EFFector Online Volume org Publicati

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EFFector Online Volume 6 No. 6         12/06/1993         editors@eff.org
A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation        ISSN 1062-9424

 A Superhighway Through the Wasteland?
 Patent Office Seeks Advice on "Information Super-Highway"
 Please Help Us Get EFF's BBS Up and Running!
 General Accounting Office Report on Communications Privacy
 Industry Leaders Join in Demo of Pioneering Telecom Technology


Subject: A Superhighway Through the Wasteland?

New York Times Op-Ed by Mitchell Kapor and Jerry Berman
Mitchell Kapor is chairman of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a
nonprofit group that promotes civil liberties in digital media. He was a
founder of the Lotus Development Corporation, from which he resigned in

(Washington) Telecommunications and cable TV executives, seeking to
allay concerns over their proposed megamergers, insist that the coming
electronic superhighway will be an educational and informational tool as
between entertainment and communications giants, we are told, and they will
connect students with learning resources, provide a forum for political
multimedia information age.

Both broadcast and cable TV were introduced with similar fanfare. The
limits of the technology, they failed to be saviors of education or
cultural wasteland.

For the Government to break this cycle of promise and disappointment,
communications mergers should be approved or barred based on detailed,
enforceable commitments that the electronic superhighway will meet public
limited number of cable channels. Properly constructed and regulated, it
could be open to all who wish to speak, publish and communicate.

None of the interactive services will be possible, however, if we have
an eight-lane data superhighway rushing into every home and only a narrow
footpath coming back out. Instead of settling for a multimedia version of
the same entertainment that is increasingly dissatisfying on today's TV, we
need a superhighway that encourages the production and distribution of a
broader, more diverse range of programming.

The superhighway should be required to provide so-called open platform
negotiate for channel space with cable companies around the country. In an
open platform network, we would avoid that bottleneck. Every person would
nformation directly to consumers.

Consumers would become producers: individuals and small organizations
could create and distribute programs to anyone on the highway who wants
them. Open platform services will spur diversity in the electronic media,
of newspapers and magazines.

To prevent abuses by media giants that because of recent Federal court
companies controlling the superhighway must be required to carry other
anyone who is willing to pay for it. We must guarantee that anyone who,

Americans will come to depend on the superhighway even more than they
need the telephone. The guarantee of universal telephone service must be
expanded to include universal access to the superhighway. Although market
forces will help keep the new technology affordable, we need laws to

And because several companies will operate the highway, each must be
commonly accepted standards.

Also, even an open, competitive market will leave out organizations with
limited resources such as schools and libraries. To compensate for market
oversights, we must insure that money -- whether through Federal support or
a tax on the companies that will control the superhighway -- is made
available to these institutions. Finally, people won't use the new
technology unless they feel that their privacy is protected. Technical
means, such as recently developed encryption techniques, must be made
available to all users. And clear legal guidelines for individual control
over access to and reuse of personal information must be established.
Companies that sell entertainment services will have a record of what their
customers' interests are; these records must remain confidential.

Bell Atlantic, T.C.I., Time-Warner, U.S. West and other companies
nvolved in proposed mergers have promised to allow the public full access
to the superhighway. But they are asking policy makers to trust that,

Rather than opposing mergers or blindly trusting competition to shape
the data highways, Congress should make the mergers hinge on detailed
commitments to provide affordable services to all Americans. Some
legislators, led by Representative Ed Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts,
are working to enact similar requirements; these efforts deserve support.

The best approach would be to amend these requirements to the
Communications Act of 1934. Still the central law on open access, an
updated Communications Act would codify the terms of a new social contract
between the the telecommunications industry and the American people.

[From the New York Times Op-Ed Page, Wednesday, November 24, 1993.
Copyright 1993 The New York Times Company.]


Subject: Patent Office Seeks Advice on "Information Super-Highway"

The Patent Office is soliciting suggestions and comments on intellectual
they seek comments on are:

f any, should be made?

Should standards or other requirements be adopted for the labeling or
encoding of works available via the NII so that copyright owners and users
can identify copyrighted works and the conditions for their use?

Should a licensing system be developed for certain uses of any or all works
available via the NII?  If so, should there be a single type of licensing or

What types of education programs might be developed to increase public
awareness of intellectual property laws, their importance to the economy, and
their application to works available via the NII.

 (More information can be found in the November 9, 1993 Official Gazette).

You can send your ideas to the Patent Office up until December 10, 1993.

Address your comments to:
                Terri Southwick
                c/o Commissioner of Patents and Trademarks
                US Patent and Trademark Office
                Box 4
                Washington, DC  20231

                fax: 703-305-8885
                tel: 703-305-9300

Greg Aharonian


Subject: Please Help Us Get EFF's BBS Up and Running!

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is working to start an EFF bulletin
board system to reach the "other half of cyberspace" -- BBSs, including the
tens of thousands of participants in BBS networks such as FidoNet.  EFF
considers these hobbyist grassroots pioneers as important to the future of
communications as experienced net.surfers, and both cultures of the
online world have much to gain or lose by the issues at stake.

The EFF BBS will provide a full mirror of our FTP/gopher/WAIS archives, as
conferences, such as BBSLAW, SYSLAW, comp.org.eff.talk, alt.security.pgp,
alt.politics.datahighway, and more.  The board will serve as a place for
those with modems but no Internet access to get the information they need
to avoid pitfalls and to support campaigns to preserve our rights online.

However, money does not grow on trees, and EFF is asking for contributions
and hardware donations so that the project can get rolling. 

Still needed:

Basic system - 486DX2-66 or 468DX-50
Large SCSI hard drive, and controller
SVGA card and monitor
ethernet card
SCSI or parallel tape backup
  undecided yet, probably Telebit V.terbo)

We're interested in new or used equipment in working condition, and any

Donators of funds or equipment over $40 will receive a one-year membership
n EFF if they wish, and all contributors will be listed in a "thank you"
notice in our online newsletter, and in a permanent bulletin on the BBS.

BBS software has already been donated, though various other software is


Subject: General Accounting Office Report on Communications Privacy

A few days ago, the General Accounting Office (GAO) -- an important
nternal government investigative organization that's about a lot more
than accounting -- issued a report on communications privacy.

The report makes three very important findings:

for protecting the security of business communications and personal
nformation.  But federal policy is getting in the way of this technology.

"Increased use of computer and communications networks, computer literacy,
and dependence on information technology heighten US industries risk of
losing proprietary information to economic espionage.  In part to reduce
the risk, industry is more frequently using hardware and software with
encryption capabilities.  However, federal policies and actions stemming
from national security and law enforcement concerns hinder the use and the
export of U.S. commercial encryption technology and may hinder its

the spirit of the Computer Security Act. 

"Although the Computer Security Act of 1987 reaffirmed NIST's reponsibility
for developing federal information-processing standards for security of