The CPSR Newsletter
Volume 13, No. 1 COMPUTER PROFESSIONALS FOR SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY Winter 1995
A Japanese Perspective on the Significance of the Information Revolution 3
Europe Moves Toward Comprehensive Privacy Protection; US Heads in the Opposite Direction
Computers Privacy and Electronic Highways in Sweden
New Perspectives on Computer Science in Germany 9
1984 Plus 10: Reality and Utopia in Computer Science 10
The FIFF 10th Anniversary Meeting: An Outsider's
A Perspective fromSwitzerland 12
ALCEI: An Essential Tool for Italian Electronic Citizens 13
Computer Science in the New South Africa 14
Bits of the South African Election 16
A Brief Report on CPSR's '94 Annual Meeting 19
Sister Organizations 20
Call for Nominations to the Board of Directors 23
Chapter Updates 25
A World of Perspectives on the Growing Information Infrastructure
by Judi Clark
CPSR Treasurer Board of Directors
I am the peopleÑthe mobÑthe crowdÑthe mass. Do you know that all the great work of the world is done
- Carl Sandburg
CPSR was formed 13 years ago when the Strategic Defense Initiative was growing in political strength.
We were the voice of reason, pointing out in technological terms why our Administration's promises of
SDI were empty, over-promoted, or impossible. We continue now with a public-interest vision,
watching how technology continues to change our society, our cultures, and ways of life. The change is
global, and we are all involved.
Since most of our members live in the United States, our past newsletters have focussed on issues that
are perceived as important here such as computers and the poor, or computers in the workplace. We
don't often realize our Americentricity, and don't often think that our issues play themselves out in
slightly different ways around the world.
This issue of The CPSR Newsletter is about both our members and friends, and the reason we exist. It is
about the world we live in, the world we are helping to create, and the world our children will be at
home in. There is often a great deal of information needed to make informed choice, and time is needed to
gather this information. Ironically, there are many other demands for our time in the modern world.
This issue, written by our international members and friends,offers some alternative perspectives.
This issue is about international perspectives, but it is also about us. To illustrate the connection, let
me take a couple of steps down an unusual path.
An Alternative Outlook
It is unlikely that CPSR has many Amish members. However, it is more likely that many of our
members share an understanding with the Amish. Our current economics and the creation of our future
is a cooperative venture, one we all have a stake in. Often we may feel like one small unit in a large
corporation, university, or bureaucracy. But that need not deter us from the realization that what we
are doing is creating a larger picture.
Recently I read a story about Amish economics that I'll share briefly with you. The author recounted
how a tornado had swept through the community, leveling trees and barns. It was but a few weeks before
the community, knowing well how to work together, had turned the fallen trees into large, well-
crafted barns filled with hay and livestock to replace that which had been lost. Their farming methods,
like other parts of their economics, are based on managed stability, in their social values as well as in
their level of technology. Can we say as much about our workplaces?
Another Alternative Outlook
While on the subject of managing our resources, allow me to continue to generalize with a brief
reference to Islamic banking. According to Islamic law, the risk of business ventures should be shared
equally between the provider and the user of funds, and additionally, the funds must support activities
in line with their culture's laws (no trade in alcohol or arms, for instance). Their practices are about
taking responsibility for building your world and future as if it meant something to you.
These two examples might be tossed aside with the observation that Amish and Islamic practice are both
deeply rooted in culture and religion. But will we deny that part of our culture, our religion, is our
In the Winter 1994 newsletter, we wrote of our public interest vision for the National Information
Infrastructure. In it, we expressed concern that the people not yet "blessed" by technology should still
be given access to the fruits of our labors.
In the last newsletter, we gave color and life to this vision of the NII with practical examples, fears,
and achievable realities. Now, in this issue, we look around the world with the eyes of others, to help us
understand their situations, concerns, and solutions. It is my hope that this wide-angle view will help
us all see our own situations more clearly.
Judi Clark is Treasurer and a member of the board of Directors for CPSR She can be reached at
A Japanese Perspective on the Significance of the Information Revolution
by Shumpei Kumon
Center for Global Communications International University of Japan
I would like to take this opportunity to share with you my interpretation, as a Japanese social scientist,
of the widely-discussed information revolution.
As I see it, the development of computer networks is at the origin of the digital or information
revolution now in full swing. The web of open-data networks in the United States, with the Internet as
its prototype, has doubled in size every year since 1989, putting it on course to achieve a thousandfold
expansion in 10 years. Should this phenomenal growth continue over the next several years, there is no
doubt that the United States will by the end of the century have elaborated a new-generation
telecommunications network rivaling the television and telephone in terms of pervasiveness. The
United States is also beginning to witness the explosive growth of network-oriented applications like
the World Wide Web and of a myriad of data services and businesses utilizing these applications,
including the American government's Interactive Citizens' Handbook and National Performance Review
Some five years after open-data networks took off in the United States, they have now finally started to
show signs of doing likewise in Japan. Given Japan's advantages as a latecomer to the information
revolution, however, it is not unreasonable to expect that networks will proliferate there at perhaps
twice the speed at which they did in the United States of the early 1990s, resulting in a thousandfold
expansion in a mere five years. If such momentum can be maintained, it is certain that open-data
networks will come into wide use in Japan by the end of the century. On both sides of the Pacific. we
find ourselves today confronting the prospect, only five or ten years down the road, of sweeping
transformations whose significance is revolutionary in the most literal sense of the word.
The Three Dimensions of the Information Revolution
Three dimensions exist in the information revolution that is now changing the way we live and work.
The Third Industrial Revolution
The first of these is the third industrial revolution, which follows in the wake of the first and second
industrial revolutions of the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
The third industrial revolution . . . is being spearheaded by technological breakthroughs stemming
from the development of computer networks.
The first industrial revolution consisted of a wave of technological advances based on the utilization of
iron and coal. These spawned producer-oriented machines, which made possible the mass production of
goods in factories. The second industrial revolution was triggered by a series of innovations
incorporating new materials like plastics and powered by oil and electricity. These gave birth to
passenger cars, electric household appliances, and other consumer durablesÑin other words,
consumer- oriented machinesÑwhich allowed services to be procured in the home.
In much the same way, we can say that the third industrial revolution of the late twentieth century is
being spearheaded by technological breakthroughs stemming from the development of computer
networks. As the American commentator George Gilder has put it, we are entering an era in which
computing power and telecommunications bandwidth and spectrum, which were once scarce and
expensive, have so become plentiful and cheap as to be available in abundance to nearly everybody.
Networking will allow a quantum leap in the performance of today's workstations and personal
computers, which as stand-alone machines already rival and will soon surpass in power previous
generations of supercomputers. These networks of powerful machines have opened the way to efficiency
gains in data processing and communications in the office and home as well as the factory. It has thus
become possible to substantially raise the productivity of nonroutine office work and labor-intensive
service industries, once viewed as bastions of low productivity.
In the world of computer software and hardware, it has long been taken for granted that each year will
see meaningful decreases in price and increases in performance. Now, in the context of the third
industrial revolution, the same "more for less" trend is starting to become visible across the spectrum
of products and services. Even the costs of health care, welfare, and administrative services can be
expected to fall. What this may mean in the front-running industrial countries, many of which must
confront the graying of their populations, is that they can look forward to inflation-free growth and the
eventual resolution of their budgetary woes, allowing them to steadily reduce the burdens of taxation
and social-security contributions placed upon their citizens. If trade ties with the industrial
latecomers can be further developed, this prospect will be even more significantly enhanced.
Indeed, the third industrial revolution has laid the foundation for a new era of complementary trade
relations between industrial front-runners and latecomers. A striking characteristic of today's world
economy is that while the third industrial revolution is rapidly unfolding in the United States and
elsewhere, the nations of East Asia are one after another successfully achieving industrial take-off.
These countries are developing by supplying the world with low-cost, high-quality manufactured goods
produced using already proven technology. If U.S. Vice-President Albert Gore is correct in his belief
that advanced telecommunications systems will engender sustainable economic development, these
burgeoning centers of production will be able to furnish the world with manufactured goods of even
better quality at even lower prices by importing advanced telecommunications systems and services.
So long as the information revolution continues to gain ground, therefore, the United States and other
industrial front-runners should be able to export advanced communications systems and services to the
industrializing nations of Asia and elsewhere for a considerable time into the future. Indeed, the
American economy is already clearly moving in that direction. This development points to the strong
possibility that the Asia-Pacific region is now heading toward an era of complementary inflation-free
growth. The principal challenge facing the Japanese economy in the coming years will be supporting the
creation of complementary trade and growth patterns and playing a positive role within this new
In order to carry forward the third industrial revolution, it is imperative that government and
business in Japan and the other industrialized countries rapidly take advantage of technological
advances to date to realize still further innovations and sweeping productivity gains. I consider this the
first item on the global agenda to promote what I call informatization.
The Information-Society Revolution
The second dimension of the information revolution is a social revolution comparable in scale and depth
to the industrial revolution itself. With these far-reaching societal changes, modern civilization is
moving into the third phase of its evolution: informatization, or the formation of an information
Modernization can be interpreted as a process in which individuals or groups compete with the
immediate objective of acquiring and amassing the means to control others in order to better attain
their ultimate ends. Since ancient times, three kinds of actions have been used to control others: ( I )
threats and coercion, (2) trade and exploitation, and (3) persuasion and inducement. Viewed in these
terms, modernization can be divided into three phases, according to the means of control sought most
The first phase of modernization was one of militarization and nation-building, beginning with the
feudalism of the early middle ages and moving into its heyday around the end of the fifteenth century.
During this period, the sovereign states of Europe, which had arisen as the result of innovations in
military technology and viewed national sovereignty as supreme, started to play the "prestige game,"
competing in the international arena under a set of common rules for the abstract, generalized means of
threat and coercion, namely state prestige.
The second phase of modernization was characterized by enterprise-building and industrializing. It
opened with the revival of commerce in the eleventh and twelfth centuries and hit its peak around the
end of the eighteenth century, the dawn of the age of industrialism. At this time, private enterprises,
which had arisen as a result of the industrial revolution and viewed property rights as supreme, began
to play the "wealth game," competing in global markets under a set of common rules for the abstract,
generalized means of trade and exploitation, namely wealth.
Now, in the waning years of the twentieth century, we find ourselves nearing the crest of the third
phase of modernization, a phase that had its origins in developments of the thirteenth through the
seventeenth centuries, namely the Renaissance, the invention of the printing press, the Reformation,
and the scientific revolution. This is the age of information, of reason, of the "wisdom game." Today's
key players, who have grown out of the ongoing information revolution, are perhaps best described as
"intelprises." These organizations are now championing a new set of socially ordained information
rights, consisting fundamentally of the rights to information security, priority, and privacy.
Intelprises may well eventually compete within the arena of the global "intelplace" under a set of
common rules for the abstract, generalized means of persuasion and inducement, namely wisdom. At
present, however, these competitive games for the acquisition of wisdom are still in their infancy.
Indeed, the task of establishing information rights and properly balancing and reconciling them with
the interests of national sovereignty, private property ownership. and other rights, not to mention the
task of drawing up a set of common game rules, are all challenges that lie ahead.
The second item on the global agenda to promote informatization thus consists of hammering out as
rapidly as possible a set of viable information rights, an undertaking that will require balancing these
rights not only against each other but also against national sovereignty and other fundamental interests.
The Rise of the Netizens
The third dimension to the information revolution is political. The second phase of modernization, to
which I alluded previously, created an urban citizen bourgeois that engaged primarily in commerce and
industry. This emerging middle class became the driving force not only for popular democratization
movements in the modem sovereign states but also for the industrial revolution itself. In a similar
manner, the third phase of modernization would appear to have created a class of' netizens," individuals
or groups who dwell within the virtual world of computer networks and engage in the task of sharing
information and knowledge.
Netizen is a coinage that appeared on the Internet just this year. Today's netizens can, however, trace
their roots back to the literati and scholars of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries who began to
pursue artistic and scholarly undertakings in the framework of "virtual communities" devoted to the
exchange of knowledge and information. In the same vein, it might be more appropriate to consider as
"netizens' groups" rather than "citizens' groups" the nongovernmental and/or nonprofit organizations
and advocacy groups that have amassed such enormous power in the last few years
Indeed, the percentage of such groups that readily utilize computer networks to conduct their activities
on a global scale is growing by the day. Ultimately, this new class of netizens could become a leading
voice for direct, participatory "electronic democratization," as well as the vanguard of the information
revolution. In other words, both an information revolution paralleling the industrial revolution of the
nineteenth century and a netizens' revolution paralleling the citizens' revolutions of that turbulent era
are beginning to unfold around us today.
Actually. it might even be possible to maintain that the Clinton-Gore duo, themselves active users of
modern communications and networking equipment. have already carried out, at least partly, a netizen-
backed "Bloodless Revolution" in the United States. Indeed, the fourth of the five principles recently put
forward by Gore as guidelines for the national information infrastructure--open accessÑappears to be
aimed at ensuring members of the netizen class freedom in their information-related activities, and the
fifthÑuniversal service can be construed as a position intended to preempt any rifts between the new
classes of the "information-rich" and "information-poor." (Incidentally, Gore's first and second
principles, which emphasize private-sector investment and competition, might furthermore be seen as
responding to the industrial-revolution dimension of the information revolution.)
In Japan, the emergence of a class of netizens, both within the ranks of government and business and
among the public at large, has occurred at a much slower pace than in the United States. This may
account for the negative attitude of corporate Japan toward multimedia technology: It is widely
maintained that the future of multimedia is hazy at best and that there will probably be little demand
for home use of this budding technology, regardless of its business applications. It is precisely the
members of Japan's nascent netizen class, however, who can be expected to make use of high-capacity
communications links and high-performance computer networks as they seek to broaden their access to
information and information-related services and to develop active channels of communication
Ultimately, this new class of netizens could become a leading voice for direct, participatory "electronic
democratization." and collaboration. This suggests that netizens may create a demand for large-scale
telecommunications services that represent a bridge between business and home uses. It is thus
incumbent upon government and industry not to hamstring the rise of netizens but rather to cooperate
with them, giving them the freedom to pursue their information-related activities. This constitutes the
third item on the global agenda to promote informatization.
The World Social Order as the Third Axis of the Post-Cold-War Order
The information revolution under way in the United States is now sending ripples around the world. In
late 1993, on the basis of collective experience to date.
Vice-President Gore enunciated five principles for the development of the national information
infrastructure, or NII. The following March, these five principles were adopted for the eventual
creation of a global information infrastructure, or GII at a world development conference held in
Buenos Aires by the International Telecommunications Union. At this conference, Gore delivered an
address in which he expressed two convictions which I will refer to as the 'Gore Doctrine." First, he
asserted that the GII would be key to future economic growth at both the national and international
levels. Second, he maintained that the GII would be instrumental in bringing about democratization.
I subscribe in large part to the Gore Doctrine and the five specific principles that he enunciated. I am
not entirely convinced, however, that they are applicable to global society in its entirety. At least in the
front-runners of the industrial world, their applicability seems reasonably adequate. Quite a few
Japanese have been saying that the five principles ought to be applied in Japan without modification.
But as made manifest by the ponderous way deregulation has recently been discussed and implemented
there, agreement in general does not mean agreement on all the particulars. When the reform process
gets down to that level, attempts to impose limitations and make exceptions are bound to arise from the
bureaucracy and the business world.
In nations now gearing up for industrialization, disagreement is to be expected even on the broader
concepts. For instance, it is hard to imagine that Singapore's present rulers will accept Gore's second
doctrine endorsing the use of advanced telecommunications systems to promote democracy, and they will
not be easily persuaded that either open access or universal service is a necessary principle. And when
we come to those countries with forms of civilization and culture that differ radically from modern
industrial civilization, we may find that resistance to Gore's doctrines and principles is fiercer yet.
With such circumstances in mind, I would underline the following points.
First, world order consists not of two but three axes: political order, economic order, and what I will
call social order. The axis of social order serves as a foundation for the other two; in fact, we may say
that it sets the stage for social integration. For the members of a society to engage in communication
buttressed by mutual trust and, on that basis, to construct a system of political and economic acts and
institutions, they must first be in broad agreement on the ideals of the sociocultural order. They must,
in other words, share a system of social meanings and values.
When modern civilization began to flower in Europe, a loose but common foundation of a shared
sociocultural order was already present. As a result, the Europeans had no need to devote exhausting
efforts to the construction and maintenance of the third axis of modern society. In fact. conscious
recognition of the very existence of this third axis did not become essential until, on the one hand, a
number of Asian countries began to take off independently on industrial flights and, on the other,
informatization began progressing, leading to the rise of social groups sharing new systems of social
meanings and values.
The second point is that within modern society, especially twentieth-century industrial society and,
above all, the post-Cold War society of the United States, opinions on the desired world political and
economic order seem to be converging upon the thesis expressed by scholars like Francis Fukuyama.
According to this general view, the best global political order is one that uses democracy as the tool to
achieve peace while placing constraints on dictatorships, and the best global economic order is one that
uses economic liberalism as the tool to realize prosperity while placing constraints on monopolies. To
put this concisely, the international community has in the twentieth century pinned its hopes on
achieving peace and prosperity by means of democracy and the free market economy. Such is the order
that has been seen as ideal.
Today, however, quite a few peoples and regions possessing cultures that differ from Western culture
have become members of modern civilization. Particularly in the Asia-Pacific region, which is shaping
up as the new growth center of the twenty-first century, we must now give careful thought to the
following three issues:
First, what political and economic order should we seek for this region'? Should it be based squarely on
the Western style of democracy and liberalism? Is it not possible to devise some sort of variation that
incorporates the fundamental features of Western-style democracy but that adds modifications suited to
the conditions in this region'?
Second, do we not need to build a broad agreement on the necessity for supplementing the political and
economic order with a third axis, an order for the social sphere?
Third, if a social order is to be built in this region, with its far greater sociocultural diversity than in
the West, what should its contents be'?
My own thinking is that in constructing a social order to supplement the political and economic order
that seeks peace and prosperity rooted in freedom and democracy, we will most probably have to strive
for an order that promotes mutual comprehension among cultures and makes possible the "coemulation"
of civilizations with the aid of communication and collaboration This does not of course mean that all
societies should espouse a single culture, that is, a single system of social meanings and values. What is
important is that we strive to understand each other's cultures. Even if it is desirable that political and
economic regimes be harmonized to a certain degree in order to facilitate interaction, the freedom of
each society in accordance with its own circumstances and history to maintain and develop different
systems and customs of civilization must be respected.
The kind of integration currently most needed in the Asia-Pacific region is not, of course, political
integration, nor is it the unification of economic systems and policies, at least for the time being. I
would suggest instead that it is a loose and simple form of integration based on a shared social order that
allows free communication and spontaneous collaboration. And if we adopt this perspective to reexamine
global conditions in the aftermath of the Cold War, I think we will find that the Asia-Pacific region is
not alone in this respect, and that conscious endeavors to construct a social order are required in almost
all of' the world's regions.
To conclude, the significance of the ongoing information revolutionÑand especially the construction of
the GII as a global expression of that revolutionÑlies not only in its obvious role in providing a
foundation for the development of world political and economic orders. but more importantly in its
potential contribution to the elaboration of world social order. We will need to create a shared
recognition of this dual significance to work together to make the GII a reality.
This article can be found on the Web at URL: http://www.glocom.ac.jp/Publications/Kumon/GII2.html.
Professor Shumpei Kumon presented this paper to the U.S.-Japan Telecommunications Roundtable in
Washington, DC on November 21-22, 1994. Professor Kumon is Executive Director of the Center for
Global Communications at the International University of Japan. He can be reached at
Europe Moves Toward Comprehensive Privacy Protection; U.S. Heads in the Opposite Direction
by Dave Banisar
Electronic Privacy Information Center
The European Union is on the verge of passing EU-wide comprehensive privacy protection legislation.
After four years of discussion, it appears that the EU will enact its directive on data protection during
February 1995 and will put it into effect by 1996. The directive will set minimum standards for
privacy protection in all EU member countries. All EU countries except for Italy and Greece already
have data protection legislation but the level of protection varies by country. France and Germany have
strong protections while the UK's is considered to be extremely weak.
The Directive requires that all states enact a minimum level of protection for personal information
stored on computers or in records that are in files.
The major points of the Directive specify that it
¥ Applies to both private and government databases.
¥ Requires that fair information practices be implemented.
¥ Generally requires consent before personal information is used for purposes other than those for
which it was originally obtained.
¥ Requires that individuals have rights to access, correct, and demand erasure of personal information
¥ Prohibits transfers of personal data to countries without equivalent protections. This may
significantly affect the flow of personal data between the U.S. and the KU.
¥ Requires the creation of a national privacy commission in each country to oversee the implementation
and execution of the Directive. Creates supranational groups to review implementation and recommend
Another pending directive will protect the privacy of telecommunications records. Even within member
countries, privacy protection has been enacted. When caller ID was introduced in the UK, British
Telecom offered it with per call and per line blocking. Spain's newly formed privacy commission has
begun its first year of operation. Outside the KU,
The directive will set minimum standards for privacy protection in all EU member countries.
other countries are recognizing the need for strong privacy protection. The Canadian government just
released a discussion paper on privacy and the information superhighway, and is calling for comments.
The Canadian Standards Association is releasing draft privacy standards. Even the Croatian and
Taiwanese Parliaments have moved toward enacting comprehensive privacy legislation.
Meanwhile, the U.S. headed in the opposite direction. In the 103rd Congress, privacy legislation ground
to a halt while several bills to increase surveillance were enacted. Bills to create a privacy
commission, to update the Fair Credit Reporting Act for the first time in 20 years, and to protect
medical records all failed to pass. The only legislation enacted that protected privacy was a small
provision in the crime bill to require that states allow citizens to limit access to motor vehicle records.
However, after lobbying by the direct marketers, the bill has been severely weakened and prevents the
states from passing stronger laws.
Legislation requiring telecommunications companies to redesign their systems to make surveillance
easier was enacted in the last minutes of the session after strenuous lobbying by the FBI and
intelligence agencies. The bill requires that telephone companies and other common carriers program
switches to make them capable of wiretapping. In exchange, the phone companies will receive $500
million over three years. A few weak privacy provisions were thrown in to give the appearance of a
Another bill to allow the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to authorize searches for "national
security" cases was quietly appended to the CIA authorization bill. The crime bill gives the FBI $100
million to set up a national DNA database.
Finally, the GATT legislation passed with a provision to require that social security numbers be issued
at birth if the family wishes to take a tax credit.
The status of privacy legislation in the 104th Congress is uncertain. Major bills, such as the FCRA
update and the medical records bill had bipartisan support in the previous Congress. Republican
members were also critical of the telephony bill and the Clipper Chip, and limits on exports of
encryption software. On the other hand, new proposals such as welfare and immigration reform may
lead to a renewed push for a national identity card. Stay tuned.
Dave Banisar is a policy analyst at the Electronic Privacy Information Center and editor of the
International Privacy Bulletin. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Computers, Privacy, and Electronic Highways in Sweden
by Stellan Welin
Center for Research Ethics Goteborg, Sweden
Sweden has a very accurate system of national statistics. This system is managed by Statistics Sweden,
and it covers most aspects of life. Historically, some statistical tabulations date back to the seventeenth
century and are in fact the oldest in the world. Every inhabitant of Sweden, whether a citizen or a
permanent resident, has a unique personal identification number. As all statistics generated by
Statistics Sweden make use of these unique numbers, in principle all existing databases containing
personal information can easily be matched and integrated. The same is true of data used by the Swedish
bureaucracy, which was computerized very early.
Sweden also has a very far reaching freedom of information act; except for a few classified items such
as health status, militarily sensitive information and so on, all government and local archives are open
to anybody. You can go to whatever agency you want and demand to see the information they have. You
don't even need to be a Swedish citizen. You can, for example, find out a great deal about your
neighbours. At first there was some uncertainty as to whether the freedom of information act applied to
databases; the present ruling is that it does and you have a right not only to read existing papers but
also "potential papers." However, you may only use existing programs at the agency to extract the
Two special events triggered intense discussion about privacy and computers. The first happened in the
early '70s when Statistics Sweden proposed to use the ordinary census (one every fifth year) to collect
a lot of data to be stored in a computerized database and used for planning. When people got the
questionnaires they were upset, partly because they were legally obliged to answer some rather
personal questions, for example about what they did during a certain week. The ensuing discussion led to
a bill in 1973 whereby Sweden adopted the first Data Act in the world to regulate the use of
computerized personal information.
The second event was the publicity surrounding the Metropolit Project. On February 10, 1986, the
largest Swedish newspaper, Dagens Nyheter, broke the news of a large sociological research project
that had been running since 1966, surveying 15,000 people (all born in 1953), and storing the data
in computerized form. Most of the research subjects were unaware of the research: they had been
recruited as school children, to answer questions in interviews at that time. Most of the subsequent
information had been collected through data banks of the authorities or from joint questionnaires whose
explicit purpose was to further "innocent" research (for example, surveys of the number of people
watching certain television programs). A public uproar ensued because the research subjects felt that
their privacy had been intruded on, and angry accusations were hurled at those who were perceived to
be arrogant social scientists.
The Data Inspection Board, responsible under the Data Act, had approved the project Since the project
started before the Data Act, the Data Inspection Board urged the Metropolit Project to work out
procedures that would comply with the requirement of informed consent central to the Data Act. Because
the public reaction was so strong and violent, the Data Inspection Board decided that it was no longer
acceptable to continue the project. Amid great political turmoil the Metropolit Project was terminated
and all computerized data destroyed.
In April 1986 the Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme was murdered and public interest in the
Metropolit Project dissipated rapidly. Today, there is very little discussion of issues of privacy and
computers in Sweden.
Personally, l think this decrease in interest is related to how changes in the use of computers in the
governmental bureaucracy afffected its relations with the citizens. In the old days, Swedish authorities
introduced computers to facilitate their handling of information.
Citizens and firms were obliged by law to provide an ever increasing amount of information to the
authorities. Computerization of the national and local bureaucracy produced no benefits for the citizens.
This situation has changed in recent years The formerly troublesome declaration of income, to be filled
out once every year, has now for most citizens been replaced by a ready-made sheet they need just
check for accuracy and sign. On that new income declaration form the income is already printed as well
as bank account balances. the value of one's house, and so on. All this information has been collected by
the authorities from other sources than the citizen. Since the firms and the banks have to provide
information on salaries and accounts to the tax authorities anyway. not much extra work is involved on
their part. Everybody is more or less satisfied with the computerized bureaucracy. (Some are of course
unhappy with the bureaucracy, but not because of its computerization.)
The public interest today is focused on "electronic highways" and the Internet. Sweden has a well
developed telephone system; cables are everywhere, and knowledge of English is widespread. The
former government set up a commission on information technology that produced an enthusiastic white
paper on how to implement information technology. The commission evidently saw such technology as
one way out of Sweden's present economic and financial predicaments. The newly elected government
seems to be less enthusiastic about information technology. On the other hand, Swedish Telecom,
information technology corporations like Ericsson, and the research community are strong agents who
advocate a rapid expansion of the number of services available through the net.
Reference: Welin, Stellan, "The Computerized Social Scientist--Moral and Political Issues" in In
Science We Trust?, eds. Aant EIzinga et. al., Lund: Lund University Press, 1990. He can be reached at
New Perspectives on Computer Science in Germany
by Werner Beuschel
Isn't computer science attractive to German students anymore? During last winter term for the first
time since CS curricula were established in the early 70s, the available capacity in CS departments
exceeded actual enrollment figures. In fact, enrollment has continuously decreased for the past five
years. At the same time, the addition of reorganized East German universities has expanded the number
For many years CS departments suffered a shortage of faculty while facing overwhelming numbers of
students. Now suddenly, encouraging the study of CS, or as it is termed here and in some European
countries, informatics has become a matter of (financial) survival!
Experts still argue about reasons for the decline, and it is certainly too early to speculate on future
ramifications. After all, CS represents a success story in terms of the genesis of an academic discipline.
Its offspring such as business informatics, administrative informatics, and medical informatics, are
blooming, and applications to information technology are growing everywhere. Maybe future scholars
will see this process as the institutional rearrangement of a discipline that grew too fast, holding on for
too long to its abstract mathematical bases and neglecting the power of application-related
Nevertheless, current market facts convey a clear messsage. It's all too obvious that the software
industry in GermanyÑas elsewhereÑis undergoing dramatic changes, challenging smaller and bigger
companies alike, except maybe the prosperous maker of sytems R/2 and R/3, SAP Inc. Most hardware
and software companies simply do not have an urgent need for a bigger pool of job-seeking graduates.
And news of slowed-down job opportunities is certainly not lost on a generation that gets and digests
information faster than anyone before.
A second explanation for the decrease in CS enrollments is that new students are turning away from
technical disciplines and toward business and management related fields. This movement can be seen as
a societal trend that is hitting other departments like mechanical and electrical engineering even
The prevalent opinion still is that hard technology has to be taken up before so-called soft issues like
Speaking of societal trends: recently Germans celebrated the fifth anniversary of the fall of the wall. It
is now acknowledged now that unification requires much more time and effort than anybody expected in
the beginning. Since then, one often hears the phrase "the wall within," which indicates the difficulties
Easterners and Westerners have in understanding each other culturally and psychologically despite
their common language. But the universities show encouraging signs of new beginnings. East and West
German students together seem to enjoy the opportunities at the reorganized universities in the East,
with their brand new equipment, smaller unit size, and motivated faculty. As one of my TAs put it,
coming from her Western town to a Eastern university, "There are no masses of students, I can talk to
everybody, computers are pletitul, I've got a job I like, and I've even found a boyfriend! "
Not too far down the road, it seems the German East's completely rebuilt and modernized infrastructure
could give it an advantage not equal but comparable to West Germany's over its former foes some time
after WW II. And university graduates could be among the first to put that advantage to use.
But progress is not everywhere apparent. While in CS departments of the "old" Western states,
universities gained quite a number of permanent positions for specialists in "Computers and Society,"
during recent years (in Berlin, Bremen, Dortmund, and Paderborn among others), universities of the
"new" Eastern states were not equipped likewise. The prevalent opinion still is that hard technology has
to be taken up before so-called soft issues like social implications. On the other hand, the task of
building new curricula also provides opportunities for the integration of social issues and for
demanding that students acquire social skills comparable to their technical knowledge.
Will there be new directions for R&D support of information technology by the federal government that
was (re-)elected in November? Much hype surrounds the recently created "future department," the
colloquial term for the unified state departments of research and technology on one side and education on
the other. Because its budget will probably be smaller than the sum of its two predecessors', hopes for
a new and powerful German MITI may soon prove to be vain. But it's too early to judge, since the new
secretary has not yet had time to explain his goals. Without much guesswork, we can expect issues of
the "data-autobahn" to be high on his agenda. Now that real highways are clogged by hundred thousands
of trucks cries-crossing Europe, everyone would like to see free and easy data access to the net. But the
shape of service on the data highway is as vague as the societal interest groups negotiating about the
shape. To organize such a shaping process on the basis of equity would certainly be a challenging task.
The transformation of the country is visible everywhere, with computer science as one of the key
technologies transforming and being transformed by the society's ongoing development. The following
observation supports this vision of a powerful interaction.* CS is the only scientific discipline that in
the past 20 or so years has provided the technological background for three major lawsuits taken to the
German Supreme Court. These suits centered around objections against
¥ Stationing the cruise missile Pershing 11 in Germany (safety issues regarding computerized control
¥ Using personnel information systems fto control workers (privacy and data protection issues)
¥ Taking the last public census (privacy and data protection issues)
Only the last lawsuit succeeded. leading to the so-called ''right of informational self-determination"
Ironically, privacy issues are not the focus of public attention these days, despite the arrival of
smartcards, home banking, pay per-view television, and other computerized services and technologies.
But this civil right is not a bad platform to build upon!
* I was made aware of the coincidence by Reinhard Keil-Slawik, current chairman of the German forum
for socially responsible computer scientists, FIFF/Bonn.
Werner Beuschel is a professor at Brandenburg State University in Germany. He can be reached at
1984 Plus 10: Reality and Utopia in Computer Science 10th Anniversary FIFF Conference in Bremen
by Ingo Ruhmann
Member of the FIFF Board
After ten years of existence, the Forum IntormatikerInnen fuer Frieden und gesellschaftliche
Verantwortung (FIFF) held its anniversary conference in Bremen. The title of the conferenceÑReality
and Utopia in Computer ScienceÑwas chosen to document the changing perception of developments in and
applications of computer science, as well as the discipline's still enormous potential to cause problems
for our society. Approximately 250 members and other participants attended the weekend conference,
making it one of FlFF's largest.
FIFF was modeled after its U.S. sister organisation, CPSR. Therefore, Jeff Johnson, the former CPSR
Chair, was heartily greeted as a representative of CPSR. As an opening, the work, the successes, and the
problems of FIFF were reviewed. (Jeff Johnson provided similar summaries of CPSR's history and
current situation.) Although the German parliament has awarded FIFF a technology assessment study on
computerised warfare, militarisation of' computer science is no longer a central issue in FIFF work,
but merely one among many. Privacy. ecology and a livable future, computer systems for medical uses,
women and computers, as well as other topics, are by now areas of interest to FIFF working groups.
While FIFF now has a voice in Parliament, it has remained a small and independent organisation with
just over 900 members. The working groups covered an even broader spectrum of topics, from civic
networking and ethics in computer science to the impact of computer technology in the new German
states (i.e., the former East Germany). One high point on Sunday was a lively discussion about the
changing situation of computer scientists and engineers in the workplace. A corresponding change in
attitude was apparent. The former reluctance of computer scientists to form unions is fading as they
find themselves an easy target for downsizing in a European electronics industry that is itself under
While the 250 participants engaged in brisk discussions throughout the two days of the conference, the
social aspects of the meeting were not neglected. On Saturday, a special political cabaret evening was
followed by an enjoyable gathering lasting long into the night.
For more information on FIFF, see the description on page 20.
The FIFF 10th Anniversary Meeting: An Outsider's Perspective
by Jeff Johnson CPSR/Palo Alto
FIFF (the German acronym for Computer Professionals for Peace and Social Responsibility) held its
Annual Meeting the same weekend as CPSR's Annual Meeting. This particular FIFF meeting happened on
their 10th Anniversary. Since CPSR representatives attended FIFF's first Annual Meeting 10 years ago,
FIFF invited us to send a participant again this year. Because the current leadership of CPSR was busy
with CPSR's own meeting, 1, as past CPSR Chair, represented us at the FIFF meeting. I gave a speech
(in German) during the opening ceremonies, in which I summarized CPSR's history and current
activities. Later in the weekend, I also took part in a press conference and the activists' meeting.
Some of FIFF's activists had produced a mural, which includes many references to CPSR, illustrating
FIFF's origins and history. Other exhibits included an interactive multimedia presentation on
computer- based pornography and e' socially responsible" computer game that tries to educate and
sensitize players on immigration issues.
The NII was a big topic, the Germans frequently pointing out that since the Internet is already
international, Global Information Infrastructure (GII) would be a better name. Like CPSR, FIFF is
currently grappling with privacy and civil liberties issues regarding the use of computer-based
communications. One issue that has arisen is what to do about neo-Nazi organizations that have begun
making extensive use of computers and networks to organize. The government has been moving toward
restricting network usage by such groups. FIFF is strongly opposed to neo-Nazism, but eschews
'solutions" that threaten constitutional rights, because if neo-Nazis' rights can be threatened, anyone's
FIFF was recently granted official advisor status to the Bundestag (lower house of parliament). This
status is roughly equivalent to that of being a lobbyist or consultant to the U.S. Congress, but comes
with certain perks, including grant money. Most members of FIFF see this new mode of working with
the government as an improved opportunity to influence policy, but others see it as a problem, since it
undercuts FIFF's independence and raises the possibility of their being coopted.
There is still a lot of activism in Germany against the high level of funding for military applications of
computing, computer-based weaponry in particular. FIFF is more explictly a peace organization than
CPSR; many in FIFF want to continue working against militarism. Some expressed concern to me that
activists in the U.S. have dropped out of this fight. I pointed out that CPSR is small and underfunded: if
we try to engage in all fights, we won't have enough resources to win any of them.
At the end of FIFF's meeting, its leaders expressed the hope that CPSR and FIFF could work together soon
on a joint conference, for example, on GII issues. One small step we took was that FIFF's Chair and I
initiated an individual membership exchange. We agreed to join each other's organizations, paying each
other's membership fees to avoid currency exchange problems.
Jeff Johnson, former Chair of the CPSR Board of Directors works as a user interface designer and
researcher at Sun Microsystems He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Perspective from Switzerland
by Ralf Hauser
In Switzerland, two recent developments on the national level might be of interest to CPSR readers:
Since mid 1993 a federal data protection law has been in place. Its goal is to establish the
"informational self-determination" (Informationelle Selbstbestimmung) of citizens. Therefore,
whoever collects personal data directly from a citizen must inform the person about all uses of the data
beyond the obvious purpose for which it has been authorized.
All databases whose data has not been authorized by the concerned citizens as well as data processed
without legal obligation must be registered at the federal data protection office (Eidgenoessischer
Datenschutzbeauftragter EDSB). In principle, anybody can discover who holds personal data about him
or her, and has the right to verify such data.
Furthermore, beginning last summer, the data protection office reports each year on its activities. The
report can be obtained at the government printing office EDMZ in Berne for SWF 12. The EDSB has also
issued guidelines for the treatment of personal data with respect to:
¥ Police matters
¥ Asylum and foreign residents
¥ Telecommunication (namely X.500 directories)
¥ Statistics and census data
¥ Social insurance institutions
¥ The Swiss Army
¥ Apartment rentals (what the landlord is allowed to ask you)
¥ Maintainance of the database that enables banks to avoid credit fraud (Zentralstelle fuer
Kreditinformationen), and more
Finally, the EDSB has just developed an experimental server, which contains recommendations for how
to execute one's rights as granted by the data protection law, guidelines for the owners of collections of
personal data, and guidelines for the treatment of personal data in the Swiss Federal Administration.
Documents are in French and German, with Italian soon to be added. Future plans include adding EDSB's
yearly reports and the full text of the law.
New copyright legislation went into effect on July 1, 1994. Electronically coded information and
software is now explicitly addressed and, except for backups, a fair (or personal) use statute is
explicitly not granted. The Congregation of Swiss High Schools and the Swiss University, however, have
been successful in negotiating contracts with major software suppliers that treat their institutions
with very preferential tariffs.
Another glow of hope in the area of "transparent governance" is that there is a prototype at the office of
the federal parliaments (Bundeskanzlei) which gives online access to all parliament decisions and the
4- 6 yearly popular votes of the "direct Swiss democracy".
Ralf Hauser can be reached at email@example.com. :
The Need for Public Access
by Peter Gordon
British Columbia, Canada
I've been using computers for over 10 years and have been professionally employed as a computer
analyst for the last six. I think my most significant contribution so far has been my involvement in
founding the Victoria Free-Net (Canada's first). I'm a founding executive member, and have been most
active in keeping public terminals on the agenda, creating and distributing a simple introductory guide,
and starting a series of free public introductions to the Free-Net. As a sideline I have also started the
first commercial, anonymous message service on the Internet (details available from firstname.lastname@example.org),
which allows people to share personal sentiments while protecting their privacy.
Once people have the communication tools... they will teach themselves.
The most important action computer professionals can take right now is to provide free, popular,
public access to news and mail. And to do so with considerable hand-holding, education, and support.
Offering the service for free is important in order to make it inclusive. There is an ever-growing
segment of society that has little or no money to spare. Food and shelter will always take priority over
Popularity is important because the most effective communication reaches a lot of people. Using the
service should be fun and easy, which doesn't require graphical front ends, but rather easy-to-read
guides and live phone support.
Once people have the communication tools (news and mail), they will teach themselves. They just need
help in the initial stages. Then you will have community support, popular support for the issues that
affect everyone. If a goodly chunk of the community learns the value of free, uncensored, international
communications, there will be substantial support for fights against dumb ideas like ClipperChip or
plans to sell publicly funded information back to the public.
Peter Gordon is a CPSR member in British £Columbia, Canada. He can be reached at
prgordon@bcscO2.gov.bc.ca, or by phone at (604) 387-0141 or fax at (604) 356-7184.
ALCEI: An Essential Tool for Italian Electronic Citizens
by Bernardo Parrella
Italy is rapidly moving toward its own version of the info-highway, including civic networks in
Bologna, Milan, and other cities; Olivetti and IBM online services; "traditional" media finally covering
the issue, and more. However, many unresolved issues remain. The online community hardly reaches
10,000 people (including users of 600-700 BBSs and a couple of more advanced information
systems); the only national phone company (SIP, Societa' Italiana per l'Esercizio Telefonico) still has
low-level technology and high tares; current laws against "computer crimes" do not define at all the
responsibilities of BBS operators; and concepts like freedom of expression and personal privacy are not
even mentioned. Generally speaking, Italian citizens still know little about electronic communications
and its potential effects. It is not easy to find information and discussion, online or offline, about such
issues as community networking and social responsibility online.
Aiming to fill this gap, last August a group of professionals, journalists, and techno-experts founded
ALCEI - Associazione per la Liberta' nella Comunicazione Elettronica Interattiva, Association for
Freedom in Electronic Interactive Communications. This initiative should help prevent such operations
as last May's Fidonet crackdown in which hundreds of BBSs were searched and seized for "software
piracy." In fact, as its manifesto states,
This initiative should help prevent such operations as last May's Fidonet crackdown in which hundreds
of BBSs were searched and seized for "software piracy".
ALCEI intends to:
¥ Monitor, disclose and oppose any behavior aimed at restricting, censoring, or suppressing free
circulation of electronic communications and exchange of information and ideas, no matter how
¥ Support, encourage, and promote the development and use of electronic communications, in order to
enable all citizens to have a voice in the information age
¥ Inform and educate the community at large about computer-based communication systems,
emphasizing their responsible use and their positive consequences for our society
Along with its contacts in CPSR, EFF, and other international organizations, ALCEI (aka Electronic
Frontiers Italy) so far has almost 100 members nationwide. Very soon an inter-systems open forum
(also distributed as a mailing list over the Internet) will be online, while the first issue of ALCEI-
News and an open letter to Italian sysops are scheduled by the end of this year.
Entirely supported by membership fees, ALCEI's activities are focused on involving different bodies of
society (legislators, media, online users, common citizens) in the process of activating electronic
democracy in ItalyÑan essential role for the future of the local information highway.
For more information, please contact the author or send email to ALCEI at email@example.com.
Bernardo Parrella, ALCEI Board Member and U.S. correspondent to Agora' Telematica, lives in the San
Francisco Bay Area. Me can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Computer Science in the New South Africa
by Philip Machanick
University of the Witwatersrand
The University of Witwatersrand has had a long tradition of being a centre of opposition to apartheid.
Now that apartheid has been formally abolished, it is interesting to observe how the university's
position has changed, and how the former culture of anti-government protest has changed to one of
protest about lack of access to higher education.
Some members of my department are attempting to address the problem of access by designing courses
to bridge the gap between advantaged and disadvantaged students; others are trying to build bridges with
community-based organizations to address problems of poor schooling.
Given that universities in other countries have problems of this nature, especially in the US where
large minority groups are in disadvantaged positions, it may be useful to share some of our
In this paper, I examine the change in the university's culture of protest from outward- to inward-
looking, review some of the programmes my department has adopted, and outline strategies we are
considering for the future.
In the last years of apartheid, my university was virtually a battleground. Although we did not
experience the extremes of violence that afflicted shack dwellers and black townships (no one was
killed on our campus), there were days in which police and protesters brought the campus to a
I was a member of a peacekeeping group, which attempted to protect the right of students to protest by
forming a barrier between the protesters and the police. This strategy had limited success, as the police
did not particularly care whether they fired a rubber bullet at a professor or a protester. However, I
believe we were able to prevent some of the excesses which occurred elsewhere during that time. The
fact that our campus was accessible to the press may have been a help.
During the first post-apartheid election, protest activity died away, as activist students joined election
campaigns. However, even before the elections in April, protest action had started about issues such as
restructuring university Councils to represent the community better, and financial exclusions
(withholding education from students who cannot pay).
The university administration has not reacted sympathetically to these protests, and student leaders
have had difficulty mobilizing support. Many of the protests have degenerated into vandalism. and
forums set up for handling disputes have not been used effectively by either side.
One of the projects I am trying to encourage is connecting schools in Soweto to the Internet.
My Department's Activities
While the two sides have been involved in unconstructive confrontation, concerned individuals have
been working on problems that concern students. My department has recognized for some time that
there is a huge gap between students with prior exposure to computers and those who never see one
before arriving at university.
Our major strategy for dealing with this gap has been to move programming to later in the curriculum,
and to start earlier than before with theory, algorithm design, and other topics that do not give a great
advantage to those who have used computers previously [Mueller et al. 1990, 1993 Sanders 1992
Sanders and Galpin 1994]. At the same time, these topics illustrate to students who have already
learned to program that computer science is not just about programming.
A secondary strategy is the appointment of a tutor whose major responsibility is to offer support to
Some members of the department also take special trouble to identify and aid students whose confidence
needs to be built up. For example, I offer an extra introductory week to such students before a major
course on data structures and algorithms in our second year curriculum.
We are able to report some positive results from these strategies, though the number of black students
in our classes is still far too low.
Helping students once they are in university has two inherent weaknesses: it reduces the time they have
for normal study. and it does not help under-prepared students to gain access to university.
I am therefore investigating how we can build relationships with community-based organizations,
especially those already active in promoting science education. One such organization is Protec, which
has branches nationwide. Protec runs tutorial programmes for disadvantaged students. I am hoping to
help Protec set up computer courses. as well as advise them on what kind of donations to seek.
One of the projects I am trying to encourage is connecting schools in Soweto to the internet, to improve
their access to resources. Many schools in such areas have very poorly equipped libraries, and
information from Internet sources would be a major resource for them.
I am also working on setting up a community advisory board for my department, which will feed
information to communities that have had little access to the university, as well as help us to
understand students' problems. I am also inviting representatives from companies to join this
Mueller, C.S.M., Rock, S.T., and Sanders, I.D., "An Alternative CSI Curriculum," SACLA Conference,
Thaba N'chu, June 1990.
Mueller, C.S.M.. Rock, S.T., and Sanders, I.D., "An Improved First Year Course Taking into Account
Third World Students," Proc. 24th SIGCSE Technical Symposium Indiana Convention Center,
Indianapolis, Indiana, February 18- 19, 1993. pp. 213-17.
Sanders, I.D., "Research in Computer Science Education at the University of the Witwatersrand," SACLA
Conference, Rustenburg, July 1992.
Sanders, I.D., and Galpin, V.C., "A Survey of the Attitudes to Computing at the University of the
Witwatersrand," Proc. 5th Conference on Women, Work and Computerization July 2 - 5, 1994, pp.
The following data on the state of schools in Soweto give some indication of the scale of the problem.
During the apartheid era, when "white" schools were separately funded, no white school was without a
proper library and most had well-equipped science labs. Most historically white schools these days are
open to all, but these well-equipped schools offer very few places in relation to overall demand.
Figures from Soweto Education Crisis Committee Total number of schools 410 Schools with libraries
94 (36 adequately stocked: private donors) Schools with science labs 5 (not all fully functional)
Total population estimated at 2.5-million; 1.62-million (65%) age up to 30; of this
category 58% not productively engaged (out of school / unemployed). Schools turn
people away because of lack of capacity.
Age Status Number
0-6 too young for school 325,000
7-18 at school 357,000 (includes 15,300 at street academies)
6- 18 not at school 455,000
18-20 not employed 487,000
Category Number Enrollment
Primary 294 146,200 (first 7 years of school)
Sccondary/high 68 84,500 (last 5 years of school)
Satellite secondary 30 15,800 (overflow from secondary)
Special schools 11 2,100
Tech high schools 4 3,300
Tech teacher training 1 50
Teacher training 1 1,088 (includes 348 part-time)
University college 1 1,70()
TOTAL 410 254,738
Book Provision (% of all required) Included: books bought by parents who could afford them, and
purchased through scholarships. This is worse than it looksÑsome schools are much better off than
Primary schools: Substandard Standard
A 12% 1 14%
B 18% 2 26%
High schools with shortfall in 4 or more subjects: 6 26%
Philip Machanick is a professor in the Computer Science Department, University of the
Witwatersrand, 2050 Wits, South Africa. He can be reached at email@example.com
Volume 13, No. 1 The CPSR Newsletter Winter 1995
Bits of the South African Election
by Erik Nilsson
There wasn't enough time. Not just for building the computer systems. but for everything. The schedule
was insane. It was as if we were trying to build a nationwide banking system in six weeks, in a huge,
politically unstable country where terrorist bombings are routine. Open 9,000 branch offices all on
the same day, run for four days, and then shut down Ñwithout losing anybody's money.
Our task, in April 1994, was to help South Africa prepare for its first multiracial elections. The
enormous responsibility of these elections would rest with the Independent Electoral Commission,
where I would work on computer systems. I would be loaned to the South African Commission from the
CPSR Computers and Elections project, which assists the U.S. Federal Election Commission with voting
equipment standards, analyzes elections, and gives advice on election security. Fellow CPSR member
Bob Wilcox and I have been running the project for seven years.
In March, I got a phone call from the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, which sends
technical and other experts to "difficult" elections, often in the Third World. Were we interested in
helping with software for the South African elections? Of course we were, how could we turn down the
opportunity to work on the election of the century'?
The challenge would be daunting. The South African electorate, newly swelled with the enfranchisement
of the huge black majority, was estimated at 25 million, but there was no census to show where they
lived. How could we tell people where to vote, if we didn't even know where they were? How would we
make sure we sent out enough ballots and election workers, if we could only guess how many people
would show up at the polls'? Just directing voters and workers to polling places was difficult, with
addresses as makeshift as the facilities themselves. (One polling site was officially called "The tent
behind Bob's house.") Ballot boxes, polling equipment, entire counting stations, and millions of ballots
had to be deployed in a country that encompassed sprawling urban leviathans as well as outposts a days
drive from a telephone. Worse, the elections had only been announced five months earlier. By the time
the election commission got organized, what would normally take a year to complete had to be done in 20
To keep track of all of these mammoth, frenzied, and changing activities, South Africa would need
massive databases of people, places, and equipment, as well as databases to record protests, incidents of
violence, and the election results themselves. Software was needed to manage these databases, record
new information, and produce reports. The task would have been impossible without computers, but
even with the technology, we could still only hope we'd bought enough time. "The wheels come off it," a
common South African expression meaning something has become a fiasco, seemed to preface far too
many conversations about the Commission.
I arrived at Jan Smuts airport 20 days before counting started and drove to Johannesburg. April is
autumn in South AfricaÑthe rainy season is over and the weather is pleasant. Like a street hustler,
Jo'burg is friendly, threadbare, and menacing. The center of South Africa's mining region, Jo'burg is
called the "City of Gold" because its modern, graceful towers were bought with precious ores from
beneath the surrounding plateau. But depressed gold prices, a drought, and sanctions have taken their
toll. The wealthy white suburbs are tidy and peaceful, but the city itself is run-down and dangerous.
The streets reek of garbage and urine. Muggings are common after dark.
I didn't have much time to worry about Jo'burg's decline, however. After I checked into the hotel, I went
over to the Independent Electoral Commission headquarters to get started. I worked there every day for
the next 25 days, an average of 16 hours a day, scattered around the clock in an irregular blur. I didn't
go through jetlag; I just went to work.
The Commission, headquartered in a 10-story building five blocks from our hotel, was a caricature of a
busy office building. People were charging around and shouting at each other 24 hours a day. A constant
stream of new faces and equipment poured into every office. People shared desks. People shared chairs.
The phones were always ringing, the faxes faxing, the elevators jammed, and the air heavy with
air-conditioned sweat. The Commission didn't hum, it roared; it was sometimes painfully loud.
Applications were being written and deployed daily, if not hourly, including systems to track 200,000
election employees, 9,000 polling locations, warehouses full of equipment, and the voting results
themselves. A staff of programmers under Canadian elections expert Robyn Kall developed most of these
applications, but the software for polling and counting stations, and for the count itself, was written by
a small group in the Administration Directorate.
Because I was one of the few software people with elections experience, I was assigned to this latter
group, to design the vote tabulation systemÑno small task. Before, when only the whites had voted, the
election results had been produced on a Lotus spreadsheet. But with the black majority swelling the
electorate from about 2 million to over 25 million, keeping track of the results was no longer a
spreadsheet problem. Voting was to take place over three days, from April 26 through 28, and was
later extended a day. On the evening of the last day, the polls would close, and all the ballot boxes would
be trucked to counting centers to be tallied.
There were roughly 1,000 counting centers. As each batch of ballots was counted, election officials
filled out a tally sheet showing the votes for each party. This sheet would then be faxed to the
Commission. We expected an average of 25 batches from each center, which meant 25,000 tally sheets.
It would have taken a month and a half, day and night, to fax these tally sheets on one fax machine.
Fortunately, the Commission had dozens of fax machines dedicated to receiving the forms.
The tabulation system processed these faxes, and entered them into the database. Another program then
totaled the results per party and passed these results to a transmission program that sent them to the
worlds news media. As the count progressed hour by hour, new election results would appear on
millions of TV screens minutes after we had received them.
All these programs for tabulation were written in Microsoft Access by my group inside the
Administration Directorate. It was the Dawn Patrol of software engineers. Besides me, there were two
other Americans: Access forms whiz Mario Tejada, and Mike Yard, an ex-minister, ex-flower child,
and expert in Access. The South Africans included Etienne Posthumus, a 22-year-old software wonder
boy. We worked elbow-to-elbow on laptops set up on metal camp tables. Power failures sometimes left
us working by the light of our screens. A foxhole wouldn't have been more intimate.
We dressed as we pleased, worked the weirdest hours in the building, and survived on Brazilian coffee,
Coke, and strange candy bars. I'm not sure how much confidence a bunch of caffeine- and sugar-hyped
hackers in dirty jeans inspired, but nobody gave us trouble. Maybe they were afraid to ask.
With 13 days until the count, we of the Dawn Patrol had designed a software architecture and a paper
flow for tabulation, and built databases to track the results. The databases for voting and counting
centers should have been complete, but new centers had to be added as huge new chunks of population
were uncovered, and as prospective centers were bombed or burned down.
"Its a quiet day," a commissioner told me, his dry Scandinavian humor belying the grave situation.
"Only one [Commission] office was bombed today."
Eleven days before the count, and only a week before voting started, the Commission was awash in
rumors that the Inkatha Freedom Party, the Zulu political party of over two million voters, would now
be participating in the elections. Around 10 A.M. on April 19, I was told to be ready for an unspecified
additional party. By I P.M., I got the official word: Inkatha was in. Now there were 19 parties in the
national election. The problem was, the ballots had 18 parties printed on them, tally forms for counting
the ballots had 18 boxes, computer input screens for these forms had 18 fields, and electronic records
for transmitting results to the news media were built for 18 parties.
The ballotsÑlarger than this newsletter page with full, four-color pictures of each party's flag and
party leader beside its boxÑhad been printed weeks earlier in England. It was too late to reprint these
elaborate sheets, so a sticker with the Inkatha flag and a picture of Inkatha leader Chief Mangosuthu
Gatsha Buthelezi would be affixed. It was also too late to reprint all the tens of thousands of tally forms,
so Inkatha's name would be added by hand during the tally. The computer screens and the electronic
transmission form could be fixed, but it took time, and the software had to have the list of parties in the
same order as the paper forms. Except now we didn't know what those tally sheets would look like. I
talked to Lisa Thornton, who was coordinating work on Inkatha. She was meeting with the Commission at
five to figure out how to get tens of millions of stickers printed and distributed in a matter of days.
She'd try to get me answers after the meeting, but she couldn't promise anything. There was so much to
"Less than the amount of work emergency-room doctors and nurses, and undertakers would have
otherwise," I said.
"Yes, of course," she said. "This is good news, butÑ"
"How much more good news can we stand?"
Now, almost the entire political spectrum was participating in the elections; it was all the more
important that the elections be credible. It was like living on camera. Billions of people would watch
every gesture, every line of code. The whole election funneled through our work. It was as if I were
working in a sandwich shop, and God walked in and said, "The fate of forty million people depends on the
salami submarine I'm ordering, and hold the onions." Everything was doable, but the stakes were high
enough to be unreal.
Late that night, there was a thunderstorm. I got to the hotel just ahead of the rain, and wrote input
routines on my laptop in the dark, watching the lightning. The rain washed away much of Jo'burg's
grime and reek. By now I was pacing myself, only working 14-hour days. I would need my strength
when counting started.
The next day, we completed the data structures, and I got an input system running that expected 19
With a week left, Bob and I took a rare evening off (which is to say we quit at about 9 P.M.), and went to
a party. We returned very late, and I stayed up to do a little work. Consequently, I was sleeping in the
hotel the next morning when a white man reportedly left a car containing over 200 pounds of plastic
explosives on Bree street, a block away. The explosion rocked the hotel and wounded 100, killing 9. It
was the largest car bomb in South African history.
I first thought the bomb might have been targeting the commissionÑblowing it up would have delayed
the elections, and probably started a civil war. But when I called our office there, Mario answered the
From a window, I looked down on the destruction. A cloud of smoke rose languidly from the bomb site. A
water main was broken, carrying the red soil away like a river of blood. There were shattered windows
on all sides, and the storefronts were destroyed. The roof on one building had collapsed. Bob and I went
out to investigate. It was at once calm and threatening, like being inside the barrel of a gun. Twisted
cars were strewn about like neglected toys. Nothing remained of the bomb car.
That night, I was waked by another bomb going off directly outside the hotel. The hotel was full of
foreigners, mostly election observers, and someone was trying to scare us off. I felt like a target.
Four days before the count, the old South Africa vanished when, at midnight, officials lowered the old
flag at the Parliament building in Pretoria, and hoisted a colorful new one: black, green, gold, blue,
red, and white, incorporating the colors of every major South African political party.
Voting began the next day. Counting wouldn't start until all voting was finished, in four days, but
everyone was edgy, feeling that this was the last opportunity for violence to derail the elections. The
authorities ran extra patrols of bomb-sniffing dogs through the Commission. (A bomb was found, but it
was kept secret for several days.) Most of us went home early, although I didn't feel much safer in the
By counting day, everything was ready to go, despite some last-minute changes to the input forms and
database demanded by our manager. About 11 P.M., the first results trickled in.
By 1 A.M., we were reporting a million votes cast, not nearly enough. I was called upstairs to report on
progress. Because of the database changes, we were reporting only half of our results. The other half
couldn't be reported until a tricky program called the Summarizer, which totaled the votes for each
party and cross-checked the totals, was fixed to account for the database changes. We were sitting on
close to a million votes that weren't being reported to the world. I agreed to have the program fixed by
I went back downstairs to a scene of total chaos. Not only did we have a nasty software fix ahead of us,
but now the server was refusing connections, so only about a dozen of the 24 data entry stations were
working. Faxed tally sheets from the counting centersÑhundreds of thousands of votesÑwere piling up,
and the world was waiting. The whole election was inside that server, and if it was sick we could lose
everything if we touched it. It was a pretty scary situation, but I decided we'd have to reboot it anyway.
We got it down around 2 A.M.
I went to talk to Neil Cowse, who was fixing the Summarizer. "The server should be back up in 15
minutes," I said. "That will be 2:15. At 2:30, we have to have the Summarizer working." Neil gave me a
pained look, and said that that might barely be possible. "Well," l said, "it doesn't have to be working by
then. If we don't get it working by 2:45, there will probably still be a country here."
Geva Patz was working on the server. He found a hardware fault, pulled the offending unit, and got the
server back up in 15 minutes on the dot. All the data entry stations worked flawlessly. Neil fixed the
Summarizer in a shade over 15 minutes There had been no feed to the media for half an hour, and they
would start to scream any minute. We cut over to the live feed to the world. If any of the sleep-deprived
programmers working on the Summarizer had made a mistake, it would show up on millions of TV
screens in a few minutes, probably as drastically wrong results. We went over to the transmitting
computer and held our breath as we watched the vote totals. Through bleary eyes. we were relieved to
see reasonable numbers continue scrolling across the screen. I stayed until Mario and Etienne showed
up around mid-morning.
Two days later, with results from all over the country showing them getting close to two-thirds of the
vote, the African National Congress declared victory. Several of us from the Commission crashed the
victory party, which was across the street at the Carlton Hotel. Only a month earlier, people had been
hacked to death here by machete-wielding rioters. This night, Jo'burg emptied its population onto the
streets, and both the Commission and the Carlton were surrounded by a sea of exuberant black faces. I
waded in, carrying four paper South African flagsÑ each black, green, gold, blue, red, and white.
As I rounded the corner of the hotel, a middle-aged woman wearing a scarf was thrown against me by the
crowd. She looked at my flags, and asked, "May I have one'?"
I handed her a flag. "Your country, after all," I thought.
Copyright 1995 Erik Nilsson. A version of this article first appeared in Wired 2.12 (c) 1994 Wired
Ventures Ltd. All rights reserved. The article is reprinted by permission of Erik Nilsson and Wired.
A Brief Report on CPSR's 1994 Annual Meeting
by Phil Agre
'94 Annual Meeting Chair
The 1994 CPSR Annual Meeting was held at the University of California, San Diego on October 8th and
9th. Roughly 200 people attended, including many from the San Diego community. Keynote speaker
Francois Bar opened the conference by arguing that grassroots network activists can play a powerful
role in shaping the future of the Net through end-user experimentation that demonstrates and
popularizes alternatives to top-down, consumption-oriented models of networking. There followed an
especially powerful panel about the many meanings of "access" to technology, with opinions from
library, community networking, disability, museum, and minority communities. The speakers placed
particular emphasis on the "last yard" between the technology and the lives of the people using it.
Another panel brought these issues home to San Diego, looking in detail at the initiatives and barriers
shaping one city's use of computer networking. And a final panel compared the approaches to issues of
privacy and information access by professionals in medicine, librarianship, and consumer education. At
the Annual Meeting banquet, the CPSR Norbert Wiener Award was presented to Antonia Stone of the
pioneering computer-access organization, Playing to Win; and longtime library activist Patricia Glass
Schuman described the diverse needs for information access in American communities. On Sunday
morning, Sonia Jarvis led a wide-ranging discussion on the political context of information
policymaking in the last Congress and made some predictions about how the new Congress will approach
telecommunications reform. Sevcn well-attended workshops taught a range of activist skills, from
starting community networks to practicing investigative journalism on the Net. Bill Drake's workshop
on public-interest politics offered a particularly useful forum for making connections and comparing
strategies among a diverse group of activists. Although fervently acclaimed by its attendees, the
conference's organizing process pointed out some of the difficulties in bringing CPSR's message to a
broad audience. A challenge for future conferences will be to negotiate the tension between the focus on
"professionals" in CPSR's name and history and the strong emphasis on grassroots activism in CPSR's
The Fifth Conference on Computers, Freedom and Privacy (CFP '95)
The broader use of computer and telecommunications technologies holds great promise for individuals
and society. These technologies, applied on a larger and wider scale, can fundamentally transform our
lives, bringing new meanings to our freedoms to speak, associate, be left alone, learn, and exercise
At the same time larger and wider scale use of these technologies poses threats to the ideals of a just,
free, and open society. Personal privacy is increasingly at risk from invasion by high-tech
surveillance and eavesdropping. The expanding number of myriad databases containing personal
information maintained in the public and private sectors expose private life to constant scrutiny. More
than ever before, political, social, and economic fairness may hinge on ensuring equal access to these
technologies, but how, at what cost, and who will pay'?
The Fifth Conference on Computers, Freedom and Privacy will assemble experts, advocates and
interested people from a broad spectrum of disciplines and backgrounds in a balanced public forum to
explore and better understand the definition of our rights at this crossroads of the Information Age.
Participants will include people from the fields of computer science, law, business, research,
information, library science, health, public policy, government, law enforcement, public advocacy,
and many others.
CFP '95 will be held at the San Francisco Airport Marriott Hotel on March 28-31 For more
information, call 415-548-9673, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or look on the World-Wide Web at
Volume 13, No. 1 The CPSR Newsletter Winter 1995
Sister Organizations in Europe
compiled by Jeff Johnson
ARGE Daten, the Austrian Society for Data Privacy, is a nonpartisan group of computer specialists and
social scientists who are interested in and concerned about the social impact of computerization. It
began as an informal working group in 1983, became a formal organization in 1990, and now has about
Arge Daten Sautergasse 20 A-1170 Vienna AUSTRIA Tel: 43-1-4897893-0 Fax: 43-1-4897893-
eCE, engaged Computer Experts, is a network of scientists who are interested in analyzing and
commenting on the increasing computerization of society. It was formed in 1986, following the example
of CPSR and FIFF. It currently has about 70 members.
eCE Postfach 168 A-1015 Vienna AUSTRIA email: email@example.com
EMERIT, Experiments of Mediation and Evaluation in Research Innovation and Technology, is a joint
project of the Belgian government and trade unions to examine critically the social impact of
technology. It is managed by the University of Namur. It was founded in 1992, and its funding has
recently been extended until 1995.
Patricia Vendramin FTU-EMERIT Rue de ['Arsenal 5 B-5000 Namur BELGIUM Tel: 32-81 725 122
Fax: 32-81 725 128
TY, the Union on Computers and Society, was founded in 1985 and has about 100 members.
Computers & Society (TY) c/o Helena Ahonen Dept. of Computer Science PO Box 26 University of
Helsinki FIN-00014 Helsinki FINLAND Tel: 358 (0) 708 4218 Fax 358 (0) 708 4441 email:
firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
CREIS, the Centre de coordination pour la Recherche et l'Enseignement en Informatique et Societe,
supports research and analysis on the impact of computers on society. It was founded in 1984 and has
Felix Paoletti/CRElS Department d'lnformatique Universite Paris Vl Tour 55-65 Bureau 309 4, Place
Jussieu F-75252 Paris Cedex 05 FRANCE Tel: 33(1) 44275877 email: email@example.com
FIFF, Computer Professionals for Peace and Social Responsibility, was founded in 1984 for the same
reasons as CPSR (and based largely on CPSR's model). Like CPSR's focus, FIFF's concerns have
broadened in recent years. It has about 1,000 members.
FIFF Reuterstr. 44 D-53113 Bonn GERMANY Tel: 49 228 219548 Fax: 49 228 214924 email:
SGR, Scientists for Global Responsibility, is an independent organization of scientists and engineers. It
was founded in response to irresponsible uses of science and technology, especially weapons of mass
destruction and environmentally hazardous applications. It was founded in 1992 and has about 1,000
SGR Unit 3, Down House The Business Village Broomhill Rd. London SW18 4JQ ENGLAND Tel: 44-081
- 871 -5175 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
SWP, the Stichting Waakzaamheid Persoonsregistratie, was founded in 1974 to address questions
raised by government plans to computerize census data and to introduce a national ID number. It has
since extended its focus, becoming a general clearinghouse for information and advice on electronic
privacy issues. Until recently, it operated with 8 volunteer experts and handled about 250 inquiries a
week; however, funding disappeared with recent political changes in Belgium, so the office had to be
closed. Currently, SWP operates as an informal network of activists.
No contact information provided.
CLI, the Commission for Freedom and Liberty, is a broad coalition of organizations in Spain that are
concerned about misuse of information technology for restriction of civil liberties and privacy. The
coalition was founded in 1991 and includes among its member organizations millions of individual
CLI Padilla 66, 3 E-28006 Madrid SPAIN Tel: 34-402-9391 email: email@example.com
The main professional organization for computer technology in Switzerland is the Swiss Informatics
Society (Sl). Like ACM and IEEE, Sl has a special interest group (SIG) on Computers and Society. The
SIG was founded in 1992 and has about 100 members.
Swiss InformatikerInnen Gesellschaft (SI) Fachgruppe I & G Schwandenholzstr. 286 CH-8046 Zurich
SWITZERLAND Tel: 41 (0) 137 17342 email. firstname.lastname@example.org
A Few International On-line Resources
compiled by Judi Clark
This list of references is presented in no particular order. We hope you will find it useful. Please send
updates or other good references to email@example.com.
The InterNIC ( http://www.internic.net/) is a collaborative project of three organizations that work
together to offer the Internet community a full range of network information services. These services
include providing information about accessing and using the Internet, assistance in locating resources
on the network, and registering network components for Internet connectivity. The overall goal of the
InterNIC is to make networking and networked information more easily accessible to researchers,
educators, and the general public. A good place to start is the InterNIC's Information Service, About the
EINet Galaxy (an extremely useful directory service) offers a page on World Communities
The goal of the Fourth World Documentation Project: Indigenous Peoples' Information for the Online
Community (http://www.halcyon.com/FWDP/fwdp.html) is to present the online community with the
greatest possible access to Fourth World documents and resources.
DiploNet (http://www.clark.net:80/pub/diplonet/) is a network that focuses on the needs of diplomats
in the post cold-war period. Topics include conflict management and resolution, peacemaking, and
Global Recycling Network (http://grn.com/grn/) is an information service set up on the Internet to aid
businesses around the world to recycle resources, surplus manufactured goods, and outdated or used
Communications for a Sustainable Future (CSF) (http://csf.colorado.edu/) has lists and areas of
concentration that include Education/Teaching (including Service-Learning and CaseNet Active
Learning in International Affairs); Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution; Conservation Biology;
Economics, PKT, and FutureWork; EcoFem Studies in Women and Environment; Ecological Economics;
ELAN Environment and Latin America Net; ENVTECSOC Environment Technology and Society; FEMISA
Feminist Studies ISA; ISAFP Foreign Policy ISA; IPE International Political Economy; Progressive
Sociology (PSN) and Homeless; WSN World Systems Network; Faces of Poverty. You can subscribe or
get information regarding CSF's mailing lists, or view CSF mailing list archives sorted by threads,
topics, date or author from this site.
Coombsweb (http://coombs.anu.edu.au/CoombsHome.html) is Australian National University's Social
Science Server, and home of Coombsquest (gopher://coombs.anu.edu.au/), which offers World Network
Quick Access Nodes (gopher://cheops.anu.edu.au:70/11/XNetwork-nodes) (gopher sites by country)
and a great Social Science Resources listing (gopher://cheops.anu.edu.au:70/11/Socioinf-facil) by
Leading Information Facilities.
This is one (in Italy) of several lists of registered International WWW servers
(http://artemide.cselt.stet.it/ geographical.html) listed alphabetically by continent, country, and
state. This address is a mirror of a URL at CERN (which was down at press time).
The Science and Engineering Television Network, Inc.(http://www.service.com/stv/setncall.html),
SETN, is a nonprofit consortium of scientific societies, universities, laboratories, and corporations
organized to foster the development of scientific communication through the medium of television. SETN
invites other organizations to join in the creation of and distribution of programming. The network
intends to mirror the best scientific print publications, and it will broadcast news reports, lecture-
demonstrations, interviews, conferences, and discussions all concerned with the latest international
developments in scientific research and science policy.
The Swiss Federal Data Protection Commissioner has just announced their experimental Web server
(http://www.edsb.ch/edsb) with documents in French and German. Many of the files are useful
guidelines on collections of data.
Finally the Central Intelligence Agency has its World Factbook '94
(http://www.ic.gov/94fact/fb94toc/fb94toc.html ) on the Net (and I'm sure they'd be interested in
Conference and Event Schedule
Midwest Conference on Technology, Employment, and Community, Chicago Circle Center, UIC, IL, March
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org 312-996-5463 Unions and the Information Superhighway, March 2. Contact:
National STS Meeting and Technology Literacy Conference, Arlington, VA, March 2-5. Contact:
email@example.com 814 865-3044 (ph)
Midwest Conference on Technology, Employment. and Community, Chicago, IL, March 3-4. Contact:
firstname.lastname@example.org 312-996-5463 (ph) Local-Global Creative Tension, '95 PC Forum, Phoenix, AZ,
March 5-8. Contact: email@example.com 212-924-8800 (ph)
Technologies for the Superhighway, IEEE COMPCON 95, Stanford Court Hotel, San Francisco, CA, March
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org (advance program) email@example.com (register) 510-422-2199 (ph)
Microcomputers in Education Conference, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, March 13- 15.
Contact: Pat Southwick, ASU, Box 870908, Tempe, AZ 85287-0908
Towards an Electronic Patient Record '95. Orlando, FL. Mar. 14-19, 1995. Sponsored by Medical
Records Institute. Contact: 617-964-3926 (fax).
Access, Privacy, and Commercialism: When States Gather Personal Information, College of William and
Mary, Williamsburg, VA, March 17.
Contact: Trotter Hardy 804-221-3826 Computers. Freedom and Privacy CFP'95, Burlingame CA, Mar
28-31 Contact:: firstname.lastname@example.org ETHICOMP95: An international conference on the
ethical issues of using Information Technology, DeMontfort University, Leicester, ENGLAND, March
28-30. Contact: Simon Rogerson email@example.com 44-533-577475 (phone) 44-533-541891 (fax)
National Net '95: Reaching Everyone. Washington, DC. Apr. 5-7. Sponsored by EDUCOM. Contact:
Information Security and Privacy in the Public Sector. Herdon, VA. Apr. 19-20. Sponsored by AIC
Conferences. Contact: 212-952- i 899.
Cultivating New Ground in Electronic Information Use of the Information Highway to Support
Agriculture -- USAIN, Lexington, KY, April 2629. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org ACM
Conference on Computer Human Interaction (CHI'95), Denver, CO, May 7-11. Contact:
email@example.com 410-263-5382 (ph) 1995 IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy,
Oakland, CA, May 8-10. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org NPTN's Annual Affilate and Organizing
Committee MeetingÑ1995: An International Free-Net Community Computing Conference, Arizona State
University, May 17-20. Contact: email@example.com 216-498-4050 (ph) 216-498-4051 (fax)
http://www.nptn.org/ ErgoCon '95 -- Silicon Valley Ergonomics Conference and Exposition, San Jose,
CA. May 22-24. Contact: Abbas Moaltem 408-924-4132
Third International Conference on Artificial Intelligence Applications on Wall Street, Pace University,
New York, NY, June 7-9.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org 914 763-8820 (ph) 914 763-9324 (fax) Society and the Future of
Computing '95, Durango, CO, June 11-14. Contact: email@example.com
Workshop on Ethical and Professional Issues in Computing, RPI, Troy, NY, June 24-28. Deadline for
submissions: April 15.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org 518-276-8503 (ph) 518-276-2659 (fax)
Internet Society's 1995 International Networking Conference, Honolulu, HI, June 2X-30. Contact:
email@example.com 703-648-9888 (ph)
Key Players in the Introduction of Information Technology: Their Social Responsibility and Professional
Training, BELGIUM, July 5-7.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com Alliance for Community Media's International
Conference and Trade Show, Boston, MA, July 5-8. Contact: Rika Welsh 617-321 -64()0
Computers in Context: Joining Forces in Design, Aarhus, DENMARK, Aug. 14- 18. Contact: Computers
in Context, Aarhus University, Dept.
Computer Science, Bldg. 540, Ny Munkegade 116, DK-8000 Aarhus C, DENMARK.
Designing for the Global Village, HFES, Sheraton Harbor Island Hotel, Santa Monica, CA, October 9- 13.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org 310 394-1811 (ph) 310 394-2410 (fax)
CPSR members and friends, if you are planning to attend one of these conferences, or another that may
be related to CPSR's work please contact CPSR at email@example.com or (415) 322-3778 for easy ways to
be a CPSR presence. Please send brief listings and updates to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Volume 13, No. 1 The CPSR Newsletter Winter 1995
CALL FOR NOMINATIONS TO THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS
During the spring of 1995, CPSR will hold elections for five positions on its Board of Directors:
Treasurer (3 years) Southern Director (3 years)
Director-at-Large (3 years) Northwestern Director (3 years) Middle Atlantic Director (2 years)
The three-year positions are regularly scheduled elections; the two-year position is the remaining
term of an office currently held by an individual appointed by the Board. The candidate elected to this
position will fill the remainder of the term. All positions take effect on July 1, 1995.
Any member of the organization may run for the offices of Chair, Secretary, Treasurer, and Director-
at-Large. 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: Middle Atlantic (New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington, D.C.), and Southern (Acadiana,
Austin, Loyola/New Orleans), and Northwestern (Denver, Portland, Seattle). 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, as outlined below.
All nominations must be accompanied by a statement from the candidate that will be printed in the
election ballot. This statement should be written in two parts: ( l ) a description of the candidate's
background and qualifications, 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,
1995. Ballots will be mailed to all members by April 15 and must be returned to the CPSR office by
May 3 l, 1995. For more information, call the national office at 415-322-3778 or write to CPSR,
P.O. Box 717, Palo Alto, CA 94302. Our email address is email@example.com.
by Marsha Woodburv
CPSR Board of Directors
Will there be equal access to the Global Information Superhighway'? What can we do to lessen the gap
between those who are "information-rich" and those who are 'information-poor?"
Questions like these concern people from New Zealand to Norway to Nigeria. An international
conversation about these issues and much more began in earnest a few months ago when CPSR
(Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility) started a listserv for that purpose, called CPSR-
Initially, we envisioned a free-flowing exchange about a variety of issues, which we outlined as
¥ Decisions the USA will make on its national information infrastructure, or NII, that will affect the
rest of the worldÑwe want the NII to be a positive force for a global information infrastructure (Gil)
¥ Issues of national identity, "cultural pollution," and the promise of the GII for international
communication and the GII
¥ New emerging GII world culture
¥ International issues of security and privacy and computer law
¥ International issues of computer development (keyboards, safety)
¥ Issues of design
¥ Issues of language
People are using the group to share news of their organizations and conferences, activities and visions,
political viewpoints and cultural awareness. Common comments are that
"it's a great resource" and "l felt so isolated before."
The enthusiasm (traffic) went crazy during the first week, swamping our server. As a result, the
group is now moderated, and mailboxes are not overflowing. Al Whaley, who runs the server, deserves
many thanks for all he's done to support this effort.
In the first weeks the group had a steep learning curve. We all have become more considerate of people
who have very slow modems, outdated hardware, and financial constraints (having to pay for each byte
The list membership is growing like the Net itselfÑwe are up to almost 1000 members in less than a
month. CPSR-GLOBAL uses English, because it's the lingua trance of the Net. Posts that are not "on
topic" or inflammatory will be filtered out, and long posts will be sent back for summarizing. In order
to help recipients sort their mail, CPSR-GLOBAL has its own logo, (@), in the subject line.
To join this discussion, write to firstname.lastname@example.org with a blank subject and the email command:
subscribe cpsr-global Firstname Lastname. For example, subscribe cpsr-global Jane Doe.
If you missed our earlier posts and want an idea of what we talked about, you can look at our archives:
Gopher Path: gopher.cpsr.org/cpsr/lists/listserv_archives/cpsr-global
Anyone can join the conversation. We are also setting up a group mailer for cpsr affiliates and cpsr
members who live outside the U.S.A.
The CPSR-GLOBAL World-Wide Web home page can be found at htip://www.cpsr.org/global.html.
CPSR, whose national office is in Palo Alto, California, has 22 chapters. You can learn more about CPSR
at http:// www.cpsr.org/home or by writing to email@example.com with the email message HELP. CPSR
began as a response to the Star Wars program, when members wrote reports and testified at hearings
about the impossibility of providing a "fail-safe" network of nuclear missiles in outer space. Today
CPSR is interested in all social issues related to the use of computers, from repetitive stress syndrome
caused by keyboard use to the intrusion into privacy by government and business and others.
The 1,800 members of CPSR are keenly aware of the potential social benefits of computers, such as the
ability to personalize the interface from a large impersonal society to the individual, but they also
understand the potential risks inherent in the use of computers and computer technology by
individuals, governments, and corporations.
The list owner and moderator, Marsha Woodbury, is a Director at Large for CPSR with a strong interest
in international cooperation Her address is firstname.lastname@example.org
The chapter now has 96 members. Over 140 people are on the chapter hard copy mailing list, and
about 145 on the chapter listserv used for announcements. The chapter meets once a month to
address chapter business and a discussion topic, usually with an outside speaker. Attendance at these
meetings varies from half a dozen to 20 or more. Some of the topics covered this year have been:
¥ Access to government information
¥ Intellectual property and the National Writer's Union activities
¥ The Italian BBS crackdown
¥ Highschool Internet use
¥ The high-tech workforce
¥ Wireless communications
The chapter has held meetings in Berkeley and San Francisco to discuss community networking, and
will continue to meet with groups creating a community access network in San Francisco. We also have
representation at meetings being held by the Association of Bay Area Governments, which is
coordinating the development of city and county information services on the Internet. A chapter
member is the community resource person for a grant provided by the California State Library to local
public libraries to help them learn how to provide public access to the Internet. In addition, CPSR
members are involved in various kinds of community computer and Internet training. Finally, because
the chapter is also a Special Interest Group of BMUG (Berkeley Macintosh User's Group), we had a table
at the Mac Faire held on the Berkeley campus. Several hundred people visited our table (and one even
became a member on the spot ! ).
During the last year CPSR/Boston has enjoyed both a stable membership, and the transition to several
new activities. In the spring we had a flurry of activity with DIAC-94, and since then have created a
couple of new regional projects. Our friend Gary Chapman, CPSR's first executive director, moved
from Cambridge, taking his 21st Century Project work to Texas. CPSR/Boston wishes Gary all the best,
and thanks him for his work here and nationally.
Coralee Whitcomb attends, and occasionally chairs, the national Telecommunications Policy Roundtable
(TPR) meetings in Washington, D.C. Steve Miller and Hans Klein, in addition to national board posts,
act as midwives for two new local projects, the State Policy Project and TPR-Northeast, respectively.
The State Policy Project (SPP) collected a list of information technology-related issues that eastern
Massachusetts CPSR members think deserve the attention of policy-makers and the public. We
compiled and circulated this list in order to offer our expertise to those who wish to learn more about
these issues, find out what other people and groups are already doing, and search for ways we can work
together. Such issues include:
Economic Development and Equity
¥ Building an information infrastructure
¥ Minority access
¥ Telecom rate structure
¥ Building on our machine tool industrial base
¥ Resale of public data
Community and Public Service
¥ Access to public electronic data
¥ Civic networks
¥ Restructuring government
¥ Computer crime
¥ State implications of national policy
Civil Liberties and Privacy
¥ Commercial database misuses. accuracy and resale
¥ Access to public data, accuracy. accessibility, and resale
¥ Protection of electronic communication (email, encryption, publishing, and freedom of expression on
A spin-off of the SPP was the CPSR/ Boston Statehouse Email Project to inform state legislators about
computer communications technologies. With the recent discussions of the "information Highway" and
national information infrastructures, we know these technologies are essential, and we feel compelled
to help increase state legislators' knowledge and use of telecommunications. Specifically, we surveyed
legislators for details of their computer experience, connectivity, and interest. We obtained a few free
accounts at local schools and cleared the project with the state Ethics Commission. We demonstrated
electronic mail, news, and web browsers. Lately, we have extended the demonstration efforts to the
Legislative Service Bureau staff, and expect to broaden our audience through that office.
TPR-Northeast is a grassroots coalition of groups concerned with the public interest in
telecommunications policy, working to support the TPR in Washington D.C., to promote enlightened
policy at the regional and local level, and to educate groups, the public. and policy-makers about
telecommunications policy. For instance, Massachusetts Congressmen Markey and Kerry both occupy
influential positions in telecommunications policymaking. They can affect such issues as reserving
space on the NII for nonprofits (currently being contested in Congress). fees for noncommercial access,
and the implementation of legislation for FBI wiretaps. Locally, a grassroots coalition could help
educate NII providers about public interest concerns. In eastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island, for
instance, the regional Bell operating company has filed plans to install 200 to 400 channels of digital
video to 330,000 homes. Whether such a video service will provide public access remains unclear.
TPR-Northeast hosted a panel presentation on "Universal access and teledemocracy" at the Emerson
College Student Union, organized a Civic Forum, and plans a monthly forum for the coming year.
In Wisconsin, a group led by State Senator Lynn Adelman is challenging the Public Service
Commission's recent decision to permit Caller ID service without offering free per-line blocking to any
customer. The group includes members of the CPSR local chapter, police associations, domestic violence
groups, and a health care union. A petition has been filed in Dane County circuit court (Madison). For
further information, contact
Frank Evans email@example.com 414-277-7348 (work) 414-351-9129 (home)
California Assemblyman Tom Bates (D-Oakland), with assistance from CPSR members, introduced
legislation to make all state public information available free via the Internet. It was the most far-
reaching legislation of its kind in the nation. Although the bill passed in the Legislature unanimously, it
has been held back from the Governor's desk to address a number of policy issues that arose during the
course of the legislative process. A revised bill will be introduced in January.
CPSR/Palo Alto President Al Whaley set up a mailing list to discuss state on-line policy. California's
"virtual town hall" has over 200 Internet users, librarians, computer experts, open government
advocates, legislators, and legislative staff members, discussing the Bates bill, other pending
legislation, and policy issues.
Jeff Johnson recently attended the 10th anniversary meeting of FIFF (whose members refer to it as
"the German CPSR"). Jeff gave a speech (in German) during the opening ceremonies, in which he
summarized CPSR's history and current activities. Later, he took part in a press conference and in the
activists' meeting. FIFF is a highly active organization, and was recently granted official advisor status
to the Bundestag (lower house of parliament). This is roughly equivalent to being a lobbyist or
consultant to the U.S. Congress. At the end of the meeting, FIFF's leaders expressed hope that CPSR and
FIFF could work together soon on a joint conference.
Chapter Secretary Lucy Suchman was given the CPSR Award for Outstanding Personal Contribution.
Congratulations Lucy, and thanks for your support!
The revitalization of the San Diego chapter began last Spring when Phil Agre of the Communication
Department at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) organized a ten-week lecture series.
Every Tuesday night from April 5th through May 31st brought an enlightening and entertaining
presentation and discussion hosted by the chapter. An excellent group of speakers contributed to this
¥ Christine Harbs of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse at the University of San Diego asked, "Will your
privacy be a casualty on the information superhighway?"
¥ Kent Backstrom of the University Libraries at UCSD addressed "The mission of public libraries in a
new technological era."
¥ Rob Kling of the Department of Information and Computer Science at the University of California,
Irvine (UCI) interacted with a San Diego audience from distant Irvine over an Internet MBone video
link. His topic was "Who's gonna get it?: The meanings and conditions of universal access to computer
networks within the National Information Infrastructure."
¥ Bill Drake of UCSD's Department of Communication described "The political economy of the global
¥ Bruce Miller, Assistant University Librarian at UCSD, presented the results of a meeting of the
national Telecommunications and Information Infrastructure Forum that produced some "Principles for
the development of the National Information Infrastructure."
¥ Jonathan Grudin of UCI's Department of Information and Computer Science discussed the conflicts
between "Privacy, freedom of information, and technology."
¥ Dan Schiller of the Department of Communication at UCSD explored how our society has come to view
"Information as a commodity."
¥ Sara Baase of San Diego State University's Computer Science Division provided the results of her
"Evaluation of climate models."
¥ Phil Agre of UCSD's Department of Communication combined practical, social, and technological
issues in his discussion of how to do "networking on the network."
This speaker series drew a diverse audience including academics, technical professionals, business
leaders, government employees, librarians, political and social activists, reporters, freelance
writers, and others. Many important contacts were made as people discovered their common concerns.
The talks also grabbed the attention of several local newspapers and prompted one large story on
privacy rights. This spring speaker series was a striking success.
After this series concluded, the summer was spent preparing for the CPSR national Annual Meeting,
which was held in San Diego in October. While a great deal of effort went into this event, details
concerning the Annual Meeting are sure to be found elsewhere, so little information will be provided
here. The meeting generated a lot of attention for CPSR and our San Diego chapter, and it also brought
together a wide assortment of individuals and organizations interested in community network access,
activism, and social projects. Local BBS providers and other technical experts mixed with activists for
causes ranging from privacy and environmental protection to public schools, public libraries, and
neighborhood community projects. Thanks to the organizational efforts of Phil Agre and a large staff of
volunteers, this meeting was another grand success.
The fall season has been allocated to catching our collective breath. However, one project has continued
throughout the year. Under the guidance of Rik Belew of the Department of Computer Science and
Engineering at UCSD, a draft document is being prepared by CPSR/San Diego that is intended as a
framework for computer usage policies at academic institutions. The goal is to educate the
administrators and users of academic computing services about relevant security and privacy issues,
and to provide a draft document that schools can use to explicitly specify the rights and responsibilities
of all members of their academic computing community. As this set of guidelines matures, it will be
presented to local computer system providers at UCSD and, later, to groups at other institutions.
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The CPSR Newsletter is published quarterly by Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility, PO
Box 717, Palo Alto, CA 94302, voice: 415-322-3778, FAX: 415-322-4748, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright 1995 by CPSR. Articles may be reproduced as long as the copyright notice is included. The
item should be attributed to The CPSR Newsletter and contact information should be listed
The CPSR Newsletter is guest edited d by CPSR members. Newsletter articles do not necessarily reflect
the official CPSR positions on issues.
Guest Editor Judi Clark
Executive Editor Kathleen Kells
Layout & Design Judi Clark Editing Lauren Rusk
CPSR Board of Directors
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Jim Davis Steven Miller
Jim Grant Aki Namioka
Hans Klein Terry Winograd
David Liddle Marsha Woodbury
CPSR National Office Staff Kathleen Kells, Managing Director Susan EVDY, Assistant to the Director
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