Computer underground Digest Sun May 28, 1995 Volume 7 : Issue 43 ISSN 1004-042X Editors: J

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Computer underground Digest Sun May 28, 1995 Volume 7 : Issue 43 ISSN 1004-042X 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 Ian Dickinson Trivia Editor: Writer of the song "Daydream Believer Is: ?????? CONTENTS, #7.43 (Sun, May 28, 1995) CuD ADMINISTRATIVE, EDITORIAL, AND SUBSCRIPTION INFORMATION APPEARS IN THE CONCLUDING FILE AT THE END OF EACH ISSUE. --------------------------------------------------------------------- Date: 26 May 1995 23:12:00 -0400 From: "Dave Banisar" Subject: Prodigy Held Liable A New York state trial court ruled on May 24 that Prodigy is responsible for the libelous statements of its users because it exercises editorial control over their posts. In the case, an anonymous Prodigy user made statements against New York Investment firm Stratton Oakmont accusing it of criminal and fraudulent acts. Stratton Oakmont sued Prodigy and the volunteer moderator of the forum where the statements were published. The Court found that Prodigy was acting as a publisher and therefore was responsible for the content of the posts. The Court distinguished the case from the earlier Cubby v. Compuserve decision, which found that Compuserve was subject to the standards of a bookstore or library. It that case, the US District court ruled that Compuserve had no editorial control over the text. According to the New York state court: In contrast, here Prodigy has virtually created an editorial staff of Board Leaders who have the ability to continually monitor incoming transmissions and in fact do spend time censoring notes. Indeed, it could be said that Prodigy's current system of automatic scanning, guidelines, and Board Leaders may have a chilling effect on freedom of communications in Cyberspace, and it appears that this chilling effect is exactly what Prodigy wants, but for the legal liability that attaches to such censorship. Let it be clear that this court is in full agreement with Cubby and Auvil. Computer bulletin boards should generally be regarded in the same context as bookstores, libraries and network affiliates...It is Prodigy's own policies, technology and staffing decisions which have altered the scenario and mandated the finding that it is a publisher. The court also attempted to downplay the significance of its decision on the greater area of electronic networks: Prodigy's conscious choice, to gain the benefits of editorial control, has opened it up to greater liability that Compuserve and other computer networks that make no such choice. For the record, the fear that this Court's finding of publisher status for Prodigy will compel all computer networks to abdicate control of their bulletin boards, incorrectly presumes that the market will refuse to compensate a network for its increased control and the resulting increased exposure. The Court also found that the volunteer "Board Leader" of the Prodigy Bulletin Board was acting as an agent of the company. The Court found Prodigy exercised control over the Board Leaders though the the Bulletin Board Leader Agreement and the actions of Prodigy's employees. Prodigy has said that it will consider appealing the decision. EPIC has materials on free speech available at We will be making a copy of the decision available in the next few days. ------------------------------ Date: 22 May 95 18:30:25 From: (Lance & Vicki Flores) Subject: LPTexas Internet Symposium SYMPOSIUM VIRTUAL FREEDOM -- Government Regulation of the Internet? A symposium addressing the question of whether government should have the authority to control the developing international communications network known as the Internet. Saturday, June 10, 1995 Presented by: Southern Methodist University ----------- Call for papers. The symposium is open for the submission of papers on topics related to the Internet: * History of Fee Speech on the Internet * Censorship * Regulation and Licensing * Pornography * Political Correctness and Offensiveness * Encryption * Other relevant topics Papers should be presented in APA form with one copy on 8.5 x 11 white unpolished paper and a copy on disk* which will be used to incorporate the document into a journal of the symposium. The proceedings will be made available on the Internet. Contact: Lance Flores ---------- Schedule: 8:30-8:45 Coffee & Welcoming remarks - Prof. Barry Vacker, SMU Morning Session 8:45-9:00 Introduction - Prof. Allan Saxe, U.T. at Arlington 9:00-9:45 Cultural Implications of the Internet - Prof. August Grant, U.T. at Austin 9:45-10:30 Government Regulation of the Internet - (to be determined) 10:30-10:45 Break 10:45-11:45 Constitutional Issues in Cyberspace - Prof. Jef Richards, U.T. at Austin 11:45-1:00 Lunch Break Afternoon Session 1:00-1:05 Introduction - Prof. Allan Saxe 1:05-2:00 Obscenity on the Internet - Carrie Sperling ACLU 2:00-2:45 Universal Access - Michael C. Burton Media Monitor - Austin 2:45-3:00 Break 3:00-4:00 Problems of Regulation State - Jonathan Emord, Cato Institute 4:00-5:00 Virtual Anarchy--The "Beauty" of the Internet Prof. Barry Vacker 5:15:6:00 Panel discussion -- * Democratic Party Speaker * R. Lance Flores Libertarian Party Speaker * Republican Party Speaker * Michael C. Burton Media Monitor * Jonathan Emord Cato Institute * Barry Vacker Southern Metodist University 6:30-7:00 Speakers available for media interviews 6:30-8:00 Evening Social -- Hosted by industry co-sponsors. Date: Saturday, June 10, 1995 Location: The Karcher Auditorium. 100 Story Hall, Dallas, Texas. Story Hall is located near the northwest corner of the SMU campus, next to the Law School, Hillcrest at Daniel. *BinHex or MIME attachments may be sent instead. Please cross-post or distribute where appropriate. Contacts: Lance Flores 5911 Vickery Blvd. Dallas, Texas 75206 (214) 826-7851 Barry Vacker "Liberty is not a means to a higher political end. It is itself the highest political end." -- Lord Acton ------------------------------ Date: Thu, 25 May 1995 21:43:31 -0400 From: eye@INTERLOG.COM(eye WEEKLY) Subject: The Little Deathnet Story that Grew ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ eye WEEKLY May 11 1995 Toronto's arts newspaper every Thursday ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ EYE.NET EYE.NET THE LITTLE DEATHNET STORY THAT GREW Why many people now believe that teens can login and learn how to off themselves by K.K. CAMPBELL Last December, eyeNET presented readers that most irreplaceable of Internet resources, the "How To Kill Yourself" file. It gives detailed instructions on creative ways to end one's life. It has circulated the net for years, uploaded to newsgroups and found languishing in FTP sites such as Canadian universities, where it is particularly useful come exam time. Of it, I wrote: "Some of the ways are serious, drawn from references like Derek Humphry, publisher of Hemlock -- and some aren't. It's not hard to guess which is which ... One wonders how long before the Hard Copy-esque legions who staff mainstream media news outlets discover it: Suicide Tips On The Information Superhighway! Film at 11!" Let's fast-forward: Sunday, March 12. Out at Bathurst and College St, enjoying the spring-like day, I spied a somewhat startling Toronto Sun front page headline -- startling not only because it was actually more than one word, but because it read: SUICIDE GURU USING INTERNET TO TELL TEENS HOW TO DIE. Looking around and not seeing eye staff snickering and spluttering in doorways, I deduced it was not one of those phony mock-up papers and dug out some coin to read it. (The article now proudly adorns wall space in eyeNET's luxurious HQ.) This Toronto Sun "exclusive" was bylined Steve Chase of the Calgary Sun. It opens: "An American suicide advocate has teamed up with his Canadian counterpart to flog a how-to manual across the Internet, the Sunday Sun has learned." Personally, I'm of the opinion that The Toronto Sun might better serve readers if, in its next net story, the phrase "the Sunday Sun has learned" is immediately followed by the phrase "how to login." I immediately realized they were writing not about the How To Kill Yourself Guide but DeathNET. DeathNET is one of the many informational/research tools on the World Wide Web. It deals with the controversial "right to die" issue. One might have just chalked this up to another sensationalistic pro-censorship Sun story, except this one would eventually be picked up around the world. Millions of people were told DeathNET is helping teens use the Internet to learn how to kill themselves. THE UNBLINKING NEWS SYSTEM DeathNET -- -- is maintained by Victoria, B.C., resident John Hofsess (, executive director of the Right to Die Society of Canada. It's an info-rich site, even including the massive transcripts from the Senate Special Committee on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide. (The American content is maintained by Oregon's Derek Humphry, founder of the National Hemlock Society and author of Final Exit.) It opened Jan 10. On March 5, Calgary Sun managing editor Chris Nelson -- who admits he's net- illiterate -- saw Hofsess on a TV show. Hofsess was discussing DeathNET. Somehow Nelson thought this meant DeathNET was openly distributing technical information on performing efficient suicide. Suicide kits. Nelson immediately assigned someone to cover his exclusive and the Calgary Sun went into a full-court press on The Big Story: "Suicide tips on the information superhighway." One Sun editor phoned Anne Mullens -- the former Vancouver Sun science and medical reporter who won the 1993-94 Atkinson Foundation Award for Public Policy and wrote an eight-part series on euthanasia. The Calgary Sun correctly realized it would be hard to find a more expert source -- especially as Mullens is also quite net.savvy. "The Sun employee (I can't remember her name) asked if I knew anything about an Internet site in Victoria freely distributing tips to help teenagers die," Mullens told eyeNET. "I told her, `If you mean DeathNET, you're way off base. DeathNET does nothing of the kind and is, in fact, a wonderful resource for writers and researchers.' " Among the several "expert opinion" quotes in the final story, the Calgary Sun would somehow forget to include Mullens. Nelson assigned Sun reporter Steve Chase to actually find the site. Chase did so and started exploring it on March 7. (Turns out I'd had contact with Chase before. On Feb. 14, he wrote eye email applauding our web site and asking for advice on books to learn about bringing newspapers onto the Internet. I never responded.) Chase sent Hofsess no less than three pieces of email, pretending to be a teenager requesting information on how to kill himself, asking that his family not be told about his request. They were all signed Steve Chase. Hofsess replied that one cannot get such information on the Internet. Chase had directly attempted to get "a suicide kit" while pretending to be a teenager. The Calgary Sun would somehow forget to include this. Upon that failure, Chase dropped the charade and called Hofsess directly, leaving a message on Hofsess' machine. Hofsess, hearing the name Steve Chase again, suddenly realized what was happening. He wrote another piece of email to Chase, demanding the "troubled teen" never call him again. As Chase would later admit to me in a phone conversation, he was (and remains) extremely ticked off Hofsess refused to grant him that interview. A few days later, the Sun story was released. STICK IT WHERE THE SUN DON'T SHINE In the story, the Calgary Sun had no choice but to admit one can't actually get "suicide kits" on the Internet after all -- much to Nelson's dismay. So they cobbled together a paragraph as a sort of legal disclaimer, mentioning this fact. However, the entire tone of the story is exactly as if DeathNET is giving away "suicide kits" to teens on the evil Internet. And it's clear all the aghast "experts" quoted are reacting to Chase's panic-mongering assertion that DeathNET is openly posting on the net suicide tips. The "exclusive" came out simultaneously in the Ottawa and Toronto Suns. With a stunning flourish of editorial wizardry, The Toronto Sun actually cut the critical ass-covering paragraph from their story. Chase would later complain about this. The Toronto Sun editors either deliberately removed it because it took away from the impact of the story, or were too dense to understand its importance. All this was pretty bad, but it got worse. The next day, CP rewrote the Calgary Sun copy and launched it across the wires. Newspapers across the country carried the CP story -- the Edmonton Journal, Hamilton Spectator and Vancouver Sun, among others. Then the electronic news gang soon scooped. A couple of talk shows even called Hofsess, hoping to book the evil man who was giving suicide tips to troubled teens on the evil Internet. The myth then hit the op-ed pages. For instance, on March 17, The Globe and Mail ran a piece coauthored by Bernie Farber of the Canadian Jewish Congress. Farber presented the myth as fact to further his own agenda of invoking government legislation to censor the net. Then the Associated Press picked up the story and who knows where it went from there. Last sighting: England's London Sunday Times. `GOD WILL PUNISH YOU!' Hofsess was soon receiving harassing phone calls from "right to life" right-wing extremists. On the receiving end of this news media juggernaut, he found the only way to fight back at all was through the most powerful grassroots "broadcast" medium he could find: netnews. The newsgroups. Hofsess wrote a two-part criticism ("Inventing Internet Hysteria") of the Calgary Sun story in can.infohighway . In it, he made public copies of Chase's "troubled teen" emails. (He also transcribed Chase's answering machine message. In that message, Chase left his work and home phone numbers -- which Hofsess included for all the world to read, a nasty trick, to be sure. Chase got a taste of harassment himself, discovering censorship is a dirty word on the net.) Chase directly responded to Hofsess' posts. The post remains an embarrassment to read. Besides being formatted la raging newbie, it flames Hofsess in the lamest of manners. Chase ignored Hofsess' complaints about the story itself and attacked Hofsess personally. Not surprisingly, Chase was flamed in return by a few readers across Canada. Chase's intense personal dislike of Hofsess, as evidenced in his reply, might help explain why the Calgary Sun disregarded Anne Mullens; why it did not report Chase's complete failure to get "suicide tips on the Internet"; why it ignored the enormous wealth of research data on DeathNET while obsessing over the existence of a book called Departing Drugs in the mail-order section. But most disheartening is the way the story swept the entire country without anybody ever calling Hofsess to confirm. Considering the nature of the Internet, it is the easiest thing in the world to see DeathNET firsthand. My conversation with Calgary Sun editor Nelson got very heated when I suggested his story was bull. We started yelling at each other, I insistent the story was a gross misrepresentation designed to invoke censorship, he retorting angrily, "Oh ho! What's your interest in this?! What's your interest in this?!" --as if only some hidden motive could explain why anyone would think his story was a piece of shit. I realize now why Nelson was so defensive: he and Chase had experienced a strong backlash to their story, not from the newspaper-reading community but from the Netters implicitly understood what the Sun story was really about: hysteria intended to provoke censorship. "It's interesting that all positive feedback I got came through email or postings to newsgroups," Hofsess told eyeNET. "While anything negative -- including crank calls telling me that `God will punish you!' -- came from people unfamiliar with the net -- the gullible readers of The Sun and other newspapers." ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Retransmit freely in cyberspace Author holds standard copyright Mailing list available "...Break the Gutenberg Lock..." 416-971-8421 ------------------------------ Date: Fri, 26 May 1995 19:33:36 -0500 (CDT) From: Crypt Newsletter Subject: British man pleads guilty on malicious virus writing BRITISH MAN PLEADS GUILTY AS VIRUS WRITER Finally, after months of delay and postponement, a 26 year old unemployed computer programmer, Chris Pile, pleaded guilty Friday to eleven charges related to computer virus writing. The case at Plymouth Crown Court was the first of its kind in British legal history since passage of the Computer Misuse Act in 1990. Pile, known as the Black Baron, pleaded guilty to hacking into business computers and planting the computer viruses known as SMEG/Pathogen and SMEG/Queeg. The case followed an investigation by fraud squad officers and experts from Scotland Yard. The eleven charges stemmed from a period between October 1993 and April 1994 when the Black Baron obtained unauthorized access to computer programs and seeded them with viruses he'd written. He also pleaded guilty to one charge of inciting others to plant his viruses. Authorities state that tracing the viruses and repairing damage caused by them cost "well in excess of half a million pounds." Pile was released on bail and the trial adjourned for two months to allow the defence to prepare a pre-sentencing report. Pile, a Devon man, wrote the SMEG viruses which quickly gained the attention of anti-virus developers worldwide in mid-1994. Due to publicity on the nets and in the computer underground, they were rapidly distributed around the Internet at approximated the same time Pile was arrested in connection with the charges on which he was tried. In 1993, another English virus writer, Stephen Kapps, was arrested in connection with telephone fraud charges. Kapps was known as the "President of ARCV," or ARCV virus writing group which stood for Association of Really Cruel Viruses. It is worth noting that in 1992 at the height of the Michelangelo virus scare, few virus writers were easily identified. This is no longer the case. Due to the growth in computer networks and an increasing desire for underground network celebrity, many of the most prominent virus writers in the world live in plain sight. Australia's Clinton Haines, a student at the University of Queensland, is responsible for writing and putting the Dudley and NoFrills computer viruses into the wild in his country. At various times since 1992, these viruses have infected SunCorp, a large Australian insurance firm; Australian Telecom and the Australian Taxation Office, which is similar to the IRS. Haines has been interviewed at length by the Australian newsmedia. In America, James Gentile, a teenager living in San Diego, has written a number of viruses, all of which have emerged in the wild. His Satan Bug crashed US Secret Service networks in 1993. Since then another of his creations, known as Natas - Satan spelled backwards - has become one of the most common computer viruses in North America. It has been reported as far south in the hemisphere as Argentina. George Smith "The Virus Creation Labs" On the World Wide Web: URL: (don't forget the squiggly before the "crypt") ------------------------------ Date: Sat, 20 May 1995 19:01:30 +0800 From: jwarren@WELL.COM(Jim Warren) Subject: GovAccess.121: WA favors freedom; low-cost ISDN; Fed Pol-State Act Washington-State Senate Upheld Governor's Veto of State Online Censorship Bill Date--Fri, 19 May 1995 18:45:15 -0700 (PDT) From--Jeff Michka Subject--CITIZEN ONLINE *VICTORY* ALERT 5/19 (1900PDT) ***FLASH: WASHINGTON STATE SENATE UPHOLD GOVERNOR'S VETO OF ESSB5466**** A short time ago, the Washington State Senate upheld Governor Lowry's veto of ESSB5466 after a tense day behind the scenes. According to Senator Darlene Fairley's (D-32nd) office, the Senate voted 25 against override, 23 for override. [CO Ed. Note: Number unconfirmed] This represents a victory for civil liberties and the online community. CITIZEN ONLINE thanks each and every person out there for their efforts. &&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&& New, Unmoderated Listserv re Amendments to HR 1555 for Low-Cost ISDN From: Michael Ward ISDN on ISDN is a temporary discussion list set up for an Ad Hoc Coalition on Low Cost ISDN tariffs. The list is open and unmoderated. The purpose of the list is to discuss proposed amendments to HR 1555 (Communications Act of 1995) which would require local exchange telephone carriers, which do not face substantial competition, to offer ISDN services at prices which are reasonable, given the cost of providing the service. ISDN technology allows high speed data transmissions over ordinary telephone wires. Prices for ISDN service now vary greatly from market to market. To Subscribe to isdn -- 1. Send email to: 2. In the body write: subscribe isdn firstname lastname Owner: Michael Ward Taxpayer Assets Project PO Box 19367 Washington, DC 20036 v: 202.387.8030 f. 202.234-5176 &&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&& The Omnibus Police-State Bill - Now Fast-Tracked for Quick Enactment (Please note that this was dated almost two months before Okla. City.) *] From: "Thomas L. Mason" *] Organization: Urban and Public Affairs *] Date: Fri, 3 Mar 1995 15:48:44 PST *] Subject: Forwarded: New FBI Charter to Investigate Political Groups *] *] I got this off another list. *] *] Omnibus Counterterrorism Bill *] S. 390 and H.R. 896 *] *] New FBI Charter to Investigate Political Groups *] *] February 10, 1995 the Omnibus Counterterrorism Bill was introduced *] as S. 390 into the Senate and as H.R. 896 in the House. It was *] initiated by the FBI, and passed on by the Justice Department and *] the White House. Senators Biden (D-DE) and Specter (R- PA) *] initiated it in the Senate, Rep. Schumer (D-NY) and Dicks (D-WA) *] in the House. It has bipartisan support and could get expedited *] action. *] *] SUMMARY *] * THIS IS A GENERAL CHARTER FOR THE FBI AND OTHER AGENCIES, *] INCLUDING THE MILITARY, TO INVESTIGATE POLITICAL GROUPS AND *] CAUSES AT WILL. The bill is a wide-ranging federalization of *] different kinds of actions applying to both citizens and *] non-citizens. The range includes acts of violence (attempts, *] threats and conspiracies) as well as giving funds for *] humanitarian, legal activity. *] *] * It would allow up to 10 year sentences for citizens and *] deportation for permanent resident non-citizens for the "crime" of *] supporting the lawful activities of an organization the President *] declares to be "terrorist", as the African National Congress, FMLN *] in El Salvador, IRA in Northern Ireland, and PLO have been *] labelled. It broadens the definition of terrorism. The *] President's determination of who is a terrorist is unappealable, *] and specifically can include groups regardless of any legitimate *] activity they might pursue. *] *] * It authorizes secret trials for immigrants who are not charged *] with a crime but rather who are accused of supporting lawful *] activity by organizations which have also been accused of *] committing illegal acts. Immigrants could be deported: 1) using *] evidence they or their lawyers would never see, 2) in secret *] proceedings 3) with one sided appeals 4) using illegally obtained *] evidence. *] *] * It suspends posse comitatus - allowing the use of the military *] to aid the police regardless of other laws. *] *] * It reverses the presumption of innocence - the accused is *] presumed ineligible for bail and can be detained until trial. *] *] * It loosens the rules for wiretaps. It would prohibit probation *] as a punishment under the act - even for minor nonviolent *] offenses. *] *] IMPLICATIONS *] * Those who remember the McCarran Walter Act will recognize this *] bill, only in some ways this is broader and potentially more *] dangerous *] *] * This bill is highly political: the President can determine who *] is a terrorist and change his/her mind at will and even for *] economic reasons. The breadth of its coverage would make it *] impossible for the government to prosecute all assistance to *] groups around the world that have made or threatened to commit *] violent acts of any sort. Necessarily its choices would be *] targeted at organizations the government found currently *] offensive. People to be deported would be chosen specifically *] because of their political associations and beliefs. *] *] * The new federal crime: international terrorism doesn't cover *] anything that is not already a crime. As the Center for National *] Security Studies notes: "Since the new offense does not cover *] anything that is not already a crime, the main purpose of the *] proposal seems to be to avoid certain constitutional and statutory *] protections that would otherwise apply." *] *] * While many provisions of this bill could well be found *] unconstitutional after years of litigation, in the mean time the *] damage could be enormous to the First Amendment and other *] constitutional rights including presumption of innocence and right *] to bail. *] *] THE BILL HAS BEEN REFERRED TO JUDICIARY COMMITTEES OF EACH HOUSE. *] ONLY THE NEW YORK TIMES HAS AS YET NOTICED THE BILL - A 2/24/95 *] ANTHONY LEWIS COLUMN. OTHER PAPERS SHOULD BE ALERTED. *] *] FOR MORE INFORMATION: *] Kit Gage, Washington Liaison, National Lawyers Guild *] 3321-12th St., NE, Washington DC 20017 202-529-4225, fax *] 202-526-4611, e-mail: &&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&& "Security is like liberty in that many are the crimes committed in its name." --Justice Robert H. Jackson, 1950 ------------------------------ Date: Sun, 19 Apr 1995 22:51:01 CDT From: CuD Moderators Subject: Cu Digest Header Info (unchanged since 19 Apr, 1995) Cu-Digest is a weekly electronic journal/newsletter. Subscriptions are available at no cost electronically. CuD is available as a Usenet newsgroup: Or, to subscribe, send a one-line message: SUB CUDIGEST your name Send it to 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 60115, USA. 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