Privacy and the PC
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From Chip Berlet, Public Eye Magazine.
HELP FIGHT BAD BBS LAWS - 01
FEDERAL LEGISLATION RESTRICTING BBS OPERATION DUE SOON!
POST THIS MESSAGE ON EVERY BBS IN AMERICA!
A new federal law that would outlaw some BBS systems and severely restrict
all others could be passed by Congress in 1985. A mobilization of SYSOPS
and BBS users is urgently needed to ensure we have a chance to speak out
on the new law.
Watch BBS's for messages with "BBSLAWXX.MSG" headers or "HELP
FIGHT BAD BBS LAWS - XX" titles. An ad-hoc group will be posting these
messages on BBS's and the commercial systems.
LAWMUG SYSOP Paul Bernstein and I have learned the law could be introduced
as soon as MID JULY! Although aspects of the new law have been discussed
for months by "experts" in Washington, NOT ONE SYSOP WAS CONSULTED
until a June 20 conference in Chicago which Paul and I attended. Vague
language in another telecommunications law already introduced in Congress
might also restrict BBS activities.
We urged the Congressional aide involved in that legislation to exempt
BBS systems until we could let SYSOPS and lawyers study the language more
carefully. We must also monitor this law.
The law restricting BBS operations was prompted by panic over the possibility
that children (minors) might read pornographic material, and by the wave
of publicity regarding the malicious hackers and illegal credit card and
phone information posted on BBS's by electronic graffiti vandals. Among
the ideas SERIOUSLY DISCUSSED for the new federal law restricting BBS's
are provisions which would require:
· Registration of all BBS's as a public utility.
· BBS users to log in with, and post their legal names. * SYSOPS
to keep a log of all names of users.
· SYSOPS to keep a log of all messages & access times.
· Criminal penalties for SYSOPS whose BBS's containing illegal messages
posted on them, even if the SYSOP was not aware of the message and had
not been informed the message was there nor given a chance to remove it!
While the law is currently only being discussed, there is much pressure
to restrict and regulate BBS's. A good BBS law could protect BBS's and
SYSOPS. A bad law could destroy BBS's in their infancy as a telecommunications
BBS's put the individual back into mass society in the age of telecommunications.
BBS's encourage information sharing and remove barriers to discussion posed
by social status, wealth, class, race, sex, physical size, and many physical
handicaps. BBS's encourage the democratic process and are a powerful new
communications system which deserves Constitutional protection and First
NO LEGISLATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION!
There will be differing views of wording, law, and tactics; all should
be given a chance to be heard. Congress should delay passage of any BBS
legislation until BBS users and SYSOPS have a chance to discuss the legal
issues and make their opinions known in a series of Congressional hearings.
Our discussion must start immediately and we must organize to block bad
BBS legislation until our voices are heard.
We share the responsibility. Time is short. Spread the word.
It is the electronic age. We are all Paul Revere....
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