, they can talk privately, they can
talk in groups, they can look at pictures, and they can sell each
other information. Exon considers it the biggest advance in
communications technology since the invention of the printing
press. But Exon also thinks the Internet has one gigantic
failing. He says there's an awful lot of pornography on this
system and it's almost all accessible to everyone who goes online.
A child with basic computer skills easily can stumble into the
equivalent of a pornographic bookstore, Exon says, and he doesn't
think that should be legal.
Sen. J. JAMES EXON (D-NB): I cannot imagine that the framers of
the Constitution intended that pornography, in and of itself,
would be protected under the First Amendment. Certainly not for
JOHN NIELSEN: That's why Exon and Washington Republican Slade
Gorton recently attached an anti-smut amendment to the Senate's
telecommunications reform bill. It would punish people who
transmit 'obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, or indecent
materials' with fines of up to $100,000, or jail terms of up to
two years. Anti-smut organizations have applauded the broadly
worded amendment; so has South Dakota Republican Larry Pressler,
author of the telecommunications reform bill.
But critics say these anti-smut rules are dangerously vague. Eli
Noam, of Columbia University's Tele-Information Institute, says
they're tougher in some ways than telephone smut laws, which allow
consenting adults to say or hear anything they want to each other.
ELI NOAM, Tele-Information Institute, Columbia University: What
the Exon-Gorton amendment would do, in effect, would make such
conversations potentially illegal and, furthermore, would apply a
very vague standard to it.
JOHN NIELSEN: Marc Rotenberg, of the Electronic Privacy
Information Center, has a different concern. He fears the new law
will turn prosecutors in conservative parts of the country into a
kind of Internet police. For instance, these prosecutors might
argue that paintings and books from out-of-town libraries and
museums violate community norms. Rotenberg says that could keep
those libraries and museums off the Internet completely.
MARC ROTENBERG, Electronic Privacy Information Center: You may
have to stop and think for a moment. I mean, in your art
collection you got to wonder about some of those Impressionists.
Can we put everything that we've got currently hanging on the
walls, can we put that stuff online?
JOHN NIELSEN: Now, Senator Exon's staff has tried hard to answer
criticisms of the anti-porn bill. They've dropped language that
would have held online carriers like CompuServe and America Online
responsible for the actions of their customers, and they've added
language restricting the government's right to monitor Internet
conversations. But that last change may have created as many
problems as it solved. In a letter released this week, the
Justice Department said restrictions on digital wire-tapping could
cripple government efforts to catch computer hackers and to track
Spokesmen for Senator Exon say they don't think that's true, but
the senator says he's perfectly willing to hear his critics out.
He'll also consider more revisions.
Sen. J. JAMES EXON: And I don't mind taking the hits from some
people that accuse me of wanting to be a censor because all of
that has fed interest in the story and millions of people know
about it now that had no idea of the magnitude of the problem
before I first introduced the bill.
JOHN NIELSEN: Right now the bill's future is uncertain. When the
Senate telecommunications bill comes up for a final vote this
month, Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont will try to
push the anti-smut debate aside for at least six more months.
That would give the Justice Department time to develop an
alternative to Exon's anti-smut plan. I'm John Nielsen in
The preceding text has been professionally transcribed.
However, although the text has been checked against an audio
track, in order to meet rigid distribution and transmission
deadlines, it may not have been proofread against tape.
Date: Tue, 9 May 1995 00:33:30 -0500 (CDT)
From: David Smith
Subject: file 3--Noam Chomksy on the Internet (fwd)
---------- Forwarded message ----------
[Noam Chomksy - interview in "GeekGirl" magazine]
Noam Chomsky interviewed by RosieX and Chris Mountford
Chris Mountford: Professor Chomsky what do you see as the present influence
of technology - primarily low cost small powerful computers and global
public information networks - the technology of the so-called information
revolution, on the mass media power in the future?
*THE FIRST EDGE*
Noam Chomsky: Well, I think it's double edged and you can already see the
competing/conflicting tendencies developing. Up until now it's been pretty
much a monopoly of relatively privileged sectors, of people who have access
to computers in universities and so on. Say, in the academic world it's
turned out to be a very useful way of communicating scientific results, but
in the area we are talking about it has been used pretty efficiently in
distributing information and setting up interconnections etc. Do you have
peacenet or something equivalent in Australia?
Rosie X: Yes the Pegasus Network..
NC: Okay, in the US and particularly Europe, Peacenet puts across tons of
information and also loads of specialist Bulletin Boards where groups with
particular interests and concerns interact and discuss all sorts of things.
The main journal that I write for is Z magazine, an independent left
journal. They have a Z bulletin board which leftie types subscribe to. They
are now bringing in the readership of other media left, so on some issues
(eg East Timor) it's just been invaluable in organising. The reason for
that is most of the information about it isn't in the mainstream. So for
example a lot of it comes from Australia and until recently the Australian
press was really accessible only to special lucky people...it was
accessible to me cos I have friends here, who have been clipping madly for
20 years and sending me stuff, but that's not much help to the population.
These days it's readily available, like say the Dili massacre, you know all
the news was out at once. Other issues have come to the fore, which is all
a positive consequence of the technology.
*THE SECOND EDGE*
NC:However there's a downside, several in fact. One aspect of it which is
hard to quantify, but I see it very clearly myself. I am deluged with mail,
in fact I spend 20hrs a week or so just answering letters, and often they
are long interesting letters.It's a reflection of the fact that global
society is very atomised and very much alone. They think they are the only
person who thinks in a particular way. I constantly get letters saying I
read something you wrote and I thought I was the only person in the world
who had these crazy ideas and so on. Things have been so atomised and
broken down and de-personalised that people have lost the normal bonds of
association and communication, and so there's tons of mail. Recently e-mail
has been mounting very fast, and its to the point where I have to stop
answering it, cos its physically impossible, so I am now have to send form
letters saying, "I just can't do it"...send me snail-mail...
*BIG BROTHER INCORPORATED*
NC: The big effect which I still haven't mentioned and the one that worries
me most is what the corporate world is telling us they have in mind. And
what they are telling us they have in mind is taking the whole thing over
and using it as a technique of domination and control. In fact I recall
reading an article in maybe the Wall Street Journal or somewhere which
described the great potential of this system and they gave two examples to
illustrate their point; one for the female market and one for the male
market. Of course the ideal was to have every human being spend every spare
moment alone in front of the tube and now it's interactive! So for women
they will be watching some model advertising some crazy product which no
sane human being would want, but with enough PR aura around, and since it's
interactive they can have home delivery in ten minutes. For men, they said
every red blooded American male is supposed to be watching the super bowl.
Now it's just passive and you watch the super bowl and drink beer with your
buddies, and so on, but with interactivity what we can do is, before the
coach sends in the next play, everyone in the audience can be asked to
punch in what they think it oughtta be. So they are participating, and then
after the play is called they can flash on the screen 43% said it should
have been a kick instead of a pass...or something, so there you have it
something terrific for men and women. And this was not intended as a
caricature; that's exactly the kind of thing they have in mind and you can
see it make sense ...if I were a PR guy working for Warner Communications
that's just what I'd be working on. Those guys have billions of $ that they
can put into this, and the whole technology including the Internet can go
in this direction or it can go any other direction. Incidentally the whole
thing is simply reliving things that have gone on with earlier
communication technologies and it's well worth having a look at what
happened. Some very clever left type academics and media people have
charted the course of radio in US since the 20s. In the US things took
quite a different course from the rest of the world in the 1920s, the
United States is a very business run society with a very high class
business community. Like vulgar Marxists with all the values reversed,
their stuff reads like Maoist tracks have the time just change the words
*BACK TO THE ROOTS*
NC: In the 20s there was a battle. *radio* was coming along, everyone knew
it wasn't a marketable product like shoes. It's gonna be regulated and the
question was, who was gonna get hold of it? Well, there were groups,
(church groups, labor unions were ex tremely weak and split then, & some
student groups), but it was a very weak civil society, and it had been a
very repressive period just after Wilson's red scare, which had just
smashed up the whole society. There were people who tried to organise to
get radio to become a kind of a public interest phenomenon; but they were
just totally smashed. I mean it was completely commercialised, it was
handed over under the pretext it was democratic, cos if you give it to the
big corporations then it's pure democracy. So radio in the US became almost
exclusively commercialised - they were allowed a student radio station
which reached three blocks or something. Now the rest of the world went the
other way, almost everywhere else it became public. Which means it was as
free as the society is - you know never very free but at least to whatever
extent people can affect what a government does, which is something after
all - to that extent radio was a public good. In the US, the opposite. Now
when TV came along in the US it wasn't even a battle. By then business
dominance was so overwhelming that the question never even arose. It became
purely private. In the 1960s they allowed public radio and tv but in an
interesting way. [The] public could act to some extent through the
parliamentary institutions, and congress had imposed some conditions on
public interest requirements on the big networks, which means they had to
spend two percent of their time at 3am Sunday allowing a community group
on...or something...and then every year they had to file reports to the
federal communications commission saying, 'yeah here is the way we met our
responsibility', which was mainly a nuisance as far as CBS was concerned.
Actually I knew someone who worked in one of their offices and she told me
they had to spend all sorts of time lying about what they were doing and it
was a pain in the neck. At some point they realised it would be better to
just get the burden off their heads and allow a marginal public system
which would be very poorly funded and marginalised and under state
corporate control anyway, and then they wouldn't even have to pretend any
longer, and that's pretty much how those two modes of communications turned
*NOAM'S NO NEWBIE*
N.C: ...to tell you something personally I have a daughter in Nicaragua,
and Nicaragua in the 80s was under a complete ban.You couldn't get a letter
down there, but we were communicating thanks to the Pentagon. Thanks to the
Pentagon and the fact that I'm at MIT, I was the on the ARPANET, and it's
not meant for people like me but they can't get me out, and so my daughter
(who had a connection) and I during the terrorist war were actually
communicating thanks to the Pentagon.
RX: Ahh, did you use or do you use cryptography?
NC: I just don't care about secrecy. In fact one thing I have learned over
the years in resistance, and been close to long jail sentences and been in
trials. I know this system pretty well, and the one thing I've discovered
over the years is to be complet ely public. The intelligence systems are so
ideologically fanatic that they can not understand public opposition. I
mean I can give you exact examples of this. They assume that everybody is
as nutty as they are and so they spend all their time and energy trying to
figure out the connections to North Korea or something like that, the idea
that someone could honestly and openly say "I defy the Government, I reject
what you're doing, I'm gonna subvert it and so on"... they simply dismiss.
The safest thing always is to be quite public. Furthermore there is no way
to protect yourself from the National Security Administration snooping, you
know, and they don't bother, they don't have the resources and if they had
they couldn't do anything with them cos they are to stupid to use the
*IS TECH ENOUGH?*
CM: I'd actually like to take you up there on your point about one of the
negatives of corporate control. At the moment a large number of online
communities or groups who consider themselves communities don't have the
problem you mentioned, junk e-mail, because their group communications are
public, there's no possibility of responding to everything - that was given
up long ago - quality is judged by the viewer. Perhaps it's easier to find
what you are looking for with this technology, you can do more than change
channel. Compounding with that, unlike broadcast media which as you
mentioned were appropriated by corporations, this is not broadcast this is
not one-to-many but any-to-any, it can be one on one or one to a very large
NC: The same is true of cable TV for example, theoretically you can have
dozens of cable television channels, and in fact, in the US there are laws
which require the major corporations to fund independent cable stations.
Well the net effect is that virtually nothing happens and the reason is
because [of] the distribution for resources, energy and organisation, so
what you are saying is theoretically true. But the way it works out in
practice is a reflection of the state of activism and organisation and
resource allocation and so on. Incidentally the public nets where everyone
is talking to one another have, in my opinion, the same degraded character
as the individual e-mail messages; people are just too casual in what comes
across...the effect is you often get good things, but buried...the quality
of what people are doing is actually declining because of their intense
involvement in these e-mail interactions which are have such an
overwhelming character when you get involved in them. And it's kind of
seductive, not personally for me, but I know people get seduced by the
computer and sitting there banging around at it. It has a negative
potential and a certain positive potential, but I think it's a double edged
*FLAMES, FLAMES AND THE FUTURE*
RX: What about flaming, is it a sign of human nature having been oppressed
for so long that people are hell bent on vetting their anger in a medium
where they can be anonymous.
NC: I don't think its very different from personal interactions, people
throw things at each other and hit each other...its quite common place
RX: Do you think anger is an initial stage of the technology?
NC: I think the way the technology is likely to go is unpredictable... if I
had to make a guess, my guess is corporate take-over, and that to the
extent that it's so far tax payer supported and it's a government
institution or whatever people call it, in fact it's a military
installation/system at base and they are letting it go, and the reason they
are letting it go is cos they are not concerned about the positive effects
it has, because they probably feel, maybe correctly, that it's overwhelmed
by the n egative effects...and these are things people have to achieve -
they are not going to be given as gifts...like the Pentagon is not going to
give people as a gift a technique for free communication which undermine
the major media; if its going to take out that way it will be cos of
struggle like any other victory for freedom.
CM: Do you think that the technology is inherently democratic?
NC: There is no technology which is inherently democratic or no technology
which is inherently oppressive for that matter, technology is usually a
fairly neutral thing. The technology doesn't care really whether it's used
for oppression or liberation, it's how people use it.
CM: If you have what's probably pretty close to a level playing field, even
with a cheap set-up, and have basically the same capability to publish
whatever you produce as everyone else does, a quality document or whatever,
(not just half-baked junk e-mail) it can be distributed more easily than
traditional product- based means. Then you work in the looming financial
link, what you mentioned before - people leaving their subscriptions
behind, that could perhaps become all electronic.
NC: First of all the business...about level playing field is all a bit of a
joke, I mean type writers and paper are also a level playing field but that
doesn't mean that the mass media system is equally distributed among the
population. What's called a level playing field, is just capitalist
ideology, its not a level playing field when power is concentrated. And
even if, formally speaking, a market is meant to be a level playing
field...but we know what that means..as to using this type of technology,
the threat to left institutions is severe in my opinion. If people do or
become so anti-social and so controlled by market ideology even people on
the left, that they will drop their support for independent left media
institutions because they can get something free, those institutions will
decline and they won't be anything over the Internet, as what goes over the
Internet now is things that come out of the existing institutions. If those
are destroyed nothing is going to come out that counts. There are ways
around this, for example you could subscribe to some Internet forums...for
example Time Magazine are putting their stuff out free on the Internet and
this makes a lot of sense for them because a journal like Time does not
make money when they sell subscriptions, they lose money. They make money
from advertising, so they are delighted to not have to distribute the thing
physically...they are delighted to give it away free, because then they
don't have the cost of selling it at news stands and sending subscriptions.
They still get the same income mainly from advertising, but that's not true
for say Z magazine, they don't live on advertising they live on
RX: What other publications do you read, and do you ever peak at Wired...or
other high tech publications?
NC: I'm not much into high tech culture...even though I am at MIT, and my
wife works at educational technology and my son is a computer fanatic. I
don't have time to read Zines, I don't find them very enlightening.
Needless to say Noam Chomsky declined giving us his e-mail address!!
Date: Sun, 19 Apr 1995 22:51:01 CDT
From: CuD Moderators
Subject: file 4--Cu Digest Header Info (unchanged since 19 Apr, 1995)
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