The CPSR Newsletter, Fall 1992
The CPSR Newsletter
Volume 10, No. 4 COMPUTER PROFESSIONALS FOR SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY Fall 1992
1992 CPSR Annual Meeting Focuses on Policy Issues
The 1992 CPSR Annual Meeting, held October 17th and 18th at Stanford University, focused on
computer policy issues that were part of the Presidential campaign as well as controversies that will
be debated in the next Congress. The meeting, chaired by CPSR/Berkeley and national board member
Jim Davis, brought together CPSR activists from around the country to discuss electronic democracy,
encryption policy, digital media, and government funding of scientific and technological research. The
meeting was highlighted by a banquet that featured a keynote speech by David Liddle, president of
Interval Research, and the presentation of the 1992 Norbert Wiener Award for Social and Professional
Responsibility to Dr. Barbara Simons of CPSR/Palo Alto.
The Annual Meeting began with a talk by Edward Lenert, a doctoral candidate in radio, television, and
film in the program on science and technology at the Lyndon Baines Johnson School of Public Affairs at
the University of Texas at Austin. Lenert was filling in for Professor Susan Hadden, a CPSR member in
Austin who has done pathbreaking work on public education about technological risk. Professor Hadden
was unable to attend the Stanford meeting at the last minute, but asked Ed Lenert to substitute and carry
her message to the CPSR audience.
Lenert began by asking what we mean by the term democracy. He offered a broad definition, that "people
should participate in the process by which their lives are determined. He stressed that democracy must
involve participation, not merely the polling of citizens. Unfortunately, said Lenert, the public is not
always aware of what democratic practice should include; he recalled an old saying that ``no matter
what form of government we have in the United States, it's bound to be called democracy." Some of the
current problems with American democracy are large concentrations of money, unequal access to the
media, and general inequality. There is also an unresolved debate in the United States over whether
democracy should be representative or `'direct," the latter allowing citizens to participate directly in
the decisions that affect their lives.
Lenert relayed Susan Hadden's opinion that in the present political climate in the United States, we are
unlikely to be able to "go beyond teledemocracy" to substantive democratic practice, because that would
require deliberation among equals. Town meetings today, whether face-to-face or through electronic
media, are rarely deliberative. Ross Perot's proposed model of an "electronic town hall,' envisioned
experts debating issues with the public voting for choices following the debate. That isn't democracy,
said Lenert, that's polling. Real democracy involves not only active deliberation on the part of citizens,
but the resolution of inequality in public discourse, which we don't seem prepared to tackle.
Lenert pointed out that this year's presidential campaign introduced several innovations that were made
possible by new technologies. Candidate Jerry Brown used an 800 telephone number to help drive his
campaign. Ross Perot used satellites to project his image and voice to several political rallies in
different cities simultaneously. The major d candidates made use of television and radio call-in shows,
such as "Larry King Live." And a couple of the candidates used computer networks to broadcast their
messages. These technological innovations were an interesting step in bypassing the traditional news
media, but they were largely passive experiences for citizens.
Lenert showed a chart that indicated the ubiquity of televisions in our society. Nearly all homes in the
U.S. have at least one television set, and nearly all of them are color. The majority of people have two or
more TVs, and also cable access. Over 70% of people with TVs have video cassette recorders as well. The
average daily viewing of TV in the U.S. is about four hours for adults, and more for children. Television
is more common in homes than the telephone, especially in poor neighborhoods, where only 70% of the
homes have telephones, while close to 100% have televisions.
Television is usually considered a poor model for democratic participation because it is a "one to many"
technological system. It is not broadly interactive, it is subject to centralized control, and it is usually
driven by commercial sponsors. Two-way interactive TV is starting to spread across the country, but
usually in ways that we'd like to avoid as a model for democratic practice. Lenert showed a screen from
a service called "TV Answer," a system that provides interactivity through a proprietary button-
driven interface. The sample screen was for a service called "Create a Custom Pizza." This menu-
driven method falls far short of the deliberation we need to support genuine democratic participation,
Lenert showed a video clip from the CBS Evening News in which Dan Rather asked viewers to respond to
questions about the Presidential election by calling an 800 telephone number and keying in phone-pad
digital tones in response to a series of questions. Twenty four million callers responded to this request,
and only a fraction of them were able to get through to the system. Lenert said that Susan Hadden calls
this "acclamatory democracy," a term used by Hamilton and Madison in their famous essays collected in
The Federalist Papers. "Acclamatory democracy" reduces all democratic practice to polling and voting,
the least participative method of democracy. Hadden believes that electronic media can be used to
support participatory democracy, not just acclamatory democracy, if we can come up with the right
models for both enhancing participation and reaching consensus.
There was a great deal of discussion about these issues among the audience members. One person said
that there is frequently the illusion that talking endlessly about a problem will change the basic power
structures in our society. CPSR Chairman Jeff Johnson commented that in his experience with the
Caller ID controversy, there was a lot of discussion about the privacy implications of Caller ID on the
computer networks, but when these discussions reached some consensus there seemed to be a feeling
that what the participants had decided had infect become policy in the real world. He said that there is
an extra step that too few people seem willing to take, which is to bring these discussions to
policymakers and to press for substantive action.
Howard Rheingold, editor of The Whole Earth Review, remarked that he thinks television has had a lot to
do with the decline in literacy and public participation in our society. Someone else said that there may
be a negative correlation between technological sophistication and democratic participationÑwitness
the high levels of voter turnout in less technologically developed societies like those in the Third World.
Ed Lenert said that he would like to find a technological system that works within our political culture,
as a practical application, even if it is a "fairy tale" in the larger consideration of whether we're
advancing the cause of democracy. CPSR Board member Steve Miller commented that although unequal
power creates limits to participation, we should avoid self- flagellation; we need to think of pragmatic
ways we can open the political process. It may be a "fairy tale," that mere communication can lead to a
democratic and equal society, but "fairy tales are sometimes inspirations," he said.
The Politics of Cryptography
CPSR Legal Counsel David Sobel led a panel discussion on cryptography as a public policy issue, an area
that CPSR work in Washington, D.C., has helped define. The panel members included Joan Feigenbaum,
from the Computing Principles Research Division of AT&T Bell Labs in Murray Hill, New Jersey; John
Gilmore, employee #5 at Sun Microsystems, and co-founder of Cygnus Support and the Electronic
Frontier Foundation; David Banisar, a staff member in the CPSR Washington office; and Whitfield
Diffey of Sun Microsystems, who created the field of public cryptography by inventing public key
Before the panel started, the audience was shown a clip from the recent movie "Sneakers," which is a
popular thriller about computer security and high tech gadgets. The segment shown featured a former
hacker turned security specialist, played by Robert Redford, being confronted by two men posing as
officials of the National Security Agency.
Whitfield Diffey started the discussion by arguing that face-to-face communication is probably in
decline and will be replaced, gradually, by electronically mediated communication such as through
electronic mail and teleconferencing. Diffey said that we need to transfer the rules and feelings of
security of face-to-face communication, which have existed for as long as there has been speech
between people, to new modes of communication using electronic technologies. We also need to address
how apparently minor, incremental episodes of communication affect the character of our lives because
of the accumulation of data, a new phenomenon.
Diffey described the concept of public key encryption. He said most encryption schemes are "lock and
key" systems. These put the locked items in some encrypted form and take them out of that form using
the same mechanismÑ once you know the lock you know the key. Public key encryption separates the
lock and key as properties; if you know the lock you don't necessarily know the key. In fact, if you know
the public key you can't figure out the private key because it's computationally infeasible. In this
scheme, you can make the private key resemble a personal signature, with even more protective
capabilities than a written signature because it will be inaccurate and unusable if even one bit is out
Diffey reviewed the history of encryption as a technology, and noted that in the past, encryption
schemes, because they had to be kept secret, were usually in the hands of the military, intelligence
agencies, and big corporations that could weigh the large costs of the systems against the benefit of
security. Now that there are new players in the information technology field, and because costs for
moving data have declined dramatically over time, there is new demand for public key encryption with
its lower costs and public character. Traditional encryption experts in the military and intelligence
agencies are worried because they want to preserve the status quo that gives them enormous power over
the security of information. Diffey said he believes that we are moving into an era of new technology
without adjusting our values, and the result may be that only powerful economic and government
interests get represented in the process.
David Banisar described the "stakeholders" in this debate. The National Security Agency has the job of
both intercepting communications and protecting government communications, tasks often in conflict
with each other. The FBI has control of federal law enforcement and foreign counterintelligence. There
are two ways that these agencies try to restrict the development of encryption systems. First is through
the setting of encryption standards. The Congress has instructed the National Institute of Standards and
Technology (NIST) to develop a standard for encryption. In 1975 they developed DES, or Digital
Encryption Standard, and more recently DSS, or the Digital Signature Standard. All DSS does is
authenticate the sender of a message, it doesn't protect the message itself like DES does. The National
Security Agency had a lot of influence in the development of DSS, which worried a lot of people since the
NSA is involved in actually intercepting messages.
A second method of government management is export control. It is illegal to export standard encryption
schemes, so most companies don't bother to encrypt software that is sold overseas in order to avoid
government intervention. The Software Publisher's Association has recently cut a deal on export
controls regarding software, so there may be some sale of encrypted products overseas in the future.
But DES is still not exportable.
Joan Feigenbaum had a different take on these issues. She said that the principle obstacle to the
dissemination of commercial encryption products is not resistance by traditional stakeholders like the
military and intelligence agencies, but the lack of demand among businesses and consumers. She offered
the example of commercial banks. Banks know that most of their losses are due to "inside" theft by
authorized users, so they can't clearly see how encryption systems might benefit them. Another
example is the use of credit cards. Most people seem to know that credit card use is not secureÑpeople
routinely give out their card information over the telephoneÑbut don't seem to care about this. In
response to a comment from the audience that security systems are "just a pain in the neck to use,"
Feigenbaum said that this is exactly the problem, in her view, and the primary reason why there has
been resistance to the widespread use of encryption, much more than any blocking maneuvers by
government agencies. She did admit that there are problems of meddling from the FBI and NSA, but that
their proposals will probably only make security systems more difficult to use, not make them
John Gilmore identified five key players in this area: intelligence and military agencies, law
enforcement agencies; commercial interests, privacy and civil liberties advocates, and ordinary users.
He noted that it's only been recently that all of these groups have started to talk about the intersections
of privacy, technology, and security. He said that the most powerful representatives of the intelligence,
military, and law enforcement agencies have been silent or reticent until recently because they didn't
view this issue as a forum of public debate. Joining a public debate has been a difficult step for these
traditionally secret and largely unaccountable agencies. But there has been progress recently, and
people from the government are starting to talk openly about their interests with public
Diffey and Feigenbaum agreed that a goal in the design of encryption systems is a tamper-proof device.
However, there have been serious problems getting people to remember long strings of nonsense data as
a key. Feigenbaum advocated a standardized smart card, but said that this would require much more
cooperation than has been visible so far, probably with government support. And until the demand
problem is solved, such cooperation is not likely to appear. Feigenbaum also said that solving the
demand problem will be difficult in that the benefit to the public is intangible presently. She suggested
providing security benefits for free for sometime until people realized that these are worth paying for
rather than giving up.
After a lunch break, CPSR Executive Committee member Amy Pearl moderated another panel
discussion, this one on the convergence of various forms of media through digital technologies. The
panel members were Denise Caruso, a journalist and editor of the Digital Media newsletter; David
Bunnell, chairman of HyperMedia Publications, editorial director of Upside magazine, and one of the
founders of PC Magazine; Jim Edlin, who helped found PC Magazine with David Bunnell and also works
at HyperMedia Publications; and Howard Rheingold, editor of The Whole Earth Review and author of a
recent book on "virtual reality."
Rheingold began by observing that technological innovators rarely anticipate what their technology will
eventually be used for, let alone what its broader social implications might be. He said that progressive
media advocates fought for public access cable television, and now the only people who watch that are
the producers' relatives. He expects that the idea of "rolling your own media," which is promised by so
many products available today, will probably face the same problem. He recalled the claims made about
Apple's HyperCard product, which was advertised as a way for non-programmers to develop their own
applications. He said he considers himself to be above average in sophistication about technology, but he
gave up trying to learn HyperTalk. Rheingold remarked that he "would love to know how to use
MacroMind Director," a desktop video software package for the Macintosh, "But I doubt I have enough
time in my life to learn." He believes that we may develop a class of people who will be able to use
digital media products creatively, but it will always be a small and elite group.
Jim Edlin agreed that it's likely that only a small group of people will be able to use the products that
are available or coming. But Edlin said that desktop digital media tools are just thatÑtools. They don't
guarantee widespread use, especially widespread and creative use, he said. Edlin pointed out that pencils
and paper are readily available to everyoneÑthey're cheapÑbut they're only used creatively by a
handful of people at any given time.
Edlin was surprised, he said, to be confronted with the question of whether there might be a negative
effect of new digital media technologies. He asked himself one question: do these tools help people
communicate effectively? And, he said, his answer was yes. He said the new digital tools that are
becoming available dramatically expand the toolbox of communicators. He offered a speculative example
of a hypermedia version of Dr. Spock's baby book. In the "old," paper, book media, a baby was either a
"he" or "she" as a pronoun. In a new digital, hypermedia version, the book can start with a question, "Is
your baby male or female?" The rest of the information can be tailored to the answer. Edlin says he
thinks the addition of that feature is a powerful new tool for communicators and a great resource for
David Bunnell said he worried that the "customizable" hypermedia Spock baby book could be viewed
another way by people who want to "customize" the Bill of Rights. Bunnell said he thinks there are some
dark sides to digital multi-media. He raised concerns about how candidates in this year's election
bypassed "filters" of deliberation like conventional newspapers in order to appeal directly to the
electorate through radio, TV, and telephones. Bunnell said we need to think about ways to protect the
process of deliberation while at the same time promoting and protecting free speech.
Denise Caruso expressed her frustration at the huge amount of time required to find out the truth in the
mountains of hype spewed out by multi-media companies. She said that if the public is not involved in
public policy determining the character of our communication technologies, controversies will be
settled in favor of the "hype-masters."
Caruso noted that inexpensive digital multi-media is viewed by some people as a way to break down
monopolies of information. But, she said, we have to be aware as well that people are not willing "to
open their mouths to a firehose of information." The more pressing need is for quality material.
Caruso also asked whether we want to dedicate more and more of our lives to "the TV paradigm. "
Current multi-media technologies are based on the viewing screen, like TV. We might possibly spend
more of our lives viewing an edited, "mediated" version of experience rather than experiencing it
ourselves. We can fool ourselves into thinking that we're experiencing the real world when we're only
viewing it through a technological media.
As a demonstration of a potential social issue posed by digital technologies, the audience heard an audio
tape of a digitally doctored segment of the testimony of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, taken
from the latter sessions of his confirmation hearings. The tape, which was manipulated on a Macintosh
with sound editing software, featured Thomas confessing to all the sexual harassment charges leveled by
Jim Edlin said this isn't an indictment of digital media technologies: people commit crimes with every
conceivable kind of tool that's available. David Bunnell responded by saying this phenomenon isn't new,
and he mentioned the doctored photograph of Lee Harvey Oswald carrying a rifle and brandishing a
radical pamphlet. But it's getting cheaper and more widespread, said Bunnell. Denise Caruso said it
might be a blessing in disguise because too many people uncritically believe everything that comes over
the TV or radio today. Cultural absorption of the idea that things may not be as they seem may actually
engender a more critical view of the world.
Someone in the audience says that one of the themes of talk about digital "reality" seems to be
numbness, cynicism, of people being "had." But there seems to be a process by which people know
they're being had, and there is engendered an even deeper cynicism, a complete turning off from the
political processÑwhere anything is possible, nothing is real.
Caruso said we have to promote real experiences in education as well as computer learning; computer
professionals can't promote technology at the expense of real life-affirming experience.
Envisioning Technology in a Democratic Society
Annual Meeting chair Jim Davis facilitated the last panel discussion of the day. Jim noted that the idea
for the panel grew out of the CPSR/Berkeley chapter's efforts to draft a technology platform for the
1992 election. The broad theme of the panel was what kind of technology policy we should promote in
order to support democratic values. The panelists included Jay Stowsky, a research fellow at the
Berkeley Roundtable on the International Economy at the University of California; Ted Smith, executive
director of the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition and chairman of the Campaign for Responsible
Technology; Claire Zvanski, vice president of Service Employees International Union Local 790, which
serves the public sector personnel of the City of San Francisco; and Gary Chapman, director of CPSR's
Cambridge office and coordinator of The 21st Century Project.
Jay Stowsky started off by saying he was more or less a spokesperson for the Clinton campaign, since
he'd been working to help draft Clinton's technology policy platform. He addressed Clinton's plans for
technology. He said they were oriented primarily around defense conversion and infrastructure
investment. The end of the Cold War is a historic opportunity to shift funding away from the military
and toward civilian programs. The threat is a loss of public support for scientific and technological
investment because this has always been channeled through the military and with military
justifications. Stowsky said that although there have been problems with spending money on
technological innovation through the military, there have been four positive effects in the economy: 1)
a patient, long-term sector built into research and development; 2) a chance for collaboration between
competitors; 3) a market for risky ideas; and 4) a chance for rapid diffusion of technologies. All of
these things will be needed in a civilian program in order to replace military spending effects and to
respond to new needs in the economy.
Stowsky said he believes that future U.S. government spending should focus on potential or real
bottlenecks to economic growth: communications, transportation, and waste management are examples.
These are targets of the Clinton public investment program.
Claire Zvanski discussed the campaign in San Francisco to pass legislation controlling the use of video
display terminals and to promote ergonomic office equipment and frequent work breaks, all in an effort
to reduce repetitive strain injuries (RSI) caused by prolonged computer use. The campaign was
directed by organized labor and opposed by many of the city's largest businesses.
Zvanski said that even though she had worked with computers for years, she didn't understand at first
the very debilitating character of RSIs. She didn't think white collar workers or people sitting at a desk
all day got occupational injuries. Then she saw some cases of RSI, such as people who couldn't pick up a
coffee cup or couldn't lift their children.
The VDT campaign started slowly. At first there was discussion with business leaders about the
problem, and these people denied that there was such a thing as job-related RSI; they said injuries
must be caused by "playing tennis" or doing something strenuous at home. There was a realization that
there might be no consensus position on the issue, so the trade unions started a legislative drive that
eventually passed. The city council passed the toughest VDT regulation bill in the country. But a
business coalition took to the ordinance to court and judges ruled in favor of management, voiding the
legislation. City and county offices are still under the rule of the legislation, so now they're looking to
those offices for an evaluation of the success of the rules.
Ted Smith described some of the history of the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition (SVTC), the ten-year old
organization he heads. Smith said that the community of Silicon Valley got a "wake-up call" to the
problems of semiconductor manufacturing ten years ago when a leaking tank at the Fairchild
Corporation was revealed to have caused massive groundwater contamination. And shortly afterward a
cluster of birth defects was traced to pollution. Since then, Silicon Valley has found over 150
groundwater contamination sites, and over 25 are SuperFund sites. The whole problem may take a
hundred years to clean up, and cost hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars.
Smith described the campaign around SEMATECH, which CPSR members and staff have helped develop,
and which has been reported in detail in previous issues of The CPSR Newsletter. Smith said that the
primary lesson of the SEMATECH campaign was how effective coalitions can be, especially when they
include local activists concerned about the health of their communities.
Gary Chapman, the director of CPSR's Cambridge office, talked about the impact of the Clinton
campaign's promises on national policy, assuming for the purpose of the discussion that Clinton would
be elected. Chapman pointed out the Clinton's proposed defense budget is a mere 4% cut from the levels
proposed by President Bush, or $1 .34 trillion compared to $1 .4 trillion in planned spending over the
next five years. There are no planned cuts in defense R&D spending, except for a small cut in money
allocated to nuclear testing programs, which will be ended and some money shifted away from proposed
increases in "Star Wars" funding to new civilian technology programs. The goal of the Clinton
administration will be a fifty-fifty split between military and civilian R&D spending, and that's only 6
percentage points away from what the distribution is now.
Chapman described the history of the shift in the high tech elite from supporting Republicans to
supporting a Democrat like Clinton, who picked up the endorsements of John Sculley of Apple Computer
and John Young of Hewlett Packard. Chapman said this is partly a generational shift, partly one of style,
but it also reveals long-standing frustration, on the part of high tech leaders, with the rigid laissez-
faire ideology of the Republicans. The danger we're facing now, said Chapman, is the transformation of
the old "military industrial complex" into a more comprehensive "technology industrial complex" but
without democratic reform. And, moreover, there is a disturbing tendency of the proponents of
"economic competitiveness" to use Cold War rhetoric and institutional models to promote their agenda.
What we need instead, said Chapman, is a rhetoric built around principles of cooperation and social
The CPSR Banquet
As in past years, the CPSR Annual Banquet was held at Ming's Villa, an elegant and popular Chines
restaurant in Palo Alto. The members and friends who attended the banquet were treated to the
presentation of the 1992 Norbert Wiener Award for Social and Professional Responsibility to Dr.
Barbara Simons, in recognition for her long work in promoting social equity in the computing
profession, especially for women (see related story this issue). After the award presentation, David
Liddle, president of Interval Research in Palo Alto, gave a keynote address about how the computer
profession is maturing, both in technical terms and in terms of its role in society. Liddle argued that
the current recession that has hit the computing industry so hard means that in the future the industry
will have to pay attention to people, not just to machines and performance benchmarks. A sensitivity to
people and their needs will have to built into the profession and into industry if the computer field is to
thrive, said Liddle. And this corresponds with an increasing need for organizations that have carried
this message for a long time, most prominently CPSR.
The Sunday Meeting
The second day of the CPSR Annual Meeting typically focuses on organizational development, following
up on the policy themes of the first day. The opening panel discussion on Sunday was on "How We Win,"
and featured Marc Rotenberg, director of the CPSR office in Washington, D.C.; Coralee Whitcomb, chair
of the Boston chapter and the Northeast representative to the CPSR Board of Directors; and Judy Stern,
an active member of the Berkeley chapter and co-author of the recently released CPSR/ Berkeley
Marc Rotenberg discussed how to be effective in Washington at the level of the federal government. He
said that we have to understand that it is right and appropriate for us to "be political," meaning that we
are expected to take stands on important issues. CPSR does this, which has distinguished it from other
professional organizations in the computing field. Rotenberg said that there is a process to dealing with
Washington policymakers: you have to have both a "bumper sticker" kind of message to get their
attention, and also a deep expertise on the issue so that if you are called upon you will be able to
demonstrate a thorough grasp of what you're trying to accomplish. He stressed that it's a good idea to
have a healthy respect for opposing points of viewÑdismissing dissenters only alienates undecided
observers. Rotenberg noted that most events in Washington are "staged," meaning that they have been
carefully rehearsed beforehand, and this is an important thing to remember in the development of CPSR
activity. But CPSR should avoid any tendency to "pigeonhole" itself as a marginal, one-note
organization; we should instead strive to represent a broad range of interests and themes.
Coralee Whitcomb talked about the Caller ID work that was done by members of the CPSR/Boston
chapter. She said she was very impressed with CPSR's effectiveness when she worked on this issue in
Massachusetts. She wasn't prepared to deal with Caller ID as an expert, but the way that CPSR worked
gave her confidence that she could represent the organization and the public interest in testimony
before the state public utilities commission. The testimony itself was prepared by an ad hoc committee
of people scattered all over the country, communicating by electronic mail. The arguments were hashed
out over email too, so that everyone understood the substance behind the main points of the testimony.
When Whitcomb went to the hearing to testify, she said, CPSR was overwhelmingly the best prepared
witness aside from the telephone company. This had a lot to do with the commission's eventual decision
on Caller ID, which supported nearly every point made in the CPSR testimony. Whitcomb said that she
doesn't think CPSR's message is a hard sell--there's not much well-organized competitionÑbut that it
just needs to be heard more often and in more places.
Judy Stern reported on work inside the Berkeley chapter of CPSR, which has been very active. The
chapter produced an advertisement protesting the war in the Persian Gulf that was printed in the West
coast edition of The New York Times. The chapter has formed an active group on privacy and freedom of
expression in coordination with BMUG, the Berkeley Macintosh Users' Group, which is one of the
largest in the country. And most recently a group within the chapter has produced a "technology
platform," a board range of goals and principles for candidates to think about when they turn their
attention to technology issues. Stern described the effort to make this platform something that was
developed with wide public participation with contributors from outside the chapter and the profession;
this was only partially successful. The chapter sent out about eighty letters to potentially sympathetic
organizations in the area, and got very few replies. On the other hand, about twenty people showed up at
a public meeting to discuss the platform, and the chapter authors got a lot of good ideas from these
This panel was followed by a brief address from CPSR President Eric Roberts, the text of which is
reprinted on page 10 in this issue of The CPSR Newsletter.
The Sunday meeting's afternoon program was filled with individual, targeted workshops on a variety of
issues of interest to the participants. Workshops were held on CPSR's projects on military-related
problems and government funding priorities; intellectual property; local civic networks; privacy and
civil liberties; cooperation with other organizations; working in the computer industry; and
membership and organizing through electronic media.
The 1992 CPSR Annual Meeting was one of the richest thematic meetings the organization has put
together. Great thanks go to Jim Davis, one of the leaders of the Berkeley chapter and a member of the
CPSR Board of Directors, for organizing the program, which he did purely on a volunteer basis. CPSR
national staff members Evelyn Pine and Nikki Draper also did an exemplary job and put in uncounted
hours of dedicated work to making the meeting a big success.
CPSR/Boston Hosts Participatory Design Symposium
On November 6th and 7th, the CPSR Boston chapter hosted the 1992 CPSR conference on participatory
design, PDC'92. The conference was a smash success, with attendance by over 160 participants from
across the United States and overseas. The two-day conference featured panel discussions and presented
papers on the software and systems engineering design paradigm known as participatory design, in
which users are given a role in the design of a system that will enhance their skills and increase the
effectiveness of a deployed computer-based system. PDC'92 was organized entirely by volunteers,
particularly Michael Muller of CPSR/New York and Sarah Kuhn of CPSR/Boston. The meeting was co-
sponsored by the Association for Computing Machinery and IFIP, and partly funded by a grant from the
The conference consisted of three panel discussions and twenty-three delivered papers, as well as a
conference opening address by George Kohl, director of the research department of the Communications
Workers of America. The papers and panel contributions are available in the conference proceedings,
which can be obtained from the CPSR National Office.
Steve Miller, a member of the CPSR Board of Directors from Boston, organized and moderated a panel
discussion on participatory design and democracy. He gave a talk on what participatory design means to
CPSR as a social change organization. He noted that while the papers delivered at the conference
demonstrated a robust area of technical research in systems and software engineering, the key question
for CPSR was why we would sponsor such a conference. He identified three reasons. First, he said, there
is clearly an increasing acceptance of social change within corporations, and this usually entails a
shifting of power relations that favors democratic participation in decisions about the workplace and
the work process.
Second, said Miller, "CPSR considers participatory design interesting because it's impacted by and, I
would argue, an extension of larger social forces." Miller contended that "participatory design is
approaching mainstream acceptance mostly because the current world-wide structural economic crisis
has prompted the acceptance of new, post-Taylorist, business ideologies that endorse 'worker
involvement' as the latest way for business owners to take advantage of workers' creativity and
And third, CPSR believes that participatory design has an impact on the larger society as a whole, as ``a
potential model and source of wisdom for transforming the way government relates to its citizens and
the way the public sector relates to its clients."
Miller suggested that there is a large restructuring of the economy going on in the wake of the Cold War
and the emergence of new tensions between economic competitors. Both governments and corporations
are changing the way they do business as a result of pressures from their operational environments.
The participatory design paradigm is one that promotes democratic forms of management as well as
social equity. Since CPSR has championed the cause of participatory design in the U.S., there is a big
opportunity for the organization to help shape the direction of the public and private restructuring that
is going on today. Miller said, "We have a crucial role to play as part of a much larger drama' and a
unique opportunity to make our efforts count. We're lucky.
Barbara Simons Presented 1992 Norbert Wiener Award Andre BacardÑCPSR/Palo Alto
On October 17th, Dr. Barbara Simons was named the 1992 recipient of CPSR's Norbert Wiener Award
for Social and Professional Responsibility. The Norbert Wiener Award was established in 1987 in
memory of Norbert Wiener, who founded the field of cybernetics and wrote and spoke extensively on the
social impact of computing and technology.
Simons, an IBM researcher for eleven years, is wall-known for her work on algorithms. She recently
joined a research group on compiler optimization for parallel computers. The group has a "virtual"
location at IBM's Santa Teresa Laboratory in Palo Alto, California.
Dr. Simons, who earned her doctorate at the University of California at Berkeley, has long been active
with CPSR and the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM). She served as chair of the ACM
Committee on Scientific Freedom and Human Rights and was elected Secretary of the ACM in 1990. She
was the co-founder of the University of California Computer Science Department Reentry Program for
Women and Minorities. Simons was also the principle organizer of a 1985 debate on the "Star Wars"
system held at Stanford University. Most recently, she initiated a new policy forum within the ACM,
called USACM, and is now serving as its chair.
Simons began her graduate school days under unusual conditions. Having dropped out of college, she
never considered a technical career until she discovered a difficult job market as a single mother with
three children. Being adaptable, she took a course in computer programming. She liked the "clean
satisfaction of programming, something like crossword puzzles." One course led to another and, before
she knew it, she became a computer expert.
CPSR attracted Simons years ago as part of her lifelong interest in social issues that goes back to her
childhood in Cincinnati, Ohio. Simons confesses, "I'm a politician with a small 'p'." Passionately she
adds, "It's naive to call oneself 'apolitical'. All that does is say you support the status quo."
Dr. Simons would like to change aspects of the computer profession. When I asked her how, she offered
three areas: First, she would like to see a shift in government-funded research and development toward
civilian goals. "Soon the
Dr. Barbara Simons, recipient of the 1992 Norbert Wiener Award for Social and Professional
baby boomers, who have always been a disproportionately large portion of the U.S. population, will be
elderly. Consequently, we need to develop technologies that increase the independence of people with
options, as well as improve the quality of their lives. An intelligent wheelchair may become more
important to society than an intelligent tank," Simons noted. Second, she has a long-standing
commitment to recruiting and retaining more women and minorities in the better computer jobs. "In
the entire college of engineering, I was the only woman on the stage to receive a Ph.D.," Simons recalls.
Third, she would like the nation to develop computer networks that everyone can access. She feels it's
essential to include women, poor people, and the underclass in any so-called "computer democracy."
Simons is enthusiastic about CPSR's future. She avows, "Computer professionals have more clout than
we realize. CPSR has great freedom to take positions. It is our responsibility to educate policymakers.
This, also, means that we must help break through the massive denial of many fellow professionals who
would rather not think about the social impact of computers."
News of Dr. Simons' selection for this year's award was on the front page of The San Jose Mercury News
on October 1 7th. The newspaper featured an article on Dr. Simons and her concerns about the social
impact of computing and the character of the computing profession.
Volume 10, No. 4 The CPSR Newsletter Fall 1992
CPSR at the Crossroads Eric Roberts--CPSR President
The following remarks were delivered at CPSR's 1992 Annual Meeting on October 18, 1992, at
Welcome everyone. Before I begin, I would like to take the opportunity to thank all of the people who
have made the 1992 Annual Meeting such a success. In particular, I want to offer my special thanks to
Jim Davis for putting together what has been a really fine program, to Evelyn Pine and Nikki Draper
for all the work that went on behind the scenes in the national office, and to all of the volunteers who
have worked so hard to pull this weekend off. Beyond that, I'd like to thank all of you for being here and
for everything you've done over the years to make CPSR what it is today.
I believe that CPSR is at a crossroads. We stand at a critical juncture in our history, facing many new
challenges. But before I describe the nature of those challenges, I would first like to assure you that
being able to come here and say that CPSR is at a crossroads is much better than to have to come and say
that CPSR is in a crisis, which is what we've had to do for the last several years. After a difficult period
in 1991, during which we were forced to reduce our staff and depend more heavily on volunteers,
things are looking pretty good in 1992. Our efforts to reduce expenses made it possible to build back
our cash reserves to a point where, in April, we were able to hire Evelyn Pine for the position of
Managing Director. Evelyn's appointment has given the office renewed energy and leadershipÑqualities
that have been sorely missed since Gary Chapman moved to the East Coast almost two years ago.
To give you a sense of the change in outlook, I am happy to report that, when the CPSR Board of
Directors met last Friday in Palo Alto, we had one of the smoothest and least depressing budget
discussions I can remember from my years on the board. The questions before us in the past have too
often been whether we would have to close our doors or lay off additional staff. Instead, we spent our
time reviewing and passing a balanced annual budget that we all believe will work. When we started the
day, the draft budget showed a modest shortfall in our income relative to our expensesÑa gap that we
were able to close by identifying new funding sources that are well within our capacity as an
organization, and by getting people signed up to take responsibility for the various components of our
financial action plan. The change in the atmosphere of the meeting was so encouraging that I really don't
know how to describe it to you. Once again, it is you who brought us through those years of crisis, and I
thank you for the consistent dedication that you have shown to CPSR.
Let me return to my theme of CPSR at the crossroads. As I see it, there are three factors that combine to
make this a critical time for CPSR. Over the last few years, CPSR has changed, the political climate of
the world has changed, and we have ourselves changed. In each case, that change brings with it exciting
new opportunities but also potential dangers. Our principal challenge for the coming year is to
understand how we can take maximum advantage of those opportunities while steering clear of the
First of all, CPSR occupies a very different position today than it did a decade ago. When we were a new
organization, we often spoke out as voices in the wilderness. At a time when the very survival of the
world seemed to hang on an ever more slender thread, we worked to focus attention on the dangers of
overreliance on computing technology in our nuclear arsenals. We were clearly in the vanguard then,
trying to lead our industry away from the military-technology juggernaut that has consumed so much
of the nation's computer science resources.
But the world has changed in the last ten years. For the most part, the changes have served to move the
world closer to CPSR's original position, and we now sometimes find ourselves more in the mainstream
than we would ever have imagined.
That the mainstream has moved to join CPSR is perhaps most clearly visible in the evolution of our
relationship to other professional computing organizations. As recently as four or five years ago, it was
hard for us to get much attention, let alone support, from large professional societies like the ACM
(Association for Computing Machinery) or the IEEE (Institute for Electrical and Electronic Engineers).
That situation has changed. In August 1989, the Communications of the ACM published a special issue on
social responsibility, drawing mostly on papers presented at two CPSR-sponsored conferences called
Directions and Implications of Advanced Computing. Diane Crawford, the senior editor for
Communications, tells us that the ACM has gotten more positive feedback from that issue than from
anything else they've published. In the last two years. Since then, the senior ACM administration has
worked much more closely with CPSR, and we have jointly sponsored a number of events. Moreover,
the ACM is clearly seeking to become more involved in policy issues. As Barbara Simons mentioned last
night, the ACM has established a new committee called USACM, which will give the ACM a much greater
presence in Washington, D.C. CPSR members are well represented on the USACM committee, and our
goals seem to point us in very much the same direction.
By virtue of the work that we have done and the reputation we have established over the years, CPSR is
now widely recognized as the leading organization concerned with the intersection of computing
technology and public policy. A week ago, Gary Chapman, Marc Rotenberg, and I attended a "summit
meeting" on computing research policy, sponsored by the Aspen Institute in Washington, D.C. The
purpose of the meeting was to discuss what the research agenda in computing should be as we enter the
next century, and the Aspen Institute invited twenty-one leaders from the eight organizations that the
conveners considered to be key players in the computing field. The president and executive director of
the ACM were there. The leadership of the IEEE Computer Society was there.
The Computing Research Association and the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board were
represented. The Computer Systems Policy Project, an industry lobby run by a consortium of the large
computer companies, was there. And CPSR was there. We were more than just present. Two of the five
sessions were introduced by CPSR representatives, our experience allowed us to speak with authority
about most of the issues discussed, we were listened to and respected. I walked away from the meeting
feeling that we have certainly become an organization with the capacity to influence decisions from
inside the policymaking process. CPSR has arrived.
The Aspen conference was interesting for another reason. On the one hand, it was exciting to think that
CPSR has secured for itself a place at the discussion tableÑthat we can walk into a high-level meeting,
explain our perspective, and have people listen. What was interesting, at least to me, was that once we
had done so, everyone else seemed to agree. Before the meeting, Gary thought that he might shake things
up a bit by identifying the continued high level of military spending as the central problem to
overcome. When Gary made the point, everyone in the room nodded. I was sitting directly between the
two representatives from CSPP, the computer industry lobby, and I listened to them argue for more
democratic access to technology, as they complained bitterly about the complete failure of the Bush
administration to provide support for a national technology policy, and as they stressed the importance
of economic conversion plans for industries now dependent on the military. CPSR's representatives
could have said any of those things and not felt that we was compromising our position in the slightest.
As our experience at the Aspen conference shows, it is not just that CPSR has moved into the
mainstream as an organization. The issues that CPSR has taken up and the positions for which we have
argued have in many cases become part of the popular consensus.
Of course, being in the mainstream presents some challenges. If we stay there, CPSR will become just
one of many organizations working toward a common agenda, and a rather tiny one at that. We would
presumably, sooner or later, outlive our usefulness and give way to the big kids on the block. That
outcome may not be so bad. One of the best things that an advocacy organization can do is to change
society in a way that eliminates the need for its continued existence. Perhaps it is time to declare
victory and go home. I don't believe that, and I don't think that most of you in this room believe that
either. There is a lot of work remaining to be done on the issues that CPSR has put on the table, and
there are many crucial issues out there that we have not yet had the time or the resources to take up.
The challenge for CPSR is to reposition itself at the van-. guard, to again take up those cutting-edge
positions that have made it possible for us to lead the profession in a more progressive direction.
Moreover, I believe that the fact that CPSR's positions happen to seem closely aligned with those of
other groups is less a result of ideological conformity than it is a reflection of how much this country
has changed during the Reagan/ Bush years. I very much doubt that the companies that came together to
sponsor the Computer Systems Policy Project and CPSR would agree entirely on our perception of the
ideal ultimate destination. What I do know is that, from where we stand today, our hoped-for
destinations are so close together on the horizon that we both want to move in the same direction, at
least for a time. Strategic alliances can be tricky, of course, but it is important for us to find ways in
which we can combine forces with other groups to achieve real change. In one of her songs, Holly Near
notes that unity "doesn't always mean agreement," but it is critically important for us to find common
ground when it exists.
The observation that our current opportunities for strategic alliances have grown out of twelve years of
right-wing political dominance brings me to my second point in mapping out the crossroads we now
face. CPSR has lived all of its years under the Reagan and Bush administrations, and we have defined
ourselves partly in reaction to the times and circumstances in which we live. Assuming that the
current polls are correct, that situation will soon change. As a nonprofit organ CPSR cannot itself take a
partisan position. At the same time, we can and must be sensitive to political realities and understand
that a Democratic victory in November will leave CPSR in a different environment with new
opportunities and challenges.
Several people at this meeting have already raised questions as to how different things will be under a
Clinton/Gore administration. In the panel session yesterday afternoon, Gary Chapman talked about the
importance of taking a hard look at Clinton's positions, and being ready to critique those positions
whenever they do not go far enough or whenever they seek to move in what we feel to be the wrong
direction. I agree that raising our concerns is important work and that we must critique Clinton's
agenda. But I also believe that this goal is insufficiently ambitious. I want to set Clinton's agenda.
Much of the discussion at this meeting has been predicated on the assumption that the President's own
agenda is the central factor in determining the national direction. I don't believe that. The power of the
PresidentÑas enormous as that power is in a country that assigns the roles of head of state, head of
government, commander-in-chief, and leader of party to a single individual--has limits. It is still
true that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, and the authority of
the President depends to a significant extent on an ability to maintain a mandate. But the process of
establishing a mandate is an uncertain one, and it is essential to remember that what the President
actually stands for is less important in developing a mandate than what the people believe the President
stands for. Perceptions and expectations are critically important to this component of Presidential
power, but these reactions are not always easy for a President to control. Perceptions and expectations
are reflections of the overall national mood. CPSR has the opportunity to help establish that national
mood, and through it, to set a national agenda.
We can also derive some comfort from historical evidence. Yesterday, Brian Harvey pointed out that
Clinton has sought to position himself to the right of George Bush in certain areas of the public debate,
such as U.S. sanctions against Cuba. That a Democratic candidate for President might take positions to
the right of those held by the standard bearer of a conservative Republican administration is not new.
John F. Kennedy did precisely the same thing in his debates against Nixon in 1960. But the 1960s are
not remembered as a time when we elected someone who was even further to the right than Nixon would
have been. In many respects, the political differences between Nixon and Kennedy were not very large,
but that was not how the people of the United States saw that race. Kennedy was young and represented a
real departure from a decade of right-wing dominance. He gave permission to a lot of people to work for
change. Change came, whether or not it was the kind of change that Kennedy had envisioned.
I believe that much the same phenomenon will happen in January when Bill Clinton takes possession of
the White House. Just as Kennedy did in 1960, Clinton has given people permission to work for change,
and there are a lot of people poised to take him up on his invitation. Yesterday, several panelists
speculated about various people who might move into positions of authority in a Clinton administration.
These people have been out of the circles of power for more than a decade, and they will come to
Washington ready to move the country back in the direction they have always wanted to see it go. Again,
CPSR may have a different ultimate destination in our paths are certainly aligned at the present time. It
is these new leaders at all levels of governmentÑsupported by the popular mandate for change and by
their own renewed sense of empowerment and collective efficacyÑwho will set the next political agenda,
and not Bill Clinton. It is part of CPSR's challenge to help them do it.
Finally, I believe that weÑthe members of CPSRÑhave also changed, and that our new awareness of
ourselves in the context of our profession also places us at a crossroads. The recession of the last few
years has hurt CPSR as an organization, but it has hurt us individually as well. In the first few months
of 1992, three out of the thirteen members of the CPSR Board of Directors their jobs, underscoring
the seriousness of the economic downturn in the computing industry. We have become somewhat wiser
than we were when we thought ourselves immune to the vicissitudes of the economy. We were, after all,
producing the ideas and new technology that will lead us into the next century, and we could not quite
imagine that our own jobs might be at risk. We are wiser now. The lessons along the way have been
hard, but we are learning those lessons, as evidenced by the extraordinary response to discussion of
employment issues at DIAC-92, in various chapter-based discussions, and here at this meeting.
The new realities of work in the computer industry present yet another set of challenges and
opportunities. On the one hand, we know that people are feeling the need to work harder and to protect
their own private interests, and there has seen some reduction in the level of volunteer energy coming
into CPSR. We need to be sensitive to those realities. But we also need to recognize that we have a
collective stake in issues related to employment in our own industry and that there are opportunities
here for CPSR as well.
I believe that CPSR has more new and exciting opportunities today than at any time in its history. To
take advantage of these opportunities, we need to begin work toward two goals that I would like to throw
out as the principal challenges for CPSR over the coming year. First, we must build the organization.
We need more members, and we particularly need more people who have the dedication and energy that
many of you in this room have demonstrated over the years. Second, we need to plan a coherent and
effective strategy that will enable CPSR to meet the challenges and opportunities I have outlined today.
We will not be able to finish that process at this meeting, but we can make a good start. And, given the
extraordinary support we have gotten from all of our members over the years, I am confident that we
can find the energy and level of commitment we need to carry that process forward throughout the
Thank you all very much.
Public Access Network Developed in Madison
A team of people based at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and the University of Iowa is
developing a Public Communication System (PCS), a non-profit, world-wide, public access network.
The purpose of the PCS is to enable people to present information, ideas, and questions in a large public
forum where it is easy for other people to read and respond.
How the PCS Will Work
The PCS will be a distributed network. It will consist of a network of servers that will store data
locally and retrieve data from other servers. People can get access by running client software on their
computers at home or at work, and by establishing a connection to a local PCS server. People who don't
have access to a computer can use a PCS computer at their local public library. The software for the
PCS is called Panda, and it is derived from Gopher, a program developed at the University of Minnesota.
The PCS software development team, at the University of Iowa, is modifying Gopher to have enhance its
interactive capabilities and security.
The PCS will present the user with easy-to-follow directions and a hierarchical index of everything on
the system: articles, newsletters, conferences, etc. The PCS will enable users to store whatever they
want on their local PCS server where other PCS users can get access to it. For example, the Sierra Club
might store and make available to the public current and past newsletters, articles from other sources,
and conferences which the Sierra Club moderates. The PCS will keep the index updated so users around
the world will be able to see on their index what the Sierra Club has available, and people can request
whatever they want. The PCS server will then get whatever is requested. Individuals and organizations
will be able to use the PCS to publish newsletters and articles, send e-mail, moderate conferences, and
develop publicly accessible archives. Organizations can use the PCS to communicate with their
memberships, other organizations, and the public.
People will be able to read what is on the PCS for free. The PCS will be paid for by the people who
publish articles, conduct conferences, and send e-mail. For example, the Sierra Club could make their
publications available, and they could have moderators conducting conferences on environmental issues,
but they would have to pay enough each month to help keep the system running.
A Call for Help and Participation
The team developing this system would welcome suggestions for improving the PCS. More detailed
information about the PCS can be provided, and the development team would like to invite anyone who is
interested to get involved; to be successful this network will need a world-wide team of people with
many different interests and skills. A prototype of the PCS is planned for testing by spring 1993, and it
will be tested on the ClCNet, the layer of the Internet which is used by the Big Ten campuses.
Comments would be especially helpful now, while the prototype is still under development and
therefore still has considerable flexibility. The development team is also seeking Internet sites for
testing the prototype. For more information, contact:
John Jordan PCS Project Director University of Wisconsin-Madison email@example.com (608)
Volume 10. No. 4 The CPSR Newsletter Fall 1992
Results of CPSR Membership Survey
The CPSR national staff in Palo Alto distributed a detailed membership survey in the Summer 1992
From the first, we were inundated with returned surveys. We stopped compiling the results at 300Ñ
more than 15 per cent of our membership. (We continue to read and digest the surveys that keep
CPSR members--being an idiosyncratic lotÑignored some questions and responded to othersÑwith a
plethora of detail including attachments, kudos, and anecdotes. The members who responded tend not to
be the activists or the elected leadershipÑthey tend not to go to meetings or participate in working
groupsÑbut remain committed computer professionals who love what CPSR does and want us to do it
As with any survey, the results are open to interpretation. We'd be delighted to hear yours.
And, yes, some of you volunteered to help with chapters, participate in on-line discussions, and work
on projects. You'll be hearing from us in the New Year.
How old are you:
3 Under 25 84 25-35
90 36-45 50 46-60
What's your gender?
199 Male 48 Female
What's your profession?
67 software engineer 50 academic/educator
43 consultant 23 researcher
16 student 11 salesperson
11 manager 10 computer support
6 hardware engineer 5 technical writer
4 government worker 3 attorneys
2 librarians 1 journalist
And 62 others including a reinsurance specialist, a film producer and a full-time housewife/mother.
How did you hear about CPSR?
51 from a friend 43 received a mailing
34 read about us in a computer publication "including ComputerWorld, Byte, Dr. Dobbs' Journal,
Communications of the ACM, Technology Review, Computer
Currents, ACM SIGCAS Bulletin) 21 read about us in a general interest publication 17 heard about
CPSR from a co-worker 15 CPSR chapter event 13 heard a representative speak 10 Industry
conference 9 Electronic notice 4 National event
"I called the ACLU about an outrageous misuse of the my social security number and they gave me
CPSR's Palo Alto phone number. The rest is history."
"I saw a copy of the Ultimate Error Message posted outside a professor's door at the University of
To what other computer-related organizations do you belong?
130 ACM 93 IEEE 21 EFF 19 ACM SIGCAS 12 MAI 9 IEEE-SSIT
Other groups our members belong to range from the Society for Computer Simulation to Association of
Women in Computing to the League for Programming Freedom to the San Gabriel Tandy Users Group.
To what non-computer-related organizations do you belong? The American Civil Liberties Union,
Sierra Club, Amnesty International, Greenpeace, and the National Organization for Women were far and
away the most popular organizations in this category. But CPSR members also belong to: The Planetary
Society, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the Society of Jesus, Role Playing Game Party, National
Council of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, The Opera Guild, Southern Poverty Law Center, and many,
More than half of the respondents said they give money to other organizations with the ACLU, Amnesty
International, Sierra Club, Greenpeace and Common Cause (all of whom, ironically, raise significant
portions of their budgets through so-called "junk mail"). Many members remarked that they gave
money to so many groups they were unable to list them all.
What computing publications do you read? The top three were: 106 ACM Communications 46 IEEE
Computer 39 Byte
What other publications do you read? The top four publications were The New Yorker, The New York
Times, National Geographic, and, you guessed it, Rolling Stone.
What conferences do you attend? The top four conferences were SIGGRAPH, SIGPLAN, AAAI, and
To what chapter do you belong?
1 Acadiana, LA 1 Maine 10 Portland 4 Austin 1 Milwaukee 4 San Diego 8 Los Angeles 3 Philadelphia 25
Boston 1 New Haven 1 0 Seattle
3 Chicago 9 New York 6 Washington, D.C. 7 Denver/Boulder 48 Palo Alto 1 2 Berkeley 1 1 Minnesota
12 Santa Cruz 7 Madison 3 Pittsburgh 61 No chapter
Do you attend chapter meetings?
14 Always 45 Sometimes 155 Never
"I attend for topics I particularly want to know about, for action planning that leads to something being
doneÑall the rest is a waste of time."
If not, why not? The same three answers were repeated again and again: "Not enough time," "too far to
travel," "didn't get announcement of meeting."
Do you participate in any of these CPSR Working Groups
6 Workplace Issues 6 Civil Liberties 2 Nanotech no logy
10 Women in Computing 2 Community Networks
What program areas are the most important to you? (In order of importance)
Privacy and Computers Peace and War Ethics and Computers Reliability and Risks to the Public Access
to Electronic Information Research ties Computers and education Computers and the workplace
Computers and the environment Freedom of Expression on computer networks Public Access and
Community computing Computers and communication infrastructure Women and computing
What is Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility's most important service?
66 Socially responsible voice for the profession
58 Effective Impact on Issues I care about 52 Testimony and other public policy development 35 The
CPSR Newsletter 33 Organized voice in Washington 13 Chance to meet like-minded people 5
Educational Material 4 Conferences 3 Chapter activities 2 Annual Meeting
What do you like best about CPSR?
``The combination of the highest technical competence and sophistication with the broadest and deepest
ethical concerns for all people."
"The CPSR Newsletter has been very thought-provoking."
"Activism in WashingtonÑMarc Rotenberg is ubiquitous."
``Involvement in public policy decisions and legislation."
"Ability to get things done in government and in the local community"
"Clear voice and well run."
"People (through activities & writing), values, activism."
"Its discussion and publications are never condescending."
"Our focus to educate makers of public policy on complex and often deceptive technology issues."
"I learn a lot by contact with members, personally and in print." continued on page 16
"A voice of reason and conscience specifically targeting computer-related issues with responsible
advocacy on privacy issues and its nonprofit status which makes it truly independent and therefore
"CPSR is not strident or whining. Rather its pronouncements are calm, reasoned, and well thought-
outÑand we are respected of it."
Despite my low level of participation, I strongly support CPSR's policies and activities."
"I am deeply immersed in a long-term book project. When I finish it, I will reflect on my commitments
and approach CPSRÑmost likely through the 21st Century Project."
How can CPSR be more effective?
"Facilitate chapter development."
"Higher profile (essentially more of the same.)"
"Expand aggressively, generate a wider revenue baseÑ advertise on the Internet and at other
professional conferences. Address issues which affect computer practitioners directly, such as
workplace safety and electronic privacy in the workplace."
"The most important words to appear in any advocacy publication are here's whet you can do. When
legislation or administrative windows of opportunities open, you should tell your members who to
write, what's the bill number, who's on the fence, who's co-sponsoring."
"Get focused and stay focused. I'm concerned that CPSR is diversifying to embrace a generic liberal
agenda, including areas where computing professionals do not add any particular value to the
discussion, except as citizens. This weakens the organization and also weakens my support."
"Reach out to industry: CPSR continues to have a largely academic orientation and is fairly distant from
our concerns in the business world."
"Outreach to general public via mass media such as talk shows (especially radio.)
"Solid financial foundation."
From the staff and the Board of Directors of CPSR, many thanks to all the members who took the time to
fill out a questionnaire and return it to the Palo Alto office.
The purpose of "Inside CPSR" is to supplement the main body of The CPSR Newsletter, informing
members about what is going on in the national organization and in the chapters. For content, especially
on chapter and regional activities, we rely on you, our members. Send news items to inside-
firstname.lastname@example.org. "Inside CPSR" is edited by a rotating staff of editors: Aki Namioka, Jeff
Johnson, and Paul Hyland. This issue was edited by Jeff Johnson.
Foundation Grants to CPSR
The CPSR Computing and Civil Liberties Program received a $20,000 grant from the Deer Creek
Foundation to support CPSR's ongoing work on privacy, civil liberties, information access, and
Freedom of Information Act inquiries.
CPSR in the News Media
CPSR was featured in two articles in the November-December issue of Technology Review magazine,
published by MIT. Gary Chapman wrote the cover story on technology policy and the 1992 Presidential
election. Marc Rotenberg was quoted extensively in another article on privacy and access to information
on computer networks. CPSR President Eric Roberts was a guest commentator on National Public
Radio's call-in show, "Talk of the Nation," in November. David Sobel, CPSR legal counsel, was quoted by
The New York Times in an article on encryption policy. Gary Chapman was also quoted by the Times in a
piece on privacy and "active badges" in August. The CPSR Annual Meeting was the subject of front-page
stories in The Peninsula Times Tribune, the local paper for Palo Alto, and The San Jose Mercury News,
in October. Annual Meeting chair Jim Davis was also quoted in The New York Times on changing work in
the software industry.
CPSR Scheduled Events
Upcoming CPSR and CPSR-co-sponsored events for 1992: December 4-6, 1992 LaborTech conference,
"Communications Tools for the Nineties," Burlingame, California. Information: (415) 255-8689.
Mar 9-12,1993 Third conference on Computers, Freedom, and Privacy, San Francisco, CA.
Information: (510) 8451350, email@example.com.
August 17-20,1993 INET'93 - Towards a Global Community: International Networking Conference,
The Internet Society, San Francisco, CA
The Peace and Justice Working Group of the Berkeley Chapter has published its Computer and
Information Technologies Platform, a 30 page booklet that outlines key issues and directions for
technology policy. The platform is the product of a year of discussions, research, and meetings, three
drafts, and three public forums. It includes sections on Access to Information, Civil Liberties and
Privacy, Work, the Environment, International Cooperation, and Responsible Use of Computers and
Information Technologies. The platform was sent to candidates running for office in the Bay Area and the
press. We have spoken now before several groups about the platform. Print copies are or $2.50 each
for five or more by writing to CPSR/Berkeley, P.O. Box 40361, Berkeley, CA 94704. Electronic
versions are free, send mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Freedom Privacy and Technology Special Interest Group continues to have monthly programs.
Recent meetings included a discussion of the Technology Platform, and a talk by Tom Jennings, the
founder of FidoNet (speaking on "Anarchistic Elements of Networking").
CPSR/Berkeley publishes a quarterly newsletter; the last newsletter included a reprint of an
important interview with Mike Davis on the use of computer technology by the Los Angeles Police
Department as a means of tightening social control over poor, mostly minority neighborhoods. The
newsletter is available in electronic form; send e-mail to: email@example.com.
We also have our "Welcome to the Electronic Frontier (No Trespassing/Tollbooth Ahead)" t-shirts, L
and XL, 100% cotton available for $14 including postage. See above for the CPSR/Berkeley mailing
The Boston chapter hosted this year's conference on Participatory Design (PDC'90), on November 6
and 7. The conference was a resounding success, with over 160 attendees representing industry as well
as academia. (See story in this issue.)
On Dec. 2, CPSR/LA will feature Jim Blinn, a computer graphics pioneer. While at working at the Jet
Propulsion Laboratory, Blinn became well- known for using computer graphics to dramatize space
exploration. More recently, he has been working as part of the Project Mathematics! team. Project
Mathematics! uses video and computer graphics to teach high school mathematics. We will see some of
their work and hear about how it is all done.
CPSR-Madison is getting involved in the battle over Calling Number ID (CNID) in Wisconsin. A pre-
hearing conference was held on September 29th, to set issues and dates for the hearing. CPSR was
there, as were the ACLU and State Senator Lynn Adelman, who is suing for a contested hearing. On the
telco side were attorneys for Wisconsin Bell and PTI Communications, as well as several other people
connected with GTE. The hearing has been set for February 22nd, with written testimony due by
January 29th. CPSR and the ACLU have both entered as limited parties to the hearing; Senator Adelman
and the Citizens' Utility Board have both entered as full parties.
The parties to the hearing can make "discovery requests" to the telcos in order to collect evidence to
support their testimony. We would appreciate any suggestions for useful requests that we can make to
support our claim that the telcos should offer free per-line blocking. Send suggestions to cpsr-
The CPSR Palo Alto chapter has had a busy fall! At the September chapter meeting we had a great panel
on the changing role of the computer professional in industry. The panel was organized by Jim Davis of
CPSR/Berkeley (recently quoted in The New York Times on this subject) with two other panelists:
Evelyn Pine, managing director of C PSR national, and Tom Athanasiou, a technical writer at Sun
Microsystems who has published in national magazines such as the Atlantic Monthly and is writing a
book on the environment and the global economy. The October chapter meeting was a Candidate Forum on
Technology and Public Policy for our local congressional district. All four registered candidates
attended (Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, and Peace and Freedom). Former CPSR President Terry
Winograd moderated. We held it at the Palo Alto City Hall, which seats 300 and had an overflow crowd.
It was co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters and The Palo Alto Weekly newspaper. Digital
Equipment Corporation, Xerox Corporation, Talarian Corporation, and Sun Microsystems provided
funding. We received lots of positive feedback, especially about our including all the candidates. We
really encourage others to consider such an event as a great civic service, an opportunity to highlight
CPSR's issues, and a good chapter morale builder.
A week after the Candidate Forum, the CPSR Annual Meeting was held at Stanford. See the report in this
issue. Thanks to all the local volunteers who made it possible! The November chapter meeting was a
review of events at the Annual Meeting and a discussion of the previous night's election. To close out the
year, our December meeting is a presentation by CPSR Chair Jeff Johnson on the ease with which
photographs, videotapes, and audiotapes can be altered through the use of digital technology.
The Palo Alto Civil Liberties Group continued expanding its media contacts, with radio, TV, and
newspaper interviews, conference panels, and other activities to get CPSR's privacy message to a wider
audience. At the state level, the group is building a cooperative working relationship with the ACLU of
Northern California. At the same time, however, the group was disappointed by Governor Pete Wilson's
recent veto of the California Privacy Act of 1992, which it had helped to draft and which passed both
houses of the legislature. The group will continue working with its contacts in the California State
Senate to push for pro-privacy legislation.
The Portland chapter has been focusing on privacy implications of proposed new telephone service
offerings in Oregon, mainly CNID. We are a party to the Oregon Public Utility Commission hearings and
have testified in the public interest on the safety and privacy implications of CNID and related services.
CPSR/Seattle is continuing to work on the Seattle Community Network project (SCN). At the last SCN
meeting the group: 1) signed a memorandum of agreement with the Seattle Public Library to work with
them, and 2) signed an affiliation agreement with the National Public Telecomputing Network (NPTN).
We believe that these two steps will help raise money and share experience with other community
network projects. The SCN project is still working on community outreach and the response continues
to be enthusiastic: we have been able to reach a broad spectrum of the community in the Seattle area.
The SCN project formed a coordinating council to oversee the administrative and day-to-day decisions.
At the September meeting, we elected a new President, Doug Schuler. Doug has been a strong presence
in CPSR, both locally and nationally, and he is resuming a position that he held before he was elected to
the national CPSR Board in 1989. We are extremely happy that Doug will continue an active leadership
role in CPSR/Seattle.
At the October CPSR Board meeting, it was suggested that Seattle be the location for the 1993 CPSR
Annual Meeting. We are currently considering this proposal, and discussing possible sites and program
topics. At the October Seattle meeting, we heard an informal presentation from Paul Hyland about
CapAccess, the civic network project of CPSR/DC, and the CPSR ListServer. The CapAccess experience
was valuable for us to hear because they are dealing with many of the same issues we are.
In November, Gary Chapman will visit Seattle and CPSR/ Seattle is sponsoring two talks while he is
here. The first will be a public talk about Government Technology policy, and the second will be a
presentation to the local chapter about the 21st Century project. Members of CPSR/ Seattle will also
meet with Gary to talk about the Annual Meeting.
We are planning our annual holiday potluck for December 15th and welcome all members and non-
members. For more information about the potluck or other information about CPSR/Seattle, please
contact Aki at (206)865-3229, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Doug Schuler at (206)865-3832,
On October 21, the Washington DC chapter sponsored a talk on "The Ethical implications of Virtual
Reality" by Dr. Chris Dede, Director of the Center for Interactive Technology at George Mason
University. Dr. Dede showed several videos, including one containing vignettes from a San Francisco
multimedia art course envisioning possible implications of VR technology. His overview and the videos
led to a spirited discussion about the possible effects of VR on interpersonal relationships, education,
work, childhood development and other aspects of human experience. We also touched on possible ethical
guidelines for the development and application of these technologies.
This meeting was the first held by the DC Chapter at George Mason University, which is the largest
university in the Northern Virginia area. It was held there as part of the chapter's outreach effort. We
recruited two new members from the university community at the meeting.
The DC chapter has several members interested in issues related to computers and biomedicine, and
will be forming a subgroup on that topic. One of the groups first tasks is to evaluate the "DNA
Identification Act," a bill that died in the House's end of session rush, which would regulate the Justice
Department's genetic information databases, among other things.
The DC chapter's next meeting will be its annual holiday party, held at Eva Waskell's house on
December 6. Come on by if you are in the area. Call Paul Hyland at (301 ) 270-2382, or write him on
e-mail at email@example.com.
NSA Gives in to CPSR Member Challenge
CPSR member John Gilmore, a speaker on encryption policy at the 1992 Annual Meeting, prevailed in
a lawsuit against the National Security Agency on November 24, 1992. Gilmore's pursuit of a Freedom
of Information Act (FOIA) inquiry and lawsuit into the classified data encryption procedures of the NSA
resulted in a policy shift at the NSA, which declassified its encryption manuals after Gilmore
demonstrated that he had discovered the manuals in a public library. The Federal government reversed
its opposition to Gilmore's FOIA inquiry and lawsuit without explanation.
As Gilmore explained at the CPSR Annual Meeting at Stanford University on October 17th (see
accompanying story in this issue), he believes that wider distribution of NSA encryption schemes will
allow greater public access to encryption and this will lead to enhanced individual privacy. Gilmore
requested a copy of the long-classified NSA manuals on encryption through a standard FOIA request in
June. When the government did not respond to the request, Gilmore filed a lawsuit in September to
compel production of the manuals.
Gilmore subsequently found two of the classified volumes of the NSA manuals in a public library. When
government attorneys discovered that Gilmore had copies of the manuals, they initially ordered him to
return the volumes to the NSA. The Justice Department contended in mid-November that public release
of the documents would give other countries a glimpse of the U.S. capabilities to intercept electronic
On Tuesday, November 24, 1992, the government decided l to let Gilmore keep the previously
classified manuals, and they are now officially declassified. Gilmore is still trying to get the agency to
declassify other volumes of the multivolume encryption manual series.
Gilmore, one of the original five employees of Sun Microsystems, is now a software consultant with
Cygnus Support in Mountain View, California. He was a co-founder and is a member of the board of
directors of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
After maintaining the current dues structure for Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility
since March 1988, the CPSR Board of Directors voted in October to make two changes in the
organization's dues levels. As of January 1, 1993, the $40 basic membership will be raised to $50 and
the $150 sustaining membership will be raised to $200. All other categories remain the same.
Expenses covered by membership dues include The CPSR Newsletter, a speakers bureau, informational
materials, press briefing work, chapters' share of the dues, and more. An analysis of costs indicated
that, at the current membership level of C PSR, the $40 fee did not cover the true cost of membership
CALL FOR NOMINATIONS TO THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF
COMPUTER PROFESSIONALS FOR SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
During the spring of 1993, CPSR will hold regular elections for four positions on its Board of
Directors: President, Secretary, Midwestern Regional Director, and Western Regional Director (last
year's election filled the last year of an unexpired term in this position). Each of these positions is
elected for a three-year term beginning on July 1, 1993. In addition, we will hold a special election to
fill a two-year term in the position of Southern Regional Director, which is currently vacant.
Regional Directors are nominated by CPSR chapters in the appropriate region, with each chapter
entitled to make no more than two nominations. A letter describing the role of Regional Director and
outlining the nomination process will be sent to all chapters in the regions holding elections this year:
Western (Berkeley, Los Angeles, Palo Alto, Santa Cruz, and San Diego), Midwestern (Chicago, Madison,
Milwaukee, Minnesota), and Southern (Acadiana, Austin). If you are a member of one of these chapters
and are interested in this position, please contact your chapter officers.
Under the bylaws, nominations for CPSR officers are made by the CPSR Board or by petition from 2%
of the members. In practice, the Board has approved the nomination of any member in good standing who
seeks any of these positions and submits a statement of candidacy (see below). Once again, the Board
invites self-nominations and suggestions from the membership for the positions of President and
All nominations must be accompanied by a statement from the candidate which will be printed in the
election ballot. This statement should be written in two parts: (1) a description of the candidate's
background and qualification, including educational and employment history in the computer
profession, past work with CPSR, and any relevant experience, and (2) a brief policy statement
outlining the candidate's perspective on the CPSR program and the issues facing the organization. The
combined length of these sections must not exceed 500 words.
Nominations for any of the above positions must be received in the CPSR National Office by March 31,
1993. Ballots will be mailed to all members by April 15 and must be returned to the CPSR office by
May 31, 1993.
P.O. Box 717
Palo Alto, CA 94302
The CPSR Newsletter is published by:
Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility P.O. Box 717 Palo Alto, CA 94302-0717 (415)
322-3778 (415) 322-3798 (Fax) Internet electronic mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Also located at:
CPSR 666 Pennsylvania Avenue, S.E. Suite 303 Washington, D.C. 20003 (202) 544-9240
This newsletter was produced on an Apple Macintosh 11 equipped with a Radius Rocket, using the
desktop publishing application PageMaker 4.2. Hardware and software were donated by Apple
Computer, the Radius and Aldus Corporations.
Created before October 2004