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All theNews that Fits
Stare hits the 32.768K ceiling
All the Nudes thatFit
"Frank Wallis wants to democratize the nude" (from$5.00 to $10.95)
On Cops andComputers
Bruce Sterling finishes reading the cybercops hisrights

. . .

Allthe News that Fits

This issue of Stare is almost filled by theconclusion of On Cops and Computers,Bruce Sterling's piece that began in StareNo. 803. Splitting the original half wasn't done to keepyou looking forward to the next edition of Stare;bifurcating a writer's work isn't part of any cleverStare marketing plan. (Stare has so marketingplans, clever or otherwise.)

Technology, not aesthetics, determines which pieces runin their entirety and which are presented sequentially. Manyemail programs can't handle a single communiquélonger than 32,768 characters. Since Stare isdistributed via email as well as over the World Wide Web, wetry to keep the size well below that ceiling. Sterling'spiece, which he allowed us to reprint on the condition itwasn't edited, is 35,453 characters long. ThusStare's Group of Experts That Dare Not Speak ItsName® didn't even need acalculator to decide that Sterling's piece would be, er,hacked.

. . .

Allthe Nudes that Fit

The following email message is reprinted in itsentirety:

. . .

From: Frank Wallis <fhwallis@delphi.com>
Newsgroups: rec.arts.fine
Subject: What to Say to a Nude Model (and how to findone)
Date: Sun, 7 May 95 07:41:01 -0500
Organization: Delphi (info@delphi.com email, 800-695-4005voice)
Message-ID: <Je0-qlt.fhwallis@delphi.com>

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. . .

"Stupidity is always amazing, no matter how used to ityou become."
-Jean Cocteau

. . .

OnCops and Computers

Bruce Sterling

(This is the conclusion of the piece that began inStare No.803)

I don't mind talking to you this morning, I'm perfectlywilling to talk to you, but since I'm not a cop or aprosecutor, I don't really have much of genuinenuts-and-bolts value to offer to you ladies and gentlemen.It's sheer arrogance on my part to lecture you on how to doyour jobs. But since I was asked to come here, I can atleast offer you my opinions. Since they're probably notworth much, I figure I ought to at least be frank aboutthem.

First the good part. Let me tell you about a few recentevents in your milieu that I have no conceptual difficultieswith. Case in point. Some guy up around San Francisco iscloning off cellphones, and he's burning EPROMs and piratingcellular ID's, and he's moved about a thousand of these hotphones to his running buddies in the mob in Singapore, andthey've bought him a real nice sports car with the proceeds.The Secret Service shows up at the guy's house, catches himwith his little soldering irons in hand, busts him, haulshim downtown, calls a press conference after the bust, saysthat this activity is a big problem for cellphone companiesand they're gonna turn up the heat on people who do thisstuff. I have no problem with this situation. I even take acertain grim satisfaction in it. Is this a crime? Yes. Isthis guy a bad guy with evil intent? Yes. Is law enforcementperforming its basic duty here? Yes it is. Do I mind ifcorporate private security is kinda pitching in behind thescenes and protecting their own commercial interests here?No, not really. Is there some major civil liberties and freeexpression angle involved in this guy's ripping off cellularcompanies? No. Is there a threat to privacy here? Yeah--him,the perpetrator. Is the Secret Service emptily boasting andgrandstanding when they hang this guy out to dry in public?No, this looks like legitimate deterrence to me, and if theywant a little glory out of it, well hell we all want alittle glory sometimes. We can't survive without a littleglory. Take the dumb bastard away with my blessing.

Okay, some group of Vietnamese Triad types hijack atruckload of chips in Silicon Valley, then move the lootoverseas to the Asian black market through some smugglingnetwork that got bored with running heroin. Are these guys"Robin Hoods of the Electronic Frontier?" I don't think so.Am I all impressed because some warlord in the GoldenTriangle may be getting free computation services, andinformation wants to be free? No, this doesn't strike me asa positive development, frankly. Is organized crime a menaceto our society? Yeah! It is!

I can't say I've ever had anything much to do--knowinglythat is--with wiseguy types, but I spent a little time inMoscow recently, and in Italy too at the height of theirTangentopoly kickback scandal, and you know, organized crimeand endemic corruption are very serious problems indeed. Youget enough of that evil crap going on in your society andit's like nobody can breathe. A protection racket--I neverquite grasped how that worked and what it meant to victims,till I spent a couple of weeks in Moscow last December.That's a nasty piece of work, that stuff.

Another case. Some joker gets himself a job in a longdistance provider, and he writes a PIN-trapping networkprogram and he gets his mitts on about eight zillion PINsand he sells them for a buck apiece to his hacker buddiesall over the US and Europe. Do I think this is clever? Yeah,it's pretty ingenious. Do I think it's a crime? Yes, I thinkthis is a criminal act. I think this guy is basicallycorrupt. Do I think free or cheap long distance is a goodidea? Yeah I do actually; I think if there were a very lowflat rate on long distance, then you would see usageskyrocket so drastically that long distance providers wouldactually make more money in the long run. I'd like to seethem try that experiment some time; I don't think the waythey run phone companies in 1994 is the only possible way torun them successfully. I think phone companies are probablygonna have to change their act pretty drastically if theyexpect to survive in the 21st century's mediaenvironment.

But you know, that's not this guy's lookout. He's not theone to make that business decision. Theft is not an act ofreform. He's abusing a position of trust as an employee inorder to illegally line his own pockets. I think this guy isa crook.

So I have no problems with those recent law enforcementoperations. I wish they'd gotten more publicity, and I'mkinda sorry that I wasn't able to give them more publicitymyself, but at least I've heard of them, and I was payingsome attention when they happened. Now I want to talk aboutsome stuff that bugs me.

I'm an author and I'm interested in free expression, and it's only natural because that's my bailiwick. Freeexpression is a problem for writers, and it's always been aproblem, and it's probably always gonna be a problem. We inthe West have these ancient and honored tradition of Westernfree speech and freedom of the press, and in the US we havethis rather more up-to-date concept of "freedom ofinformation." But even so, there is an enormous amount of"information" today which is highly problematic. Justbecause freedom of the press was in the Constitution didn'tmean that people were able to stop thinking about whatpress-freedom really means in real life, and fighting aboutit and suing each other about it. We Americans have lots ofproblems with our freedom of the press and our freedom ofspeech. Problems like libel and slander. Incitement to riot.Obscenity. Child pornography. Flag-burning. Cross-burning.Race-hate propaganda. Political correctness. Sexistlanguage. Mrs. Gore's Parents Music Resource Council. Movieratings. Plagiarism. Photocopying rights. A journalist'sso-called right to protect his sources. Fair-use doctrine.Lawyer-client confidentiality. Paid political announcements.Banning ads for liquor and cigarettes. The fairness doctrinefor broadcasters. School textbook censors. Nationalsecurity. Military secrets. Industrial trade secrets. Artsfunding for so-called obscenity. Even religious blasphemysuch as Salman Rushdie's famous novel Satanic Verses,which is hated so violently by the kind of people who liketo blow up the World Trade Center. All these huge problemsabout what people can say to each other, under whatcircumstances. And that's without computers and computernetworks.

Every single one of those problems is applicable tocyberspace. Computers don't make any of these oldfree-expression problems go away; on the contrary, theyintensify them, and they introduce a bunch of new problems.Problems like software piracy. Encryption. Wire-fraud.Interstate transportation of stolen digital property. Freeexpression on privately owned networks. So-called"data-mining" to invade personal privacy. Employers spyingon employee e-mail. Intellectual rights over electronicpublications. Computer search and seizure practice. Legalliability for network crashes. Computer intrusion, and onand on and on. These are real problems. They're out there.They're out there now. And in the future they're only goingto get worse. And there's going to be a bunch of newproblems that nobody's even imagined yet.

I worry about these issues because guys in a positionlike mine ought to worry about these issues. I can't sayI've ever suffered much personally because of censorship, orthrough my government's objections to what I have to say. Onthe contrary, the current US government likes me so muchthat it kind of makes me nervous. But I've written tenbooks, and I don't think I've ever written a book that couldhave been legally published in its entirety fifty years ago.Because my books talk about things that people just didn'ttalk about much fifty years ago, like sex for instance. Inmy books, my characters talk like normal people talknowadays, which is to say that they cuss a lot. Even inHacker Crackdown there are sections where people useobscenities in conversations, and by the way the people Iwas quoting were computer cops.

I'm forty years old; I can remember when people didn'tuse the word "condom" in public. Nowadays, if you don't knowwhat a condom is and how to use it, there's a pretty goodchance you're gonna die. Standards change a lot. Culturechanges a lot. The laws supposedly governing this behaviorare very gray and riddled with contradictions andcompromises. There are some people who don't want ourculture to change, or they want to change it even faster insome direction they've got their own ideas about. Whenpolice get involved in cultural struggles it's always veryhighly politicized. The chances of its ending well are notgood.

It's been quite a while since there was a really goodripping computer-intrusion scandal in the news. Nowadays thehotbutton issue is porn. Kidporn and other porn. I don'thave much sympathy for kidporn people, I think theexploitation of children is a vile and grotesque criminalact, but I've seen some computer porn cases lately that lookpretty problematic and peculiar to me. I don't think there'sa lot to be gained by playing up the terrifying menace ofporn on networks. Porn is just too treacherous an issue tobe of much use to anybody. It's not a firm and dependableplace in which to take a stand on how we ought to run ournetworks.

For instance, there's this Amateur Action case. We've gotthis guy and his wife in California, and they're sellingsome pretty seriously vile material off their bulletinboard. They get indicted in Tennessee. What is that about?Do we really think that people in Memphis can enforce theirpornographic community standards on people in California?I'd be genuinely impressed if a prosecutor got a jury inCalifornia to indict and convict some pornographer inTennessee. I'd figure that Tennessee guy had to be some kindof pretty heavy-duty pornographer. Doing that in the otherdirection is like shooting fish in a barrel. There'ssomething cheap about it. This doesn't smell like anairtight criminal case to me. This smells to me like someguy from Tennessee trying to enforce his own local culturalstandards via a long-distance phone line. That may not bethe actual truth about the case, but that's what the caselooks like. It's real hard to make a porn case look good atany time. If it's a weak case, then the prosecutor lookslike a bluenosed goody-goody wimp. If it's a strong case,then the whole mess is so disgusting that nobody even wantsto think about it or even look hard at the evidence. Porn isa no-win situation when it comes to the basic social purposeof instilling law and order on networks.

I think you could make a pretty good case in Tennesseethat people in California are a bunch of flakey pervertedlunatics, but I also think that in California you can make apretty good case that people from Tennessee are a bunch ofhillbilly fundamentalist wackos. You start playing off onecommunity against another, pretty soon you're out of therealm of criminal law, and into the realm of trying tocontrol people's cultural behavior with a nightstick.There's not a lot to be gained by this fight. You mayintimidate a few pornographers here and there, but you'realso likely to seriously infuriate a bunch of bystanders.It's not a fight you can win, even if you win a case, or twocases, or ten cases. People in California are never gonnabehave in a way that satisfies people in Tennessee. Peoplein California have more money and more power and moreinfluence than people in Tennessee. People in Californiainvented Hollywood and Silicon Valley, and people inTennessee invented ways to put smut labels on rock and rollalbums.

This is what Pat Buchanan and Newt Gingrich are talkingabout when they talk about cultural war in America. And thisis what politically correct people talk about when theylaunch eighteen harassment lawsuits because some kid on somecampus computer network said something that someultrafeminist radical found demeaning. If I were a cop, Iwould be very careful of looking like a pawn in somecultural warfare by ambitious radical politicians. Thecountry's infested with zealots now, zealots to the left andright. A lot of these people are fanatics motivated by fearand anger, and they don't care two pins about public order,or the people who maintain it and keep the peace in oursociety. They don't give a damn about justice, they havetheir own agendas. They'll seize on any chance they can getto make the other side shut up and knuckle under. They don'twant a debate. They just want to crush their enemies bywhatever means necessary. If they can use cops to do it,great! Cops are expendable.

There's another porn case that bugs me even more. There'sthis guy in Oklahoma City who had a big FidoNet bulletinboard, and a storefront where he sold CD-ROMs. Some of them,a few, were porn CD-ROMs. The Oklahoma City police catchthis local hacker kid and of course he squeals like theyalways do, and he says don't nail me, nail this other adultguy, he's a pornographer. So off the police go to raid thisguy's place of business, and while they're at it they carrysome minicams and they broadcast their raid on that night'sOklahoma City evening news. This was a really high-tech andinnovative thing to do, but it was also a really recklesscowboy thing to do, because it left no political fallbackposition. They were now utterly committed to crucifying thisguy, because otherwise it was too much of a politicalembarrassment. They couldn't just shrug and say, "Well we'vejust busted this guy for selling a few lousy CD-ROMs thatanybody in the country can mail-order with impunity out ofthe back of a computer magazine." They had to assemble ajury, with a couple of fundamentalist ministers on it, andshow the most rancid graphic image files to the twelve goodpeople and true. And you know, sure enough it was judged ina court to be pornography. I don't think there was muchdoubt that it was pornography, and I don't doubt that anyjury in Oklahoma City would have called it pornography bythe local Oklahoma City community standards. This guy gotconvicted. Lost the trial. Lost his business. Went to jail.His wife sued for divorce. He lost custody of his kids. He'sa convict. His life is in ruins.

The hell of it, I don't think this guy was a pornographerby any genuine definition. He had no previous convictions.Never been in trouble, didn't have a bad character. Had anhonorable war record in Vietnam. Paid his taxes. People whoknew him personally spoke very highly of him. He wasn't someloony sleazebag. He was just a guy selling disks that otherpeople just like him sell all over the country, withoutanyone blinking an eye. As far as I can figure it, theOklahoma City police and an Oklahoma prosecutor skinned thisguy and nailed his hide to the side of a barn, just becausethey didn't want to look bad. I think a serious injusticewas done here.

I also think it was a terrible public relations move.There's a magazine out calld Boardwatch, practicallyeverybody who runs a bulletin board system in this countryreads it. When the editor of this magazine heard about theoutcome of this case, he basically went nonlinear. He wrotethis scorching furious editorial berating the authorities.The Oklahoma City prosecutor sent his little message allright, and it went over the Oklahoma City evening news, andprobably made him look pretty good, locally, personally. Butthis magazine sent a much bigger and much angrier message,which went all over the country to a perfect targetcomputer-industry audience of BBS sysops. This editor'smessage was that the Oklahoma City police are a bunch ofcrazed no-neck gestapo, who don't know nothing aboutnothing, and hate anybody who does. I think that the genuinecause of computer law and order was very much harmed by thiscase.

It seems to me that there are a couple of useful lessonsto be learned here. The first, of course, is don't sell pornin Oklahoma City. And the second lesson is, if your city'son an antiporn crusade and you're a cop, it's a good idea todrop by the local porn outlets and openly tell the merchantsthat porn is illegal. Tell them straight out that you knowthey have some porn, and they'd better knock it off. Ifthey've got any sense, they'll take this word from the wiseand stop breaking the local community standards forthwith.If they go on doing it, well, presumably they're hardenedporn merchants of some kind, and when they get into troublewith ambitious local prosecutors they'll have no one toblame but themselves. Don't jump in headfirst with an agendaand a videocam. Because it's real easy to wade hip deep intoa blaze of publicity, but it's real hard to wade back outwithout getting the sticky stuff all over you.

Well, it's generally a thankless lot being an Americancomputer cop. You know this, I know this. I even regrethaving to bring these matters up, though I feel that I oughtto, given the circumstances. I do, however, see one largeray of light in the American computer law enforcement scene,and that is the behavior of computer cops in othercountries. American computer cops have had to suffer underthe spotlights because they were the first people in theworld doing this sort of activity. But now we're starting tosee other law enforcement people weighing in in othercountries. To judge by early indications, the situation'sgoing to be a lot worse overseas.

Italy, for instance. The Italian finance police recentlydecided that everybody on FidoNet was a software pirate, sothey went out and seized somewhere between fifty and ahundred bulletin boards. Accounts are confused, not leastbecause most of the accounts are in Italian. Nothing muchhas appeared in the way of charges or convictions, andthere's been a lot of anguished squawling from deeplyalienated and radicalized Italian computer people. Italy isa country where entire political parties have beenannihilated because of endemic corruption and briberyscandals. A country where organized crime shoots judges andblows up churches with car bombs. They got a guy running thecountry now who is basically Ted Turner in Italian drag--heowns a bunch of television stations--and here his federalcops have gone out and busted a bunch of left-wing bulletinboard systems. It's not doing much good for the softwarepiracy problem and it's sure not helping the local politicalsituation. In Italy politics are so weird that the ItalianCommunist Party has a national reputation as the party ofhonest government. The Communists hate the guts of this newPrime Minister, and he's in bed with the neo-fascistultra-right and a bunch of local ethnic separatists who wantto cut the country in half. That's a very strange andvolatile scene.

The hell of it is, in the long run I think the Italiansare going to turn out to be one of the better countries athandling computer crime. Wait till we start hearing from thePoles, the Romanians, the Chinese, the Serbs, the Turks, thePakistanis, the Saudis.

Here in America we're actually getting used to thisstuff, a little bit, sort of. We have a White House with itsown Internet address and its own World Wide Web page. Owningand using a modem is fashionable in the USA. American lawenforcement agencies are increasingly equipped with a clue.In Europe you have computers all over the place, but theyare imbedded in a patchwork of PTTs and peculiar localjurisdictions and even more peculiar and archaic local laws.I think the chances of some social toxic reaction fromcomputing and telecommunications are much higher in Europeand Asia than in the USA. I think that in a few more years,American cops are going to earn a global reputation as beingvery much on top of this stuff. I think there's a fairlygood chance that the various interested parties in the USAcan find some kind of workable accommodation and commonground on most of the important social issues. There won'tbe so much blundering around, not so many unpleasantsurprises, not so much panic and hysteria.

As for the computer crime scene, I think it's prettylikely that American computer crime is going to lookrelatively low-key, compared to the eventual rise ofex-Soviet computer crime, and Eastern European computercrime, and Southeast Asian computer crime.

I'm a science fiction writer, and I like to speculateabout the future. I think American computer police are goingto have a hard row to hoe, because they are almost alwaysgoing to be the first in the world to catch hell from theseissues. Certain bad things are naturally going to happenhere first, because we're the people who are inventingalmost all the possibilities. But I also feel that it's notvery likely that bad things will reach their full extremityof awfulness here. It's quite possible that Americancomputer police will make some really awful mistakes, but Ican almost guarantee that other people's police will makemistakes worse by an order of magnitude. American police mayhit people with sticks, but other people's police are goingto hit people with axes and cattle prods. Computers willprobably help people manage better in those countries wherepeople can actually manage. In countries that are fallingapart, overcrowded countries with degraded environments anddeep social problems, computers might well make things fallapart even faster.

Countries that have offshore money-laundries are gonnahave offshore data laundries. Countries that now have lousyoppressive governments and smart, determined terroristrevolutionaries, are gonna have lousy oppressive governmentsand smart determined terrorist revolutionaries withcomputers. Not too long after that, they're going to havetyrannical revolutionary governments run by zealots withcomputers, and then we're likely to see just how close toBig Brother a government can really get. Dealing with thesepeople is going to be a big problem for us.

Other people have worse problems than we do, and Isuppose that's some comfort to us in a way. But we've gotour problems here, too. It's no use hiding from them. Since1980 the American prison population has risen by one hundredand eighty eight percent. In 1993 we had 948,881 prisonersin federal or state correctional facilities. I appreciatethe hard work it took to put these nearly one million peopleinto American prisons, but you know, I can't say that theknowledge that there are a million people in prison in mycountry really makes me feel much safer. Quite the contrary,really. Does it make keeping public order easier when thereare so many people around with no future and no stake in thestatus quo and nothing left to lose? I don't think itdoes.

We've got a governor's race in my state that's a nastypiece of work--the incumbent and the challenger arepractically wrestling in public for the privilege of puttingon a black hood and jabbing people with the needle. That'snot a pretty sight. I hear a lot about vengeance andpunishment lately, but I don't hear a lot about justice. Ihear a lot about rights and lawsuits, but I don't hear a lotabout debate and public goodwill and public civility. Ithink it's past time in this country that we stoppeddemonizing one another, and tried to see each other as humanbeings and listen seriously to each other. And personally, Ithink I've talked enough this morning. It's time for me tolisten to you guys for a while.

I confess that in my weaker moments I've had the badtaste to become a journalist. But I didn't come here towrite anything about you, I've given that up for now. I'mhere as a citizen and an interested party. I was glad to beinvited to come here, because I was sure I'd learn somethingthat I ought to know. I appreciate your patience andattention very much, and I hope you'll see that I mean toreturn the favor. Thanks. Thanks a lot.

. . .
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