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Subject: RE: [IP] : Digital Vandalism Spurs a Call for Oversight

  • From: Bob Frankston <>
  • To:,
  • Date: Mon, 01 Sep 2003 15:23:44 -0400

My mail to is getting nondelivery responses so I don't know
if they are getting through -- whether you post the comments or not is up to
you as they do get through. 

The problem is germane to this topic and I've been trying to write about
some of the issues including –
it’s about a lot more than simple annoyances.

I plan to write about these issues in more detail but for this letter, I’ll
simply note that the calls for protection by making the Internet “smarter”
are like trying to prevent train crashes by removing the first and last
cars. If anything, as I point out, perimeter security has created a ripe
environment for these attacks.

I worry that we’re seeing the typical response when things go wrong – claims
that we (they?) aren’t doing enough of what caused the problem and then
redoubling our efforts in that direction by making it increasingly difficult
to use the net. People will look for promises to make it all better by
asserting strong control over those who abuse free speech. After all that’s
what the virus people do and thus programming is too dangerous to leave to
unapproved individuals. 

We don’t have “an Internet problem” – it is a problem with the edges of the
net. This sounds like I’m saying that guns don’t kill, people do. The
difference is that we cannot afford to do away with the benefit of having
the end-to-end Internet. The same edition of the Times that features Amy’s
story also tells how companies are using Voice of IP – something that
regulators are trying to bring within their control. It’s like making sure
we pay 35¢ for each email message. Sure, it would stop spam as well as
almost all other use of email. Even worse is the idea of only requiring the
stamp for “Bad” email.

The Web exists because the browser gave us a trust boundary between our
computer and the rest of the Internet. The user could decide how much trust
to give and the passive HTML allowed some understanding of the risks (though
it didn’t protect use from having to understand what we rid and the risks of
trusting .Com names).

We should learn from this and give users (us) better tools for understanding
what is happening. Bringing back the good old days of the smart network and
authoritarian-Boolean trust models will only leave us lame and vulnerable.

Obviously this is a complex topic and I plan to write more about it but
immediate problem is quelling the panic and calls for some one to solve the
problem for us rather than giving us the ability to find our own solutions.

-----Original Message-----
From: [] On Behalf Of
Dave Farber
Sent: Monday, September 01, 2003 02:03
Subject: [IP] : Digital Vandalism Spurs a Call for Oversight

>Digital Vandalism Spurs a Call for Oversight
>September 1, 2003
>The teenager accused of creating a version of the Blaster
>worm that infected computer systems across the world last
>week has been arrested. SoBig.F, an e-mail virus unleashed
>on the Internet just as Blaster was being stamped out, is
>expected to expire next week.
>But all is far from quiet on the electronic frontier.
>Security experts are already preparing for SoBig.G. Another
>worm may already be squirming through newly discovered
>flaws in computer operating systems. And in the moments
>between epidemics, the Internet's more run-of-the-mill
>annoyances - spam, scams and spyware - can be counted on to
>keep users on edge.
>The Internet has become a vital part of commerce and
>culture, but it is still a free-for-all when it comes to
>facing computer meltdowns. As America's 156 million
>Internet users brace for the next round of digital
>vandalism, some experts say that it is time for the
>government to bolster a basic sense of stability in
>cyberspace that societies expect from their critical public


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