Computer underground Digest Sun Jan 21, 1996 Volume 8 : Issue 06 ISSN 1004-042X Editors: J
Computer underground Digest Sun Jan 21, 1996 Volume 8 : Issue 06
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, #8.06 (Sun, Jan 21, 1996)
File 1-- CYBERANGELS (in re: CuD 8.04)
File 2--AOL Banned Poetry Dispute Heats UP
File 3--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: Thu, Jan 18, 1996 5:36 PM EDT
Subject: File 1-- CYBERANGELS (in re: CuD 8.04)
I found Paul Kniesel's article about the Guardian/Cyber Angels
highly subjective and misinformed, and in need of a reply.
The CyberAngel's project is not as Paul suggests a "New York
story" at all. It is in fact coordinated by me from Los
Angeles, and I am in fact English. I am a member of the Board
of Directors of the Guardian Angels and I am the CyberAngels
Director. I have been patrolling and training with the
organization for 7 years now and I am also the Director of
Training worldwide. I have extensive experience with the
Guardian Angels at both street patrol and administrative levels
in Europe (England, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, France, Italy) and
in the USA (especially in New York City, San Francisco and Los
Angeles). I have been working with the Internet for two years.
That just to let you know that I am writing as someone who runs
the Guardian Angels organization and heads up the Internet
Firstly on the Guardian Angels. It appears that Paul's method is
to discredit the CyberAngels by first discrediting its parent
organization. He suggests that the Guardian Angels is a right
wing, ultra-conservative, even fascist organization ("vigilante",
"swastika pin", "Germanic Iron Cross pins"); that the Guardian
Angels has a long history of law-breaking and human rights
violations; and also that the Guardian Angels represents the
interests of a ruling "business" class, and is even "employed" by
this class against the rest of the population.
It should be noted that the largest Guardian Angels group in the
world today is in Berlin Germany, where the group has been
running for three years. The group was established there as a
direct response to the racial violence that has developed in
Berlin since the Berlin Wall came down. The Berlin group is and
has always been in the forefront of anti-racist and anti-violence
activity in the city. Displayed prominently on our information
brochure is a quotation from the United Nations Declaration on
Human Rights: "Everyone has the right to life, liberty and
security of person." On the front of an earlier brochure was
printed "Against violence; against racism; against sexism." In a
city where the neo-nazi movement is extremely powerful, the
Berlin city government publicly supports the Guardian Angels and
holds them up as a role model to all German youth for what the
Germans call "Civil courage," that is for taking civil
responsibility and for standing up and doing something about the
violence that plagues the country. The Guardian Angels in
Germany is in the forefront of anti-racist education for young
I might also note in passing that the most visible support for
the Guardian Angels in New York City comes from the Jewish
community, and the awards to the group from citizens groups,
police departments and mayors' offices cover the walls of the NYC
office. Also, in Los Angeles just before Christmas 1995 the
Guardian Angels received a special award from the LAPD, for being
"Neighborhood Watch Group of the Year". If we were lawbreakers,
why would we receive such honors?
The Guardian Angels is an all volunteer, multi-ethnic, unarmed,
non-political organization registered in the USA as a non-profit
501 (C)(3) organization, and registered in Germany as a charity
("verein") with humanitarian aims.
This status is simply not given to racist, law-breaking,
vigilante, oppressive, violent political groups.
And by the way, the Angels remains a financially poor
organization, precisely because we have never sold out to rich
controlling interests. We are independent and will always remain
In all cities where we work we have the support of the
communities in whose areas we patrol, because without that
support we simply do not and cannot patrol those areas. The
whole concept of the Angels is to assist communities in taking
their streets back from the criminals. It is all about
empowerment, not about oppression. Certainly some people suffer
as a result of Guardian Angels patrols - the drug dealers cannot
deal. The crack buyers cannot buy.
The muggers cannot attack the innocent. Sexual predators go
home still hungry. Gangbangers find their destructive activities
prevented. We are proud to be denying these people their
"freedom" to destroy neighborhoods by preying upon the weaker
members of the community. In the war against crime being fought
on the streets there will be losers. We cannot give the
community the right to be free from violence, crime and terror
and also give the criminal the right to hurt, rob and terrorize
the community. The United Nations Declaration on Human Rights
makes it quite clear which side we must choose. The rights of
the criminal and the rights of the victim are in many cases and
situations mutually exclusive.
"The Guardian Angels' conservative political organizing in the
guise of simple crime fighting continues with the CyberAngels"
says Paul Kniesel.
Excuse me Paul but our aim is quite clear and we are not nor
ever have been a political organization. The CyberAngels
membership includes everyone from conservatives through liberals
to radical leftists and anarchists. If we were a political group
we would disintegrate immediately since there are so many
different opinions represented in the group. We are united by a
common goal - to fight crime on the Internet, and especially to
fight against child pornography. Every society requires laws and
every society has criminal predators who prey on others,
violating their basic human rights. The Internet is no
Paul writes: "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."
Paul this is simply nonsense. I don't even consider it worth
As for the freedom of speech issue: the US Supreme Court has
consistently ruled that many many kinds of crimes (and
particularly child pornography) are not protected by the US First
Amendment protecting freedom of speech and expression. Making a
death threat to another person is actually a crime. It is not an
exercise in First Amendment rights. Likewise child pornography
is not "freedom of expression". It is crime evidence. If you
don't believe me Paul then try sending some to the FBI with your
name on it, and see what happens to you next.
Pedophiles have *tried* using the First Amendment in their
defense in court and they have failed repeatedly.
Of course the variable here is who defines what is the crime?
The Courts of course. Certainly not CyberAngels. But we claim
our constitutional rights to question what we see, and to put
that question to relevant authorities.
In the case of the Internet this is the ISPs.
Isn't it time we all stopped perpetuating this myth that the
Internet is a free society? It is controlled by ISPs and ISPs
are regulated by InterNic.
The user is bound by Terms of Service and is responsible to the
ISP for good behavior. Irresponsible ISPs can be reported to
InterNic which grants domain names. And who owns InterNic? (I
have heard some interesting rumors). My point is that the
infrastructure is already there to deal with every kind of abuse
(which actually means we do not need new government legislation -
we just need Net users to communicate with ISPs) The problem is
that it is not happening. So many people complaining about
government censorship - well it would not be happening if the
Internet Community had taken care of itself and dealt with the
cyberpredators. Now of course it is probably too late.
Sysadmins are the nearest thing we have to cybercops on the Net.
They have the power to enforce terms of Service and to discipline
members who break those terms. So why don't they? Is the profit
motive too strong? Or is it simply that the ISPs need the help
of the Net community to report possible cybercrimes to them?
Paul quotes us on anonymity: ""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
We are not "organizing against anonymity", and we totally believe
in individual privacy. We believe that people have a right to
anonymity *but they lose that right when they have committed a
crime*. Of course we are not anonymous in cyberspace (I simply
was pointing out that we do not announce in IRC live channels for
example that we are cyberangels) - we all have user ids and can
all be reported to our ISPs if we violate Internet codes.
Not so some of the people who have been writing to me, sending
me death threats, email bombs etc. They are untraceable, and
*that* is what we object to. I was recently subscribed to over
400 mailing lists (someone forged my address) and ended up with
*12000* pieces of junk mail to deal with, and it is still pouring
in. This is a deliberate and planned attempt to destroy our
project. Now the persons responsible are untraceable. They are
and remain anonymous. Why should this be permitted? Paul
doesn't really support these people's right to break ISP Terms of
Service and to abuse my account in this way, do you Paul? Do you
think the First Amendment gives these people the right to destroy
my Internet account and remain anonymous? Of course the reason
they remain anonymous is because they know their actions are
unacceptable to the Net community.
When we complained about anonymity we were talking about tracing
users who break laws back to their ISPs. Without this ability
criminals are untouchable. I already commented before that
anonymous remailer sysadmins have been more responsible when
dealing with abuses of anonymity than other ISPs. Paul, if a
person sends you a death threat to your email address, do you not
have the right to forward it to their ISP with a letter of
Of course you do. And that is what we are campaigning for. I
bet if Paul got mail bombed 12000 times he would like to be able
to trace the guilty person. But ,Paul, doesn't our mail bomb
abuser have a right to anonymity?
Shouldn't we leave him/her/them alone on the grounds that they
were only exercising their constitutional rights? Of course
We support the Wiesenthal Centre's position that while hate
groups have a right to speak their hatred (freedom of speech), no
ISP should be compelled to allow access to hate-sites. It's up
to the ISP to decide what kind of access it will offer. And on
the same subject - full marks to Europe Online for offering a
pornography free environment to its users. It's their choice
what to offer and what to screen. Paul may not like it. Fine
Paul, then don't subscribe to it. You may choose to live in a
cyberneighborhood infested with child pornographers and other
criminals. That's your choice.
But I hope you are going to do something about them and not just
expend all your energy abusing the "do-goods" as you call us.
Paul has some interesting theories about pedophiles joining the
CyberAngels in order to get their hands on child pornography.
Paul why would they do that? They already *have* their hands on
child pornography. Paul argues that CyberAngels have some kind
of immunity from the law on possession and trading of child
pornography. Do we Paul? Let me tell you we keep our hard drive
clean from such images. And our floppy disks. We have no
database of stored images. Anything we have received we have
forwarded immediately to the relevant ISP and then deleted from
our hard drive. And yes we also erase our hard drive free space
regularly. A journalist recently asked me why we do that. I
answered "Precisely so that journalists cannot accuse us of
collecting images for our own use." If you had asked me Paul I
could have told you...
Paul writes: "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 us."
Paul, actually we do not ask people to send us graphic files of
child pornography. In fact if they do we ask them not to. We
ask only for the place where the picture is posted (e.g. the
newsgroup, date and userid and name of file). There have been
times when we have entered live channels without announcing we
are CyberAngels, and have consequently received numerous illegal
graphic files. These files are immediately sent to the ISPs and
then deleted and erased.
Later Paul writes: "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."
First of all Paul your use of the expression "kiddie porn" I find
very offensive. *Child pornography* involves the destruction of
young lives and I think "kiddie porn" is an expression that
trivializes the issue. Secondly your comment about us not
knowing what a GIF or JPEG is is nonsense. I don't know where
you got that from, but it was certainly not from the people
running this project. I am fully aware of graphic formats Paul
and I am quite capable of identifying graphic files that should
be sent to ISPs.
Perhaps Paul doesn't realize that our CyberAngels are made up of
everyone from Newbies to Sysadmins and hackers. It's a worldwide
alliance of about 300 people, including ISP directors, software
developers and even police officers. Paul is proposing a myth
that CyberAngels are somehow "outside" the Net community, i.e.
ignorant outsiders. Guess what Paul, "we" *are* the Net
community, and remain so whether or not you agree with our work.
A few words on Safesurf, presented by Paul as a source of
"Corporate funding". Gosh Paul, we could really *do* with some
Corporate funding actually, and so could Safesurf, since we are
both small struggling groups run by tiny staff and without much
in the way of resources. The entire CyberAngels project
worldwide for example is coordinated from just one small Mac
Powerbook 150. Not much corporate funding there eh? And we are
doing more from that little powerbook than a lot of corporations
with multi million dollar turnovers.
And Paul, what are these "commodities" that Safesurf are selling?
I'm not aware of any. I am aware however that they are right
there at the cutting edge of parental education about the
Internet. And they have been in the forefront of the development
of screening software so that parents can gain some measure of
control on what their child can access on the Net. And we
supported them from the moment we read their Home Page, because
they are good people looking after their community. Safesurf is
clearly an organization that Paul knows little about. Paul I
suggest you contact them and get involved in a debate, because
your comments do not suggest to me that you know what Safesurf
are doing. They are certainly *not* owning and transferring
"kiddie porn" in the guise of selling Safesurf's products. That
is an outrageous accusation and I wouldn't be surprised if
Safesurf consulted their attorney on that groundless accusation
with a view to legal action.
Paul presents no evidence for this libel, nor could he find any
if he tried. And what "Safesurf products" are these Paul that
you claim we are promoting? Do you actually know of any? I
don't and I work with Safesurf!
Finally, our position is not to argue in cyber cafes about how
much child pornography there is on the Net. As if we could say
that "such and such a level is acceptable" but "such and such a
level is not". Our point Paul is that child pornography *exists*
on the Net and it is a great evil and we seek its elimination.
And we seek its elimination not by government censorship but by
Internet peer pressure, ISP disciplinary actions and FBI
Internet peer pressure means that users have to *do* something,
not ignore child pornography on the Usenet on the grounds that
it's someone else's business, but to start confronting abusers
and criminals. ISP action means actively communicating to ISP
sysadmins and troubleshooters and demanding that Terms of Service
are enforced on users who are out of order. I repeat - the
structure is there for a safer Internet, but too many are still
operating purely for their own pleasure. The Net "Community" is
a lot smaller than we all think. A community has to be created;
it has bonds; and responsibilities; and people look out for one
another; and violence and crime and hatred and abuse is not
tolerated. I think we on the Net have a long way to go yet.
And by the way, when I say "abuse" I am not referring to bad
language. I am referring to abuses of other people's basic human
rights. Sending death threats is an "abuse". Spamming mailing
lists is an "abuse". Paul I am not afraid to see bad language in
Arguing for a society where everyone can just do whatever they
like means that some people *will* trample on the rights of
others. An internet with no law and no law enforcement will
never become a"community".
And as for your last point about how outrageous it is when
minorities argue their case and attempt to change majorities'
views...surely Paul, that is called democracy. And we support
it. Is Paul arguing that minority groups should be denied a
voice? On what grounds? That they might actually influence the
mainstream? God what a terrible thought... that seems a little
The Internet reflects the rest of the world. It follows that
therefore it will not be crime-free, and it also follows that as
a society it requires laws and law enforcement. It's easy to
criticise the police and the government but the fact remains that
any society without law and law enforcement is a hell on earth.
We are not living in the Garden of Eden any more Paul. Ask the
growing number of victims of cybercrimes.
This is the Internet - welcome to the *real* world.
Colin Gabriel Hatcher
Date: Sun, 14 Jan 96 04:28:15 0400
From: "Stephen A.Williamson"
Subject: File 2--AOL Banned Poetry Dispute Heats UP
This is a long post, but on an important issue -- free
espression in cyberspace. Some of you know of the dispute, to
others it will be a surprise.
It's our purpose not only support the poets on AOL, but
generate a deeping dialog with individuals on this issue. I
appreciate the exchange we have had so far with so many
This dispute has been long in the making and now it is about
to hit "the papers" or maybe not.Who knows.
If you get message duped for some reason I want to doubly
apologize, it's certainly not intentional.
Again thanks for your time on this,
Motley Focus Locus
Here follows an account of the AOL Banned Poetry Dispute.
The dispute is escalating and intensifying, as it is about to
The first document is the Motley Focus Locus editors' letter
issue to selected e-zine editors and publishers last Sunday.
The second is
the contact letter from the CCA member to the Motley Focus
that started our
involvement. We ourselves are not members of CCA.
The third document is the Creative Coalition on AOL's Press
Tues., Jan. 15.
The best place to follow the dispute and get a sense of what
you are hearing about if for the first time (or want the
developments) are the
"Free Expression and AOL" and "Archive of Poetry Banned by
AOL" in the
"Letters" section of AfterNoon Magazine:
"Free Expression and AOL includes the chain of correspondence
Focus and CCA and the responses of some editors we have
The "Archive of Petry Banned by AOL" has extensive logs of
banned poems &
If you are not familiar with AOL procedures, it'll take a
while to understand
the jargon, but wade directly in and it eventually becomes
It is a surrealistic and curious world that AOL has created
for its poets.
Something can be gained of the real sense and feeling of the
reading through it, rather just "hearing" that AOL is banning
The CCA seems to us to have grown to about fifty poets.
Judging from the
latest letters we have recieved, AOL appears determined to
throw the ring
leaders off their service. The CCA poets, feeling that AOL is
have met and established a sort of cybercommunity of poets,
AOL's new rules or to leave quietly.
The last piece we have included is Motley Focus Locus' letter
liberties attorneys and organizations we have been in contact
with, and our
Motley argument in support of free speech even on a private
This may be a tempest in a teapot, but we believe it is also
unique and interesting -- the first organized cyberspace
provider's control of the content of speech appearing on their
I'm sure that CCA members would appreciate any support you'd
be willing to
Thanks for taking the time with this
Motley Focus Locus -- http://www.motley-focus.com/~timber
AfterNoon Magazine -- http://www.mot
Sun Jan 7- Mon- Jan 8
Dear E-zine Editor,
I received the following letter on Friday from a writer who
had seen our ad
for Motley Focus Locus and AfterNoon Magazine in "Poets and
had submitted poetry to us, which we had turned down.
It's an account of an expanding attempt by AOL to tighten
control over a poets'
group there, and it charges that an extreme degree of
censorship has developed
recently -- that they've even removed a poem because it
included the word
We have no involvement in this writers' group and like many
people on the
Net, we think that trying to do a poets' group on AOL will
to problems. I keep an address on AOL for submissions
purposes, and as an
E-mail backup when my service provider is down, but its "Terms
make publishing there out of the question for us.
Nevertheless, this writer's anguish seems deeply felt and
AOL's response to
it completely inadequate.
We wrote a number editors last month about forming an
Association of Electronic
Magazines, and here, arriving on our electronic doorstep, is
which shows one more reason to seriously consider doing so.
This is not an issue of writing quality, but of freedom of
It's understandable that these writers (mostly new and less
suspect) don't want to be forced off AOL, where their group is
attract new members freshly arriving on the Web. Here they've
gotten support from one another, but have been able to
which we believe is important for all of us.
The long and the short of it is that we hate to see a few
corporations gain control over information, and restrict the
expression of new arrivals to Internet.
The correspondence follows. I've edited it very slightly to
repetition, and in a couple of spots added in material left
out when I
chopped off some not-so-well-written responses while on line.
If these writers can produce an example of AOL's turning down
a poem for
including the word "breast," or even less extreme examples,
then I think
they have a case which they should take public. Even if they
issue of intellectual freedom remains the same. AOL has
letters -- perhaps with good reason. Maybe a few letters from
you would get
them to consider starting up a dialog about this again.
Thanks for your consideration,
Motley Focus Locus -- http://www.motley-focus.com/~timber
AfterNoon Magazine --
Date: Thu, Jan 4, 1996 6:46 PM EDT
X-From: email@example.com (Dwain Kitchel)
I saw your e-mail address in this months Poets&Writers and I
would contact you. My name is Dwain Kitchel and I am writting
you about an
AOL group of poets. If you are unaware there is a poetry
section on AOL
under "Writers"(go to word). I was on AOL for over a year, and
must admit I
came to enjoy the company of the poets there. Some are true
But in the last 3 months all this has changed, as the Exon
prodded Steve Case into a new round of censorship. Poetry has
for no rhyme or reason, and posts with only one questional
have been lifted under TOS rules. Now I would agree with the
as members we signed up for these rules but they have been
notice, and posts are pulled that don't really even contain
My point to this message is that a group of poets have
formed a group
called CCA(Creative Coalition on AOL) to fight the powers that
be. Our first
goal is the creation of a child proof place to post poetry
for censorship. Such a place is the ACLU section on AOL,
secondly to get
some statement of exactly what is a TOSable post(sans the
quasi "list" of
bad words that changes daily and is never posted), and thirdly
to send Steve Case back to Congress with the message "Free
speech must be
Sir I recognize you may be to busy to resond to this appeal,
unwilling to do so. And by no means do I wish to "hound" you
about it. I
myself have given up my AOL account in protest so please do
not misread my
message. What I am asking is if you have an intrest in this
help us by joining free and without responsibility(class
membership)CCA by writing to CCA Mem@aol.com , and add your
name to the some
hundred or so poets listed there already.
We have tried the normal channels of writting Steve Case and
THopeB(Writers Area manager)without result and so we are going
to try and
mount a campaign to get free speech returned to poets on line.
welcome to check out some of the arguments in WWWIII folder in
though you had better look fast as they are being pulled
quickly as they
don't really represent AOL's ideals.
For questions please contact Procter20@aol.com as Isa is our
her paramor Astralan(Stan Crooks). I myself would be more than
respond to your question but you may now only reach me on the
Again I thank you kindly for your time and consideration and
pro or con would be greatly needed. I will also soon be
checking out your
web site, though sadly I have not been there yet. Your friend
poet(perhaps a stretch) Dwain Kitchel.
>>Jordanne Holyoak, Media Directorend)
>>Richard R. Becker (702) 658-6816
>>Davids To Take On Goliath
>>Writers, Poets And Journalists To Take on AOL
>>Actions speak louder than words.
>>In a letter addressing its 4 million members, Steve Case, president and CEO
>>of America Online (AOL), wrote, "Our strong belief is that we can accomplish
>>the important goal of protecting children from inappropriate material without
>>compromising privacy or free speech by empowering parents with a set of
>>easy-to-use technologies and tools that allow parents to choose the content
>>that their children can access."
>>At the same time, AOL released new Terms of Service (TOS) and Rules of the
>>Road (ROR) for members to abide by or lose their accounts.
>>"To date, I have never seen more restrictive TOS guidelines on AOL," says
>>Holyoak, spokesperson for the Creative Coalition on AOL. "AOL's new TOS
>>guidelines completely compromise free speech."
>>The Creative Coalition on AOL (CCA) was founded by a little more than a dozen
>>poets and writers that became concerned about AOL policies when several of
>>their posted poems were removed from the boards and AOL representatives
>>issued TOS violation warnings. Too many TOS warnings or violations in an
>>unspecified area of time, or even one time in some cases, can cause a
>>subscriber to be barred from AOL's service.
>>"Our immediate reaction was to test what words AOL disagreed with," says
>>Holyoak. "Several of us posted poems we knew would be 'TOSed,' but there were
>>also many well-structured poems with redeeming qualities."
>>In order to explore exactly what was permissible art on-line, one of the
>>writers who became interested in the poets' complaint, posted a
>>Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary definition that AOL provides in its
>>Reference area. The posting earned the writer a TOS warning and the post was
>>removed from the area these artists had created to explore free speech on
>>AOL, aptly titled WWIII. Under the profane and vulgar provisions of AOL, CCA
>>says even classic literature cannot be quoted without fear of TOS violations.
>>And, new TOS and ROR guidelines have expanded those provisions to encompass
>>anything that AOL, or any member of their service, does not agree with.
>>Since the first WWIII folder was created, members of AOL have filled the
>>folder with comments (which was only allowed 450 posts at one point) three
>>times over. Combined, the amount of posts are roughly equivalent to 3
>>novel-sized manuscripts. Recently, in perhaps an unprecedented move, the
>>group decided to become organized and founded the CCA on the very server
>>"We tried individually writing Steve Case and other AOL representatives
>>on-line, but largely, AOL ignored us. That's when we knew we had to become
>>organized," explains Holyoak. "We decided to increase our membership, educate
>>people about the importance of free speech, and try to convince AOL to
>>provide a Free Speech area for literary pursuits. All we're really asking is
>>to be able to speak without the fear of being silenced."
>>CCA feels that private industries that promote themselves as a community
>>should regard free speech with the same vigor as the Constitution. Otherwise,
>>Holyoak says, attacks on individuals who are different will run wild over the
>>Internet under the guise of private industry rights.
>>"Perhaps it already is," she said, citing a recent American Civil Liberties
>>Union (ACLU) release that reads: "It appears that AOL's arbitrary standards
>>may be a little homophobic. While "Wet and Wild" was an unacceptable title
>>in a gay video catalog, AOL ran an ad in Downtown AOL for Affinity
>>Teleproductions, Inc. that read: "Now you can join exotic Anna Nicole Smith
>>on her sensuous Edenquest adventure in her exclusive photo portfolio. . . .
>> Anna Nicole Smith "The Collectors Set" features ten eye opening Edenquest
>>photographs in vivid color . . . . It's all Anna Nicole Smith wet and wild
>>drenched in sun and powder sugar sand. "With Love, Anna Nicole" is your
>>personal trip to paradise with the world's most exciting woman in her most
>>provocative photos ever." Other words banned by AOL (that AOL accepted
>>payment for and allowed to run for 4 weeks of its one year contract) in a gay
>>video ad included: "pleasure," "black," "hard," "boys," "jock," "Rican,"
>>"sex," "stud," "straight," "young.""
>>Holyoak also says, "AOL constantly solicits its members to participate in
>>debates and then censors those views or words that they don't agree with.
>>Additionally, AOL continually contradicts itself by advertising "Cybersex" to
>>people of all ages, but then claims to have "family values" in regard to a
>>poem about oppression."
>>Currently, officers of CCA are appealing to other groups such as the ACLU
>> and Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) to assist their cause, saying that
>>CCA hopes they're as aggressive about free speech as they appear to be.
>>Additionally, the group is studying court rulings on free speech to build
>>what will be an undeniable case that AOL cannot ignore. The goal in this is
>>not to bring class action against AOL, but that their research will glean
>>some information that will open AOL's eyes or least the eyes of CCA's
>>"We're continually pressured to give up and resign our AOL accounts by some
>>on-line members," says Holyoak. "But we feel we have a right to request
>>customer service and refuse to 'sit at the back of the bus' because we have
>>different views than AOL."
>>Although CCA has yet to create a physical address (as it was formed on-line),
>>its officers welcome supporters who do not subscribe to AOL by sending Email
>>to "CCA MEM@aol.com." Additionally, there is no membership fee to join this
>>organization and it does not accept monetary donations.
What has happened is this:
The poets have gone to other "folders" to complain of their treatment by
AOL. Often their work has been pulled, or simply disappeared, or they have
been TOSed for it. Folders of poems have just vanished.
About this latest TOS (it's us at the Motley Focus a while to understand
all this; it's a subculture that we're not part of.):
A leader of the CCA, Stan Crooks, has complained about AOL in another
"folder." Someone named Ronald has denounced him. He has replied in kind
and AOL's THopeB
has TOSed him for flaming the other person!
It's clear bias. Please look at the exchange. I know it's a little hard
to follow. AOL is not applying their own rules objectively; they are using
them in an apparent attempt to build TOS files on individuals whom they
want thrown off the service, the ringleaders of the AOL Poets' rebellion.
Second: Take a look the number of people CCA is forwarding the info to.
This does not include e-zine editors like AfterNoon, or those we talk to.
I'd submit that this is the first cyber-space rebellion. It may seem a
tempest in the teapot, but all the same, it really is a major event, a
first. They have actually organized and rebelled -- it's amazing.
Here's how an editor, Foster Johnson, who is most hostile to CCA, puts it in
a letter to me:
>The information provided by AOL is AOL's to do with what they please. AOL
>is not a public access cable channel. If you believe that are attempting to
>censor and to control information, find another information provider. Get
>on the real Internet and publish what ever you want, by subscribing to a
>service provider, not an on-line service. Either play by AOLs rules or avoid
>using them, complaining will do nothing and eben if you get a thousand
>editors to flood their customer service e-mail mailbox, AOL want give a
Most of us understand what Foster is saying here, and the legal position
which underlies it: AOL is a private company. People sign on, and if they
don't like the service they should go somewhere else. That's the narrow
So why didn't the members of CCA all just quit? Why did all these poets
stay and fight? What is the logic of their position, the logic that all of
us logical people are missing? I do think that this point is important.
Is it really as simple as "they just all made a mistake -- they don't
understand the way things are."? Will they really, once they're set right
on this point, just pick up and go somewhere else?
I think that there is another explanation, and that it goes back to my
earlier argument about AOL creating a public "space." For me personally,
AOL was like the telephone company; I made my calls there. It never
occurred to me to visit the writers area.
These individuals were invited by AOL's advertising to set up their own
"communities of interest." They accepted the invitation, and over time,
formed their own cyber-community. They weren't just passing through --
they "lived" there. It became for these poets a home away from home, where
they and their friends met and exchanged their work, argued and discussed
things. What AOL did was to provide a series of public spaces (under their
control), and people came and built themselves a community. But under
political pressures, AOL took an increasingly negative interest in what
they were saying, and began removing their work. That's what brought on
the rebellion. I'd just ask you to look at how strong and cohesive CCA is,
even though its members are scattered all over the country, and the
organization has no physical address.
We must listen. It was in certain folders of AOL, in a certain region of
cyberspace, that their community formed. They don't want to move somewhere
else; communities seldom do, except in the worst of circumstances.
So they appear to some irrational, staying where they are and fighting this
huge corporation when they can go somewhere else -- if they can learn how.
relatively new to net myself, unlike my partner on the Motley Focus, so I
have some sympathy with CCA's technical reluctance to move. They are
fighting back like a community under attack, and I believe that we should
accept them as such; a community.
It's as though a more traditional community with an established identity
and rights had been hit by some malevolent enclosure act; that's the way
AOL's behavior has been experienced by the individuals involved. And AOL's
TOS'es are not derived from the needs of the community that they recruited,
not from internal problems (flaming back and forth, for example), but from
political pressure external to the community which has become an
inconvenience for AOL. It's not a matter of poets or other members of AOL
complaining to AOL that they want more rules.
What strikes me is the cohesiveness of the CCA, given the amazing circumstances
of this whole affair, and also their moderation (they seem to have tried
every reasonable avenue and only now are going public.) And what they have
asked for from AOL is really reasonable. AOL would probably have
accommodated them, had it not been for the external political pressure.
The Motley Focus Locus will continue to archive documentation of this
dispute on AfterNoon Magazine as we receive it. It is getting hard for us
to keep up with it all, but CCA will go public on Jan. 15, and they may
then be able to attract additional support and resources to help them.
The "Free Expression and AOL" exchange of letters, and the "AOL Banned
Poems Archive" is located at http://www.motley-focus.com/~timber/aol.html
To restate our argument, which we believe reflects a new appreciation of
the legality of AOL's "Terms of Service," and a broader understanding of
what has occurred between AOL and the CCA poets follows. Skip it if you've
read it before.
Our Argument at AfterNoon : A Possible Legal Basis for AOL Poets in their
We think that this issue should be used to establish new legal ground.
Although AOL is a private organization, its size and structure is such that
they have created a "public" space -- electronic in this case, not
physical. In a *public* place -- an airport, the public space in the
private IBM building here in Manhattan -- you can't limit free speech.
What we need is a new legal definition of what constitutes public and
Lawyers don't see a legal basis to a challenge at first sight because AOL
is private. But what is happening in the society at large is an increasing
intrusion of private space into public space -- the gated communities, the
private guards, the malls and the rest. As a result, there is a net loss
of the physical, psychological and electronic areas available to free
speech, and consequently a threat to public life itself. If you sell off
the Commons -- where free speech takes place -- then you have decreased
effective *access* to free speech, even though the Bill of Rights still
theoretically protects it. You can still say whatever you want -- there is
just no place to say it where anyone else can hear you. So it is with
created electronic space; you cannot decrease the overall "availability
area" without a corresponding erosion of free speech.
In AfterNoon's opinion, cyberspace should be considered public -- you may
need the services of a private company to gain access to it, but the
company's control over its contents should be limited strictly to matters
dictated by technical necessity, and their *responsibility* for its
contents should be limited simply to seeing that what their clients say is
transmitted or stored or displayed. The clients should be responsible for
paying the company for its services, and for obeying the existing laws
regarding libel, intellectual property, obscenity, etc.
Date: Sun, 16 Dec 1995 22:51:01 CDT
From: CuD Moderators
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