TUCoPS :: Cyber Law :: donahue.txt

Donahue Transcript about computer hackers



       Aired March 15, 1985

  EDITOR'S NOTES:  This is an annotated transcript of the highlights of "The
Phil Donahue Show," which dealt with computer communications and its
ramifications.  The New York-based syndicated television show aired this
morning in many parts of the country.

  Donahue's guests for the discussion were Richard Louv, author of a book
called "America II:  The Book that Captures Americans in the Act of Creating
the Future" and Newsweek journalist Richard Sandza, who has reported on the
exploits of computer "crackers."

  Also on the show were demonstrations of the CompuServe and Source networks
and regulars of the networking community, including Chris and Pam Dunn of the
CB forum and subscriber Bill Steinberg.

  This file is quite long -- about 20K.  For best results, we'd suggest that
you "scroll" it by entering S at the next prompt.  CONTROL S will freeze the
display; CONTROL Q will resume it.)

  Now, the show begins.  The transcript...

  PHIL DONAHUE (to the audience):  Do you know who can access a computer to
find out how much is in your checking account?  How many times you've been
divorced?  Whether or not you watch dirty movies?  I'm telling you.

  DONAHUE:  Whether you're bankrupt?
  THE WOMAN:  Yes...
  DONAHUE:  Who you owe money to.  You know what else they can do?  They can
get your credit card.
  THE WOMAN:  Yes, but not if you're careful.
  DONAHUE:  I don't know if it matters about being careful...
(turns to the stage to introduce guests)
  DONAHUE:  This is Richard Louv.  He's written a book entitled "America II"
...  This whole Orewellean thing is not funny.  You know that people are
falling in love with computers.  I mean, with each other.  There's X-rated
computers.  (Laughter) I'm telling you and you're laughing.
  LOUV:  (When) I got interested in this whole thing, I (visited some bulletin
boards and)...it's a good thing my computer has a fan on it.  I was up late one
night and all this X-rated stuff started coming up on my screen, I mean really
  DONAHUE:  You're talking about dirty language.  Not pictures?
  LOUV:  No, but it's a form of mating.  (Laughter) There's a lot of computer
sex out there.
  DONAHUE (to the audience):  You know what they do?  They have hot tub
parties...Everybody's got a nickname and then if you connect with somebody
during this party, you and that other person can go off by yourself onto this
private channel, have a little more X-rated conversation, and then if you want,
go back to the hot tub party.  (Laughter) I'm telling you.
  LOUV:  And there are hundreds of these computer bulletin boards that are
sexually oriented...
  DONAHUE:  The problem is:  14-year-olds are doing it....
  DONAHUE:  (introducing second guest) Let me tell you what happened to a
Newsweek reporter.  This is a real live computer victim here.  Richard Sandza
was doing a piece for the magazine...
  SANDZA:  Yes, I did a piece talking about these bulletin boards ...  (to say)
"Here's what's going on.  There are these bulletin boards and kids are using
them to exchange illegal information (such as) how to get your credit card."
...And they came after me because they felt I had broken some sort of pledge
and told too much about their underground.
  DONAHUE:  And you had a 'teletrial,' didn't you?
  SANDZA:  I was put on teletrial, which is somewhat like the hot tub parties,
only I think I was going to be boiled in oil in this one.
  DONAHUE:  A jury and testimony and everything?
  SANDZA:  Yes, they set up a bulletin board and people would call in and place
charges against me and say why I should be punished.  I was allowed to defend
  DONAHUE:  You were also getting hostile phone calls at home?  They got your
phone number?
  SANDZA:  They got my telephone number and began calling me at home at all
hours of the day and night.  The worst thing they did was they dialed into (a
credit card company) and got the whole list of my credit card accounts.  They
passed the credit card numbers around the country and then they started using
the credit cards.
  DONAHUE:  Your wife...  you both must have been very, very frightened by all
of this.
  SANDZA:  Well, this started on the day my wife went into labor with our first
child and I called the phone company from the maturity ward to make sure my
telephone wouldn't be disconnected, as they had been threatened.  They
threatened to blow up my house.  I didn't know whether to take this seriously,
but I had seen messages (on bulletin boards) on how to make letter bombs,
nitroglycerin, pick locks, all these other things, all the things necessary to
blow up my house in San Francisco.
  DONAHUE:  Neo-Nazis have computers.
  SANDZA:  They keep track of their hit lists and pass around information so
they can keep track of their enemies.
  LOUV:  Yes, that's a national network.  Any one of you can call into the
Neo-Nazi's bulletin board, if you have a computer.
  SANDZA:  Yes, if you want some hate mail, just dial in.
  DONAHUE:  The KKK is talking to each other on bulletin boards.  A 14-year-old
...  was apparently able to transmit how to make nitroglycerin.
  UNIDENTIFIED SPECTATOR:  How do you protect yourself from this.
  SANDZA:  I'm not sure you can protect yourself from this.  Credit bureau
computers are kept so all of us can have credit cards and they have information
on just about...every adult in the United States.  The security's not (even)
good enough to keep these kids out.
  LOUV:  I talked to one guy who gets into these (systems) and he says that the
TRW computer system is incredibly user friendly....  I asked TRW about this,
"How do you get these numbers?" TRW has 30,000 customers -- banks, savings and
loans -- who call in every day to ask for a credit...  They print these numbers
out.  That's 30,000 leak points for your number.
  SANDZA:  The kid who got my number, they found ...  the password and the
number (in a) garbage can behind a bank in Massachusetts.
  UNIDENTIFIED SPECTATOR:  I think what you have to consider is, we're blaming
the computer in this.  It's not the computer.  It's the people using it.
     SANDZA: You're absolutely right.
  (Donahue introduces Bill Steinberg at a computer terminal.  There's a
demonstration of The Source's electronic conferencing system, PARTICIPATION.
The messages shown on the screen from an online conferences about "sexual
gadgets" and devices.)
  DONAHUE (to the audience):  ...  While we're watching this, let's consider
some of the legal questions.  Can I insult your mother on this thing?  And if I
do, can you sue me?  How do you find me?  And who's responsible for that libel?
Is it the computer agency?  The bulletin board itself?  And who's
responsible...  does the law oblige the person running the bulletin board to be
responsible?  ...  You cannot send Neo-Nazi mail, hate mail, to Canada, for
instance.  It's illegal...but you can transmit...
  SANDZA:  Well, that's why they set up the bulletin board.  One of them is in
northern Idaho...  so that their followers in Canada could dial in and get this
information.  It's very effective, as I understand.
  DONAHUE:  (Looking back at the computer screen.  To Steinberg:) What have you
got there.  Oh, it's another sex thing.  We'd better get off this thing...
  LOUV:  This may be the only safe form of sex left.  (Laughter)
     (Steinberg then logs on to CompuServe Service's CB)
  DONAHUE:  You know what would be fun?  Let's get the checking account of
somebody in the audience...  I bet you we could.
  (Donahue looks at the computer screen again, and notes that one of the CB'ers
said he was logged on from Montreal)
  DONAHUE:  So we have an international communications.  Now, one of the things
that obviously should concern us is that this appears to get around laws that
government international (communications.) That could include information that
might hurt somebody.  Racist information that might place somebody at risk.
Remember the CB craze.  Wherever there are people communicating, there is going
to be conflict.  It's another flag.
  LOUV:  But it's also another opportunity for social activism.  Greenpeace now
has its own computer bulletin board network.  So does the anti-nuclear movement
and I think we're entering a period ...  of strange forms of social activism,
and this is going to be one of those forms.
  SANDZA:  It replaces the telephone in a lot of cases...The difference here is
that you're completely anonymous and you don't need somebody's telephone
number...  Maybe there shouldn't be any laws that govern what you say back and
forth.  There certainly aren't on the telephone.  The difference here is that
you could keep an actual record (of what was said) on paper and then you could
rebroadcast that somewhere else.
  LOUV:  In a sense, this is a return to Tom Paine who printed off cheap
pamphlets and handed them out in Boston.  These political groups have instant
access to information.  For instance, how to set up a protest against (a
nuclear plant).  They can find out in San Francisco immediately how it was done
on the East Coast...That has enormous power for the future and I'm not sure
many of us have fully realized that.
  (Donahue introduces Chris and Pamela Dunn in the audience)
  DONAHUE:  They look happy, don't they?  Well, they are.  Very happy.  (To the
Dunns) You're married, aren't you?  They met via computer terminals.  How did
this happen, and were you alone, or at work, or...?
  PAM DUNN:  I was alone at home and I was using a terminal to access
CompuServe, utilizing the CB network.  That was a few years ago now, when it
was young and there weren't that many at first, I didn't even know he was male,
because we were both using handles to have that anonymity.
  DONAHUE:  What were your handles?
  PAM DUNN:  Zerbra3
  CHRIS DUNN:  ChrisDos, which is a computer term.
  PAM DUNN:  We got to talk to each other quite frequently and we started
having parties.  That was the thing to do in CB was to have actual parties so
people could meet each other.  And I came from Chicago to New York and met and
(laughs) made history.
  CHRIS DUNN:  (The parties became national parties eventually).  I flew to San
Francisco to meet some people, just to have a nice time.  They didn't have
anything to do with sex or any of this other stuff.  We were just enjoying each
other's company and talking to each other.  The thing about computers is,
they're just a tool.  People are doing the same thing with them that they've
done for ages...It's not the computer; it's the people running them.
  DONAHUE:  Pamela, you're a shy person.  You're not the kind to be found in a
singles bar.
  PAM DUNN:  Absolutely not, and I've found this is an incredible way to meet,
not just a potential spouse, but friends, people you have things in common
with, people that you don't have things in common with but ways to broaden your
horizons by encountering them.
  CHRIS DUNN:  And you don't have to be a technie type.  She's a zookeeper...
  DONAHUE:  And I assume you can tell a jerk on the screen maybe even easier
than you can ...
  PAM DUNN:  It takes practice.  You get suckered in a few times...(Laughter)
  DONAHUE:  Well, there's no guarantees when you meet them (away from the
computer systems.)...
  DONAHUE:  (Addressing a portion of the audience) Now am I to understand that
all you people refer to yourselves as 'users'?  You know, 'user' has become a
bad word in our culture, but we won't (laughs) suggest that you're doing
anything wrong...
  (While walking through the audience, Donahue talks with a woman who says she
used to call a number of bulletin boards, but after receiving big phone bills,
restricted her BBS-hopping to local New York boards.)
  DONAHUE:  But there are people who can use this equipment without paying the
phone company?
  SANDZA:  Sure.  That's one of the things they exchange on these illegal
bulletin boards.  Most of these people (in the audience) probably haven't been
on illegal bulletin boards and aren't interested in being on them.  But (the
bulletin board will) spread information on ...  how to beat the phone
company...  so you don't have to worry about those big phone bills...
  (Donahue returns the the CompuServe CB demonstration.  He notes that many
users of CB and other "real-time" conferences send messages such as "<waving>"
and "<hugs!>," noting this is "really a warm medium.")
  LOUV:  You know what?  One thing they've found about this, though, is that
you'd think that you'd be kind of cold and technical using this, with the
language?  The opposite is true.  There's a term, "flaming" (for) when people
use electronic mail (and) exaggerate everything.  You see exclamation points
across the screens.  Everything's exaggerated.  People lose their tempers.
Executives will swear on these things, when you'd never see them swear in the
board room...  So everything is hot on this medium.  It's not a cold medium.
  DONAHUE:  (looking at the CB demonstration.) Can you see this?  We've already
got a wise guy.  "Hi Phil.  I always liked Marlo Thomas better." (from a CB'er
with the handle of "MOM")
     (Laughter and applause)...
  LOUV:  You need to put this into the context, or culture we're in.  I've
described it as "America II." It's a culture in which many of us are drawn into
condos with high-security systems.  More and more things are done in the home.
We're more and more isolated.  But just when you think that (we've) created an
America II where everybody stays inside and (doesn't) touch or anything, this
kind of communications comes along.  That hot medium that I find very
fascinating.  We're finding new ways to communicate...
  SANDZA:  The flipside of this is the misuse of these bulletin boards that
pass out information about how to break the law, how to invade your privacy,
how to make bombs...These boards are completely anonymous.  I can say anything
I want about you.  You can say anything you want about me.  This information
moves around at the speed of light and if you wanted to spread my credit card
around the country, you could do it in a flash...
  LOUV:  This lady back here who said it's not the computer, it's how we use it
is exactly right.  It's part of the new American culture and we can't get
around it...
  (A woman in the audience comments to Donahue that the computer's seem like
"adult toys" to her).
  LOUV:  Phil, there's something very ominous that doesn't really have to do
with the privacy issue and that's the split between America I and America II.
The America of poor blacks and chicanos and people who have no access to this
stuff.  This stuff is rich kids' toys for the most part....
  (Another woman says her child saved up to buy his own computer.)
  LOUV:  Increasingly, it's available to those people...but even when it's
available, studies have shown, often times they haven't been prepared by their
education to use it...They use it by rote memory.  They don't use it in the
intutive kinds of ways that middle class are using them.
  DONAHUE:  It's another vehicle to widen what we have already been told by a
national commision is a gap between the two Americas.
  LOUV:  There's a study in Silicon Valley ...  of kid who uses computers.The
kids of the engineers and computer designers....40 percent of (them) had
computers.  Ten miles away, the kids of the parents who...  put those computers
together, 1 percent of those kids have computers...
  (A woman comments she feels "shut out" by not knowing about computers.)
  LOUV:  These are the people of America I -- not shut out of the world so much
as left before...  The people of America II are going to be talking
internationally...  There's a computer bulletin board in Japan (with which) you
can make a local call and talk to anyone in the world.  What about the people
of America I who are being left behind?
  (A woman spectator asks:  are these people spending too much time with
  DONAHUE:  Good question.
  SANDZA:  Perhaps they are.  But we ask ourselves what's going to happen in
the '80s, as we move from an industrial society to a service society when
computers will do the high tech jobs of the future.  These kids...are the ones
who are going to be ready for those jobs.
  (Donahue talks with a man in the audience who says he operates a local
computer bulletin board and is proud of the fact that its a "clear board." The
man notes that his board deals primarily with sharing computer information.)
  DONAHUE (to the audience):  You know you can get electronic grafitti.  It's
another opportunity to display your idiocy, so how are you going to police
that?  Who's going to take it off?  And if somebody's libeled...
  (Woman asks if it should be illegal to have x-rated bulletin boards.)
  SANDZA:  How are you going to enforce that law?  The only way you can enforce
that law is to have the people who are the guardians of these young
  (Woman says there's room for both America I and America II, that she hopes
some people are still "writing poetry and kids going out sailing.")
  LOUV:  One of the things I discuss in the book is that....America II doesn't
have to end up where it looks like it's heading.  Look -- how many of your
communities have spent money on parks lately?...This (computing) is the new
recreation, the new outdoors and we've got to start looking at these things
if...we really want to balance society...
  UNIDENTIFIED SPECTATOR:  Are we saying that even though there are a lot of
people doing things that are illegal, there's no way to police it so it's all
  SANDZA:  It's virtually impossible to police it...the law's beginning to
emerge.  The federal goverment passed a law last year making it illegal to
trespass in a computer, but it applies only to government computers.  The
section (dealing with) private computers was deleted as it went through
  DONAHUE:  It's a nightmare when you think about it.  Can they access an
(aviation computer)?  Can they send your plane to the wrong city?  Can they
send your plane to the wrong runway?
 (Sandza notes that crackers were "into the computer" that kept time on the
Olympic races.)
  (Donahue looks at the computer screen again.  It's now displaying The
Source's PARTICIPATE this time with an electronic conference on "Single
  LOUV:  The point isn't the law...the law has to be changed, obviously.  But
that isn't the point.  The point is what kind of alternatives do we provide for
kids?  This is not a negative technology.  It's neutral.  Kids have to have an
alternative.  We have to start looking at our cities and countryside and our
small towns and figure out how to make them more humane for children.
  (Man in the audience said he'd like to hear more about Chris and Pam Dunn.)
  DONAHUE:  I would too...  And they're still married even though the show's
almost over.  (Laughter) How long did you use communication through the
computers before you actually met?
  PAM DUNN:  About six months before we actually met.
  CHRIS DUNN:  We got together a few times back and forth.  She was throwing a
party and I went to it.  The rest was just plain old love.  It happened that
  DONAHUE:  Where was the first time you met?
  PAM DUNN:  Chicago.
  DONAHUE:  He came to see you.
  PAM DUNN Yes, still old-fashioned...
  DONAHUE:  Did you take him to see the Cubs or the Sox?
  PAM DUNN:  I took him to see the zoo.  (Applause and laughter.)
  (Woman says she wants to have nothing to do with computers asks if she'll
have no choice in 20 years.)
  SANDZA:  The technology is heading toward making it much easier for people
who know nothing about computers to use them.
  (Woman asks Sandza what about what the punishment was in his "teletrial" --
"did they flip the switch or what?")
  SANDZA:  No.  I made a deal with a friend who's a hacker who crashed the
system...  he essentially blew up the courthouse.  (Laughter.)
  (Man in the audience says that something to consider is that "if information
is currency, then who's minding the bank.")
     DONAHUE: And what are the censorship rules? Who decides?X-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-X

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