Our Tax dollars at work! (NOT a sick joke)

Jeff Gross jgross at microsoft.com
Thu Mar 31 13:58:21 PST 1994

Get real!  Lirpa Sloof spelled backwards is April Fools.  You're right, 
it's not a sick joke, it's an April Fools joke.
> From: Ophir Ronen (Rho)
> To: Eric Geyser (Computer People); cypherpunks at toad.com; Jeff Gross; 
Ofer Bar;
> Greg Malinski (Apex PC Solutions)
> Subject: FW:  Our Tax dollars at work! (NOT a sick joke)
> Date: Thursday, March 31, 1994 1:56PM
> ----------
> From: Setheni Davidson (CompuCom)
> Trust Congress? Not With This Unbelieveable Lair of Slop
> PC Computing, April 1994, page 88.
> By John C. Dvorak
>  When Vice President Gore began talking about the Information Highway, we
> all knew the bureaucrats would get involved more than we might like. In
> fact, it may already be too late to stop a horrible Senate bill from
> becoming law.
>  The moniker -- Information Highway -- itself seems to be responsible for SB
> #040194. Introduced by Senator Patrick Leahy, it's designed to prohibit
> anyone from using a public computer network (Information Highway) while the
> computer user is intoxicated. I know how silly this sounds, but Congress
> apparently thinks that being drunk on a highway is bad no matter what kind
> of highway it is. The bill is expected to pass this month.
>  There already are rampant arguments as to how this proposed law can
> possibly be enforced. The FBI hopes to use it as an excuse to do routine
> wiretaps on any computer if there is any evidence that the owner "uses or
> abuses alcohol and has access to a modem." Note how it slips in the word
> 'uses'. This means if you've been seen drinking one lone beer, you can have
> your line tapped.
>  Because this law would be so difficult to enforce, police officials are
> drooling over the prospect of easily obtaining permits to do wiretaps. Ask
> enforcement officials in Washington and they'll tell you the proposed law is
> idiotic, but none will oppose it. Check the classified ads in the
> "Washington Post" and you'll find the FBI, National Security Agency, and
> something called the Online Enforcement Agency (when did they set that up?)
> all soliciting experts in phone technology, specifically wiretapping.
>  It gets worse. The Congressional Record of February 19, 1994, has a report
> that outlines the use of computerized BBSes, Internet, Inter-Relay Chat, and
> CompuServe CB as "propagating illicit sexual  encounters and meetings
> between couples -- any of whom are underage... Even people purporting to
> routinely have sex with animals are present on these systems to foster their
> odd beliefs on the public-at-large." A rider on SB #040194 makes it a felony
> to discuss sexual matters on any public-access network, including the
> Internet, America Online, and CompuServe.
>  I wondered how private companies such as America Online can be considered
> public-access networks, so I called Senator Barbara Boxer's office and
> talked to an aide, a woman named Felicia. She said the use of promotional
> cards that give away a free hour or two of service constitues public access.
> You know, like the ones found in the back of books or in modem boxes. She
> also told me most BBS systems fall under this proposed statute. When asked
> how they propose to enforce this law, she said it's not Congress's problem.
> "Enforcement works itself out over time," she said.
>  The group fighting this moronic law is led by Jerome Bernstein of the
> Washington law firm of Bernstein, Bernstein and Knowles (the firm that
> first took Ollie North as a client). I couldn't get in touch with any
> of the co-sponsors of the bill (including Senator Ted Kennedy, if you
> can believe it!), but Bernstein was glad to talk. "These people have no
> clue about the Information Highway or what it does. The whole thing got
> started last Christmas during an antidrinking campaign in the Washington
> D.C., metro area," Bernstein said, "I'm convinced someone jokingly told
> Leahy's office about drunk driving on the Information High and the idea
> snowballed. These senators actually think there is a physical highway.
> Seriously, Senator Pat Moynihan asked me if you needed a driving permit
> to 'drive' a modem on the Information Highway! He has no clue what a
> modem is, and neither does the rest of Congress."
>  According to Bernstein, the antisexual wording in the bill was attributed
> to Kennedy's office. "Kennedy thought that technology was leaving him
> behind, and he wanted to be perceived as more up-to-date technologically.
> He also though this would make amends for his alleged philandering."
>  Unfortunately, the public is not much better informed than the Senate.
> The Gallup Organization, at the behest of Congress, is polling the
> public regarding intoxication while using a computer and online "hot
> chatting." The results are chilling. More than half of the public thinks
> that using a computer while intoxicated should be illegal! The results
> of the sexuality poll are not available. But one question, "Should a
> teenage boy be encouraged to pretend he is a girl while chatting with
> another person online?" has civil rights activists alarmed. According
> to Kevin Avril of the ACLU, "This activity doesn't even qualify as
> virtual cross-dressing. Who cares about this stuff? What are we going
> to do? Legislate an anti-boys-will-be-boys law? It sets a bad
> precedent."
>  I could go on and on with quotes and complaints from people regarding
> this bill. But most of the complaints are getting nowhere. Pressure
> groups, such as one led by Baptist ministers from De Kalb County,
> Georgia, are supporting the law with such vehemence that they've managed
> to derail an effort by modem manufacturers (the biggest being
> Georgia-based Hayes) to lobby against the law. "Who wants to come out
> and support drunkenness and computer sex?" asked a congressman who
> requested anonymity.
>  So, except for Bernstein, Bernstein, and Knowles, and a few members of
> the ACLU, there is nothing to stop this bill from becoming law. You can
> register your protests with your congressperson or Ms. Lirpa Sloof in
> the Senate Legislative Analysts Office. Her name spelled backward says
> it all.

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