Computer underground Digest Sun Jan 13, 1996 Volume 8 : Issue 04 ISSN 1004-042X Editors: J
Computer underground Digest Sun Jan 13, 1996 Volume 8 : Issue 04
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
Cu Digest Homepage: http://www.soci.niu.edu/~cudigest
CONTENTS, #8.04 (Sun, Jan 13, 1996)
File 1--CyberAngels in Cyberspace
File 2--AP: BBS yanks porn, fearful of government raid
File 3--Simon Wiesenthal Center "Censorship?" - Press Release (1/12/96)
File 4--Cu Digest Header Info (unchanged since 16 Dec, 1995)
CuD ADMINISTRATIVE, EDITORIAL, AND SUBSCRIPTION INFORMATION APPEARS IN
THE CONCLUDING FILE AT THE END OF EACH ISSUE.
Date: Tue, 2 Jan 1996 17:13:24 -0500
Subject: File 1--CyberAngels in Cyberspace
by Paul Kneisel (firstname.lastname@example.org)
When Curtis Sliwa and other Guardian Angels started the CyberAngels, they
stated their purpose was to "do [in cyberspace] what we do in the
The CyberAngel story started then, like so many New York City stories do,
innocently enough. New York was a city in crisis when the Guardian Angels
started some fifteen years ago. Business had fallen off and the tax base
with it. Deep cuts in social services, in sanitation, in public
transportation, and a host of other services had reduced what was later to
be called the city's quality of life.
Services were down; crime was up. Citizens feared both trends.
Then an angel appeared.
His name was Curtis Sliwa and he wore a red beret instead of a halo and a
t-shirt reading Guardian Angel instead of wings. But Sliwa promised, like
the original angel of Christian lore, to be our guardian.
ANGELS IN HELL
He and his intrepid band of young, karate-trained, unpaid supporters would
patrol the subways and defend us and our rights against the thugs when the
police could not. Or, at least, that's the way it appeared on the nightly
TV news broadcasts and newspapers. Even hardened NY civil libertarians
were willing to forget the word "vigilante." Even jaded NYers were willing
to hope. Weren't we all really the city that earlier cheered in the movie
_Death Wish_ when the elderly grandma, inspired by Charles Bronson's solo
vigilante actions, pulls out her hatpin and fights off the young mugger
who tried to snatch her purse?
We also saw the Angels in their highly visible uniforms in our subway.
Sliwa promised something and we thought he delivered it when the larger
system could not or would not. Sliwa cared as Wall St. no longer did.
Then we noticed something else.
Call it the merest whiff of sulphur when these Angels were around.
For some it was the swastika pin dangling from a few red berets. For
others it was some subway rider who seemed to be treated a little too
roughly by the Angels. For yet others it was something as seemingly
trivial as the delay in their trip as Angels held the doors open on the
But maybe, we could tell ourselves, we really didn't smell anything.
(These were the NYC subways after all, locations not known for resembling
the perfume counters at Macy's or Gimbels.)
There were only a tiny number of swastika pins and they soon disappeared.
Besides, a swastika on a Latin youth wasn't really the same as one on a
blond uebermensch, was it? And anyway, hadn't we heard that with the
breakdown of the educational system many youth thought the swastika was
just "another Indian good luck symbol." We still saw some Germanic Iron
Cross pins but that was a different culture, militaristic perhaps, maybe
macho. But we already had enough macho from the criminals so having a
little on our side was only fair play.
We also saw the Angels at work dealing with others on the subway. No, we
hadn't seen the single fellow surrounded by half-a-dozen Angels commit a
crime, but then we hadn't been looking over the newspaper conveniently
held in front of our face either. No, we didn't see him get on the car
either. Maybe he committed a crime somewhere else and then moved to OUR
car; thank god the Angels were there.
The subways continued to deteriorate.
We experienced the frustration of trains pulled out of rush-hour service
as the doors failed to close properly. We heard the conductor telling
people not to hold the doors for their friends, how it broke the closing
mechanism, and stressed repair shops already stressed by layoffs of city
Of course the Angels had to hold the doors open at each stop. There was an
Angel in each car; they needed to inform each other that they were all
safe at every stop by leaning out of the car until every Angel had
verified that every other Angel was safe. The Angels protected our safety;
could we fault them for protecting their own?
Holding the car doors illegal? Of course. But not for the Angels. That was
ridiculous. Thugs and scofflaws hold the doors open. That's what was
illegal. The Angels only did it for our safety. It wasn't the same thing
Then the train was delayed for five minutes because some Angels didn't see
each other. We were irritated, but we had a seat, a newspaper, and an
interesting article to read while we waited. Then the door that the Angel
was holding failed to close. Our five minute wait suddenly became fifteen
when the train crew forced us off the now-broken train to wait for the
next train at rush hour. There was no seat on this train nor sufficient
elbow room to turn the page of our paper.
The smell of sulphur increased, but they were after all only angels, not
saints. And it was only the subways beneath our greatest city in the
world. After ground we had our museums, our Central Park, our theater
"Come and meet
"those dancing feet,
"At the avenue
"We're taking you to,
So went one of the theater district's lead songs of a lead show in a post-
modernistic self-referential advertisement for the very show being
advertised. Broadway might resemble the great Hegelian in-and-for-itself
development but it was still NY's crossroads of the world.
The Guardian Angels, like other NYers, came above ground. Like so many
others, they also arrived at 42nd St. but now with bed and board provided
them by business owners.
The Square, like every crossroads, had something for everyone, from the
wealthiest ruled by real estate to others, somewhat poorer, who knew of
Poppa Legba's crossroad empire at 42nd and 8th.
It had its four-star restaurants for the before-or-after-the-show dinner
crowd, the $4.50 "genuine steak dinner with baked potato and green salad"
for those willing to spend twenty dollars on a date, to the Nedicks
stands, where you could once buy a dog, a drink, and get change back from
The Angels didn't have to brown-bag it on the subways anymore. Their new
grub came from the restaurant owners in the theater district.
You could have a hundred-dollar-a-bottle wine for your dinner or purchase
"smack, crack, and other quality pharmaceutical" from an outdoor vendor
who chanted his stock. Those even further down on the socio-economic scale
could purchase loose joints for a dollar each, many even containing
Those who could afford hundred dollar theater seats on the Square bought
Other NYers who, at home, could afford neither air conditioning, cable TV,
or the Con Ed utility bills, could, for a very few dollars see both _Death
Wish_ and _Taxi Driver_ at a 42nd St. movie theater, "guaranteed cooled by
refrigeration!" no less. A block further east in pre-Nintendo times a
single quarter and enough skill could buy an entire night's entertainment
in a video parlor.
The Angels moved all over the Square. But somehow you tended to see them
closer to the expensive theaters than the cheap video arcades.
"They say there's a broken heart for every light on Broadway," is one
thing they say on Broadway.
For some the hearts were broken when the theater show closed on opening
night. Other hearts tore when the would-be star moved to Gotham did not
make it into any chorus line let alone the _Chorus Line_.
Still other hearts were already broken everywhere else in the country, so
the children, of 16, 15, 14, 13 years saved their money or robbed the
cookie jar and grabbed the nearest Greyhound to the bus station at 41st
St. and 8th Avenue.
The successful, attractive, and skilled actresses might have made millions
after being discovered at the theaters between 5th and 8th Avenues. Those
less successful worked the Minnesota Strip, somewhat further west. The
strip was named after the prime fresh blonde meat from that state that the
pimps pounced on when "it" got off the bus, and who, friendless and lost
in the city, were soon turned to hooking.
Hearts continued to break when the Angels moved to cleanup the Square. So
did noses, although noses broke even before the Angels arrived.
"You can't make an omelet without breaking eggs," NYers heard from the
people who promised that a new, cleaned up Times Square would be a tasty
omelet indeed. What they did not hear was that the word "eggs" in the
original Russian folk saying was also a euphemism for "testicles."
There's also another Times Square outside the tourist world of both
millionaire and pauper. The real estate ads call it "Chelsea;" the people
who live there call it "Hell's Kitchen." There are residential apartment
houses between and south of the theaters on 43rd and 44th and the other
streets west of 5th Ave.
Not everyone on the Square is a transient. There's far more than a class
and sin difference between Broadway and "Slimes Square" (as the
_Ghostbusters_ so well parodied a NYC tabloid headline.)
The apartment houses between the theaters are occupied by plain, everyday
NYers who occupy the similar niche between the different classes of
visitors. The neighborhood (as the Angels today write of "Cyber City")
belonged to those people, too.
But the Angels no longer represented all the citizens. They were now
brought in by the restaurant owners to "clean up" the Square.
The news still reported the Angel successes, but they also reported a
darker, more sinister side of reality. News reports soon reflected a
series of mutually-contradictory claims as if the universe had shattered
into two parts, each as purely black and white as the ink on paper of the
Three Angels were arrested in what the _NY Times_ called a "summer long
feud between Angels and police."
Another three Angels were arrested in a separate incident and charged with
assaulting a member of a different "civil patrol" in the neighborhood.
Eight Angels were arrested along with two anti-Angel forces in a series of
Angel Ilya Lichtenberg was stabbed near restaurant row on one of the hot
Sliwa announced the next day that the patrols will continue.
The day after that the police reminded everyone that the Angels had no
special arrest powers. Two more Angels were arrested by police after local
residents charged they were harassed.
The same day NY civil libertarians expressed concern, not over the police
behavior, but over how the Angels acted without the legal constraints
placed on the police. The Angels, in turn, announced crime was down since
they started their patrols; others said the Angels merely pushed the crime
elsewhere in the neighborhood away from the Angels's employers on
The next day the _NY Times_ ran an editorial calling the Angels
"adolescents manifestly lacking in judgement and experience of police
Sliwa and other Angel-supporters charged they were the target of a police
Residents complained of increased Angel harassment. So did the city's
Both sides marshalled their political support.
The police sent undercover officers to one neighborhood park to observe
the Angels' behavior. Ten Angels were arrested by the undercover officers
for harassing citizens.
The same day, Manhattan District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau announced
his office would not prosecute the Angels in the case.
The next day Police Commissioner Benjamin Ward branded the Angels
A week later Angel Ramone Mercado is arrested and charged with assaulting
Anthony Frazier. Angels claim Frazier was involved with drugs.
The summer spins on with "Clinton" residents caught, the _NY Times_ wrote,
in the middle of a police/Angel war over "turf and tactics" instead of
Ultimately police (not ACLU) patrols moved through Hell's Kitchen
informing the citizens of their "due process [rights] and constitutional
safeguards" against Angel interventions. This, the Angels responded,
forced them to be "more pacifistic" in their tactics. But the same day as
the _NY Times_ printed both reports, the Angels announced they had reduced
their patrols since both crime and drugs were down.
The summer moved into fall but at a less frantic pace.
Two Angels were arrested on robbery and drug charges. They had, police
stated, robbed one man of $90 and one Angel had crack when arrested. The
Angels countered with charges that they were still under "continual
harassment" from the police.
The Angels's reputations spread to other cities along with the Angels's
penchant for publicity.
The Angels, while accused of harassing homeless people on the streets of
New York City would cross the country, ostensibly to defend the homeless.
Sliwa and five others were arrested at a demonstration in Wasco County,
Oregon. The cult around Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh set up their "city-commune"
called Rajneeshpuram in Wasco County, Oregon. Later the religious group
was accused of moving homeless people to the county to use a pro-Rajneesh
voters in the cult's attempt to take over the county. Silwa and five
others were arrested in Wasco where, they stated, they had gone to defend
the homeless against discrimination and mistreatment.
Five Guardian Angels went to Joliet, Illinois to "protect" the citizens
there after the city had 17 unsolved murders.
Another ten Angels, including Lisa Sliwa, went to Providence, Rhone Island
after the corpses of three women were discovered in a nine-week period.
Sliwa announced she would teach the women of Providence "street survival."
Some praised the Angels's desire to branch out and protect the citizenry
in other cities as they did in NY. Others saw the group more as ghouls
than Angels, preying rather than praying over the misfortunes of others
for the publicity value.
Perhaps the most extreme act of these natures was when Sliwa announced to
President Reagan and the U.S. State Department that the Angels would
protect "third world athletes" at the international Olympic Games held in
All of this Angel activity received national publicity.
The issue of crime and identity has also dogged the Angels. Easily
recognized en masse by their "Guardian Angel t-shirts and red berets,
individual Angels are far less recognizable. Unlike police and many
private security forces, individual Angels have neither ID numbers nor
name plates that permit them to be easily recognized by citizens who wish
to file complaints.
Nor, according to Angel reports, have the police been able to consistently
recognize the "real" Guardian Angels.
Thus, when NY police gave summons to people who were seemingly Angels for
soliciting money illegally in the subway, others stated the people
summoned were merely "posing" as Guardian Angels.
Equally, when the Boston police arrested another three people in a subway
robbery, Angel defenders stated those arrested were not Angels at all.
Yet when there was publicity available for being arrested, Sliwa and his
supporters had no difficulty. He and five other Angels were arrested for
painting over art work by "Dread Scott" because, as the NY Times printed,
Sliwa considered the artist's work to be "anti-police."
Sliwa's attempt at political censorship marked one end of a transitional
period from the fellow who once openly accused Newark police of killing
Angel Frank Melvin.
Sliwa's anti-art paint job was also a curious turnabout from the Angel
leader who supported the election of conservative federal prosecutor
Rudolph Giulliani for Mayor of NYC on a "quality-of-life campaign."
Giulianni was elected promising to crack down on street graffiti artists,
in turn recommended Sliwa be hired to run a talk show on NYC's radio
station, a move editorially condemned by the _NY Times_.
Citizens still complained of Angel harassment, some stating Angels robbed
them of property as trivial as disposable butane lighters. Other Angels,
originally thought to be "highly trained" and "street smart" exhibit an
ignorance of staggering proportions.
"Butane lights are proof that someone is a crack dealer," one wide-eyed
Angel innocently informed me as I stood on the street dressed for a
computer job in my pressed Brooks Brothers blues. The Angel told me that
the lighters are "only" used to light crack pipes and that all crack users
"sell crack" to support their habits. The other Angels in the group
concur; I did not light my cigarette as they told me this.
Later, other Angels will display lighters as war trophies seized in their
I gain, I think, a better understanding of what the Hell's Kitchen
residents complained of.
Some time later I'm dressed for a journalism job writing about Tompkins
Square Park located on NYC's Lower East Side. I'm still in blue but it
carries the Levi label and is out at the knees.
Walking down St. Marks on my way to the park I notice an Angel patrol has
stopped near one of the local loose-joint salespersons. As I pass they
have him against a wall, surrounding him. He protests. They ignore his
words. He claims harassment; they in turn, smiling, claim he is harassing
them. He demands they get out of his way; they claim he, his back to the
wall and surrounded, is blocking them.
I add my views, restating his obviously true claims, and ask them what
they are doing.
"What are you doing," several respond, physically edging me against a
fence on the street.
"Working on a story about what you're doing," I respond.
"No you ain't," one says. "You're selling drugs along with your friend
here," he continues as four of them edge closer to me.
"You're blocking my way and I'd like to leave," I tell them.
"No," they respond, smiling. "You're blocking us."
A crowd has started to gather on the sidewalk. I recognize several people
from the block and the park. I relax a bit.
"What are you going to do about it?" another Angel asks again, moving
closer and shoving his chest into mine.
"Put that in the story, too."
"Well, you ain't going nowhere with your story," a second says.
"I don't have to," I respond. "You're writing it for me."
"Yeah, and we can stand here and write it for you all night," another
responds with a leer.
"I don't think so. I think you have some patrolling to do tonight. Why
don't you do it?" I ask.
"Why don't you make us," several Angels respond.
"Get out of his way," people in the crowd tell the Angels.
They turn and look away from me. They see the crowd for the first time.
They turn and leave.
What do the CyberAngels claim they will do in CyberCity: the same as they
did in New York.
The Guardian Angels's conservative political organizing in the guise of
simple crime fighting continues with the CyberAngels. How many of the new
Angels themselves will bother checking the _Australia Today_ article
pushed in the CyberAngel's newsletter? How many will notice that their
group's notion of fighting Cyber Crime extends, according to Hans van
Lieven, the author of the recommended article, to "political radicals."
van Lieven refers to the radical's "perverted purposes" spreading "filth"
while "hiding behind an anonymous or false E-mail address."
van Lieven's anti-radical views will no doubt surprise the many radical
news net groups and discussion lists who openly state their views and
advertise their existence.
Other political activists may be surprised to see themselves labeled
"environmental granola terrorists" as the CyberAngels's supporter calls
other opponents of Sliwa's conservative political agenda. They may be
equally surprised when the Angels post information about them on line,
linking them to "cyber criminals."
Anti-Klan activists may want to know that a simple invitation extended
over the internet for a 20-year-old to attend a showing of the film
_Shindler's List_ falls into a category of behavior the CyberAngels have
targeted, for it involves "try[ing] to arrange physical rendezvous with
children." Other anti-fascist activists may find the Angels have labelled
them among the "abusers with their Hitler salutes and baby oil ... soiling
their fruit of the looms over traded photos of 8 year old-children."
FREE SPEECH: FOR WHOM?
SafeSurf's announced "Goal [is] a safe cyber-playground for children"
"We are not trying to abolish free speech," proclaim the CyberAngels, "but
we believe that freedom of speech should not be exercised if by exercising
it you are violating someone else's basic rights."
Many may see Orwellian language in this statement of Angel politics.
Others may have questions about the definition of "basic rights" on the
global internet and who defines those rights in Cyber City.
Certainly some Angel theories of rights are at variance with decisions of
U.S. courts who have, legally, helped define and clarify rights within the
territorial limits of this country.
"We are all granted our freedom," the Angels write, "but not the freedom
to hurt, corrupt, abuse, or harass innocent people." With the exception of
harassment, which is defined as a crime in most states, one finds cases
where freedom of one person involves _exactly_ the right to hurt, corrupt
and abuse. In our public parks we can have the atheist on his soapbox at
one end and the religious tractarian passing out her "Jesus Loves You"
leaflets at the other. Each may feel abused by the other's actions, but
each can continue. Jewish parents in the same park may feel hurt by the
atheist and worry about having their children corrupted by the Christian
propaganda. And some fundamentalist Shi'ite Moslems may feel harassed by
all three groups, just as others somewhere else in the global CyberCity
may be deeply offended and believe their rights violated by _C.u.D._
printing the first part of this sentence.
"No criminal," the Angels assert, "can claim 'freedom of expression' to
justify a crime."
Of course they can, and the U.S. courts have so ruled.
Perhaps the clearest example is the First Amendment itself. In large
numbers of cases, "freedom of expression" allows the "criminal" to avoid
the very label of a crime. One early example was the crime of "lese
majestie" ("insulting the monarch"). Another occurred around the Alien and
Sedition Act that once prevented U.S. citizens from criticizing elected
officials. Read any legal text on "freedom of expression" issues will show
literally dozens of cases where real criminals, already convicted of
breaking state laws, successfully "justified" their "crimes" before
federal appeals courts with the claim of "freedom of expression."
Nor have the Guardian Angels behaved within the limits they now wish to
set for the rest of CyberCity.
Past Angel behavior has been openly harassing of people the Angels deemed
undesireable. Past Angel behavior has been openly criminal, if only over
the Angel's robbery of other citizens of property as trivially inexpensive
as butane lighters or of bracing Angel critics against fences on the
Viewing Angel writings and behavior in this perspective provides a
different political perspective on the Angel's political agenda. _Real_
rights possessed by the citizenry disappear under Angel rhetoric of bad
intentions while real _criminal_ behavior tends to the permissible for
Angels under the rationalization of the Angel's self-declared good
This ethical and political duality is also seen in the area of anonymity.
ANONYMITY: ARE CYBERANGELS SPECIAL?
"We are anonymous in cyberspace," proclaim the CyberAngels to their
potential volunteers, while simultaneously organizing against anonymity.
For, the Angels also write that "when people are anonymous they are also
free to be criminals."
"None [of us] cruises with a Cyberangels badge. And we do not encourage
our volunteers to identify themselves online." But, write the Angels
elsewhere in their attacks on such behavior by non-Angels "the very
anonymity of Users is itself causing an increase in rudeness, sexual
abuse, flaming, and crimes like pedophile activity."
CYBERANGELS: A HAVEN FOR PEDOPHILES?
The pedophile, contrary to much mass belief, frequently loves children in
the non-sexual arena, stated the psychoanalyst Otto Fenichel in _The
Psychoanalytic Theory of the Neurosis_, (p. 333, citing Sigmund Freud's
_Three Contributions to the Theory of Sex_.)
"... usually a love for children is based on a narcissistic object choice.
Unconsciously, the patients are narcissistically in love with themselves
as children; they treat their child objects either in the same way as they
would have liked to be treated or in the completely opposite manner."
(Fenichel, paraphrasing Arthur Kielholz's _Zur Begutachtung eines Falles
von Paederosis_, _Internationale Zeitschrift fuer Psychoanalyse_, volumn
"In a sublimated form, the same motives that produce pedophilia may
produce a pedagogical interest. Love of children usually means: 'Children
ought to be better off than I was;' in a minority of cases, the opposite
is true: 'Children should not be better off than I was'." (Fenichel,
paraphrasing Siegfried Bernfeld, _Ueber eine typische Form der maennlichen
Pubertaet_ _Imago_, volume IX, 1923.)
Laws signed last month significantly increased penalties for possession
and manufacture of "kiddie porn" when electronic media are involved. What
happens when the CyberAngels themselves possess or participate in the
electronic transfer of such material? The CyberAngels specifically request
that "copies of all actions taken [by their volunteers] are forwarded to
On the surface, the Angels are equally guilty of being "kiddie
pornographers." Others argue that such interpretations of the laws are
ridiculous, claiming that the Angels are only engaging in their behavior
to fight the very behavior in which they engage.
What does it take to become an Angel, "legally" able to transfer and
possess "kiddie porn?" The minimum requirement is devoting at least two
hours a week cruising cyberspace, an amount of time that (one assumes)
some "kiddie pornographers" already spend. Drooling "Uncle Fester,"
wearing his "black dacron socks" so hated by anti-porn forces need only
don a white Angels t-shirt to be transformed. "Who me?" says Uncle Fester
as the police break down his door and seize a porn-laden hard disk. "I'm
not a real 'kiddie pornographer'," Fester continues. "I'm a CyberAngel!"
Those defending the Angels maintain that the group can self-police to
prevent this. Perhaps they can, but only at the cost of a radical
transformation of existing membership policies. But can other groups? And
will other groups want to? Or will we see a time when only the least
intelligent "kiddie pornographer" gets convicted since the more
intelligent ones are all members of Angie's Angels or Gidget's Guardians
of Huck's Helpers?
The question of how self-policing occurs has also been raised. At present
only the regular two-hour-a-week stint is required for membership in the
CyberAngels. No Angel is fingerprinted or undergoes any other announced
security check of their background for possible past criminal convictions.
Nor are psychological tests given before the Angel is turned loose in
CyberCity with a presumed special license to own "kiddie porn."
More ominous is the possibility that a few Angels will _produce_ the very
thing the Angels claim to oppose. This is a well-known psychological
phenomenon among groups with far more stringent membership requirements
than the CyberAngels.
New York State convicted one nurse of murder after several patients died.
The nurse would poison patients in the hospital in order to later
"heroically" rescue them. Most large city fire departments develop people
who end up setting fires in order to "heroically" extinguish the very
conflagrations that started. Will the Angels or any other group be
What also becomes of the Fenichelian duality over pedophilia? As Fenichel
and others pointed out, the pedophile is frequently motivated by the idea
that children's lives should be better than the life of the pedophile and
the pedophile, at least subjectively believes that he is really
"protecting" children. There was more than one occasion during my street
research on the Lower East Side when a supporter of the North American
Man-Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) was the first to notice, and the only to
condemn, some parent beating their child on the street.
>From this angle, aspects of the national debate on pedophilia take on a
new perspective, in the streets, the political suites, and in cyberspace.
The issue is no longer _purely_ white and black. Rather it is between one
group for whom sex with children is permissible but non-sexual physical
abuse is an abomination. Facing them is another group of fundamentalist
parents, genuinely horrified at sexual pedophilia who simultaneously
believe that child abuse laws violate their freedom of religion, requiring
them to "spare the rod and spoil the child." Will we see state
intervention in the religious-oriented news groups to first ban, then
arrest, people who advocate such things? Should we? Or should the existing
first amendment protection of freedom of religion continue to protect the
rights of fundamentalist parents to advocate behavior that -- the words of
the CyberAngels -- seeks to "hurt, corrupt, abuse, or harass innocent
[children" in a _non-sexual_ manner?
A NEW CORPORATE/POLITICAL STYLE OF ALLIANCE
"We fully support SafeSurf," the Angels wrote, "and are working together
with them." "Together we believe that CyberAngels and SafeSurf will form
an irresistible alliance for Good [sic] on the Net!" Part of this alliance
is the CyberAngels WWW homepage donated by SafeSurf and located on the
Corporate funding of political activity has long been part of the U.S.
political system. So has corporate advertising. But past efforts have
tended to be, at least in theory, highly mediated.
The SafeSurf/CyberAngel alliance is far more direct. Here we have one
private corporation, producing certain commodities for profit, helping to
fund a volunteer organization whose declared aim is, in part, to sell more
of the funding corporation's commodities.
This alliance is also different from past alliances between different
organizations that form throughout the political spectrum. What is new,
however, is the question raised of some private, profit-making corporation
combined with declared Angel political activity. What happens when Angel
behavior is combined with salesmanship? How does a unique Angel right to
anonymity correspond to the same right extended to the SafeSurf
salesforce. Why, hypothetically, should SafeSurf salespeople have a
special right to own and transfer "kiddie porn" in the guise of
advertising and selling SafeSurf's products?
What are the civil liberties consequences as the SafeSurf/Angel alliance
to "do Good" targets "political radicals" and "environmental granola
terrorists" in order to sell more SafeSurf products?
The complexities of both defending and exploiting such issues take on an
Orwellian character, even when considered within a single culture. Spread
them to different cultures inside a single national state with a single
set of laws and the complexities multiply. Multiply that throughout the
global internet, with different economic systems, different cultures,
different ethnic groups, and different legal systems, and the issues are
Yet, despite the complexities, certain fundamental truths appear to
The first is the number of "kiddie porn" images sent, the Angels claimed,
unsolicited to them.
Unfortunately, CyberAngels have a strange notion of what constitutes
"kiddie porn," confusing the technical nature of graphics files with
pornography itself. Angels maintain that the popular "gif" storage format
is really a code-word for "girlie" pictures while the other "jpeg" format
is similarly a disguised communication for sexual picture files of males.
In reality the "gif" and "jpeg" file formats store everything from NASA
space photos in the cosmos to cave pictures taken by spelunkers.
CyberAngel confusion over what the formats stand for, however, might lead
to conclusions of widespread "kiddie porn," but conclusions only reached
by people who literally don't know the difference between "kiddie porn,"
Uranus, and a hole in the ground.
The second factual matter that appears is the presumed desire and right of
a large majority to defend itself and its rights against attack by a small
minority of people who use the internet and ignorance to push their
minority ideas, seeking to compel in some fashion the majority to accept
their small minority viewpoint.
But, as the old folk saying puts it, appearances are deceiving,
particularly in the areas of large majorities and small minorities.
"According to the [SafeSurf] plan," the company wrote in their press
release of 27 June 1995, "if 10% of the Internet community participates
the remaining 90% will be voluntarily compelled to adopt the system...."
Voluntary compulsion, indeed.
Orwell's Big Brother could not have expressed it better.
Date: Thu, 11 Jan 1996 18:04:17 -0500 (EST)
From: "Declan B. McCullagh"
Subject: File 2--AP: BBS yanks porn, fearful of government raid
And yet another online service knuckles under to government threats,
even though it's legal to provide pornography (erotica) to adults. And
this is yet another story that will be picked up and reprinted,
reinforcing the meme: "The Internet is just pornography -- and what's
not pornography is instructions on how to build a bomb."
January 11, 1996
MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Fearful of a government crackdown, a computer
bulletin board service said Thursday it has gotten rid of all its
Exec-PC of New Berlin, which bills itself as the nation's
largest computer bulletin board, notified subscribers Monday that
it had eliminated about 50,000 files of adult material, including
pictures of porno stars and nude photos...
``Since it is only 7 percent of our service and it could result
in the 100 percent loss of our business, the risk is not worth
it,'' said Exec-PC founder Bob Mahoney...
Mahoney said he feared that keeping the X-rated materials could
result in his equipment being seized, even if no charges were
Date: Sat, 13 Jan 1996 18:30:35 -0800 (PST)
From: Declan McCullagh
Subject: File 3--Simon Wiesenthal Center "Censorship?" - Press Release (1/12/96)
The press release reads:
"We are simply asking those who are in the business of selling
Internet presence and information services, to do the right thing, and
tell these groups to take their money elsewhere," said Cooper.
Note what the final outcome of Rabbi Cooper's plan would be, if
implemented fully: to deny his political opponents any platform at all.
One journalist said that Rabbi Cooper has been at this for years,
contacting the press and yowling about the horrors of online hate speech.
// email@example.com // My opinions are not in any way those of the EFF //
SIMON WIESENTHAL CENTER NEWS RELEASE
January 12, 1996
Wiesenthal Center Calls on Internet Providers
To Adopt Voluntary Standard of Ethics
In the wake of the growing number of organized hate groups espousing
racism, antisemitism, violence and mayhem on the World Wide Web, the
Simon Wiesenthal Center has called upon companies providing Internet
hosting services to adopt voluntary acceptable-use guidelines that
would terminate services to individuals or groups promoting an agenda
of hate or violence.
According to Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean of the Center, "Like
the rest of America we welcome the Internet for its vast democratizing
potential, but these groups have adopted the Internet as their key
marketing tool in promoting hate."
Last week the Center, the largest member-based Jewish human rights
organization with 425,000 members world-wide, began mailing letters to
hundreds of Internet hosting and information providers in the United
States, requesting that they adopt acceptable-use standards similar to
those used by other media providers, and offering the Center's
assistance in drafting a code of ethics.
"Over the last year the Internet, and specifically the World Wide Web,
has moved from being a niche medium with a small audience, to a mass
medium of unrivaled power that is leading the way in media
convergence," said Cooper. "As this new and exciting industry has
grown up almost overnight, the rapid pace of growth has meant that
providers have been largely preoccupied with technical implementation
and have had little time to devote to the issue of ethics. Now that
the Internet has become a significant medium for publishing,
broadcasting and advertising, it is important that these questions be
The Simon Wiesenthal Center has been monitoring hate groups for more
than fifteen years. "We correctly label these groups the lunatic
fringe," said Cooper, "but it is a mistake to think they lack
sophistication. They have embraced this technology more quickly than
any other group of society. The tremendous power of the Internet has
allowed them to distribute their racist, antisemitic and homophobic
propaganda far more effectively than any time in the past."
"There is no doubt that much of this speech is protected in the United
States by the First Amendment, and we clearly believe that our
government does not have a role in prohibiting its use," said Cooper.
"Traditionally, print and broadcast media around the world have
refused to provide these groups with a platform for their propaganda,
and they have refused to allow these groups to manipulate them in the
name of the First Amendment."
According to Cooper, "Radio and television executives and newspaper
editors have long understood that the First Amendment protects our
citizenry from interference by the government, but does not obligate
media channels to publish or distribute materials they consider false,
inflammatory, hateful and unfair. It is the Wiesenthal Center's
position that such an understanding should extend to the Internet and
World Wide Web, as well."
"We are under no illusion that adopting such acceptable-use standards
will keep these groups from promulgating their message of hate across
the Internet. Nor are we asking access providers to block or prohibit
their customers from accessing such materials, or to limit private
e-mail or usenet groups established to discuss these issues."
"We are simply asking those who are in the business of selling
Internet presence and information services, to do the right thing, and
tell these groups to take their money elsewhere," said Cooper.
Date: Sun, 16 Dec 1995 22:51:01 CDT
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