Computer underground Digest Sun Mar 2, 2020 Volume 9 : Issue 14 ISSN 1004-042X Editor: Jim Thomas (cudigest@sun.soci.niu.edu) News Editor: Gordon Meyer (gmeyer@sun.soci.niu.edu) Archivist: Brendan Kehoe Shadow Master: Stanton McCandlish Shadow-Archivists: Dan Carosone / Paul Southworth Field Agent Extraordinaire: David Smith Ralph Sims / Jyrki Kuoppala Ian Dickinson Cu Digest Homepage: http://www.soci.niu.edu/~cudigest CONTENTS, #9.14 (Sun, Mar 2, 2020) File 1--CyberAngels - more info from Colin ("Gabriel") Hatcher File 2--CYBERANGELS FACE PROJECT File 3--Netpics Interviewed after FW Arrests - Tx Telecom Jrnl (fwd) File 4--Cu Digest Header Info (unchanged since 13 Dec, 1996) CuD ADMINISTRATIVE, EDITORIAL, AND SUBSCRIPTION INFORMATION APPEARS IN THE CONCLUDING FILE AT THE END OF EACH ISSUE. --------------------------------------------------------------------- Date: Thu, 27 Feb 2020 13:23:27 -0500 From: Udhay Shankar N Subject: File 1--CyberAngels - more info from Colin ("Gabriel") Hatcher Editors : Following is the text of correspondence between myself and Gabriel Hatcher of FACES. Udhay To: gabriel@cyberangels.org From: Udhay Shankar N Subject--File 1 of Cu Digest, #9.09, Sun 16 Jan 97 Dear Mr. Hatcher, Please refer the abovementioned Cu Digest. I agree with the views expressed by David Smith in that post and I think your picture database will further traumatise the victims of child pornography. Maybe if you make it available through some kind of auth. process ? USN = Date--Tue, 25 Feb 2020 13:09:03 -0800 To: Udhay Shankar N From--"CyberAngels Director : Colin Gabriel Hatcher" Subject--Re: File 1 of Cu Digest, #9.09, Sun 16 Jan 97 >Dear Mr. Hatcher, > >Please refer the abovementioned Cu Digest. I agree with the views expressed >by David Smith in that post and I think your picture database will further >traumatise the victims of child pornography. Maybe if you make it available >through some kind of auth. process ? > Dear USN Thankyou for your views. I do not however agree with you. Our FACE project has been carefully researched for the past 6 months and we are proceeding slowly and with high regard for the victims. I find it strange that you believe that a child who is being raped for the pleasure of adults would prefer the rape to continue rather than be "embarrassed" by having themselves identified and rescued. Our project is all about rescuing the victims of crime, and I believe we are giving due regard to their concerns. Since the choice may be between being publicly identified and rescued, or the abuse continuing, I believe identification and rescue is the better option. In some cases it may even be true that a child would prefer the torture to continue rather than have their father get into trouble - but in cases like these I would suggest that there is a compelling interest greater than the child's wish - the need to stop the crime continuing and bring a pedophile to justice. The average pedophile sexually abuses 80 separate victims before being arrested. It is important to identify them and stop them before many more children are hurt. A child victim's face may lead Police to an abuser - either an abductor or indeed a family who are abusing their own child. This project is being developed in consultation with other expert organizations in the area of child abuse, with Federal Law Enforcement authorities and with our own experts in child psychology. Our research and development continues. Be advised that we are extremely thoughtful about what we are doing. We have no plans to break any laws, and this project proceeds at all times with expert legal advice. regards Gabriel ********************************************************************* Colin Gabriel Hatcher CYBERANGELS Internet Safety Organization gabriel@cyberangels.org http://www.cyberangels.org Information about PGP, and our PGP public Key is available from our WWW site. "All that is required for the triumph of evil is that good people remain silent and do nothing" (after Edmund Burke) CYBERANGELS (TM) is a Division of the Guardian Angels International Alliance, which is a 501c3 non-profit organization. 501(c)(3) #11-2592739. ********************************************************************* To: "CyberAngels Director : Colin Gabriel Hatcher" From--Udhay Shankar N Subject--Re: File 1 of Cu Digest, #9.09, Sun 16 Jan 97 At 01:09 PM 2/25/97 -0800, you wrote: >Thankyou for your views. I do not however agree with you. Our FACE >project has been carefully researched for the past 6 months and we are >proceeding slowly and with high regard for the victims. I find it strange >that you believe that a child who is being raped for the pleasure of adults >would prefer the rape to continue rather than be "embarrassed" by having >themselves identified and rescued. Are you following the debate this has initiated on the Cu Digest mailing list ? There are, I believe, some important concerns / objections to your project which have been enunciated there, such as the various possibilities for abuse of such a system. What are the safeguards you are building into the process ? The question is academic to me (living as I do in India) but it could be vital for the others who have voiced their feelings. I do not think anybody is against your stated objective, but there seem to be plenty of grey areas here. Some idea of what your failsafes are would be helpful. Regards, Udhay PS: I would like your permission to forward this discussion to the CuD mailing list and my own BBS if appropriate. PPS: Just curious - what exactly did you mean by the quote marks surrounding the word "embarrassed" in your post, reproduced above ? Either you meant to imply that it was lifted from my email to you, or you were being satirical. Both are, I would think, inappropriate here. = Date--Wed, 26 Feb 2020 10:30:48 -0800 To: Udhay Shankar N From--"CyberAngels Director : Colin Gabriel Hatcher" Subject--Re: File 1 of Cu Digest, #9.09, Sun 16 Jan 97 Udhay Shankar N wrote: >Are you following the debate this has initiated on the Cu Digest mailing >list ? There are, I believe, some important concerns / objections to your >project which have been enunciated there, such as the various possibilities >for abuse of such a system. What are the safeguards you are building into >the process ? The question is academic to me (living as I do in India) but >it could be vital for the others who have voiced their feelings. I do not >think anybody is against your stated objective, but there seem to be plenty >of grey areas here. Some idea of what your failsafes are would be helpful. The concerns voiced about the FACE project are concerns that >PS: I would like your permission to forward this discussion to the CuD >mailing list and my own BBS if appropriate. Thankyou for asking - most people do not. I have no problem with you posting this discussion to CUD. >PPS: Just curious - what exactly did you mean by the quote marks surrounding >the word "embarrassed" in your post, reproduced above ? Either you meant to >imply that it was lifted from my email to you, or you were being satirical. >Both are, I would think, inappropriate here. The use of quotation marks was neither a quote nor satirical, just a figure of speech. It refers to the fact that some people would use the term "embarrassed" to describe the experience, but I would not. regards Gabriel ********************************************************************* Colin Gabriel Hatcher CYBERANGELS Internet Safety Organization gabriel@cyberangels.org http://www.cyberangels.org Information about PGP, and our PGP public Key is available from our WWW site. "All that is required for the triumph of evil is that good people remain silent and do nothing" (after Edmund Burke) CYBERANGELS (TM) is a Division of the Guardian Angels International Alliance, which is a 501c3 non-profit organization. 501(c)(3) #11-2592739. ------------------------------ Date: Wed, 26 Feb 2020 13:47:51 -0800 From: "CyberAngels Director : Colin Gabriel Hatcher" Subject: File 2--CYBERANGELS FACE PROJECT -----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE----- CYBERANGELS FACE PROJECT The concerns voiced about the CyberAngels FACE project are valid concerns and deserve an answer. The insulting tone of some of the posts to date however is sad to see. Disagreement is often expressed in CuD by abusing and demonizing the opponent. In other words the critic cannot conceive that another person could be intelligent and yet disagree with them. Thus our project is dismissed as "dim-witted" or ill thought out, when what the writer perhaps means is that they disagree with it. I disagree with a number of the contributors to CuD but I would not claim for a moment that they were stupid people based on the fact that I didn't agree with their opinion. I consider it a weakness to be so quick to judge and condemn when in fact the details of the project are not even known by those criticising it. The main areas of concern about our FACE project appear to be: A) CONCERN FOR THE CHILDREN WHO WILL BE "VICTIMIZED" BY THE PROJECT Some critics have written that we are contributing to "double-victimization", while one from England wrote that we were lucky we didn't live in the UK as we would go to jail there for such a project. In other words this criticism equates us with the original abusers of the children, and suggests that while we may well be well meaning "do-gooders" we are in fact hurting the children and exploiting them for our own ends. The term "do-gooders" is invariably used as a term of abuse as you can see from the post in CuD - a "do-gooder" is by definition ignorant and unskilled in the area they work. It is my belief that a child who is being raped by adults for their pleasure would like the torture to stop. It is the FACE project's intent to assist in stopping the abuse. Our FACE project has been carefully researched for the past 6 months and we are proceeding slowly and with high regard for the victims. I find it strange that people believe that a child who is being sexually abused would prefer the rape to continue rather than face the "embarrassment" of having themselves identified and rescued. It is certainly true that some children who are being raped by their fathers are worried about getting him into trouble, and it is certainly true that many children being abused inside families do not inform teachers either because of shame and humiliation or in some cases because they are threatened with terrible consequences if they ever tell. Nevertheless it is in the best interests of all victims of child abuse, and for our society as a whole, that child predators are stopped, and part of stopping child abuse is by identifying child abuse victims. The average pedophile predator abuses 80 children before they are finally brought to justice. This being the case, it is in our interests to act fast when we discover them. Identifying the victim of child abuse gives Law Enforcement in many cases a direct lead to abusers. B) CONCERN THAT CYBERANGELS FACE UNIT DOES NOT UNDERSTAND THE TECHNOLOGY OF CHILD PORNOGRAPHY It has been said that CyberAngels does not understand that child pornography can be forged, and that any child's face can be pasted onto any pornographic scene etc... Exactly what evidence does the critic have of our lack of understanding in these matters? I would suggest no evidence at all, for certainly none is offered. In fact we are perfectly well aware that modern computer programs are very capable of such things. I own and use Photoshop myself and am fully versed in what it can do with photographs. The laws on child pornography are very clear here in the USA: ================================================== "Child pornography" is defined as speech that: 1) visually depicts 2) sexual conduct - which might include sex, masturbation, and "lewd exhibition of genitals" -- 3) by actual children under the age of 18, It is constitutionally UNPROTECTED. You can go to jail for distributing it *or* for possessing it. The rationale behind this exception is that child pornography necessarily involves the use of children in sexual contexts; and that to suppress such use, the law can ban distribution and possession of child pornography as well as its production. The category is therefore limited to *actual* depictions of children; it almost certainly excludes, say, paintings (or computer-generated images) of fictional children, or verbal descriptions of sexual conduct involving children. [From "Cyberspace Law for Non-Lawyers" by Larry Lessig, David Post, Eugene Volokh http://www.ssrn.com/cyberlaw ] ================================================== So what are our criteria for selecting images from which to crop? FACE members must make decisions about the following: 1) The original photo should have been taken in the last few years. a) Consider hair styles and clothing: are they something you would see people wearing today? b) Does the photo have a yellow or brown tint to it, If so it may be too old. c) Consider decor in the room like pictures, beds, wallpaper. Could you buy something like that today? If not the photo may be too old. 2.The child must appear to be under 15 years old. a) Consider the hands and eyes of the victim. b) Try to determine if the photo has been changed in any way to make it look like child porn. (If your viewer can magnify the size of the image, you may be able to determine if there have or have not been any alterations.) The most obvious retouch methods used when fabricating child pornography is the masking of pubic hair, the reduction of breast size in the case of women, and the placing of a child's head on top of a adults's body. In the case of highly skilled graphic designers the changed image will appear "seamless". In the case of a seamless image, CyberAngels are advised to treat it as a piece of genuine child pornography. 3) If the child is just standing, sitting, or laying we can NOT use it unless it meets one of the below requirements: a) The child is being sexually abused by someone else in the photo. b) The child is doing something sexual (eg. masturbation, pulling her dress up to expose him or herself, or posing in an overtly sexual nature). One thing to be very careful of, is to try and determine if the image comes from a nudist camp. If it does, and it is just child nudity rather than sexual abuse, then we CANNOT use the image as these are legal images. What the images are used for by pedophiles is sickening and sad, but the images in and of themselves are legal under US law. 4) The image CANNOT be used if the child's face is showing pain or distress or if the child is peforming oral sex and therefore the face cannot be cropped. If FACE searcher can find one unuseable image of a child involved in oral sex and another simple nude picture of the same child that would normally not be useable as it is legal, then we can couple the two images and use the nudist face, as we have evidence that sexual abuse occurred. Images to be included in the FACE database must be approved by 5 separate people. For an image to be included all 5 persons of the selection committee must agree unanimously. The logic of our critic appears to be that since child pornography can be spoofed it is therefore not possible to ever decide whether something is child pornography or not. Presumably the same critic would then favor the abolition of the laws against child pornography on the same grounds? In fact what we are doing is searching for "probable cause" for deeper investigation by Law Enforcement. It is not for CyberAngels to make a judicial ruling about whether something is an illegal image or not. That decision is made by a court, and in some cases by a jury, following expert witnesses and examination of the images by experts in the field (compare for example OJ Simpson's Magli shoes, where a jury had to decide whether the image was genuine after hearing expert testimony). CyberAngels FACE Unit is selecting possible examples of child abuse, asking for public assistance in identifying the faces used in the images and presenting the evidence to Law Enforcement. And what if the face used in the child pornography belongs to a child who has _never_ been abused? Wouldn't the parents wish to know that someone was using their child's face to create such an image for the sexual gratification of pedophiles worldwide? I certainly would like to know that if one of my kids was being exploited in such a way. C) CONCERN THAT WE ARE BREAKING THE LAW BY GATHERING EVIDENCE Our critics continue to paint us as ignorant newbies who know nothing about law, law enforcement, obscenity, pornography, child pornography, child abuse, psychology or internet technology. Notice that the accusation is always that we are "dim-witted" and rarely stops at "I disagree". In fact CyberAngels core membership are experts in a wide range of the above mentioned fields. I am a post graduate researcher and lecturer (History, International Relations) with 17 years teaching experience, including work at the University of London, England, and am also an expert in security (20 years). Other members of CyberAngels core team are professional Law Enforcement members, child psychologists and mental health counsellors, internet system administrators, network managers, usenet admins, webmasters and technicians, numerous lawyers from both criminal and civil fields, and numerous representatives of child abuse/support organizations. Our FACE project is being developed in consultation with as much expertise as we can find. We are following guidelines for gathering evidence given to us after discussion with the FBI "Innocent Images" project running out of Baltimore. Our Usenet Director discussed how we could help the FBI in their investigations with agent Doris Heppler who is one of those in charge of the project. The advice we received from the FBI is the advice we follow: 1) Images are downloaded to floppy disks for viewing purposes. 2) If the image is suspected to be illegal, the headers are recorded. 3) The floppy disk is reformatted to erase all trace of the suspected illegal image. 4) The headers are passed up the chain of command to the next level for verification. 5) No suspected illegal images are EVER stored on computer, nor sent by email or snail mail. 6) Following verification either i) The headers are passed on to FBI agents. or ii) The encoded binary is downloaded to floppy disk (not decoded) and the disk is then carried physically to the local FBI office. 7) All members involved in such activity should make contact with local or regional FBI offices and ask for assistance and guidance. All FACE project members are advised to make direct contact and meet with both their local FBI agents AND with their ISP admins to discuss their involvement in this project. It is not the case that CyberAngels are operating alone and in secret and could therefore be confused with pedophiles. The same is true in other countries - members are advised to contact their local or federal law enforcement and ask for guidelines as to how they can assist in the gathering of evidence and the stopping of the online trade in child pornography and the real life activities of pedophiles and child predators. D) CONCERN THAT PEDOPHILES WILL JOIN CYBERANGELS AS A COVER FOR GETTING THEIR HANDS ON CHILD PORNOGRAPHY Some critics are concerned that pedophiles will join CyberAngels as a cover for getting their hands on child pornography and being immune from prosecution. What evidence do these critics have of this? I have never seen any. Why would a pedophile join CyberAngels in order to look at child pornography? In case anyone didn't know the binaries newsgroups are full of such illegal images that can be downloaded and viewed in minutes. Pedophiles can also use the Fserves from the IRC nets and gain access to thousands of child pornography images in that way. Providing no images are ever stored to the Hard Drive, no pedophile can ever be convicted of possession of child pornography, as there will be no evidence. The only times pedophiles are convicted of possession of child pornography is when either a) Their computers are seized and found to contain large archives of child pornography, or b) They send illegal images by email to someone else. In other words it is completely unnecessary for a pedophile to join CyberAngels in order to view child pornography with impunity. This is probably why we do not have members who are pedophiles. How many pedophiles do you know who would be happy to register their names and addresses with the FBI and risk background investigations, when they can obtain child pornography freely and safely without needing to do that? Any CyberAngel member who stores illegal images on a Hard drive is as guilty as anyone else of possession of child pornography. Storing of images is not permitted by law except for by Law Enforcement or their agents, and, while we seek ultimately to act as official agents for the FBI we are at present involved only at an informal level with them as private citizens. What this means is that all CyberAngels members are bound by the same laws as anyone else. Abuse it, you lose it. Well, no doubt there will be more questions, but I hope I have answered some of CuD reader's concerns. I would certainly appreciate it if critics confined themselves to stating their disagreements and reasons, rather than abusing me personally or insulting my intelligence or expertise. There is nothing "dim-witted" about what we are doing - in fact it is very carefully planned and thought out. And by the way, if anyone is wondering why they cannot find our FACE database yet, it is because 6 months after the project began we are still researching and studying the legal, practical and moral aspects. It seems to me that it is our critics who are running around half-cocked, not CyberAngels. -----BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE----- Version: 2.6 iQCVAwUBMxSvUrrnmi5CcKeBAQE3iwQAh3fHaDJm6U/GZIGkl29VSBkeTfyhKuLS 71uAIgmq4QaweKuuqQU2yUstCA8gldUwUGN3MVDwH15jTe9EG2s+nMJ/fxu3UIJ2 JoBqezt5MFS1rcXhakKyRGDLCIxYhDK4poED+PuJDBYxEA18gTep2RChWXG6W1dC PnyRoTU1iDw= =iaEf -----END PGP SIGNATURE----- ********************************************************************* Colin Gabriel Hatcher CYBERANGELS Internet Safety Organization gabriel@cyberangels.org http://www.cyberangels.org Information about PGP, and our PGP public Key is available from our WWW site. "All that is required for the triumph of evil is that good people remain silent and do nothing" (after Edmund Burke) CYBERANGELS (TM) is a Division of the Guardian Angels International Alliance, which is a 501c3 non-profit organization. ------------------------------ Date: Fri, 28 Feb 2020 22:45:37 -0600 (CST) From: David Smith Subject: File 3--Netpics Interviewed after FW Arrests - Tx Telecom Jrnl (fwd) Date--Fri, 28 Feb 2020 16:55:05 -0600 (CST) From--Gene Crick TTJ is a digest of news/analysis for telecommunications professionals Re-posting is allowed where appropriate, if full attribution included ALL COPYRIGHTS (1995-97) RETAINED BY TEXAS TELECOMMUNICATIONS JOURNAL =+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+= Texas Telecommunications Journal volume 2, number 10 For the First Time: Netpics Responds to Charges EXCLUSIVE TTJ INTERVIEW OFFERS NEW VIEWS IN CONTROVERSIAL WEB ARRESTS In a case that promises to set Constitutional precedent for the Internet, Fort Worth vice officers recently arrested owners of "Netpics" website on charges of possessing child pornography and promoting obscene material via the Internet. Fort Worth PD, assisted by Dallas officers, confiscated 17 computers and data in Azle and Dallas, bringing charges against 3 people. Since the arrest, media have reported police charges that Netpics offered subscribers sexually-oriented graphics images, including illegal obscenity and child pornography. The people at Netpics have declined any public comment during this storm. Now however they have decided to speak, offering their response to charges. This special issue of the Texas Telecommunications Journal is dedicated to an exclusive copyrighted interview with spokesmen for WebbWorld, including its president, Ben Ives, supported by chief attorneys, led by Larry Brown. (WebbWorld Corporation owns and operated the Netpics web site presence.) TTJ Editor Gene Crick explores the defendants' side of the story. And what Netpics has to say presents a different picture from what we have been told by others. At least one thing is certain: these Texas website arrests may well prove to be the Internet's first clear case of pornography prosecution for content on a Usenet server. That legal concept has vast implications. [Information from this TTJ interview is also being published online in the New York Times CyberTimes section: www.nytimes.com ] --------------------------------------------------------------------------- NOW, NETPICS REPLIES... an Exclusive Interview with TTJ editor Gene Crick GC: You have been arrested by Fort Worth police as owners of WebbWorld, the corporation that operated Netpics. The Netpics business was described very critically in one national publication as being "a subscription-based service that allowed users to download pornographic pictures of children." And one of the country's leading publications describes you as "trolling" the Internet, collecting sexual images which you then resold to clients who paid $11.95 a month to view and download graphic files on your website. Are these statements correct? Did you knowingly maintain and distribute child pornography on the Netpics site? NP: Absolutely not. We offered only the same Usenet lists and contents available on thousands of Internet servers around the world. And while we featured adult-oriented newsgroups, we took exhaustive measures to eliminate any content we felt might even resemble child pornography. GC: Police say they downloaded five images of underage girls from Netpics. Do you now believe there was child pornography available on Netpics' site? NP: If there was, it was despite our best efforts. During the 8 months vice police say they were investigating us, approximately 1,400,000 files passed through our servers. We believe the few objectionable images they found prove Netpics was successful in eliminating these kinds of images. GC: Didn't you promote and advertise the Netpics web site as having "adult images?" How about Child pornography? NP: Netpics was designed for adult access to the Internet, that's the market we went into this business to serve. But we offered no child pornography and in fact posted clear notice that we would not provide nor permit those images on Netpics. GC: Are there other businesses like this currently operating? NP: Yes, several. Ironically, it seems likely that another adult site operator, from California, may have been the source of this complaint. He had threatened to create problems for us with the authorities. GC: So could a competitor have been behind images police found on Netpics? NP: Interesting question. We hope police will use file header details to track down the people actually responsible for putting this on the web. GC: Did you take any actions to prevent or remove any child pornography on your website? NP: Extensively. We continually worked to identify newsgroups likely to carry those images. Not only did we block those notorious groups, but we kept continual track of filenames posted on them. We then filtered all our groups for those files, to thwart people spamming unacceptable images to other Usenet groups we did carry. In addition to this, from the first day to the last we spent 3 to 4 hours screening as many of the incoming images as we could, to delete this kind of pornography. Of course with up to 14,000 images coming from Usenet daily, we could only watch the most likely sources of unacceptable posts. For the record, those efforts weren't because we felt legally required to do so. We have children ourselves, and felt a moral obligation. Where did you obtain the images you offered your subscribers? Off the Internet Usenet, and nowhere else. We at Netpics never created, scanned or posted a single image of any kind. Did you review or select the images before or after they were offered by Netpics? We couldn't check every picture in every news group, but we reviewed new postings to "high risk" groups before they were offered to the public. These were the groups where problems had been observed in the past. Were all Usenet newsgroups offered by WebbWorld? or just those with graphic sexual content? We offered approximately 188 Usenet newsgroups, mainly featuring adult topics. But these are available everywhere; our main market appeal was convenience and easy to use software for viewing graphics on the web. How many images did you have on Netpics? We never retained any images ourselves, we merely archived about three days of Usenet traffic. So typically we might have 40,000 images on our system at any given time. Recently it's been a bit less because graphic file sizes are growing and we were running out of disk space. How many of these images did the police charge were obscene or contained child pornography? We've heard they have five files alleged as child pornography. Those images were apparently shown to a doctor who estimates the ages of people shown. Reportedly, four might be underage teenagers; and the other maybe eleven years old. We don't know for sure, we've never seen the pictures. How much equipment and how many files did the police seize? They took it all: Ben (Ives)'s computer at home and 16 sytems at our server site in Dallas, plus router, monitors, software, data records and everything. Desk, chair... they even took the pencils from Ben's house! Can you operate without what they took? You mean stay in business? Not a chance! We can't even file our personal tax returns until we get some of those files back. Have the authorities said when it will be returned? There has been no talk of returning anything. Prior to the current arrest, WebbWorld has been sued by Playboy Enterprises for copyright infringement. What is the status of that legal action? We are seeking a stay in that suit, pending outcome of these charges, should hear from the judge on that ruling Monday afternoon. (3/3/97) In both cases, we're being charged for what appears worldwide on Usenet, content we have not created nor even knew about. Apparently in this case some people may have scanned Playboy pages and illegally posted them to newsgroups hosted everywhere, including Netpics. And in both cases, our small startup company has become the legal target for the same content carried by MCI, Sprint and many thousands of other net hosts. We feel Netpics is being made an example for political goals. Could you give a little background on the WebbWorld stockholders arrested for operating Netpics? Are you in any other business besides WebbWorld? This is our first business venture together ... and it's probably our last. Brian Ellis is a computer consultant who worked fulltime with WebbWorld. James Gurkin owns and operates a Fort Worth security guard company. Ben Ives is a manager with the Postal Service, or was: they've placed him on administrative leave and he expects to be fired soon. How has this affected the WebbWorld people personally? What do you think? It's devastating. Ben has been hit worst so far: publicly arrested and humiliated; losing his job; having to move and give up his phone; denied access to his children; and having his name unjustly associated with child pornography. Pretty tough on a man who spends his spare time teaching classes in Positive Parenting. That's over now, too. The Fort Worth vice police estimate you have been making at least $500,000 a month from Netpics. That's more than 40,000 monthly subscribers. Is this accurate? If this is not true, how much did the operation earn? That is simply ridiculous! The police now possess all our accounting information, which clearly shows our total gross revenue for 1996 was around $550,000. WebbWorld didn't even start breaking even until maybe July. I can't guess where they got such grossly overstated figures. How many people subscribed to Netpics? We had been growing slowly but steadily. At the time we were shut down Netpics had around 13,000 subscribers. Will those customers be pursued by law enforcement? Doesn't look like it. Local officials have been quoted as recognizing that subscribing is not illegal; only the actual possession of illegal materials. Besides, we did not keep any records of who downloaded files. In Texas, transmitting child pornography is a felony with a maximum ten years sentence and $10,000 fine. And the promotion of obscenity is a misdemeanor that can bring two years and another $10,000 fine. So conviction on counts of these charges could mean long jail sentences and huge fines. How are you paying the costs of your defense? We don't know; this is obviously going to be a long and costly litigation and we're completely out of business. Plus we've just had to post more than $150,000 in court bonds for the arrests. About the only bright spot has been the offers of help from concerned operators and users of the Internet. They have been coming in to our information/assistance website at www.netpics.com. And finally, how have representatives of the media treated you? They've been pretty ruthless; lots of pressure and not much presumption of innocence. Some stories more or less just said we are guilty. But to be fair, I guess that's partly understandable. Until now, they've only heard one side of this story, a very distorted one. From now on, people can check with Larry (Brown): LBrown9695@aol.com 817/332-4150 --------------------------------------------------------------------------- Bottom Line from TTJ: Hearing Netpics' version of facts suggests this case is more complicated, and perhaps more important, than originally apparent. As with the police version, there are differing views and conflicting statements that will be resolved in a court. But whether this ends in conviction or acquittal fundamental precedents will be set for Usenet and content liability on the Internet. 28 February, 1997 =+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+= Note: TTJ is a journal of information, opinion and telecom advocacy. We cannot guarantee accuracy of these early, informal reports; please check with official sources to confirm critical results. Subscribers may request details or forward specific questions. Subscription info: Gene Crick gcrick@main.org 512/303-1021 fx 321-3163 ------------------------------ Date: Thu, 15 Dec 2020 22:51:01 CST From: CuD Moderators Subject: File 4--Cu Digest Header Info (unchanged since 13 Dec, 1996) Cu-Digest is a weekly electronic journal/newsletter. Subscriptions are available at no cost electronically. CuD is available as a Usenet newsgroup: comp.society.cu-digest Or, to subscribe, send post with this in the "Subject:: line: SUBSCRIBE CU-DIGEST Send the message to: cu-digest-request@weber.ucsd.edu DO NOT SEND SUBSCRIPTIONS TO THE MODERATORS. The editors may be contacted by voice (815-753-0303), fax (815-753-6302) or U.S. mail at: Jim Thomas, Department of Sociology, NIU, DeKalb, IL 60115, USA. 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