Computer underground Digest Tue Feb 6, 1996 Volume 8 : Issue 13 ISSN 1004-042X Editors: Ji
Computer underground Digest Tue Feb 6, 1996 Volume 8 : Issue 13
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, #8.13 (Tue, Feb 6, 1996)
File 1--Re: CYBERANGELS (in re: CUD 8.06)
File 2--Response to CyberAngels (Re CuD 8.06)
File 3--Another CyberAngels response (Re CuD 8.06)
File 4--Reply to CyberAngels (Re CuD 8.06)
File 5--Child Pornography as scare word
File 6--"Cyberangels Flap Their Wngs" (Boardwatch/L. Rose reprint)
File 7--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, 1 Feb 1996 14:45:56 -0800
From: barry@LOCUS.COM(Barry Gold)
Subject: File 1--Re: CYBERANGELS (in re: CUD 8.06)
Colin Hatcher presents an argument that is mostly well-reasoned,
assuming the following claims (all opinions or hard to verify) are true:
. GA is in the forefront of anti-racist education for German kids
. GA membership includes a wide range of political viewpoints, far
left through far right, middle, and anarchists.
. GA is unarmed
. GA does its work via the support of communities where it works
But his statement is marred by several suspicious claims:
> 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).
Note how he casts suspicion on InterNic by claiming to have heard
"rumors", without saying what those rumors are, are where he came by
"I have here a list of nn names..."
Sen. Joseph McCarthy, who never showed the list; for all we
know it was his shopping list for the day's groceries.
> ...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.
Note how Hatcher transitions smoothly from discussing general
pornography to child pornographers in the same paragraph, thereby
creating an association of "pornography" with "child pornography" in
the unwary reader's mind.
Of course, most pornography whether printed, videotaped, or networked,
deals with adults. Consenting adults, who were either paid to pose
for the pictures or did so out of personal vanity. Of course, we get
lots of _fiction_ about children, incest, etc. I see the title lines
and ignore several dozen such a week. (Yes, I do read alt.sex.stories.)
But _fiction_ about children doesn't involve real children being
forced into sex acts they don't want to do or even, in many cases,
understand. It's just the product of someone's imagination.
That said, I have to add something in defense of the Guardian Angels.
While I don't claim to have anything like a perfect memory, I do read
the newspapers and have been doing so for 30-odd years. I don't
remember anything like the level of problems that Paul cited. What I
do remember is a few problems with bullying when GA was first getting
started. And that the response was to take away the batons and force
GAs to patrol without weapons... to become only eyes and ears, but
I'm not a member of GA and in fact I'm rather suspicious of them,
especially this new CyberAngels program which talks about the need to
prevent Child Pornography but seems intent on ridding the net of adult
erotica as well. But I think criticism of them should be better
founded than Paul's long, rambling article. Criticism that you can't
prove just makes better-founded criticisms look bad by association.
Hey! Maybe Paul is actually an _agent-provocateur_ for CyberAngels.
Yeah... that's the ticket! (I suppose I have to add a :-> for those
who aren't familiar with SNL and can't hear the drawling tone of voice
that goes with that line.)
And btw, Colin, "I don't even consider it worth answering" is a
standard way to dodge a question you want to go away. I'd suggest you
deal with it, as you dealt with Paul's other criticisms.
Does an invitation to a 20-year-old to attend a showing of _Shindler's
List_ constitute behavior you have targeted? What about to a 17-year
old when the inviter is 19?
Date: Mon, 22 Jan 1996 09:45:20 -0800 (PST)
From: shelley thomson
Subject: File 2--Response to CyberAngels (Re CuD 8.06)
On Mon, 22 Jan 1996, Cu Digest wrote:
> 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.
Vigilante attacks on free speech excepted, I presume.
Tax exempt status is no badge of righteousness. The Church of
Scientology is tax exempt, for example.
> members of the community. In the war against crime being fought
> 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 only right you are giving to the community is the right to follow
> Excuse me Paul but our aim is quite clear and we are not nor
> ever have been a political organization.
The attempt to regulate other people's speech and behavior is a political
> 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.
*Everyone must be controlled.* If people gave in to their true impulses
they'd be robbing and murdering their neighbors, raping children, etc.
I always wonder about the true feelings of people who make this claim.
Perhaps they are saying more about themselves than they realize.
A free society requires some element of faith in the fundamental goodness
of human character. The concept of inalienable rights derives from
this. If we believe that individuals are fundamentally evil, there is no
reason to allow any freedom of choice. The price of freedom of choice is
some degree of error.
The price of a police state is errors that are not correctable.
> 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.
"...operating purely for their own pleasure?" Presumably the
model citizen derives pleasure only from following orders.
> 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
> a newsgroup.
My basic human rights are not abused by my neighbors's freedom to read
whatever he wants. If I don't like what he posts I'll skip it. If I
_really_ don't like it, I'll make a public criticism as I am doing right
now. And what are you going to do about it? Call _me_ a pedophile?
> 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".
It already has.
Gentlemen, the CyberFascists have had their say. Can we move on?
publisher, **Biased Journalism**
"If you can't say 'fuck,', you can't say 'fuck the government.'"
Date: Wed, 24 Jan 1996 21:02:30 EST
From: "B.J. Herbison"
Subject: File 3--Another CyberAngels response (Re CuD 8.06)
Re--File 1-- CYBERANGELS (in re--CuD 8.04)
> Sysadmins are the nearest thing we have to cybercops on the Net.
No, the members of regular law enforcement organizations are the cops
on the Internet -- and they have on occasion shown it with criminal
charges based on net activities.
> 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
And what should the ISP do? Put them in jail? ISPs can cancel
service, but that doesn't help against a death threat as I have yet to
hear of anyone being killed through the Internet. In any case, an ISP
who is forwarded a `death threat' shouldn't just cancel the service of
the original sender because they can't tell who sent the threat or if
the forwarded threat was forged. The case should be handled by
someone with the training and right to make those decisions, i.e., the
standard law enforcement organizations.
[I intended to send this reply to Colin as well as CuD, but the only
address on his message was `GANetWatch'. It's hard to have a dialog
with someone who doesn't give their full address.]
Date: Fri, 26 Jan 1996 08:56:56 -0800
From: ak760@LAFN.ORG(Rod O'Brien)
Subject: File 4--Reply to CyberAngels (Re CuD 8.06)
I, also found Paul Kniesel's article to be subjective BUT not
necessarily misinformed. In fact, I think, if we take his story of
first hand involvement with Guardian Angels as true then he is VERY
well informed. The Guardian Angels started in NYC (I was there) and
their intentions were good. I supported them myself, especially in the
beginning. As the group gained notoriety and praise, I saw a change
brewing, more and more Angels seemed to want to make a name for
themselves. A dangerous attitude for a peace officer to have.
I am glad to hear you are indeed familiar with the Internet. A novice
in charge of such a program would be a disaster. The problem I have
with the CyberAngels, or any other watch dog group is that the
policing of itself is a difficult, almost impossible task. What
constitutes a breach of Internet behavior? What is a good reason to
turn on someone? Pornography has existed since man discovered sex. In
some eyes it is evident everywhere you look. Whose judgment is
correct? Who's laws are justified?
I am not an advocate of child pornography, rape or any other crime,
but I find myself a little at ease when the actions of one person are
judged by an anonymous group of voyeurs, lurking behind the veil of
watchdogs and judges.
Now I grant that you profess to "question what we see", and I agree
that we all have that right. What we do with that right is the basis
for this discussion. If you see a situation you want to question,
please do so, but do it to the person or persons involved. Bringing in
outside "authorities" to decide the value of someone else's behavior,
speech or sexual orientation is not the answer.
The Internet is probably the first and only time in the history of man
that an anarchistic system has been able to function, flourish and
grow and NO I do not agree that the IP's are in control. The people
accessing, discussing and even abusing the Net are really in control.
I would like to think, naive as it maybe, that more good has come out
of the open, free exchange of information, topics and language on the
Internet than harm has been done.
Sysadmins are no different than the local phone companies, they are
not there to discipline but to provide services, some have more rules
than others but they are not there to police. To declare that they
are in it for the profit demeans their actions. Many, including my
own service provider, are Freenets that actively lock out sexually
explicit groups because they are community based organizations. If
you do not want to see 'alt-sex-hamsters' do not subscribe to it!
Just as you suggest, I don't want certain groups on my list of "fav's"
and I don't list them, but those that want to read naked super models,
political parties, religion, music or whatever should have the right
to subscribe to them.
I am glad to hear you do not keep any "pornography" on your hard drive
but I have a question. What happens when I tell you a certain location
contains material of a questionable nature, do you take my word for
it? Do you DL it? How do you decide it is time to notify the IP
I like the fact that you support a parent's right to decide what their
children have access to, more parents should take this attitude.
Child Pornography, does indeed, exist both here on the Net as well as
in the regular unwired world. It is indeed something we all have to
deal with. Along with rape, robbery, assault, murder and all the
other reprehensible crimes we abhor.
My fear is that in the cause of child pornography the over zealous
among us will cause the cancellation of other inalienable rights we
all should have access to, if we choose to access them.
I am sorry to see you are the victim of forged subscriptions etc. and
I agree someone should be responsible for the harm caused to you. Not
to the organization but to your personal account, if that is what they
were messing with. The most unfortunate part of all this is that we
are using a technology that was never in place when the current laws
concerning pornography were written. We need to address the medium
and it's form, as well as the intentions of it's authors, not just the
means of it's distribution.
The CyberAngels may have the best of intentions, and I hope they do,
but a blanket statement and mode of operation will not work in this
new age we are entering.
I wish you good luck in you endeavors but hope you have the vision to
see what you have entered and the wisdom to live within it wisely. As
you said the Internet is a community, what size we are yet to realize,
but a community of multi-cultures, nationalities and sexual
preferences. Live and let live.
Be a good humans!
Date: Thu, 1 Feb 1996 15:17:11 -0800
From: barry@LOCUS.COM(Barry Gold)
Subject: File 5--Child Pornography as scare word
We hear a lot about "Child Pornography", and about people using
various tricks to arrange a physical meeting with children, presumably
for the purpose of sexual abuse. We heard about it from Colin Hatcher
of the CyberAngels. We heard a lot about it from Senator Exon and others
who want to reduce the lively debate on the Internet to a form of Pablum
suitable for very young children. And we read about it in _Time_
magazine's infamous "Cyberporn" article. In fact, _Time_ got a real
great scare cover by showing a young child (6? 8?) looking at a
computer monitor with his eyes nearly popping out of his head.
But all this ignores the fact that there are a lot of different ages
of "children". When those who would censor the net talk about child
pornography, they want us to think about kids like tt's 6-year-old
moppet reading the most explicit stuff on the net. But most of that
stuff doesn't occur where 6-year-olds are likely to read it. Oh, they
_can_, if their parents give them an unsupervised account with an ISP.
But they won't. And if someone =does= post something like that into a
group devoted to childlike topics, you can bet they'll get the full
wrath of the net on their heads. We don't like off-topic pornography,
just as we don't like any other off-topic postings. If it's pink,
Well, maybe you've forgotten what it's like to be a child. I haven't.
At 8 years old I was reading at 5th grade level and started on _The
Three Musketeers_. I got about halfway through, then the plot started
revolving more and more around Milady, and I lost interest. I
came back and read the whole book many years later, but I had the same
reaction pre-pubescent children always have to sexual matters: Yuck!
Now, teenagers (and even late pre-teens) may read such material and
relish it. But even a 12-year-old is hardly tt's 6-year-old. Let's
face it, youngsters are reaching puberty younger every decade. Less
than half of 16-year-old girls are still virgin, and a 16-year-old boy
with no sexual experience is a rarity.
It may be desirable to protect even late pre-teens and early teenagers
from exposure to the more extreme forms of adult material, but let's
not confuse these sexually-mature (though not mentally mature)
youngsters with tt's little moppet. Insisting on 18 as the age of
consent is a purely US and British peculiarity. Germany uses 16 and
usually ignores "Statutory Rape" for heterosexual activity involving
14+-year-olds unless there is a large age difference. I believe there
are countries in Western Europe that assume physical maturity is "old
enough". And girls were historically married at puberty -- still are,
in many countries.
The invention of an "age of consent" above puberty is a relatively
recent phenomenon. It has several purposes:
. It takes more education to live in modern society than in
earlier eras. So we want to keep teenagers from the
responsibilities of raising a family until they've had time to get
the schooling they need.
. Arranged marriages used to be the norm. Now, people choose
their own mates, so we try to insist that they be "adults"
. To some extent, we're trying to keep wages high by reducing
competition from young workers, many of whom will work for lower
wages because they are supported by their parents and only need
"spending money." But it's hard to make such an argument if the
young people need money to support a family of their own. So if
we can keep teenagers from having sex and getting pregnant, it
keeps up support for child labor laws.
[Yes, I know about the horrors of pre-teens forced to work 14-hour
days in unhealthy conditions for pennies a day. But remember,
I'm discussing early teens and late pre-teens here, _not_
children under 10.]
So, to summarize, I think we need to keep a clear distinction between
younger children (who are generally uninterested in sexually explicit
material) and older "children" when discussing "child pornography".
And we need to keep a somewhat similar distinction when talking about
"sexual abuse" or "molesting" children. There are children and there
are "children", and one size _doesn't_ fit all!
Please keep these distinctions in mind when discussing "child
Date: Sat, 3 Feb 1996 01:17:28 -0600
From: jthomas@SUN.SOCI.NIU.EDU(Jim Thomas)
Subject: File 6--"Cyberangels Flap Their Wngs" (Boardwatch/L. Rose reprint)
((MODERATORS' NOTE: Boardwatch Magazine remains one of the best
resources for Net, BBS, and related information. Lance Rose's
"Legally Online" column is one of many that make BWM an
invaluable resource. More information can be obtained from their
homepage at: http://www.boardwatch.com)).
COPYRIGHT - BOARDWATCH MAGAZINE. Not to be reprinted without
permission from Boardwatch.
"CybeAngels Flap Their Wngs" (by Lance Rose, Esq)
The Guardian Angels first arrived in New York City in the early
1980's. Vowing to make the city a safer place, they wore red
berets, patrolled the sidewalks, and faced down muggers. With no
official endorsement or permission they operated as a vigilante
force, albeit fairly popular with those who were comforted by
their protection. Leaders Curtis and Lisa Sliwa became celebrity
personalities, and even came to host a radio show. The group
eventually spread worldwide, protecting city dwellers around the
The Angels were not popular with everybody, however, especially
local police forces. While their professed goal of public safety
could barely be questioned, their presumptuous use of police-like
powers to make arrests and enforce the peace made people uneasy.
No one elected the Angels, and no elected officials appointed
them. What was to prevent the Angels from defining crimes as they
pleased? Would they clear the streets not only of criminals, but
also of people acting entirely within the law, who sim ply happen
to violate the Angels' personal moral code?
Now the Angels are descending upon our Net. They call themselves
CyberAngels. Really, it's not such a bad name. They could have
chosen "Guardian Browsers" or "World Wide Winged Warriors"
instead. Naturally, they have their own Web site--http://www.safe
surf.com/cyberangels/--and can also be reached at
The question is: are these new CyberAngels really our online
saviors, or are they just another gang in cyberspace wearing
cockeyed halos? Their own FAQ at their Web site relates that they
became involved in online affairs as a result of Curt Sliwa's
radio show. After hearing one horror story after another from
callers about Internet pedophiles, harassment, child pornography
and the like, the Guardian Angels felt the public was imploring
them to clean the place up. They decided that, "We should do what
we do in the streets. The Internet is like a vast city: there are
some rough neighborhoods in it, including the "red light" areas.
Why not patrol the Internet? And why not recruit our volunteers
from the very people who inhabited this vast CyberCity? Never
an organization to blame it on, or leave it to the government, we
decided to do something ourselves.
Not bad on a mythical level, but is it true? Ever sensitive to
new marketing opportunities, it may also be that Curt Sliwa and
his lieutenants realized the Web is a new growth area for
vigilante groups, one which is not nearly as surely controlled by
the official cops as physical locales. By telling us that others
asked them to come online, the CyberAngels are asking us to
believe that an online constituency legitimizes and sponsors
whatever actions they choose to take. This is in itself a useful
public relations approach for their purposes, regardless of the
true substance or size of any such constituency.
Seasoned Net users may have noticed that in the material quoted above,
our newfound Angels already made a basic mistake common to online
newbies: they've fallen for the Myth of the Monolithic Internet.
Anyone who's explored online knows there is no coherent, completely
unified online world, but a vast set of different worlds supported by
interconnected wired and wireless systems. The totality of online
areas is, in fact, a lot more like the whole of a "city" than the
Angels themselves ever intended through their choice of that metaphor.
Sure, there are areas like the CyberAngels' public streets, such
as USENET, anonymous FTP and open areas of the Web. If the
original mission of the physical Guardian Angels to patrol dark
city streets made any sense at all, then perhaps it's right that
their cyber cousins should patrol online public areas, if it can
be done right.
But much of what we find online consists of private areas, not public
ones. Consider the storefront-type businesses maintained on many
computer BBSs; the vast online hotels, conference centers or shopping
malls maintained by AOL, Prodigy, MSN, Compu-Serve and others; the
personal and group meetings conducted p rivately in BBSs and e-mail
mailing lists; and so on. These are not public streets, they are not
public anything, they are private places. Do the CyberAngels, through
their view of the Internet as one big dirty city, mean to impose
their peculiar set of moral values on all private online places as
well, regardless of what the owners and users of these places might
Setting aside the CyberAngels' simplistic view of the online
environment, what are they actually doing online, besides recruiting
like-minded Net denizens to join up? Mainly, they seem to be
exploring ("patrolling") the Internet and bulletin boards for what
they consider to be online abuses, then contacting site
administrators and operators to clean up their acts. In their
November, 1995 newsletter, the CyberAngels proudly state they
contacted 50 sysadmins about supposed child pornography on their
systems, asking them what enforcement steps they plan to take. They
say repeatedly they want to make sure that administrators and
operators enforc e their own "terms of service" with system users.
Thus, in fact as well as in theory, the Angels are all too ready to
dabble in the private matter of how each sysadmin and sysop chooses
to enforce its own rules with its own users.
Before going on, let's acknowledge the inevitable objections to any
critique of the CyberAngels' project: what's wrong with a bunch of
people who call themselves "angels" online, who want to protect kids
from bad things on the Internet? If adults running online systems are
so irresponsible as to let grotesque and harmful materials be freely
available to children, why shouldn't online volunteers try to steer
them back into line? Isn't it simply wonderful that in addition to
the overworked FBI and state police, we have a principled volunteer
group to help keep a little order on the Net?
Sure, what the CyberAngels are doing would be just wonderful if they
weren't also guilty of a jaw-dropping mixture of hubris and naivete
that, in its sum total, makes them at least as great a problem as
whatever it is they're out to contain or destroy. Their mistaken view
that the Internet is one big public place, instead of a mixed bag of
public and private areas, was examined above. Here are some more
problems with the CyberAngels' philosophy and practice, based on
their own FAQ:
First, the CyberAngels have a pretty casual relationship to the laws
we enact as a society. They frequently act either like they're above
the law, or have the right to create new laws for us to follow. The
CyberAngels' very first purpose is to promote and protect the idea
that the same laws of decency and respect for others that apply in
our streets should apply also to the Internet. Elsewhere, they
promote regulation to combat rudeness and flaming. Since when did
"decency" and "respect" become laws, and rudeness and flaming become
Of course most of us, myself included, sincerely want to see people
respect each other online and offline. But what happens if the
CyberAngels decide I broke some "law" requiring that I respect
others, perhaps by being a tad more rude than they prefer? Will they
hunt me down like a depraved wretch and report on my lack of
respectfulness to sysadmins the world over? This is netiquette gone
There are many street-level principles of decency and respect that
are not, and cannot be, encoded into laws at all. They gain their
moral force precisely in being modes of behavior voluntarily adopted,
by mature individuals who understand that people deserve to be
treated kindly and fairly in civilized societies.
Another example of the CyberAngels' reinvention of the law is their
riff on freedom of speech under the U.S. Constitution. They say, We
are not trying to abolish free speech, but we believe that freedom of
speech should not be exercised if by exercising it you are violating
someone else's basic rights. . . . No criminal can claim "freedom of
expression" to justify a crime.
These statements resonate as richly as the most stirring rhetoric
emanating from our would-be Internet re gulators in Congress in
recent months. Bashing the First Amendment always scores a few
popularity points when narrow-minded people just want to clamp down
on some unsavory group, without worrying about niceties like
maintaining a free society. But what were those words again?
Wasn't it, "Congress shall make no law" abridging freedom of speech,
or of the press? It seems that freedom of speech is itself, in the
CyberAngels' words, a basic right. In fact, if the Constitution is to
be accorded any respect, then freedom of speech is more basic than
most other rights we can name, at least in the U.S. If the
CyberAngels are truly concerned with basic rights, then in actuality
they should be protecting and promoting freedom of speech. But
instead they honor it in the breach. They mouth respect for its
principles, but in their actions they oppose people using speech for
purposes they don't like.
A second problem is that the CyberAngels want "to help to make
unnecessary Government legislation by showing Government that the
World Net Community takes the safety of our children and the well
being of all its members seriously." Well thank you very much,
CyberAngels, but I do not want to be regulated by you, any more than
I want regulation from the United States and other governments that
have a far greater claim to legitimacy than your own organization. At
least the U.S. government is elected by the public, and stands as the
public's own self-regulatory body, imperfect though it may be.
In contrast, the CyberAngels are a self-appointed bunch of characters
with their own ideas of regulation, and apparently a readiness to
apply those ideas to you and me. If the government makes a bad
regulation, the popular will can oppose it, and ultimately overturn
it. A bad regulation by the CyberAngels is not subject to public
opinions. At bottom, the problem here is one of logic: if the
CyberAngels wish to avoid regulation, then logically they should
simply do what is necessary to avoid it, instead of their actual
stance of prom oting their own brand of regulation before the
government comes around with its version.
Third, the Cyber-Angels want to "pressurize (sic) service providers
to enforce their Terms of Service." Why in the world do they want to
"pressurize" service providers? Don't service providers have enough
pressure on them already, without worrying about how many CyberAngels
can stomp on the head of a sysop? With this sentiment, the
CyberAngels can just get in line with everyone else who believes that
online system operators and administrators are responsible for what
their guests and the public do on their systems.
The motivation for this stance is obvious enough: if you can scare
service providers into controlling those who use their systems, then
you are essentially enlisting those service providers in your own
cause, and also deflecting attention away from yourself as the source
of distasteful acts toward service users. In other words, the
CyberAngels want service providers to act as their proxies in
committing ce nsorship and any other kinds of dirty work they may
have in mind.
By the way, the "Terms of Service" in that quoted section refers to
nothing more or less than the service providers' contracts with their
own system users. Up to now, it's been a marvelous feature of
contract practice in our country that no party to a contract is
required to enforce all of its terms. In fact, we are often
pleasantly surprised when we learn that a contract holder has
voluntarily refrained from exercising its rights, such as when a bank
refrains from foreclosing on a mortgage when a payment is late, or a
school refrains from expelling a student who broke one if its rules.
The CyberAngels want to deprive service providers from exercising a
similar range of voluntary discretion in enforcing their own rights.
If any user violates some contract obligation in a way that bothers
the CyberAngels, then the service provider had better eject that
user, or face the Cyber-Angels' wrath. Is this any way to run a free
country, or to help users enjoy a more comfortable online
Finally, the CyberAngels have opposed anonymity online. "The very
anonymity of Users is itself causing an increase in rudeness, sexual
abuse, flaming, and crimes like pedophile activity. One of our
demands is for more accountable User IDs on the Net." So the
CyberAngels also want to make us all carry online passports and
traveling papers around with us, so we can't get away with activities
that bother them. This, in itself, isn't so bad, as there is a
well-established debate underway about anonymity online, with
reasonable positions both in favor of, and against, regulations that
would curtail or regulate our ability to act effectively online
anonymously. We could view the CyberAngels' position here as no more
than weighing in heavily on the anti-anonymity side.
But waiti--what's this? In their November, 1995 electronic
newsletter, the CyberAngels are now saying, "Special mention must go
to an ongoing debate about anonymous remailers, which was an area wh
ere we were less informed." Hmmm, it seems the CyberAngels are
rapidly changing their attitudes on the topic of anonymity. Why? The
ability of online rude boys and evildoers to perform awful acts with
impunity remains the same no matter how much you learn about the
mechanics of how anonymous remailers work, so there would be no
reason there for the CyberAngels to start changing their official
position on anonymity. Is there perhaps another reason?
For instance, as the CyberAngels learn more about anonymity, are they
perhaps discovering its potential use and power for running their own
organization--not just the CyberAngels, but the whole of the Guardian
Angels? Anonymity technologies are a powerful way for organized
groups to operate outside the view of official national and state
governments--why should the CyberAngels be deprived? If indeed they
are becoming increasingly impressed with how encryption techniques
can enhance their own abilities to slip around government roadblocks,
wouldn't it be consist ent for them to back down on the supposedly
irresponsible use of those same technologies by others? Just a
The Guardian Angels do play a useful role in making public streets
safer when there are not enough official police to cover the entire
beat. But in their online guise as CyberAngels, they have mutated
into an avenging force for censorship, regulation and oppression.
It's time to get a clue, guys. For those who live in poor
neighborhoods and must walk down dangerous streets just to buy a loaf
of bread, the Guardian Angels can do a good service. But no one is
forced to walk the public alleys of the Internet, and we don't need
vigilante busybodies to tell us how to conduct our private affairs.
COPYRIGHT - BOARDWATCH MAGAZINE. Not to be reprinted without
permission from Boardwatch.
Date: Sun, 16 Dec 1995 22:51:01 CDT
From: CuD Moderators
Subject: File 7--Cu Digest Header Info (unchanged since 16 Dec, 1995)
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E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank