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CPSR's Letter to the New York Times

Working Groups
Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility

CPSR's Letter to the New York Times

(about this letter)

Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr., Publisher
The New York Times
229 West 43rd Street
New York, NY. 10036

Dear Mr. Sulzberger:

The Year 2000 Problem (Y2k) is one of the most serious challenges facing our world today. We call upon the New York Times, the nation's leading newspaper, to use your power to arouse the nation to the seriousness of situation. It is imperative that we use the few remaining months until December 31, 1999, to fix what still can be fixed and to prepare the public for the disruptions that will affect the safety, health and security of everyone.

Your help is sorely needed because, in spite of intense efforts of many people, including the undersigned, not enough is being done.   The work that yet remains to avert disaster is immense. Leaders in Congress and outside experts all agree that critical government programs will not be fixed in time.

On June 2, Representative Steven Horn (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Government Management, Information and Technology, called Federal agencies' performance on fixing the problem "dismal" and called on President Clinton to heighten awareness of the problem through a national address.

On the same day National Association of Manufacturers President Jerry Jasinowski released a report on a survey of small and midsize manufacturers which showed that Y2k is a serious problem that is being underestimated by many business people.

SEC chairman Arthur Levitt, Jr., said: "Any company that neglects this looming problem is simply asking for trouble. If a firm is eventually hit by Y2k breakdown, it will probably be put out of business."

Every one of us has struggled to understand how a seemingly minor technical problem could have put us into such a predicament. We now know that no single organization or sector of society has the solution.  Everyone must play a role. For the media that role is in helping to minimize the possibility of panic. As people become alarmed about the problem, they may start withdrawing cash from banks, selling securities, and arming themselves in anticipation of civil unrest. The result could be worse than anything caused directly by Y2k failures. (There are groups who, for their own reasons, are promoting just such an outcome.  In the absence of responsible voices, their voices will increasingly be the ones the public hears.)

Panic is likely if no one prepares the public in time and has in place believable contingency plans. The time is growing shorter for such efforts to be successful.

Because of the urgency action must begin immediately. We are, therefore, calling on you to speak out now.In the attachment we suggest a number of things you can do. In addition, many of us have very concrete proposals, including ways to assure that systems essential for the safety, health and security of the nation are fixed in time.  We would be pleased to share these with you.

This letter is addressed to you rather than as a "letter to the editor" because you and senior editorial staff are the intended readers.

We look forward to your response.

Sincerely yours,

Norman Kurland
Moderator, CPSR Y2k Online Forum

See List of cosigners -- Attachment 1

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Created before October 2004

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