Computer underground Digest Sun May 28, 1995 Volume 7 : Issue 43 ISSN 1004-042X Editors: J
Computer underground Digest Sun May 28, 1995 Volume 7 : Issue 43
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
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
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
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
Prodigy has said that it will consider appealing the decision. EPIC has
materials on free speech available at http://epic.org/free_speech/ We will be
making a copy of the decision available in the next few days.
Date: 22 May 95 18:30:25
From: email@example.com (Lance & Vicki Flores)
Subject: LPTexas Internet 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
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
* Regulation and Licensing
* Political Correctness and Offensiveness
* 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
8:30-8:45 Coffee & Welcoming remarks - Prof. Barry Vacker, SMU
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)
10:45-11:45 Constitutional Issues in Cyberspace -
Prof. Jef Richards, U.T. at Austin
11:45-1:00 Lunch Break
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
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.
5911 Vickery Blvd.
Dallas, Texas 75206
"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 .....free every Thursday
THE LITTLE DEATHNET STORY THAT GREW
Why many people now believe that teens can login and learn how to
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 -- http://www.islandnet.com/~deathnet -- is maintained by
Victoria, B.C., resident John Hofsess (firstname.lastname@example.org), 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.
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
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
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
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
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
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 net.community. Netters implicitly understood
what the Sun story was really about: hysteria intended to provoke
"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
http://www.interlog.com/eye Mailing list available
email@example.com "...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
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.
"The Virus Creation Labs"
On the World Wide Web:
(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)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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 email@example.com
Taxpayer Assets Project
PO Box 19367
Washington, DC 20036
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
*] * 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
*] * 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
*] * Those who remember the McCarran Walter Act will recognize this
*] bill, only in some ways this is broader and potentially more
*] * 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
"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)
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