TUCoPS :: Cyber Law :: jolnet.txt

Usenet story - more fed confiscation

From Wetware Diversions:
Item 17 by Eric P. Scott (epsilon), on Sat, Mar 10, 1990 (19:45)
Is Wetware Diversions next in line at the executioner's chopping block?

 Jolnet was a public access UNIX system (not unlike Wetware
 Diversions) that was seized as evidence by federal authorities
 investigating its use for illegal activities by a group calling
 itself the Legion of Doom.  Several other similar systems have
 also been shut down, including attctc, which wet once had a uucp
 connection to under its former name _killer_.  My understanding
 is that in none of these cases were the owners/operators aware of
 what their users were doing.  These are people of integrity, and
 in their interest to protect the privacy and individual rights of
 their user community, found themselves at odds with a government
 that didn't appreciate this.
 Wet has been an "open" system for as long as I've been associated
 with it; while the ability of anyone to run "newuser" and receive
 instant access does much for accessibility, it also means that we
 are vulnerable to the same kind of abuse.  Wet represents a
 substantial investment in many people's time (and one person in
 particular's money).  When a large number of our users are
 schooled on the streets [i.e. BBSes], their ethics and morals may
 not be in line with our best interests.  There is no practical
 way given the size of the user community that we could even
 consider monitoring users' _private_ activities on this system,
 nor would I want any part in such an intrusion.
 Faced with this situation, there aren't many attractive choices:
 continue as we are, and risk losing everything, or impose
 restrictions that could severely impair our efforts to reduce the
 financial burden Wetware Diversions creates.  Unlike the big-time
 (and big-cost) commercial timesharing services, we do not have
 the resources to pay lawyers to argue for years.
 The following appeared in TELECOM Digest; an electronic publication
 available through the usenet newsgroup comp.dcom.telecom.

TELECOM Digest     Sat, 24 Feb 90 11:00:00 CST    Special: Wither Jolnet?
 Today's Topics:                             Moderator: Patrick Townson
     Fate of Jolnet (David Svoboda)
     What Happened To Jolnet? (David Tamkin)
     Ramifications of Jolnet's Trouble (Bill Kuykendall via David Tamkin)
     [ Two segments deleted as they are not germane to this item --EPS]
 Date: Fri, 23 Feb 90 10:04:49 CST
 From: David Svoboda <motcid!violet!svoboda@uunet.uu.net>
 Subject: Fate of Jolnet
 Reply-To: motcid!svoboda@uunet.uu.net
 Moderator said, at sometime or other:
    >[Moderator's Note: ...  No further discussion here, please.
    >I have no desire to see eecs.nwu.edu wind up like the late Jolnet,
    >which it is doubtful will be back on line anytime soon.  PT]
 What exactly happened to Jolnet?  I have not been able to read any
 netnews for a while, so I may have missed it.
 Dave Svoboda, Motorola CID, RTSG, 1510 W Shure Dr., Arlington Heights, IL
 uucp =>     {uunet|mcdchd|gatech|att}!motcid!svoboda                60004
 internet => motcid!svoboda@chg.mcd.mot.com
        Don't listen to me, I'm just a puppet of individuality.
 [Moderator's Note: What happened was the feds cracked down on Jolnet when
 they discovered cracker/phreak messages in the files there. They shut him
 down and seized all the equipment; quite rudely, I might add, based on
 David Tamkin's report which follows. David was on line at Jolnet when
 the feds raided the Andrews' home and pulled the plug.   PT]
 From: David Tamkin <point!dattier@gargoyle.uchicago.edu>
 Subject: What Happened To Jolnet?
 Date: Thu, 22 Feb 90 10:44:45 CST

 Gordon Meyer wrote in TELECOM Digest, Volume 10, Issue 118:
 | Could someone post a summary of what "troubles" Jolnet has seen
 | because of this LoD/e991 flap?  Was it closed down, and by what agency
 | and under what charges?  From my understanding it merely acted as a
 | conduit of the information and closing it down would be akin to
 | shutting down CompuServe if somone sent a copy of WordPerfect to my
 | mail box.
 That is what the rest of us understand as well: that Rich Andrews (the
 system administrator of Jolnet) has not been charged, but that his
 equipment has been seized as evidence.  Jolnet served as a news and
 mail feed for several downstream sites, including a junior college, so
 those have had to do without links to the rest of the net or had to
 find new feeds.
 I was logged into Jolnet on the afternoon of February 3, reading
 netnews with rn.  The article selection prompt began to show "(Mail)"
 but I kept reading news, figuring that I'd check mail when I was done.
 I was starting to display a new article, and after its header I
 pressed the space bar to see the first page.  Before any text of the
 article came through there was a system message that the box was
 coming down in two minutes and that we should log off immediately to
 prevent corruption of files; that was followed by the first page of
 the netnews article, the pager prompt, and NO CARRIER.  So I have
 unread mail there as well as some personally important files; I'll
 probably never see either.
 Jolnet has a Lockport mailing address but an Orland Park telephone
 number, so it probably is in Homer Township of Will County.  I have
 been under the impression that its location is the Andrews' home.
 Rich pretty much ran it alone, with some assistance from two of his
 sons.  I'd been a user there since January 29, 1989, and I had met
 Rich once, that being June 10, 1989, at the home of another local
 public site administrator.
 Rich was always a person who stayed out of controversies; he got along
 just fine with people who were at each other's throats.  Other site
 administrators I have known love to jump into the fray or to forment
 the trouble in the first place, so it's rather sadly ironic that it
 was a nice, easygoing fellow like Rich who got burned.  It's hard to
 say that it was his very lack of interference that got him in trouble,
 since all the illegally disseminated information appears to have been
 spread via email.
 Jolnet's login lines have gone unanswered since February 3, 1990.
 There is a contact phone number in its map entry, but I have not tried
 it yet.  It looks like a business number in form, and I have the
 feeling that it, too, would ring without answer now.  The Andrews'
 home telephone number is unlisted, and I don't know it.  It's probably
 the only line still operating at Jolnet's location.
 On Sunday, February 4, there started to be news about the 911 break-in
 with references to "a Lockport, Illinois, bulletin board system."
 When Jolnet had been down for several days I started to wonder whether
 there was a connection, since after all, Jolnet's mailing address was
 in Lockport.  By that Thursday there was talk about it on Chinet (a
 public site on the Northwest Side of Chicago), stating that Jolnet had
 been closed by federal agents because of its involvement.
 Jolnet was an AKCSNet site, but only a handful of AKCS posts came from
 there, mostly from three or four of us.  Few people posted to Usenet
  from there either, at least as far as I could see in the groups I
 read.  (In fact, except for control messages from Rich, test messages,
 and chi.forsale and chi.wanted [Chicago area groups], I cannot
 remember the last time I saw a Usenet article from Jolnet that I
 didn't write.)
 A large part of its usage came from silent readers, from uucp
 connections, from people who were writing, compiling, and testing
 code, and from people playing games like nethack and yahtzee on line.
 I had the impression that a significant group of the gaming crowd were
 friends of the Andrews' boys, but I never really knew.  Others PCP'ed
 to Jolnet (it was dialable from ILCHI) from across the country and
 there were a few accounts with addresses in other countries.  In
 total, there were 5% of the users of whom I could say that I knew what
 they used Jolnet for.  If someone had asked me whether kracking and
 phreaking information was being exchanged there, I'd have said, "Not
 that I know; maybe in email but certainly not in public postings."
 Now I'd have to change that to "So I heard after it shut down but not
 that I ever saw while it was still running."
 Jolnet was my net.home; I'm now reading TELECOM Digest on Point and
 netnews on Gagme.  I've decided to write to Rich Andrews on paper and
 ask what is going on with his family and his legal situation, but I
 cannot guarantee when or whether he will respond.
 Bill Kuykendall (pronounced "Kirk'ndall"), administrator of The Point
 (point.UUCP, from which I am submitting this), put up a system news
 item about how Jolnet's problems will affect The Point.  He's given me
 permission to send it to the Digest, but this submission is already
 getting very long, so I am sending it under separate cover.
 David W. Tamkin    dattier@point.UUCP   ...{ddsw1,obdient!vpnet}!point!dattier
 BIX: dattier  GEnie: D.W.TAMKIN  CIS: 73720,1570 (708) 518-6769 (312) 693-0591
 P. O. Box 813  Rosemont, Illinois  60018-0813   Other point users may disagree. 
 From: David Tamkin <point!dattier@gargoyle.uchicago.edu>
 Subject: Ramifications of Jolnet's Trouble
 Date: Thu, 22 Feb 90 11:11:07 CST
 Reply-To: point!wek@ddsw1.uucp
 The Point is a public access AKCS and UNIX site in Chicago, Illinois.
 On Wednesday, February 21, 1990, its administrator, Bill Kuykendall,
 posted the following as a system news item in the wake of the seizure
 of jolnet.  With his permission I am submitting it to TELECOM Digest.
 Mr. Kuykendall requests copies of any responses.  He is reachable at
 wek@point.UUCP or ddsw1!point!wek.
     ----------------- text of announcement follows ---------------------
                       New Restrictions at The Point
 By now you may already be aware that 'Jolnet', one of The Point's
 sister systems on Usenet, has been seized as evidence in a prosecution
 of one or more users of the system.  As far as I know, no allegations
 of wrongdoing have been made against Rich Andrews, Jolnet's owner, at
 this time.  Nevertheless, Rich is without his computer until the
 authorities see fit to give it back to him.
 They may of course, opt to press some charge against him as an
 accomplice to the crimes of the guy they're really after.  There is no
 guarantee that Rich's life will return to normal any time in the near
 future.  We all wish him the best, believing that he's done nothing
 wrong -- except perhaps in being too generous with his personal
 computing resources, and trusting that appreciative users would use
 his system for the purposes he offered it for.
 Today, there is no law or precedent which affords me, as owner and
 system administrator of The Point, the same legal rights that other
 common carriers have against prosecution should some other party (you)
 use my property (The Point) for illegal activities.  That worries me.
 By comparison, AT&T cannot be held liable should someone use their
 phone lines to transmit military secrets to an enemy.  Likewise, Acme
 Trucking is not vulnerable to drug trafficking charges should they
 pull a sealed trailer of cocaine to some destination unknowingly.  Yet
 somehow, I am presumed to be cognizant of the contents of every public
 message, mailed message, and file upload that passes through this
 public access system.  On a system this size, that may be nearly a
 gigabyte (1+ Billion characters!) of information a year.
 I fully intend to explore the legal questions raised here.  In my
 opinion, the rights to free assembly and free speech would be
 threatened if the owners of public meeting places were charged with
 the responsibility of policing all conversations held in the hallways
 and lavatories of their facilities for references to illegal
 Under such laws, all privately owned meeting places would be forced
 out of existence, and the right to meet and speak freely would vanish
 with them.  The common sense of this reasoning has not yet been
 applied to electronic meeting places by the legislature.  This issue
 must be forced, or electronic bulletin boards will cease to exist.
 In the meantime, I intend to continue to operate The Point, with as
 little risk to myself as possible.  Therefore, I am implementing a few
 new policies:
   o No user will be allowed to post any message, public or private, until
     his name and address has been adequately verified.  Most users in the
     metropolitan Chicago area have already been validated through the
     telephone number directory service provided by Illinois Bell.  Those of
     you who received validation notices stating that your information had
     not been checked due to a lack of time on my part will now have to
     wait until I get time before being allowed to post.
     Out of state addresses cannot be validated in the manner above.  I am
     considering a U.S. Mail registration scheme, but I am skeptical about
     the amount of additional work involved, and the potential ways to beat
     the system.  The short term solution for users outside of the Chicago
     area is to find a system closer to home than The Point.
   o Some of the planned enhancements to The Point are simply not going to
     happen until the legal issues are resolved.  There will be no shell
     access and no file upload/download facility for now.
 The philosophy behind these changes is simple.  I cannot (and would
 not want to) censor the content of all users' messages on The Point.
 I can encourage self-censorship, and introduce another level of
 accountability by removing the anonymity of the author.  Shell access
 and file transfer would afford other opportunities for abuse of the
 system, and I would prefer to put any time that might be spent
 policing users' directories toward obtaining common carrier status for
 The Point, and other systems like it.
 My apologies to all who feel inconvenienced by these policies, but
 under the circumstances, I think your complaints would be most
 effective if made to your state and federal legislators.  Please do
 so!  Thanks.
                                        Bill Kuykendall
             --------------  end of text  --------------------
 Submitted to Telecom Digest by
 David W. Tamkin    dattier@point.UUCP   ...{ddsw1,obdient!vpnet}!point!dattier
 BIX: dattier  GEnie: D.W.TAMKIN  CIS: 73720,1570 (708) 518-6769 (312) 693-0591
 P. O. Box 813  Rosemont, Illinois  60018-0813   All other point users disagree. 
 [I've omitted the remainder of the issue, but you get the idea.  --EPS]
 End of TELECOM Digest Special: Wither Jolnet?

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