Computer underground Digest Tue Feb 6, 1996 Volume 8 : Issue 13 ISSN 1004-042X Editors: Ji

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Computer underground Digest Tue Feb 6, 1996 Volume 8 : Issue 13 ISSN 1004-042X Editors: Jim Thomas and Gordon Meyer (TK0JUT2@MVS.CSO.NIU.EDU Archivist: Brendan Kehoe Shadow Master: Stanton McCandlish Field Agent Extraordinaire: David Smith Shadow-Archivists: Dan Carosone / Paul Southworth Ralph Sims / Jyrki Kuoppala Ian Dickinson 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 them. "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. Later on, > ...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 _not_ enforcement. 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 your orders. > 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 act. > 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? Shelley Thomson publisher, **Biased Journalism** "If you can't say 'fuck,', you can't say 'fuck the government.'" --Lenny Bruce ------------------------------ 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) From-- GANetWatch > 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 > complaint? 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) Dear GANetWatch 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 involved? 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, it's Spam! 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! Mush Stuff! 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" first. . 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 pornography". ------------------------------ 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 globe. 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 mailto:angels@wavenet.com. 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 want? 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 illegal? 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 haywire. 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 environment? 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 thought. 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) Cu-Digest is a weekly electronic journal/newsletter. Subscriptions are available at no cost electronically. CuD is available as a Usenet newsgroup: comp.society.cu-digest Or, to subscribe, send post with this in the "Subject:: line: SUBSCRIBE CU-DIGEST Send the message to: cu-digest-request@weber.ucsd.edu DO NOT SEND SUBSCRIPTIONS TO THE MODERATORS. The editors may be contacted by voice (815-753-0303), fax (815-753-6302) or U.S. mail at: Jim Thomas, Department of Sociology, NIU, DeKalb, IL 60115, USA. 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