The CPSR Newsletter
Volume 8, Nos. 1-2 COMPUTER PROFESSIONALS FOR SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY Winter-Spring 1990
Computer Science and the Bush Administration Gary Chapman CPSR Executive Director
The following is adapted from a speech given in the Distinguished Lecturer Series of the Department of
Computer Science at the University of Washington on January 25, 1990. Versions of the talk have also
been given at Portland State University, the Oregon Graduate Institute, UC Berkeley, MIT, the Kennedy
School of Government at Harvard University, and the University of Texas at Austin.
As we enter the last decade of the twentieth century, the world is in the midst of three simultaneous
revolutions, each one of immense historical significance. One is the democratic revolution that has
riveted the world's attention onto events in East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Hungary, Poland,
China, and even the Soviet Union. Profound democratic change is also underway in South America and
Southern Africa. After forty-five years of a geopolitical picture that seemed as frozen and as hospitable
as a glacier, the ice seems to be breaking up. There are many new sources of hope for the future.
Another revolution which is underway is the globalization of the world's economy. Over the past twenty
years there has developed an international interdependence in economic relations that has made many of
our standard economic theories obsolete. This transformation has ended the concept of the "national
economy," even for economic giants like the United States. All the local or regional economies of the
world are increasingly dependent on the economic behavior of other economic actors, which makes
solving economic problems more and more difficult. Workers in the United States are now competing
not only with workers in other parts of this country, but with workers in Taiwan, Korea, Singapore,
Mexico, and perhaps soon in Eastern Europe. And large American corporations are barely "American"
anymore; typically they have subsidiaries, and management and manufacturing units, all over the
world. The international economy is barely recognizable from the one that existed twenty years ago.
Finally, there is the "information revolution," which has played such an important role in making the
other two happen. While there may be caveats about how much of a "revolution" we have witnessed with
the spread of computers and other information technologies, the impact of these technologies is
impossible to overstate. International transmission of digital data has made possible the daily
maintenance of business enterprises that are scattered around the globe. Satellite technology gives us
rapid, sometimes instantaneous, witness to events on the other side of the world. Computers and related
technologies are obviously transforming the nature of work, and creating a new international division
All three of these revolutions are intertwined in complex, dynamic, and significant ways. Much of the
internationalization of economic activity would not have taken place without the rapid spread of
information technologies. Perhaps the democratic revolutions all over the world would not have
happened without the spur of economic reform. And the democratic revolutions have spread so rapidly
because of the availability of mass communications technologies, such as television, fax machines,
satellites, and computers.
The result is that these three revolutions might be combined into one enormous, world-historical
transformation, one on par in significance with the transition from agricultural to industrial society,
or from the isolated cultures of the pre-exploration era to the world picture we have had for the last
500 years. The eventual destination of the revolutionary process we are in now cannot be completely
discerned, and so it is difficult to give it an accurate name. Our time horizons are relatively limited, so
that we tend to view history in blocks that can be imagined and managed intellectually. The changes that
are surrounding us today, however, are so profound that we can reasonably surmise that we are at or
near the apex of a rare turning point in human history.
The significant role of computer technology, and of computer professionals, in this process of historical
transformation seems secure. The roles of American computer science and this country's computer
industry, however, do not seem secure. Because of the internationalization of economic growth, and the
spread of intellectual and capital resources, American leadership in technology is no longer assured.
Many people in this country are stunned and even panicked by the rapid ascendancy of our key economic
competitors, Japan and the countries of Western Europe. In the computer industry there is a growing
feeling that the United States is at a fork in the road, with one path leading to continued U.S.
predominance in high technology, and the other path leading to second-rate status, a lower standard of
living, and the passing of American political leadership in the world. No doubt these choices are
overdrawn and perhaps even melodramatic. But the feeling is widespread, and it is creating new
political forces which will shape the country for years to come.
An example of this sentiment can be found on page one in a new report issued by the Computer Science
and Technology Board of the National Research Council. The first italicized sentence in the report,
which is entitled Keeping the U.S. Computer Industry Competitive: Defining the Agenda,, reads,
"Ensuring that the United States remains preeminent in computing at the beginning of the next century
requires strategic commitment, leadership, and collective will that cannot be attained with a 'business
as usual' approach by industry or government." This is an academic way of sounding an alarm. The
"competitiveness" issue has become number one on the minds of top business, academic, and
government leaders. Most of the concern is directed toward the Japanese, with whom we have an
approximate $4 billion trade deficit in computer goods. But the anxiety is more widely distributed as
well, as the American computer industry finds itself competing with companies that operate in entirely
different industrial environments than U.S. companies, particularly with respect to subsidies, tax
breaks, labor costs, and trade policies.
The computer industry is also worried about structural changes in government support for computer
science research and development (R&D). Over the last ten years there has been a marked shift in
support for computer science that has made the Department of Defense the largest funder of computer
science R&D. Now the Department of Defense is prorated directly under the budget axe. If defense
budgets are cut as dramatically as some are recommendingÑup to half the current level of defense
spending over ten years in some proposalsÑ computer science funding may suffer disproportionately
because of the dominance of military funding in the field.
Moreover, many computer executives and academics are realizing that military support for computer
science may not be optimal for the health of the field. The massive investments of Pentagon money in
technologies like artificial intelligence have not paid off in commercial "spin-offs," and expensive
programs like VHSIC (Very High Speed Integrated Circuits) have been disasters.2 The investment of
billions of dollars in Department of Defense money into the semiconductor field did not stop the
Japanese from taking over nearly the entire international market in DRAMs in the 1980s. The late
Professor Alan J. Perlis of Yale said that military support for the field tends to constrain "computer
science in far too narrow a way and prevents our society from adequately exploring its potential." And
Professor James H. Morris of Carnegie-Mellon University says of military-funded computer research,
"People who work on such projects are force-fed money and never get a feeling for costs or markets."3
More and more frequently we hear that our primary economic competitors, West Germany and Japan,
have been able to invest heavily in capital infrastructure because their economies are relatively free of
the burden of defense spending.
By dint of historical coincidence, the Bush administration has landed smack in the middle of this debate
over the future of computer science. The rising tide of calls for leadership, vision, the use of
government funds, and so on, are all appeals to the Bush administration. There is a strong feeling among
the elite of the computer field that without leadership from President Bush, the American computer
industry could be a memory by the time he leaves office. There is a growing feeling of frustration over
the lack of initiative on the part of the Bush administration. Andrew S. Grove, president of Intel, told
Business Week magazine, "Sometimes I feel we are fighting two governments at the same time--
Japan's and our own."4 Grove and other business leaders are pressuring the Bush administration to do
something to save the computer field. "We're closer to the point of no return than most people think,"
says chairman of the American Electronics Association Mitchell E. Kertzman.5
The "Peace Dividend" and Computer Science
Everyone knows, of course, that the federal government is catastrophically strapped for cash these
days; Gramm-Rudman automatic budgets cuts still go into effect if the government does not meet the
targeted deficit figures, the General Accounting Office just added another $65 billion to the price tag for
the savings and loan bailout, and it was just reported that the national debt has gone over $3 trillion.
Since President Bush has pledged not to raise taxes, the main hope as a source of money these days
seems to be savings from defense budget cuts, the so-called "peace dividend."
When the Bush administration budget was released in January, the "peace dividend" simply did not
exist. A week before the budget was released, Secretary of Defense Cheney announced at a press
conference that he was ready to accept defense budget cuts of $180 billion over five years, which made
headlines nationwide. But Cheney was surrendering a $180 billion cut from a proposed increase in
defense spending of $200 billion over five years, meaning that the Pentagon was proposing to live with
a mere $20 billion increase in spending rather than a real cut. A "peace dividend" cannot coexist with a
$20 billion increase in defense spending.
Congress appeared blind to Cheney's gesture. House Armed Services Committee chairman Les Aspin said
that the defense budget is in "political free-fall," and there is no telling where it will land. There are
proposals to cut as much as $10 billion out of this year's defense budget, with some members of
Congress calling for a reduction to half of current spending levels by the end of the decade. Republicans
are hoping for a $3 billion cut after inflation, and the Bush administration seems resigned to this level
now. But the final defense budget figure probably won't be determined until the end of the congressional
session in October, or perhaps even later.
Any "peace dividend" that comes out of defense budget cuts will be the rope in a tug-of-war. Nearly
every member of Congress has something different in mind for any free cash that becomes available.
For Republicans it tends to be reduction of the deficit; for many Democrats it's bolstering long-
neglected social programs and rebuilding dilapidated infrastructure like highways, housing, and ports.
At the same time, government savings seem to be falling into the twin black holes of bailing out the
savings and loan industry and cleaning up the country's nuclear production facilities, programs
expected to cost several hundred billion dollars each.
Significant help for computer science and the computer industry seems unlikely in this context.
Certainly there is no mandate within the Congress for a massive investment program that will help
shore up the competitive position of high technology in the United States. There are specific programs
that enjoy moderate support, such as investment in high definition television (HDTV). Some programs
are protected by powerful congressional delegations, such as the Sematech facility in Texas. But when
computer industry leaders sound their alarms about the health of the field and its importance to the
future of U.S. economic leadership, they are competing with a number of other national emergencies.
Computer Science and the Restructuring of Military Forces
it is expected that long-term government savings for defense will come out of the restructuring of
military forces, such as the withdrawal of over a hundred thousand troops from Western Europe, the
deactivation of Army divisions and Air Force wings, and the closing of hundreds of military bases. The
United States spends about two-thirds of its defense budget on the defense of Western Europe, and that
theater is precisely where the threat to American interests seems most dramatically reduced by recent
events; indeed, the Warsaw Pact seems to have all but disintegrated.
However, there is ample evidence that the Pentagon is planning for a restructuring of forces that should
be more properly labelled modernization. Defense planners and industrialists are approaching the
inevitable transformation of current military forces as an opportunity for retiring outdated weapons
systems, reducing bloated personnel rosters, and updating strategy. The new emphasis will be on high
tech weapons systems, replacing manpower with machine intelligence and highly automated systems.
Secretary of Defense Cheney told the National Press Club, "We are going to rely, as never before, on
our ability to generate the best high technology weapons in the world." On March 20, 1989, Aviation
Week and Space Technology magazine quoted Seymour Zeiberg, vice president for technical operations at
Martin Marietta, for example, when he said, "Although military strategists will be thinking of reduced
force levels, there will be an inclination toward improved capabilities. U.S. officials want to ensure
that the systems being deployed are far more capable than those negotiated away. The net effect would be
far greater capability in spite of lower force levels."
There is certainly the danger that, as in other times of apparent progress in arms control,
technological developments that continue apace will erode the gains made in disarmament. The SALT I
accords, for example, were followed by the development and deployment of MIRVs (multiple,
independently retargetable reentry vehicles), which dramatically accelerated the arms race. The SALT
II agreement was undermined by the deployment of cruise missiles. In the 1980s, the ABM Treaty was
threatened by the American SDI program and the Soviets' Krasnoyarsk radar facility. If there are
weapons developments that jeopardize the gains made in the current arms control regime of START and
CFE (the conventional force reduction talks in Vienna), they will be made possible by computer
So the character of future federal funding for computer science research and development is tied to the
ongoing debate about the future character of American military forces. If the United States continues to
pursue a strategy of comprehensive military superiority, computer science may continue to be
dominated by Pentagon funding. But if the U.S. government is able to accept the concept of mutual,
common security, and is able to demilitarize as a result, computer science may be freed to solve
problems related to real human needs.
The "Competitiveness" Issue
Polls now reveal that most Americans fear the economic threat of foreign competition, especially from
the Japanese, more than they do the military threat of the Soviet Union. There are a variety of
responses to this fear on the part of elected officials. Some Democrats, such as House Majority Leader
Richard Gephardt, tend to favor protectionist legislation that would help shelter American businesses
and farms. Some leaders of industry favor government support for targeted industrial efforts, such as
research and development. Many in the Bush administration are free trade ideologues who are
passionately opposed to government intervention in the economy.
There is a platform on competitiveness issues among high tech executives that has a number of planks.
First is the assumption, as shown in the National Research Council report, that government, industry,
and academia must work together to promote U.S. economic competitiveness. Many industrial leaders
assert that this cooperation is a fact in most of the countries competing with the United States, and that
the U.S. must play with the same rules to stay in the game at all. The new recommendations include a
civilian-oriented research and development funding pool with money from investors, industry, and
government; direct federal aid for risky but important technologies; increased research and
development tax credits; and exemption of some joint manufacturing and R&D operations from antitrust
This strikes some key figures in the Bush administration as too close to an "industrial policy," which
clashes with their free market beliefs. Michael Boskin, the chairman of the Council of Economic
Advisers, says, "What we oppose is the notion that the government should be picking which industries
and technologies are winners."6 According to Business Week, Boskin, White House Chief of Staff John
Sununu and Budget Director Richard Darman have become known as the "Iron Triangle," the chief
obstacle to the promotion of any kind of industrial policy that would involve government in supporting
high technology. Last December, shock waves rolled through the industry when it was rumored that the
Bush budget would cut funding for both Sematech and HDTV from tens of millions per year each to zero.
A panic reaction from industry and a bipartisan group from Congress restored the budgets for both.
At the same time, there are people within the Bush administration who are promoting government-
industry cooperation. Secretary of Commerce Robert Mosbacher and former DARPA Director Craig
Fields are often on Capitol Hill extolling the virtues of federal funding for high tech R&D. In 1989, the
Defense Science Board recommended that the Defense Department play a more important role in setting
national industrial goals. In April of this year, DARPA announced an arrangement that made it a venture
capital investor in a Silicon Valley company, the first such direct investment by the Pentagon. Industry
sees the Bush administration as sending mixed signals on federal support for high technology. Finally,
in late April, the White House announced it was moving DARPA Director Fields, a champion of Silicon
Valley, into an obscure position within the Pentagon. One commentator called this a "firing," and it was
clear that the senior advisers of the White House were acting on their antipathy to Fields' support for
more government funding of high tech research.
The Democrats in the Congress are almost all for greater investment in research, and some are even
sponsoring measures for a new civilian-oriented high tech research agency, which some people are
calling a "CARPA," a civilian version of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Senator John
Glenn of Ohio has introduced such a bill proposing something called ACTA (Advanced Civilian Technology
Agency), and the idea is picking up support. The problems with such an agency, however, are that,
first, the money is not there to fund it, and, second, if the money were there, with no institutional
history it would be real political football--what technologies should be funded, and where should the
Critics on the left of the debate point out that the prescription for restoring competitiveness has
nothing in it for labor, or for the general working population of the U.S., except the vague promise of
more jobs if some high tech R&D pays off. But in the short run, government subsidies of high tech mean
the preservation of big salaries, bonuses, perks, and stock-related income for a handful of corporate
leaders. Robert Reich, the Harvard economist who has been pushing for a national industrial policy for
years, now says that government investment in companies that can export jobs to other countries is a
betrayal of the public trust. What is required, says Reich, is massive investment in the training and
education of American workers, so that workers here will have the best comparative advantage of any
workers in the world, and will therefore be able to maintain a higher standard of living. As Reich says,
"Our economic future, as well as national security, is better served by developing a large corps of
technologically sophisticated workers within the nation than by boosting the profitability of America's
The High Performance Computing Program
A step in the direction of federal support for computer science R&D, without the creation of a new
federal agency, is the Bush proposal for a High Performance Computing Program. The HPCP is the
result of several years of meetings of a little-known interagency task force under the White House
Office of Science and Technology Policy, a group called the Federal Coordinating Council on Science,
Engineering and Technology, or FCCSET, typically referred to as the "Fixit" committee. The FCCSET
Committee on Computer Research and Applications produced the HPC program, and its recommendations
are spelled out in a report released on September 8, 1989.
The HPC program, if it is fully funded, would cost about $1.2 billion over several years. The budget for
the entire program envisions a rapid growth in spending, with outlays at the five-year mark in the
neighborhood of $600 million. If these figures are authorized by the Congress, the HPC would be the
largest program of federal support for computer science in the history of the field in the United States.
There are four components to the HPC program: High Performance Computing Systems; Advanced
Software Technology and Algorithms; the National Research Education Network (NREN); and Basic
Research and Human Resources. Each of these areas is meant to work interdependently and interactively
with the other three. The program proposes investment of federal funds for research in these areas, and
for development of a new national telecommunications and research computing network. This new
network, the NREN, would eventually provide three gigabit per second service to selected research
sites, and 45 megabit per second service to an additional one thousand sites across the country. The
network would be a state-of-the-art replacement for the current Internet system.
In 1989 Senator Gore of Tennessee introduced a bill, S.1067, that essentially endorses the High
Performance Computing Program. Another bill supporting the concept of the HPCP has been introduced
by Senator J. Bennett Johnston of Louisiana (S.1976), and a House version has been prepared by
Representative Doug Walgren of Pennsylvania (H.R. 31 31). Each of these bills is meant to authorize
money for a high performance computing program. But the Bush administration has opposed specific
funding through legislation, preferring instead increases in the managing agencies' budgets. In the Bush
administration budget for fiscal year 1991 there is little if any money allocated for the goals of the
High Performance Computing Program, which seems to contradict the public commitment made by the
White House Science Adviser, Dr. Allan Bromley.
The High Performance Computing Program has been endorsed by the Computer Research Board, and it
has been favorably received by the Association of Computing Machinery and IEEE. It does have a number
of problems, however. The research program is meant to be managed by interagency cooperation, but a
good portion of the program remains under the supervision of DARPA, a Pentagon agency. If the HPCP is
intended to be a program to develop U.S. economic competitiveness and maintain the U.S. Iead in
computer research, the continued dominant role of the Pentagon passes up the opportunity to create new
vehicles of funding for computer science that are independent of military priorities. The HPCP also
tends to reinforce the position of big and wealthy institutions, instead of spreading research dollars
The HPCP also has political problems unrelated to its impact on the field of computer science. It is a big
expensive program in an era of fiscal belt-tightening. Because it is an interagency product, it doesn't
have a cabinet secretary or some other powerful administration figure battling for its funding. Dr.
Bromley may be the champion of the program by reason of his position, but Bromley has several other
big science programs to push through the Congress, such as the supercollider and the human genome
project, each of which is expected to cost billions of dollars. Finally, unlike the supercollider, which is
scheduled to be built in Texas, the High Performance Computing Program would be distributed around
the country, which means it's unlikely to motivate a particular congressional delegation that will make
sure it gets funded.
A New Approach to R&D Funding Policy
In a forthcoming article,8 policy analysts Joel Yudken and Michael Black argue that the United States is
at a critical juncture in the history of support for science and technology research, similar to the
period in the 1940s in which the National Science Foundation was created. At stake is a distribution of
power and resources that could last for decades. "Business as usual" could propel the United States into
a period of perhaps irreversible decline. But an industrial policy concocted by a coalition of high tech
leaders and Pentagon officials could have an equally negative effect on this country's capabilities for
meeting the challenges of the next century.
Yudken and Black point out that the United States has many clearly apparent needsÑfor environmental
protection and preservation, for low-cost housing, mass transit, energy conservation and renewable
energy sources, and rehabilitation of the public infrastructure such as roads, bridges, ports, airports,
and public buildings. It is not clear that these needs will be addressed by a policy of supporting very
specific technologies or industrial sectors, such as high definition television or semiconductors.
Support for these industries or technologies raises questions about the proper role of government in
serving the entire population with the use of tax dollars.
Yudken and Black instead call for a "national needs assessment," which would result in a high tech
research agenda designed to meet critical national priorities. Their "National Needs Agenda" "would be
governed by the larger goal of increasing national productivenessÑa more inclusive notion than
competiteveness or productivityÑwhich stresses social and economic objectives as well as efficiency,
profits and market share."9 And to prevent the costs imposed by having American scientific and
technological research represent the interests of only a small elite, Yudken and Black call for a
comprehensive democratization of the process of developing R&D policy, with the inclusion, for
example, of constituencies traditionally left out of such policymaking, such as labor, public interest,
and local community groups.
Now that defense budget cuts are forcing thoughts of economic conversion onto many American
corporations, it is time to think about the conversion of science and technology research. Powerful
forces are aligning themselves on this issue, and they promise to make the debate challenging and vital
for the foreseeable future. It is possible to support high technology research for the purpose of
enhancing the quality of life without resorting to the nationalistic rubric of competitiveness or to the
alleged imperatives of national security. The changing world picture that we see all around us, with the
diminishing threat of global war but a rising threat of global environmental crisis, makes a nationalist,
business analogue to the Cold War obsolete before it has even gathered steam. The U.S. government now
has an opportunity to reorient the scientific and technical genius of the country to serve real human
needs and to improve life on the planet. This is what we should all demand of President Bush.
1. Computer Science and Technology Board, Keeping the U.S. Computer Industry Competitive: Defining
the Agenda, Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1990.
2. Leslie Brueckner and Michael Borrus, "Assessing the Commercial Impact of the VHSIC (Very High
Speed Integrated Circuit) Program," BRIE Working Paper, Berkeley Roundtable on the International
Economy, December, 1984.
3. Computer Science and Technology Board, op. cit., p. 15.
4. "The Future of Silicon Valley," Business Week, No. 3144, February 5, 1990, p. 54.
5. Ibid., page 56.
6. Ibid., page 60.
7. Robert B. Reich, "Members Only," The New Republic, (June 26, 1989).
8. Joel S. Yudken and Michael Black, "Towards a New National Agenda for Science and Technology Policy:
The Prospects for Democratic Science and Technology Policy making," in Towards a Peace Economy in
the United States, Greg Bischak, ea., New York: St. Martin's Press (forthcoming).
Proposed 1991 Federal Budget for Research and Development
Selected Categories in millions
FY90 FY91 FY90 FY91
Total R&D, all agencies 66,734 71,199 In OSD:
Computer Aided Log. Support 13 14
Total Pentagon R&D 37,226 38,714 DoD Software Initiative 11 13
Joint Robotics Program 21.6 22
6.1 (Research) 923 978 NATO R&D 116 96
6.2 (Expl. Development) 2,403 2,457
Army 6.1 181 189 Total 6.1 78 85
Navy 6.1 366 401 Total 6.2 513 461
Air Force 6.1 90 201 Sematech 100 100
Defense Agencies: NASA 6,382 8,414
SDIO 3,571 4,460
Office of Scientific Develop. 1,032 1,054 National Science Foundation 1,766 1,983
DARPA 1,227 1,078
Defense Nuclear Agency 357 446 Environmental Protection 431 460
Def. Support Project Office 123 225
Defense Communication Agency 233 174 Agriculture 1,108 1,184
Defense Logistics Agency 53 43
* Federal R&D spending categories are classified according to whether the money is spent for basic
research or for developing applications. Money classified as 6.1 is for basic research.
Caller Identification: More Privacy or Less? Jeff JohnsonÑCPSR/Palo Alto
Which privacy right is more important: the right to prevent your telephone number from being
disclosed to others, or the right to know who is calling you? As telephone companies across the U.S.
prepare to introduce a service celled Caller Identification (Caller ID), and as opponents of the service
raise concerns about privacy implications, that is how the issue is being framed.
Caller ID works as follows: whenever a telephone whose owner subscribes to the service is called, it is
provided with the number of the calling telephone. What the called telephone does with that number
depends, of course, upon what it is designed to do with it. Most of the telephones in use now couldn't do
anything with the information. Most Caller-ID compatible telephones would simply show the calling
number in a small display while the telephone is ringing and during the ensuing conversation. Fancier
telephones would compare the number to a stored list, either to determine the caller's name so they can
display that instead of the number or to decide how to handle the call, e.g., to ignore the call, activate a
telephone-recorder, play a caller-specific message, or ring the telephone. More advanced telephones,
integrated into computer systems, might send the number to a database, either to add it to a list of
callers or to retrieve other information about the caller.
An important point about Caller ID is that whether your telephone number is given to people you call
depends upon whether they subscribe to the service, not whether you do. Subscribing lets you see the
numbers of people who call you.
Caller ID has been available in private PBX telephone systems for internal calls for several years. It
was made available to many businesses offering "800" numbers two years ago. Within the past year,
telephone companies have begun to make Caller ID available to residential customers. By 1992,
telephone companies are expected to have it available nationwide.
Proponents of Caller ID maintain that knowing who is calling is useful information that can help
prevent telephone calls from being as intrusive as they now are. They argue that if someone interrupts
you by calling you, you have a right to know who they are. Furthermore, they claim, you have a right to
know before you pick up the telephone, so you can decide if you want to let that person interrupt you.
Also, Caller IDis touted as a way to reduce the incidence of obscene or harassing calls, since the
perpetrators of such calls rely upon anonymity.
Apart from allowing telephone users to control telephone interruptions and deter crank calls,
proponents claim that Caller ID has other advantages. For example, it allows people to have telephones
that can be "programmed" to handle calls from different people differently. For example, calls from
relatives can be sent to the telephone recorder, calls from friends can ring through, calls from fellow
bridge club members can be greeted by a message stating the place and time of the next meeting, and
calls from others can be ignored entirely. Caller ID also enables "Call last caller back" for cases in
which, for example, the telephone rings while you are in the shower, or is ringing when you come home
with your arms full of grocery bags.
Criticism of Caller ID
Critics of Caller ID claim that its benefits are outweighed by its violation of everyone's right to control
to whom they give their telephone number. They argue that if someone wants your number, they should
ask you for it rather than getting it without your consent. Caller ID opponents point to a number of
legitimate types of telephone calls for which anonymity is important; e.g., people calling AIDS or
child-abuse hot lines or police tip lines, social workers and medical workers calling patients from
home, probation officers calling their charges, people calling businesses who don't want their number
added to a telemarketing database.
Caller ID opponents also claim that the benefits of Caller ID are less than claimed anyway, because:
1. Caller ID may result in an overall increase in unwanted calls, since many businesses will use it to
compile lists of customers for use in telemarketing.
2. Having Caller ID won't really reduce the intrusiveness of telephone calls. Once you've stopped what
you were doing to go to the phone to see if you want to answer it, you've already been interrupted.
Furthermore, it is difficult to tell from a displayed number who is calling, especially quickly enough to
decide what to do before the caller gives up; people with number-display telephones will end up
answering most calls anyway.
3. Most of the benefits of Caller ID can already be achieved in other ways, without revealing anyone's
number without their consent. Telephone calls needn't be so intrusive. Our compulsion to answer the
telephone when it rings is what should be changed: people should feel freer to get unlisted numbers and
screen calls through answering machines. If the telephone company can give you the caller's number
then they can trace crank and obscene calls. They can also provide "Call last caller back" without telling
you the number.
Caller ID advocates rebut that the benefits of the service are real, and that those who oppose it are just
"technological reactionaries" out to impede progress. Some Caller ID proponents counter critics'
concerns about privacy by claiming that the service doesn't violate anyone's privacy rights, since the
telephone company, not the telephone user, "owns" telephone numbers.
Caller ID critics respond that pro-Caller-ID arguments are just a smoke-screen; Caller ID's true
beneficiaries, and its main promoters, are businesses who see it as a valuable tool for collecting
telemarketing data, telephone service companies who will sell the service to businesses, and telephone
equipment manufacturers who look forward to a situation in which most of the telephones in the
country are suddenly obsolete.
Caller ID Controversy
This is an issue over which there has been, and will continue to be, heated debate. (One indication that
Caller ID is a hot topic is that it was the subject of a recent discussion on "Nightline," the ABC News
talk show that deals exclusively, it seems, in controversial issues. Similarly, a column on the subject
by William Safire in The New York Times [December 11, 1989] drew many letters to the editor.)
Telephone companies reportedly realized that some people, especially those with "unlisted" numbers,
would not appreciate their numbers being disclosed by Caller ID. Nonetheless, telephone companies did
not anticipate that the controversy over the service would reach the level it has. As has been said,
Caller ID has been available for various types of non-residential telephone service for quite awhile.
Only after telephone companies began to introduce it for residential customers did significant
opposition begin to appear.
Though Caller ID has been approved for imminent availability by Public Utility Commissions (PUCs)
in some areas of the U.S. and is already available in others (e.g., New Jersey), approval has rarely
been uncontested. Consumer advocacy organizations, state public advocate offices, state legislators, and
the American Civil Liberties Union are usually among the vocal critics of Caller ID. In areas where
opposition is strong, PUCs have delayed approval or imposed complicated restrictions and conditions. In
California for example, the PUC and the state assembly required that a blocking option be provided so
that callers can prevent their numbers from being displayed. Pennsylvania's PUC also required a
blocking option, but yielding to telephone company arguments that having such an option defeats the
purpose of Caller ID, restricted its use to law enforcement officials, crime witnesses, victims of
violent crimes, and others who deal with violent people. That decision has been appealed in the
Pennsylvania courts by the state Consumer Advocate. Meanwhile, Senator Kohl (D-WI), has introduced
a bill in Congress to require a blocking service nationwide. In the face of such complicated regulations,
some telephone companies have delayed introducing or even asking for permission to introduce Caller
ID until the debate cools down.
Clearly, the idea of revealing callers' telephone numbers without their consent bothers some people,
and clearly, the prospect of not having the benefits of Caller ID disturbs others. The arguments for and
against Caller ID raise several issues. In what follows, several are explored in detail.
Who Owns Telephone Numbers?
First, who really owns the rights to people's telephone numbers? Certainly, telephone companies can
and do distribute people's telephone numbers in the various directories that they provide. This includes
reverse directories, which customers (usually businesses) can purchase to determine peoples' names
and addresses from their telephone numbers. Some directories are or soon will be available in on-line
form, facilitating their use in the construction of databases.
But what about "unlisted" numbers? Doesn't the extra money a person pays for an unlisted number buy
them exclusive distribution rights? Yes and no. Unlisted numbers are not included in directories, but
are given out via Caller ID to whomever the holder of the unlisted number calls (provided the call
recipients subscribe to the service). This argument is circular. If the telephone company can claim
control of unlisted numbers because the caller ID feature makes it possible, then there's really no
If you give the number of a friend to a third party without asking your friend, your friend may not like
it, but you certainly would not have violated any law. A telephone company's disclosure of your number
to a third party is, it might be argued, exactly analogous. However, it might also be argued that
automatic or electronic disclosure of telephone numbers differs from person-to-person disclosure and
is illegal. For example, in Pennsylvania, the ACLU argued that Caller ID violates that state's wiretap
law, which forbids the use of devices that capture a caller's telephone number. One might also base a
counter-argument not on the medium of disclosure but rather on who obtains the number. For example,
one might claim that, while telephone companies can distribute directories to customers, they cannot
sell lists of telephone numbers to private investigators.
So what are we to conclude about who "owns" a telephone number? Just that the issue is yet unresolved.
Does Caller ID Enhance Privacy?
Next, let's examine the claimed benefits of Caller ID and the corresponding counter claims of critics.
For individuals (i.e., residential telephone users), the question is: would having Caller ID enhance
New Jersey Bell reports that the number of obscene and threatening telephone calls reported has
dropped sharply since Caller ID was introduced last year. Though it is in their interest to be able to
report this, it is a result that presumably could be checked. Suppose it's true. Suppose the reduction in
such calls is 80%. Given that such calls represent a tiny fraction of all annoying calls, how important
is it compared to an increase, say of 25%, in telephone sales solicitations, which Caller ID may well
What about Caller ID's other claimed benefits? One thing that clearly limits Caller ID's usefulness to
individuals is the fact that telephone numbers identify telephones, not people. Knowing the number of
the calling telephone doesn't necessarily tell you who is calling. Crank callers could simply use pay
telephones to avoid detection or worse, other people's telephones, getting them into trouble. You would
have no way of knowing who at a given number was calling you. If you had Caller ID, you might reject a
call from your spouse stranded somewhere with a broken-down car or from someone who has
discovered your injured child because you didn't recognize the number.
Another limiting factor on the overall benefit of Caller ID is the cost of the service and of the necessary
equipment. Though a small percentage of the population can afford sophisticated telephones that
automatically categorize numbers and handle them accordingly, most Caller-ID compatible telephones
in people's homes will be of the simplest variety. Telephones or telephone attachments
that do anything more than show the calling number will be extremely rare. So, for most people, the
usefulness of Caller ID will depend upon how quickly and easily they can decide, based upon a displayed
number, what to do when the telephone rings. I find the arguments of criticsÑthat by the time you're
looking at the number you've already been interrupted and that there will be a temptation to answer
most calls "just in case"Ñquite convincing. If they are right, Caller ID will, for average citizens, be
little more than a toy that lets them answer the telephone, "Hello, Fred."
One thing proponents and critics of Caller ID agree upon are its telemarketing benefits; what they
disagree upon is whether those benefits are worthwhile. According to Calvin Sims, a reporter for The
New York Times, "Phone companies expect the service to be popular among businesses, which could
link it to computer files of customer records." This expectation is already being realized: as stated
earlier, many businesses offering "800" numbers already have Caller ID, allowing them to capture the
numbers of callers. It will soon be available for companies offering "900" services. Sims says that
"American Express uses an AT&T system that lets service representatives' see a caller's name and
account information before they answer the telephone." With reverse-directories available from
telephone companies, businesses could use captured telephone numbers to fill-out their marketing
Caller ID Alternatives
Having examined the benefits of Caller ID, let's consider some alternatives that might provide some of
the same benefits without the cost to public privacy.
New Jersey Bell says that Caller ID reduces obscene and harassing calls, and calls it "the best
technology" for doing so. Is it? Do you really want to know the telephone number of an obscene caller?
Your telephone company can certainly get it if you report the disturbance. Shouldn't they and the police
be the ones to handle such problems? Obscene and threatening calls would also be "sharply reduced" if
telephone companies simply encouraged people to report them and made it clear that tracing numbers is
trivial. Even if tracing numbers is not trivial now, any telephone company that can provide Caller ID
could make it trivial.
Setting aside criminal calls, let's consider alternative ways to reduce "ordinary" unwanted calls. I'll
begin with ways that are available now, then discuss some possible technological alternatives to Caller
As stated earlier, we can simply not answer the telephone when we don't want to be disturbed. Bells can
be muted; telephones can be unplugged; answering machines work as well when we are at home as when
we are out. If those solutions seem dishonest or require too much behavior modification on our part,
consider this: for $69.95, you can buy a device that adds a 3-digit access code to your telephone
number; those who don't know it hear a perpetually-ringing telephone and you hear nothing. Arguably
such a device is better than Caller ID: people you give your code to can get through regardless of what
telephone they call from, people who don't have your code can't, you avoid repeated interruptions of
having to decide when the telephone rings whether to answer or not, and no one's telephone number is
disclosed without consent.
Now, let's turn to alternatives that don't yet exist, but could in the near future. I mentioned earlier that
one limitation on the value to residential users of Caller ID is that telephone numbers identify
telephones and not people. Another problem is that telephone numbers are effective, unique links to
households and data records, which is why they are valuable to businesses and other potential violators
of privacy. How might we fix these problems?
First, let's consider what not to do. The way the problem is statedÑ "telephones identify telephones and
not people"Ñsuggests that a solution might be to create a system in which telephone numbers identify
people, not telephones. In other words, each person has a unique ID number, encoded on a card that can
be inserted into telephones. In addition to being used for billing and other purposes, a caller's unique
telephone-ID number is provided to whoever that person calls. People you call get more accurate
information about who is calling them. This is in fact the direction that many phone pundits expect the
telephone system to go. It is also precisely the wrong thing to do, because it increases the invasiveness
of the technology to individual privacy, and it keeps the burden of decoding numbers on telephone-call
A much better solution is to change the system so that people are identified to callers only by name, not
by a unique ID number. Names are more useful than any sort of number to residential call-recipients
because they can be used directly. They are also less effective as links back to the caller because they
aren't unique. The names "Fred J. Smith", or even "Caitlin D. Fitzsimmons," by themselves, would not
be as useful to businesses as those peoples' telephone numbers. Two ways to supply names to call
recipients come to mind: 1 ) Use the above-mentioned card, but send just the caller's name, not their
account number, to the recipient; 2) Allow callers to "type" their names (or abbreviations thereof)
using the key pad when they make a call. Method 1 makes giving a false name more difficult, but some
people may not like even their name being given to the callee. Method 2 has the advantage that supplying
one's name is optional, but lends itself to the use of false names (though that could be handled by
agreement between callers and callees, e.g., nick-names).
Of course, neither of these alternatives satisfy the requirements of businesses. They aren't trying to
screen calls. They want a link back to the caller. They need the telephone number, i.e., Caller ID itself.
The question is: do we want them to have it?
Different Value for Different Users
Though the Caller ID debate has been framed as a matter of whether callers' right to keep their numbers
private is more important that callees' right to know who is calling them, that is not the real issue. The
issue has to do with the relative costs and benefits of the service for individuals and for businesses. I
have argued that the benefits of Caller ID for residential telephone users are minimal. For them, Caller
ID is a naive attempt to solve a difficult problem. Trying to decide how to handle calls based upon the
number of the calling telephone is like trying to filter out commercials automatically when recording
TV shows based upon the volume level (this has been attempted); you still hear a lot of commercials and
you miss a lot of program material. I expect that many people will subscribe to the service, naively
believing that it will help them screen calls, and then realize that it doesn't and that they are wasting
While the benefits of Caller ID for individuals are doubtful, the costs are not: widespread dissemination
of personal information in a society where such information is increasingly traded as a commodity. For
businesses, the situation is reversed: the benefits of Caller ID are great while the only costs are money.
All citizens pay the privacy cost while only businesses and people who can afford very sophisticated
telephones get real benefits.
I would urge telephone companies, in their roles as public utilities, to place less weight upon the needs
of businesses and more on those of their residential customers. I would urge them to seek alternatives
to Caller ID that are more useful to the public and less invasive to individual privacy.
Jeff Johnson is a researcher at Hewlett-Packard in Palo Alto, CA. He serves on the executive committee
of the CPSR Board of Directors, and he was active in the organization of the CPSR conference on
participatory design. " CPSR Washington Office Director Marc Rotenberg also contributed to this
article. They both encourage CPSR members to submit their own views on Caller ID to either the
National or Washington, D.C., offices of CPSR.
Software Sneaks Into South Africa
February 1990 was the month for historic and dramatic events in South Africa. On February 11,
African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela was released from prison after 27 years of
incarceration. Shortly before Mandela's release, South African President F. W. deKlerk legalized
political activity by the formerly banned African National Congress and other opposition parties.
Mandela, in his first speeches delivered after leaving prison, called for continued economic sanctions
against South African in order to pressure the government for further reform.Ñed.
The computer store's fluorescent lights glowed pleasantly against the pastel blue rugs and walls. Rows
of computer terminals, monitors and neatly boxed software packages beckoned to customers. A salesman
politely explained he sells Apple Macintoshes, WordPerfect and Microsoft Word software programs, and
a host of other U.S. products. It could be any computer retail store in the United States. But it's South
The 1986 U.S. Comprehensive Sanctions Law governing trade with South Africa prohibits the sale of
computers to apartheid-enforcing agencies, such as the military and police. Most other sales of U.S.
computer products are legal. But many U.S. companies have voluntarily banned distribution of their
products as a protest against South Africa's policy of racial segregation.
Four years ago Cupertino-based Apple Computer, for example, announced it would stop all business
dealings with South Africa. In an interview this past June, Terry Adams, Apple's Global Accounts
Manager, confirmed Apple's policy and said, "Apples aren't available in South Africa."
But Apple's Macintosh, highly prized for its graphics and desktop publishing capabilities, is easily
obtainable. And it's no secret. Johannesburg's FutureWave Technology, a software retailing company,
publishes frequent full-page ads in computer magazines boasting that it has "probably more Apple
Macintosh hardware, software and support experience than all your other sources of supply combined."
In 1986 Microsoft similarly announced it would no longer sell directly to South Africa. Yet
Johannesburg's MBM Computers publicly boasts of being Microsoft's largest South African retailer.
Sanctions busting is a thriving industry in the apartheid state. Virtually any banned U.S. product is
availableÑfor a price. Most anti-apartheid leaders have called on U.S. companies to strengthen
enforcement of sanctions to stop this influx.
But one opponent of apartheid has now proposed a unique alternative: U..S. firms should award sole
distributorships to black-owned South African companies to undercut apartheid and strengthen black
Under Pretoria's system of racial segregation, 5 million whites exercise nearly complete economic and
political control over the country's 31 million blacks and Asians.
For many years black South African leaders asked U.S. corporations to impose economic sanctions as a
means of protesting apartheid. Most U.S. companies refused, claiming that they undercut apartheid by
providing improved wages and working conditions for their black workers.
Then, in 1983, black South Africans rose up in what was to become the country's longest sustained
rebellion. Blacks went on strike, declared rent boycotts and held huge demonstrations. By 1985 the
government had imposed a state of emergency and severely restricted press coverage of the uprising.
Eventually, the government detained some 40,000 people without trial.
The repressions led many Western governments and companies to support economic sanctions and
disinvestment for the first time. The withdrawal of U.S. products and business investment was designed
to pressure the regime to change its apartheid policies. In 1986 the U.S. Congress passed a
comprehensive sanctions act, and a reluctant President Reagan signed it into law.
By 1989 more than 350 U.S. and Western European companies had pulled out of South Africa. Some
explicitly linked their withdrawal to opposing apartheid. Most said they could no longer earn adequate
profits given South Africa's political and economic instability.
South Africans are hungry for U.S. computer products and have gone to extraordinary lengths to get
around the sanctions, establishing a massive "gray market" in U.S. computers.
The illicit trade in Macintoshes typifies how the computer gray market operates.
Apple licenses only certain companies to sell its products, and they must meet sales quotas each month.
A South African computer dealer who sells Macs, but who requested anonymity, explains that these
dealers help maintain their quotas through unauthorized sales to gray marketeers.
These companies and "the gray marketeer don't care who the end user is," the dealer says, "they just
move boxes." He says the gray-market Macs eventually make their way to a number of U.S. companies
owned by South Africans who specialize in exporting to their homeland. Then the Macs are shipped
directly to South Africa or through third countries.
Ironically, says Dr. Hasmukh Gajjar, co-owner of HNR Computers in Capetown, many U.S. computer
products are now available much sooner than they were in pre-sanction days. It used to take six months
to get the products because authorized dealers controlled all sales. With today's gray marketing, he
says, "these products may be available within three weeks of release in the United States."
Prices shoot up, of course, because several middlemen now take a cut. According to one dealer's price
list for July 1989, a Macintosh II retailed for $9,900, more than three time its cost in the United
I interviewed two South African computer dealers now living in the States who acknowledge selling
hardware and software to their homeland. Paul Steinberg, president of Punchline, Inc., a Los
Angeles-based computer retailer, says his company was originally associated with Punchline
Computers, one of South Africa's largest computer corporations.
"We have been requested to sell ancillary Mac products and occasionally a desktop publishing system" to
South Africa, Steinberg says. He mainly sells IBM products, however (IBM sold its South African
business to South Africans in 1986), and says he deals in Macs only on a "case-by-case basis."
Ed Buckner, the South African president of Texas-Carolina Trading Company (TCTC) of Charlotte,
North Carolina, says he sold millions of collars' worth of computer equipment to South Africa last year,
including Macs and Microsoft Word software.
But Buckner denies any violation of U.S. Iaw. He says none of his products end up with the police or
military because TCTC has an associate company in South Africa to make sure the "products are handled
in the correct way. We will not supply to anybody in South Africa without proper verification of who
the end user would be."
Rich Karakis heads up Apple's efforts to stop U.S. gray marketing. He says neither Punchline nor TCTC
is an authorized Apple dealerÑand therefore shouldn't be selling either in the United States or to South
Karakis describes Apple's standard method of stopping gray marketeers. Apple buys a gray-market
computer, traces the serial number back to the authorized dealer who originally sold the Mac, and then
warns that dealer not to make improper sales or risk Apple canceling its contract with him. However,
in an interview, Karakis made no specific commitment to use this method to determine how Punchline
and TCTC get their Macs.
Since 1986, software manufacturer Microsoft's position on sanctions has been similar to Apple's.
"We wouldn't sell to South Africa or to distributors doing business in South Africa" says Sarah Chaif of
Microsoft's public relations department.
However, Ed Buckner's TCTC is an authorized Microsoft distributor. Until very recently, so was A.
Menashe & Sons of Harare, Zimbabwe. Computer industry sources inside South Africa charge that A.
Menahe & Sons is a conduit to unsanctioned Microsoft products flowing into Johannesburg.
A. Menashe & Sons is owned by Abraham Menahe, a director of Johannesburg's MBM Corp., South
Africa's largest independent computer company. MBM boasts that it is the largest Microsoft dealer in
Dr. Julian Menashe is managing director of MBM and the son of A. Menashe. He denies that his company
gets Microsoft from his father's company. "We wouldn't be that obvious," he says. The company has "a
secure source" in the United States, he says, but he declines to name it.
Microsoft terminated the A. Menashe & Sons dealership in early October after the charges of sales to
South Africa were reported.
Marty Taucher, head of Microsoft public relations, says his company is investigating unauthorized
TCTC sales to South Africa.
"Our employees don't like our products being sold to repressive regimes like South Africa," says
Taucher. "Whenever we become aware" of an authorized dealer selling to South Africa, "we try to move
Dave Neir, Microsoft's director of intercontinental operations, says it's relatively easy to stop sales by
authorized dealers, but "what frustrates me is when our product is resold several times and then ends
up in South Africa. That's almost impossible to stop."
Total sanctions are indeed difficult to enforce. Companies must police thousands of computer outlets in
the United States and even more overseas.
For that reason, HNR Computers' Hamukh Gajjar argues that sanctions on computers will never work.
(Gajjar is of Indian and Malay origin: he is classified "Asian" by the government, but classifies himself
politically as black.)
"Sanctions and disinvestment may have been a correct decision two to three years ago," says Gajjar,
"but we don't agree with blanket sanctions anymore. They do not prevent the goods from reaching the
South African market."
Gajjar argues that U.S. computer firms should instead award franchises to black-owned businesses in
order to promote black economic power. HNR Computers, for example, is now the sole South African
distributor for WordPerfect. White-owned computer companies must come to HNR to legally buy that
highly popular program. HNR plans to provide computer training to the Capetown black and Asian
Corey Freebairn, WordPerfect's international marketing coordinator, says his company found it
impossible to stop gray marketing. By giving the franchise to HNR, WordPerfect once again has access
to the lucrative South African market. But they can also more closely control who the end user will be
and help a black-owned company.
"This could be a real blow to apartheid," Freebairn says.
Unfortunately blacks own only two computer companies in all of South Africa. So some anti-apartheid
leaders view Gajjar's alternative with skepticism. Leaders of the South African Council of Churches ask
how U.S. companies could prevent white South Africans from setting up front companies and thus
Azhar Cachalia, national treasurer of the United Democratic Front, the country's largest and most
respected anti-apartheid coalition, says he has no objection to U.S. investment in South Africa
"provided it is done with the consent of the democratic movement. We would, however, have a problem
where investment goes to certain groups of black people, where that is not used as a means of political
In other words, anti-apartheid groups don't want some blacks bought off, while the vast majority
continue to live in poverty and without any political rights. They want black-owned businesses to be
responsible to the black community.
Cachalia argues that computer sanctions have not worked only because U.S. companies don't apply their
policies vigorously. He believes that sanctions, combined with other pressures, have weakened the
regime by driving up prices for imports, thus adding to the country's $18.5 billion foreign debt.
"The South African government is quite desperate to have its debt rescheduled," says Cachalia. "And we
believe that sanctions confer on us a degree of leverage. . .that we would not otherwise have."
So U.S. computer companies that have taken an anti-apartheid stand have a choice. They can rigorously
enforce sanctions against South Africa. Or they can negotiate with anti-apartheid leaders to implement
Gajjar's franchise plan. But they certainly can no longer hope or pretend that their present policy
Reese Ehrlich is a freelance writer and media critic in the San Francisco Bay area, and he leaches et
California State University at Hayward. This article was originally published in the San Francisco
Chronicle's This World magazine, December 3, 1989, and is reprinted here with permission. Ehrlich
travelled to South Africa on assignment for Christian Science Monitor Radio and MacWeek magazine.
Computer Professionals and South Africa Philip Machanick
Major changes appear to be occurring in South Africa. At the same time, it is not clear what the
significance of these changes is, and what responses are called for in meeting the new challenges arising
out of these changes.
As an initial step at addressing these broader issues, a few points of interest to computer professionals
are highlighted here. Particular consideration is given to the role those outside South Africa may play.
As background, some details of a selection of anti-apartheid organizations are supplied. The state of
education in the country is briefly reviewed, as an example of an area needing attention. This is
followed by a few points about the impact of sanctions on the availability of computers. In conclusion,
some thoughts about useful actions which may be taken are presented.
The best-known anti-apartheid organization is the African National Congress (ANC). Formed in 1912,
the Congress was dedicated to peaceful protest, until it was banned in 1960 following the Sharpville
massacre. The ANC is rivalled by the much smaller Pan-Africanist Congress, which split from the ANC
in the 1950s.
In the 1970s, the political vacuum created by the banning of the ANC and PAC was filled by the Black
Consciousness Movement, of which Steve BikoÑwho died in detentionÑ was a prominent leader. Many
members of this movement have gravitated towards the ANC, though some have remained independent,
and others have established links with the PAC.
The United Democratic Front is another prominent South African organization, based on the the
Congress (i.e., ANC) tradition. It is a coalition of more than 300 organizations, and was formed in
response to constitutional reforms
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), the biggest union federation in the country, is
closely allied with the UDF. It is a major resource of skilled and experienced negotiators, organizers,
Independent anti-apartheid newspapers are a major source of opposition to apartheid. Such papers have
existed since the late 19th century, but desktop publishing has made them economically viable.
Examples include New Nation, Grassroots, Saamstaan, Vrye Weekblad,1 Weekly Mail and South.
As far as computer professionals are concerned, CPSR has links to the country through its South
African members. In addition, the ACM Committee on Scientific Freedom and Human Rights has recently
formed a South Africa subcommittee. There is no progressive computer science body in South Africa,
but the Union of Democratic University Staff Associations (UDUSA) represents progressive university
staff (including faculty) from most South African universities.
Education in South Africa is an example of the reality of "separate but equal." Anti-apartheid
organizations demand the unification of the education system, while the ruling National Party insists
that it remain segregated.
All government schools are segregated; universities and private schools have won the right to admit
whom they choose. Some figures indicate the depth of the problem. Whites (14% of the population)
receive 45% of the education budget; Africans (75% of the population) receive 36%.2 However, the
problem runs much deeper than this. As a result of decades of neglect, schools for Africans lack
laboratory facilities for science subjects, teachers are underqualified and education has completely
broken down in some areas.
The National Education Crisis Committee, formed in 1985, is a significant organization attempting to
address the problems of apartheid education. The NECC has focused on schooling for Africans; the
education system for the rest of the population also needs reform, but less urgently. Its strategy has
been to develop alternative curricula and education programmes, and to research education policy
issues. It was banned before it could fully implement these programmes.
The Cape Educational Computer Society (CECS) is dedicated to appropriate and progressive use of
computers in education. It holds workshops on issues like media production, and encourages educational
methods such as group-based problem solving.
Universities which attempt to offer a high standard of education without racial discrimination have
difficulty in coping with huge differences in quality of schooling. They derive about 70% of their
income from government subsidies, and the government refuses to adjust its subsidy formula to
support programmes for disadvantaged students. The government claims the national matriculation
examination (high school qualification) is the same standard for all races, although it manifestly is not.
Academic Support Programmes (ASP) are funded out of donations, or funds diverted from other
sources. Nonetheless, some universities have earmarked significant resources for bridging courses and
related activities, such as outreach programs to make the university known in schools. The University
of the Western Cape has taken a lead in this area. Universities of Natal, Cape Town and the
Witwatersrand have a growing commitment to ASP and other programmes.
An example of a new project is the College of Science, being set up by the University of the
Witwatersrand. The College is a pre-university institution, designed to provide disadvantaged students
with an enriched environment. It is being funded from private donations, and is intended to be a basis
for developing innovative educational techniques.
No major country producing computer equipment has enacted comprehensive anti-apartheid sanctions.
The United States has gone the furthest in this direction, but only prohibits the sale of computer
equipment to apartheid-enforcing entities (police, army, etc.). Some manufacturers of hardware and
software have nonetheless withdrawn from South Africa (or have never officially been there).
The most prominent withdrawer is Apple Computer, which left in 1985. Although Macintosh computers
are sold in South Africa, there is no evidence that Apple condones this practice. Others, such as Sun and
Digital Equipment Corporation, have never officially sold to South Africa, though their equipment is
widely advertised. IBM, Hewlett-Packard and UNISYS are intermediate cases: the U.S. parent companies
sold out to local buyers. In effect, they are still in South Africa, but with a lower profile.
Sanctions have not stopped the flow of computers to South Africa, although government agencies are
probably having to pay increased prices, owing to the illicit nature of their sources of supply. This does
not mean sanctions have been a failure, however. The psychological impact has been high.
Sanctions and disinvestment could be made more effective, but the Apple experience indicates it is hard
to totally prevent computer exports. The moral effects of sanctions may be maintained by continuing the
existing campaigns for isolating the apartheid state. At the same time, additional pressure could be
exerted by giving moral and material support to opponents of apartheid.
Anti-apartheid organizations are making increasingly sophisticated use of computers, especially for
desktop publishing. Aside from the newspapers mentioned earlier, there is a range of journals on
subjects like labor relations, human rights and broader political issues.
A good starting point is activity that works through established organizations. There are many both
inside and outside South Africa.
The ANC has appealed for assistance in setting up offices within South Africa. Progressive organizations
already in the country can make use of a wide range of skills. The use of computers for record keeping,
media preparation and education is reasonably developed in the stronger organizations (for example,
some trade unions). However, skilled computer professionals could make a contribution in this area.
Another area worth considering is research into technological needs of a post-apartheid society. Of
relevance are research into science policy issues, appropriate technology, and technological access.
Organizations in which such research can be carried out in South Africa are to be found within anti-
apartheid universities, as well as some of the organizations mentioned here.
Support of educational organizations is also important. Bodies such as the NECC and CECS could be
contacted to establish their needs.
Anti-apartheid newspapers can also be supported. Existing papers with established credibility could be
given discounts on computer equipment, or donations. New newspapers which clearly have community
support could be supported in similar ways.
Finally, it is possible to make a contribution through U.S.-based organizations, including the ACM
subcommittee mentioned above; the author may be contacted for further details.
Philip Machanick, a CPSR member, is a senior lecturer in the Department of Computer Science at the
University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa.
1. In Afrikaans, Saamstaan means "Let's Unite!" and Vrye Weekblad means "Free Weekly."
2. Apartheid Medicine: Health and Human Rights in South Africa, American Association for the
Advancement of Science, Washington, D.C., 1990.
New CPSR Director of Development
Barbara Thomas is the new CPSR Director of Development, having joined the staff of the National Office
in Palo Alto in March. Barbara is in charge of funding development for the organization, as well as
building the membership of CPSR. She will be working with the Board of Directors and key CPSR
volunteers to help secure the long-term financial prosperity of the organization.
Barbara comes to CPSR with a long history of service to organizations working for peace and an end to
the arms race. She has worked principally for the Palo Alto-based organization Beyond War. She served
on the Board of Directors of Beyond War, and was an active volunteer for many years. Barbara and her
husband Ed helped organize activity for Beyond War in Iowa, where the two spent four and a half years
working full-time for the organization on a volunteer basis.
The CPSR Board of Directors is happy to welcome Barbara to the staff in a position that has long been
needed by the organization. Working together, Barbara, the CPSR Board, and other staff members will
make sure that CPSR grows and prospers far into the future. Members or friends of CPSR who want to
help can contact Barbara at the CPSR National Office at (415) 322-3778.
Now available from the CPSR National Office
The award-winning hour long video on accidental nuclear war
Produced by Ideal Communications Scheduled for national televisor broadcast on PBS
Now available through CPSR
Admiral Noel Gayler U. S Navy (ret.), former commander of U. S. Pacific Forces and member of the
CPSR National Advisory Board "Losing Control? is the most powerful and convincing film I have ever
seen on the risks inherent in reliance on nuclear weapons The most relevant film I can think of for
Americans to see this year, in view of the immense opportunity we now have with the Soviet Union to
stop and reverse the nuclear arms race."
Dr. Thomas Wander, Chairman of the Arms Control Committee of the American Association for the
Advancement of Science: "In terms of a systematic exposition of the factors that could lead to an
inadvertent nuclear war, Losing Control? is the best treatment I have ever seen in the television
Susan Martin, President, California Teachers' Association, member of the Board of Directors, National
Education Association: "Ingenious and riveting. A must see for every person concerned with our planet's
survival, especially for our students and their teachers A real eye-opener for those who thought the
arms race is over. Wow. important stuff.' was the almost universal comment of my 120 students who
saw it this morning."
Shelby Skates political reporter, Seattle Post-Intelligencer "Losing Control? may be as important a
work of journalism as the 1950s Rachel Carson books on the environment."
Video purchase: $60.00 Rental: $25.00 plus $7 postage and handling Contact the CPSR National Office
at (415) 322 3778
CPSR Foreign Contacts May 1990
CPSR is in regular communication with the following individuals and organizations concerned with the
social implications of computing.
Ottawa Initiative for the Peaceful Use of Technology (INPUT)
Box 248, Station B Ottawa,
Ontario K1P 6C4
Dr. Calvin Gotlieb
Department of Computer Science
University of Toronto
Toronto, Ontario M5S 1A4
Richard S. Rosenberg
Department of Computer Science
University of British Columbia
6356 Agricultural Road
Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 1W5
Australians for Social Responsibility in Computing (ASRC)
Sydney Graham Wrightson
Department of Computer Science
Newcastle, NSW 2308
Computer People for the Prevention of Nuclear War (CPPNW)
P.O. Box 2 Lincoln College
Department of Computer Science
University of Helsinki
Tukholmankatu 2 SF-00250
Computing and Social Responsibility (CSR)
3 Buccleuch Terrace
Edinburgh EH8 9NB
Glasgow Philip Wadler
Department of Computer Science
University of Glasgow
Glasgow 612 800
University of Lancaster
Department of Computer Science
Bailrigg, Lancaster LA1 4YN
Sussex Mike Sharples University of Sussex School of Cognitive Sciences Falmer Brighton, BN1 9QN
FIFF per adresse Helga Genrich Im Spicher Garten #3 5330 Koenigswinter 21 Federal Republic of
Informatici per la Responsibilita Sociale (IRS-USPID) Dr. Luca Simoncini Istituto di Elaborazione dell'
Informazione CNR Via Santa Maria 46 1-56100 Pisa
Centre d'Information et d'Initiative sur l'Informatique (CIII)
08 BP 135
Cote d'Ivoire, West Africa
Computer Science Department
University of Witwatersrand
Johannesburg, 2050 Wits,
Dr. Ramon Lopez de Mantaras
Center of Advanced Studies C.S.I.C.
17300 Blanes, Girona
c/o The Population Council
P.O Box 1213
CPSR, P.O. Box 717, Palo Alto, CA 94301 (415) 322-3778
The CPSR Newsletter
Index of Articles
Compiled by Eric Roberts May 1990
The following is a complete index of articles published in The CPSR Newsletter since its inception
through to the Fall issue of 1989. Back issues of The CPSR Newsletter are available from the National
Office for $1.00 each, with some its-sues available in photocopy only. Single articles cannot he ordered
separately. [or more information, contact the CPSR National Office, P.O. Box 717, Palo Alto, CA
Key words listed in brackets can be found in the subject index at the end.
1. Greg Nelson. "NSC-68: America enters the cold war," Vol. 1, no. 1, Summer 1983. [COLD WAR]
2. Severo Ornstein. '"Spreading concern," Vol. 1, no. 1, Summer 1983. [RISKS]
3. Mark Hall. 'Technology and responsiblilty," Vol. 1, no. 1, Summer 1983. [ETHICS]
4. Lucy Suchman and John Larson. i Lessons learned,"." Vol. 1, no. 1, Summer 1983. [CPSR]]
5. Laura Gould. "CPSR denied booth space- at NCC," Vol. 1, no. 1. Summer 1983. [CPSR]
6. Alan Borning. "CPSR at IJCAI," Vol. 1, no. 2, Fall 1983. [CPSR, ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE]
7. Mark Hall. "Searching for peace- within the- maelstrom,"," Vol. 1, no. 2, Fall 1983. [PEACE]
8. Greg Nelson. "When a bomb is more than a bomb," Vol. 1, no. 2, Fall 1983. [NUCLEAR WAR,
9. Severo Ornstein. 'Launch on warning policy: a reel herring?," Vol. 1. no. 2, Fall 1983. [LAUNCH ON
10. Lucy Suchman. "Basic course on computers and nuclear war," Vol. 1, no. 2, Fall 1983.
[EDUCATION, NUCLEAR WAR]
11. Terry Winograd. "DARPA strategic computing proposal," Vol. 2, no. 1, Winter 1984. [SCI]
12. Alfred S. Beebe. "The human context," Vol. 2, no. 1, Winter 1984. [SCI, ETHICS]
13. Ron Newman. "Strategic computing and professional ethics," Vol. 2, no. 1, Winter 1984. [SCI,
4. Mark Hall. "Education can make difference," Vol. 2, no. 1, Winter 1984. [POLITICS]
I5. William Finzer. "A disturbing analogy," Vol. 2, no. 1, Winter 1984. [HISTORY]
16. Barbara Schaffer. "Computer 'brigade' goes to Nicaragua," Vol. 2, no. 1, Winter 1984.
17. Lucy Suchman. "DARPA strategic computing initiative," Vol. 2, no. 2, Spring 1984. [SCI]
18. Terry Winograd. "Some thoughts on military funding," Vol. 2, no. 2, Spring 1984. [MILITARY,
19. Greg Nelson. "More than MAD," Vol. 2, no. 2, Spring 1984. [NUCLEAR WAR]
20. Alan Borning. "Trip report: Germany and Finland," Vol. 2, no. 3, Summer 1984. [INTERNATIONAL]
21. Severo Ornstein. "CPSR and 'the military'," Vol. 2, no. 3, Summer 1984. [MILITARY]
22. CPSR Madison. "Computer unreliability and nuclear war," Vol. 2, no. 3, Summer 1984. [RISKS,
23. Jonathan Jacky. "A threat against human beings," Vol. 2, no. 3, Summer 1984. [SCI, ETHICS]
24. Paul C. Valentine. "CPSR and the law," Vol. 2, no. 3, Summer 1984. [LAW]
25. Cliff Johnson. "Launch on warning is unconstitutional," Vol. 2, no. 4, Fall 1984. [LAUNCH ON
26. Greg Nelson. "First CPSR annual meeting," Vol. 2, no. 4, Fall 1984. [CPSR]
27. Dorothy Mammen. "AAAI '84 panel on strategic computing," Vol. 2, no. 4, Fall 1984. [ARTIFICIAL
28. CPSR Boston. "VAL the Robot," Vol. 2, no. 4, Fall 1984. [CPSR]
29. CPSR Madison. "Computer unreliability and nuclear war," Vol. 2, no. 4, Fall 1984. [RISKS,
30. Paul Smolensky. "Ethical questions and military dominance in next generation computing," Vol. 3,
no.1, Winter 1985. [ETHICS, ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE, FUNDING, MILITARY]
31. CPSR Madison. "Computer unreliability and nuclear war," Vol. 3, no. 1, Winter 1985. [RISKS,
32. Greg Nelson and Dave Redell. "Star wars computing: can the system be built?," Vol. 3, no. 2, Spring
33. Christiane Floyd. "The responsible use of computers: where do we draw the line? (part D," Vol. 3,
no. 2, Spring 1985. [ETHICS]
34. Lewis Thomas. "An earnest proposal," Vol. 3, no. 2, Spring 1985. [ETHICS, PRIVACY]
35. CPSR Madison. "Computer unreliability and nuclear war," Vol. 3, no. 2, Spring 1985. [RISKS,
36. "The Johnson v. Weinberger lawsuit," Vol. 3, no. 3, Summer 1985. [LAUNCH ON WARNING, LAW]
37. Charles Mohr. "Scientist quits antimissile panel," Vol. 3, no. 3, Summer 1985. [ETHICS, SDI]
38. Greg Nelson and Dave Redell. "Star wars computing: failure possibilities," Vol. 3, no. 3, Summer
1985. [SDI, RISKS]
39. Christiane Floyd. "The responsible use of computers: where do we draw- the line? (part II)," Vol.
3, no. 3, Summer 1985. [ETHICS]
40. H.R.J. Grosch. "Something old under the sun," Vol. 3, no. 3, Summer 1985. [RISKS, HISTORY]
41. Brian C. Smith. "IPPNW Meeting in Budapest," Vol. 3, no. 3, Summer 1985. [INTERNATIONAL,
42. Gary Chapman. "Airland battle doctrine and the strategic computing initiative," Vol. 3, no. 4, Fall
1985. [SCI, MILITARY]
43. Jon Jacky. "CPSR Boston co-sponsors debate on computer requirements of star wars," Vol. 3, no.
4, Fall 1985. [SDI, CPSR]
44. Greg Nelson and Dave Redell. "Star wars computing: accidental activation," Vol. 3, no. 4, Fall 1985.
45. Rodney Hoffman. "CPSR at IJCAI," Vol. 3, no. 4, Fall 1985. [CPSR, ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE]
46. David Chaum. "An opportunity for computer professionals," Vol. 4, no. 1, Winter 1986. [PRIVACY]
47. Lee Byrd. "Americans' privacy exposed by new technology, congress told," Vol. 4, no. 1, Winter
48. Gary Chapman. "Airland battle doctrine: the sorcerer's apprentice," Vol. 4, no. 1, Winter 1986.
49. "CPSR 1986 annual meeting and banquet held in Palo Alto," Vol. 4, no. 2, Spring 1986. [CPSR]
50. David Lorge Parnas. "Why I won't work on SDI: one view of professional responsibility," Vol. 4, no.
2, Spring 1986. [ETHICS, SDI]
51. Thomas Conrad. "Computing apartheid," Vol. 4, no. 2, Spring 1986. [INTERNATIONAL, APARTHEID]
52. Susan H. Nycum. "Legal liability for expert systems," Vol. 4, no. 2, Spring 1986. [LAW]
53. Gary Chapman. "Spies like us," Vol. 4, no. 2, Spring 1986. [BOOK REVIEW]
54. Eric Roberts. "The Eastport Group Report: unexpected support for SDI critics," Vol. 4, no. 3,
Summer 1986. [SDI]
55. Gary Chapman. "The politics of the strategic defense initiative," Vol. 4, no. 3, Summer 1986. [SDI]
56. Ronni Rosenberg. "Privacy in the computer age (part D," Vol. 4, no. 3, Summer 1986. [PRIVACY]
57. Severo Ornstein. "Vancouver meeting on accidental nuclear war," Vol. 4, no. 3, Summer 1986.
[NUCLEAR WAR, INTERNATIONAL]
58. Jeff Johnson. "Computers as supervisors: privacy and keystroke monitoring," Vol. 4, no. 3,
59. Doug Schuler. "A responsible computing inititative," Vol. 4, no. 4, Fall 1986. [ETHICS, FUNDING]
60. Joseph Weizenbaum. "Not without us," Vol. 4, no. 4, Fall 1986. [ETHICS]
61. Severo Ornstein. "Loose coupling: does it make the SDI software trustworthy?," Vol. 4, no. 4, Fall
62. Ronni Rosenberg. "Privay in the computer age (part II)," Vol. 4, no. 4, Fall 1986. [PRIVACY]
63. Ronni Rosenberg. "Privacy in the computer age (part III)," Vol. 5, no. 1, Winter 1987. [PRIVACY]
64. Mary Karen Dahl. "National security and electronic databases," Vol. 5, no. 1, Winter 1987.
65. Eric Roberts. "Programming and the pentagon," Vol. 5, no. 1, Winter 1987. [CONTRACTING,
66. Clifford Johnson. "The constitution vs. the arms race," Vol. 5, no. 2, Spring 1987. [LAUNCH ON
WARNING, NUCLEAR WAR, LAW]
67. "An update on Johnson v. Weinberger," Vol. 5, no. 2, Spring 1987. [LAUNCH ON WARNING, LAW]
68. "A talk with Dr. Robert Kahn," Vol. 5, no. 2, Spring 1987. [FUNDING, RESEARCH]
69. Joel S. Yudken and Barbara Simons. "Federal funding of computer science," Vol. 5, no. 3, Summer
1987. [FUNDING, MILITARY]
70. "Further conversation with Robert Kahn," Vol. 5, no. 3, Summer 1987. [FUNDING, RESEARCH]
71. Severo Ornstein. "Parting thoughts from former CPSR chairman Severo M. Ornstein," Vol. 5, no. 3,
Summer 1987. [ETHICS, CPSR]
72. Steve Zilles. "New chairman Steve Zilles outlines CPSR priorities," Vol. 5, no. 3, Summer 1987.
73. "CPSR Seattle sponsors conference on directions and implications of advanced computing," Vol. 5,
no. 3, Summer 1987. [ETHICS, CPSR]
74. Gary Chapman. "Thinking about 'autonomous' weapons," Vol. 5, no. 4, Fall 1987. [MILITARY,
75. Bernard Roth. "Robots and the military: do they really need each other?," Vol. 5, no. 4, Fall 1987.
[MILITARY, AUTONOMOUS WEAPONS]
76. John Shore. "Why I never met a programmer I could trust," Vol. 5, no. 4, Fall 1987. [ETHICS,
77. Clifford Johnson. "Computers and war games," Vol. 5, no. 4, Fall 1987. [SIMULATION, MILITARY,
7X. "CPSR Boston hosts 1987 CPSR annual meeting and banquet," Vol. 6, no. 1, Winter 1988. [CPSR]
79. Mary Karen Dahl. "The National Crime Information Center," Vol. 6, no. 1, Winter 1988. [PRIVACY,
80. Lester Thurow. "Military spending and the American economy," Vol. 6, no. 1, Winter 1988.
81. Jeff Johnson. "A visit to NORAD's Cheyenne Mountain," Vol. 6, no. 2, Spring 1988. [MILITARY,
82. CPSR NTB Study Group. "The SDI's National Test Bed," Vol. 6, no. 2, Spring 1988. [SDI,
83. Gary Chapman and Clifford Johnson. "The NTB, the SIOP, and arms control," Vol. 6, no. 2, Spring
1988. [SDI, ARMS CONTROL]
84. Chris Hables Gray. "Arms and artificial intelligence," Vol. 6, no. 2, Spring 1988. [ARTIFICIAL
85. Greg Nelson. "CPSR National Study Group on Workplace: call for participation," Vol. 6, no. 2,
86. Lucy Suchman. "Designing with the user," Vol. 6, no. 3, Summer 1988. [DESIGN, WORKPLACE]
87. G. Pascal Zachary. "Living with the control key," Vol. 6, no. 3, Summer 1988. [WORKPLACE, BOOK
88. "IBM employees sponsor resolution on South Africa," Vol. 6, no. 3, Summer 1988. [APARTHEID]
89. Eric Roberts, Carolyn Curtis and Paul Czyzewski. "Computers in the workplace: capsule reviews,"
Vol. 6, no. 3, Summer 1988. [WORKPLACE, BOOK REVIEW]
90. "OTA releases report on SDI software," Vol. 6, no. 3, Summer 1988. [SDI]
91. Cindy L. Mason. "Using computers in arms control verification," Vol. 6, no. 4, Fall 1988. [ARMS
92. Hal Harvey. "Nonprovocative defense in Europe," Vol. 6, no. 4, Fall 1988. [ARMS CONTROL]
93. Bob Wilcox and Erik Nilsson. "Computerized vote counting: how safe?," Vol. 6, no. 4, Fall 1988.
94. Election Watch. "Vulnerable on all counts," Vol. 6, no. 4, Fall 1988. [VOTING]
95. Alan K. Cline. "Computers and complexity," Vol. 6, no. 4, Fall 1988. [RISKS, BOOK REVIEW]
96. Eric Roberts. "CPSR/Minnesota hosts DIAC-88," Vol. 6, no. 4, Fall 1988. [CPSR]
97. "CPSR responds to the Internet computer virus," Vol. 7, no. 1, Winter 1989. [VIRUS]
98. Paul Saffo. "Sensual realities in cyberspace," Vol. 7, no. 1, Winter 1989. [VIRUS, SCIENCE
99. David Bellin. "1988 CPSR annual meeting," Vol. 7, no. 1, Winter 1989. [CPSR]
100. Terry Winograd. "Weizenbaum presented Norbert Wiener award," Vol. 7, no. 1, Winter 1989.
101. Tyler Folsom. "The search for an electronic brain," Vol. 7, no. 1, Winter 1989. [ARTIFICIAL
102. "CPSR reports on the FBI's National Crime Information Center," Vol. 7, no. 2, Spring 1989.
103. "CPSR testifies on NCIC before House Subcommittee," Vol. 7, no. 2, Spring 1989. [PRIVACY,
104. "Cliff Johnson files new lawsuit on Launch-on-Warning," Vol. 7, no. 2, Spring 1989. [LAUNCH
105. Gary Chapman. "A look at computers in the Soviet Union," Vol. 7, no. 2, Spring 1989. [USSR,
106. Severo M. Ornstein. "Simulation and dissimulation," Vol. 7, no. 3, Summer 1989. [SIMULATION]
107. Charles A. Meconis. "Wargames revisited," Vol. 7, no. 3, Summer 1989. [SIMULATION]
108. Richard Healey. "My gameÑyour simulation?," Vol. 7, no. 3, Summer 1989. [SIMULATION]
109. Bill Sulzman. "Update on the SDI's national test facility," Vol. 7, no. 3, Summer 1989. [SDI,
110. Marc Rotenberg. "Congress considers 'high-performance' computing initiative," Vol. 7, no. 3,
Summer 1989. [CONGRESS]
111. "CPSR presents Norbert Wiener Award to McCracken," Vol. 7, no. 3, Summer 1989. [CPSR]
112. Benjamin Pierce and Holly Murray. "CPSR/DC hosts 1989 Annual Meeting," Vol. 7, no. 4, Fall
113. Karen Nussbaum. "Computer monitoring: a threat to the right to privacy?," Vol. 7, no. 4, Fall
1989. [WORKPLACE, PRIVACY]
114. Jim Gawn. "A real-life computer detective thriller," Vol. 7, no. 4, Fall 1989. [BOOK REVIEW]
115. Paul Hyland. "Me and my data shadow," Vol. 7, no. 4, Fall 1989. [BOOK REVIEW]
116. Lenny Siegel. "A darker side of the chip," Vol. 7, no. 4, Fall 1989. [BOOK REVIEW]
117. "James Martin elected to CPSR advisory board," Vol. 7, no. 4, Fall 1989. [CPSR]
118. "CPSR testifies in House computer virus hearing," Vol. 7, no. 4, Fall 1989. [VIRUS, CONGRESS]
APARTHEID 51, 88
ARMS CONTROL 83, 91, 92
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE 6, 27, 30, 45, 84, 101
AUTONOMOUS WEAPONS 74, 75
BOOK REVIEW 53, 87, 89, 95, 114, 115, 116
COLD WAR 1
CONGRESS 103, 110, 118
CPSR 4, 5, 6, 26, 28, 43, 45, 49, 71, 72, 73, 78, 96, 99, 100, 111, 112, 117
ECONOMICS 65, 80
ETHICS 3, 12, 13, 23, 30, 33, 34, 37, 39, 50, 59, 60, 71, 73, 76
FUNDING 18, 30, 59, 68, 69, 70
HISTORY 8, 15, 40
INTERNATIONAL 16, 20, 41, 51, 57, 105
LAUNCH-ON-WARNING 9, 25, 36, 66, 67, 104
LAW 24, 25, 36, 52, 66, 67
MILITARY 18, 21, 30, 42, 48, 65, 69, 74, 75, 77, 80, 81, 84
NCIC 79, 102, 103
NUCLEAR WAR 8, 10, 19, 22, 29, 31, 35, 41, 57, 66, 81
POLITICS 14 PRIVACY 34, 46, 47, 56, 62, 63, 64, 79, 102, 103, 113
RESEARCH 68, 70
RISKS 2, 22, 29, 31, 35, 38, 40, 44, 48, 76, 77, 95
SCI 11, 12, 13, 17, 23, 27, 42
SCIENCE FICTION 98
SDI 32, 37, 38, 43, 44, 50, 54, 55, 61, 82, 83, 90, 109
SIMULATION 77, 82, 106, 107, 108, 109
VIRUS 97, 98, 118
VOTING 93, 94
WORKPLACE 58, 85, 86, 87, 89, 113
The CPSR Newsletter is published quarterly by Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility P.O.
Box 717 Palo Alto, CA 94302-0717 (415) 322-3778
CPSR Chapters May 1990
Center for Advanced Compuer Studies
University of Southwestern Louisiana
P.O. Box S/B 40103
Lafayette, LA 70504
(318) 231 -5647
Ivan M. Milman
4810 Placid Place
Austin, TX 78713
(512) 823-1588 (work)
3026 Shattuck. Apt. C
Berkeley, CA 94705
(415) 845-3540 (home)
2 Newland Road
Arlington, MA 02174
(617) 643-7102 (home)
528 S. Humphrey
Oak Park, IL 60304
(312) 702-7166 (work)
4222 Corriente Place
Boulder, CO 80301
(303) 938-8031 (home)
P.O. Box 66038
Los Angeles, CA 90066
(213) 932-1913 (home)
128 S. Hancock St., #2
Madison, WI 53703
(608) 257-9253 (home)
Betty Van Wyck
Peaks Island, ME 04108
(207) 766-2959 (home)
6719 W. Moltke St.
Milwaukee, WI 53210
(414) 963-2132 (home)
David J. Pogoff
6512 Belmore Lane
Edina, MN 55343-2062
(612) 933-6431 (home)
1 Brook Hill Road
Hamden, CT 06514
(203) 248-7664 (home)
294 McMane Avenue
Berkeley Heights, NJ 07922
(201) 582-5334 (work)
(201) 464-8870 (home)
Stanford, CA 94305
(415) 723-0167 (work)
314 N. 37th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
(215) 898-1592 (work)
School of Computer Science
Carnegie Mellon University
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
(412) 268-3062 (work)
(412) 361-3155 (home)
CPSR/Portland P O. Box 4332
Portland. OR 97208-4332
(503) 246-1540 (home)
John Michael McInerny
4053 Tennyson Street
San Diego, CA 92107
(619) 534-1783 (work)
(619) 224-7441 (home)
419 Rigg Street
Santa Cruz, CA 35060
(408) 425-1305 (home)
P.O. Box 85481
Seattle, WA 98105
(206) 865-3226 (work)
2720 Wisconsin Ave., N.W., Apt. 201
Washington, D.C. 20007
(202) 967-6220 (home)
CPSR, P.O. Box 717, Palo Alto, CA 94301 (415) 322-3778
CPSR Educational Materials
The following materials may be ordered from the CPSR National Office. All orders must be prepaid.
Please include your name and address for shipping.
Back issues of The CPSR Newsletter are available for $1 each.
Some issues available in photocopy only.
Articles and Papers
_ ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY ON COMPUTER RELIABILITY AND NUCLEAR WAR. Compiled by Alan
Borning (16 pages - updated October 1984 - $2.00)
_ COMPUTER SYSTEMS RELIABILITY AND NUCLEAR WAR. Alan Borning (20 pages--February 1987 -
_COMPUTER UNRELIABILITY AND NUCLEAR WAR. CPSR/Madison (11 pages - June 1984 - $2.00)
_ THE RESPONSIBLE USE OF COMPUTERS; WHERE DO WE DRAW THE LINE? Christiane Floyd (4 pages -
June 1985 - $1.00)
_ THE "STAR WARS" DEFENSE WON'T COMPUTE. Jonathan Jacky (reprinted from The Atlantic, 6 pages
- June 1985 - $1.00)
_ THE STAR WARS COMPUTER SYSTEM. Greg Nelson and David Redell (10 pages - June 1985 - $1.00)
_LIST OF ILLUSTRATIVE RISKS TO THE PUBLIC IN THE USE OF COMPUTER SYSTEMS AND RELATED
TECHNOLOGY. Compiled by Peter G. Neumann (9 pages - August 1987 - $1.00)
_ DEADLY BLOOPERS. Severo M. Ornstein (16 pages - June 1986 - $2.00)
_ LOOSE COUPLING: DOES IT MAKE THE SDI SOFTWARE TRUSTWORTHY? Severo M. Ornstein (4 pages -
October 1986 - $1.00)
_ RELIABILITY AND RESPONSIBILITY. Severo M. Ornstein and Lucy A. Suchman (reprinted from
Abacus, 6 pages - Fall 1985 - $1.00)
_STRATEGIC COMPUTING: AN ASSESSMENT. Severo M. Ornstein, Brian C. Smith, and Lucy A. Suchman
(4 panes - June 1 984 - $1.00)
_ SOFTWARE AND SDI: WHY COMMUNICATION SYSTEMS ARE NOT LIKE SDI. David L. Parnas (Senate
testimony, 2 documents, 7 pages - December 1985 - $1.00)
_ WHY SOFTWARE IS UNRELIABLE. David L. Parnas (8 memoranda, 17 pages - June 1985 - $2.00)
_PRIVACY IN THE COMPUTER AGE Ronni Rosenberg (24 pages - October 1986 - $3.00)
_ SELECTED AND ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY ON COMPUTERS AND PRIVACY. Ronni Rosenberg (7 pages
- September 1986 - $1.00)
_ THE LIMITS OF CORRECTNESS. Brian Cantwell Smith (21 pages - June 1985 - $3.00)
_ ETHICAL QUESTIONS AND MILITARY DOMINANCE IN NEXT GENERATION COMPUTING. Paul Smolensky
(6 pages - October 1984 - $1.00)
_ STRATEGIC COMPUTING RESEARCH AND THE UNIVERSITIES. Terry Winograd (28 pages - March
1987 - $3.00
_ THE CONSTITUTION vs. THE ARMS RACE Clifford Johnson (8 pages - December 1986 - $1.00)
_ THE NATIONAL CRIME INFORMATION CENTER: A CASE STUDY. Mary Karen Dahl (4 pages - March
1988 - $1.00
_ "SENSITIVE, " NOT "SECRET: A CASE STUDY. Mary Karen Dahl (4 pages - January 1988 - $1.00)
_ THINKING ABOUT "AUTONOMOUS" WEAPONS. Gary Chapman (4 pages - October 1987 - $1.00)
_ COMPUTERS IN THE WORKPLACE: A WORKING BIBLIOGRAPHY, CPSR Workplace Project (19 pages -
last updated March 1990 - $2.00)
Videotapes and Slide Show
Except where noted, CA residents add sales tax
Loan and rental is for one month, except by pre-arrangement.
_ Reliability and Risk: Computers and Nuclear War. An award winning half-hour documentary on
accidental nuclear war, the reliability of computers in critical settings, and the computer aspects of
the SDI. November 1986 [Slide show rental: $75 Videotape rental: $25. Videotape purchase, Beta or
VHS: $35, U-matic: $50. Shipping and handling: $7.00.
_ "SDI: Is the Software Feasible?" Seminar sponsored by the Library of Congress for Congressional
staff members. 1 hour, April 1986. Features Danny Cohen (SDIO) and Dave Redell (CPSR) presenting
opposing views. Includes questions from the audience. [Available as a loan only. Shipping and handling:
$7.00, no sales tax]
_ "To Err..." WHA Madison Public Television presentation on computer failure. Features several
members of CPSR/Madison,15 minutes, May 1985 [Available as a loan only. Shipping and handling:
$7.00, no sales tax]
_ MIT debate on the feasibility of the SDI. Co-Sponsored by the MIT Laboratory for Computer Science
and CPSR/Boston, approx. 2 1/2 hours, October 1985 Moderator: Mike Dertouzos (head of LCS); pro-
SDI: Danny Cohen and Chuck Seitz (SDIO); con-SDI: David Parnas (University of Victoria) and Joseph
Weizenbaum (MIT). [Rental: $50] Transcript also available (please call).
CA residents please add sales tax
Please add $3 for postage and handling.
_ COMPUTERS IN BATTLE: Will They Work? Edited by David Bellin and Gary Chapman, Harcourt Brace
Jovanovich, 224 pages,1987. An anthology of perspectives on the role of computers in the arms race,
written and edited by CPSR members. Available in bookstores or from the National Office. Cost: $14.95
_ EMPTY PROMISE: THE GROWING CASE AGAINST STAR WARS. Union of Concerned Scientists, John
Tirman, editor, Beacon Press, 230 pages, 1986 Features chapters by eight authors. Cost: $7.95.
_THE SACHERTORTE ALGORITHM and Other Antidotes to Computer Anxiety. John Shore, Viking Press,
256 pp., 1985 Cost: $7.95.
CPSR, P.O. Box 717, Palo Alto, CA 94301 (415) 322-3778
CPSR Calls for End to "Star Wars" Program
On February 16, 1990, Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility sent the following letter to
approximately 300 people in the United States Congress, both members and staff, calling for an end to
the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI). The letter was also sent to about 900 representatives of the
press nationwide. The CPSR National Office has received a number of replies about this letter, including
an official response from the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization, which follows the fetter belong.
The CPSR letter was prepared by David Parnas, Dave Redell, Jim Horning, Marc Rotenberg, Gary
Chapman, Clifford Johnson, and Eric Roberts.
To: Members of the United States Congress
From: Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility Re: Open Letter on the Strategic Defense
Date: February 16, 1990
Since 1983 the United States has spent over $16 billion on the Strategic Defense Initiative. Today,
nearly seven years later, the fundamental problems of strategic defense have not been solved, and the
goal of ballistic missile defense is no closer than before.
There have been some technological advances as a result of SDI research, although these have come at an
inordinately high price. The Department of Defense, however, has not produced a credible means for
creating trustworthy computer software, which is an essential requirement for the SDI system.
Because of technological implausibility, enormous future cost, and federal budget constraints, we urge
the orderly abandonment of the Strategic Defense Initiative, including the recently proposed "Brilliant
As we in Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility said in our report on the SDI computer
system in 1985, and as subsequently confirmed by other studies, there are two primary reasons that
trustworthy computer software cannot be developed for the SDi:
First, we do not know enough about nuclear war to specify precisely what functions the software must
perform; many of the critical variables in a nuclear war will remain unknowable. Without accurate,
adequate, and verifiable data for specifications, command and control software, the very heart of the
SDI, must be largely the result of guesswork, and consequently unreliable.
Second, we cannot test an SDI system in its complete configuration and under its conditions of use. At the
present time and for the foreseeable future, all large software systems have to be tested
comprehensively under realistic conditions, and revised extensively as a result of those tests, before
they can be trusted. In many cases, even comprehensive testing will fail to detect some of the significant
errors, which are instead found only when the software is actually used.
Today, all computer scientists agree that the software developed for any strategic defense will have
errors or "bugs." This was the conclusion of the Pentagon's own expert panel, the Eastport Group, in
1987, as well the conclusion of the panel convened by the Congressional Office of Technology
Assessment in its report released in May, 1 988.
Department of Defense officials and some computer scientists have defended the SDI by saying that
although the software may have "bugs," these errors will not make a significant difference in the
performance of the system, or that they will degrade the system only partially, leaving enough
resources to complete the mission of space-based missile defense.
This argument is groundless. The effects of unknown errors in software are clearly impossible to
predict or anticipate. A single error in the SDI's software could cause complete system failure under
unpredictable conditions. The mathematical character of computer systems is such that tiny errors can
have major effects. There is little likelihood that whatever testing is undertaken for the SDI would
reveal the errors that could cause the system to fail once put into actual use. While one Pentagon
consultant has claimed that the SDI could have "100,000 errors and still function," Professor David
Parnas, one of the world's leaders in software engineering, has said, "This is true, but only if you pick
your errors very carefully." Obviously this is impossible.
Software errors can also be introduced into a system through attempts to improve or update the
system's performance. This is what happened recently to AT&T's long-distance telephone switching
system. New software code introduced a critical error into what was considered a remarkably reliable
network, causing AT&T to experience widespread failure in its long-distance telephone communications
system. Ironically, in December of 1985, Solomon J. Buchsbaum of AT&T Bell Laboratories testified
before a Senate subcommittee that his company's experience with a reliable telephone system showed
that the SDI command and control software could be made trustworthy. Although there are some
similarities between command and control of space-based strategic defenses and the international
telephone systemÑincluding vulnerability to software errorsÑthere are important fundamental
differences. Despite its enormous complexity, we can have high confidence in the telephone system
because it is constantly evaluated under conditions of actual use. This would never be possible for an
SDI system, whose conditions of actual use would be a real nuclear war. Moreover, if the telephone
system fails, it can be repaired and service restored. If an SDI system were to fail under attack, the
very nature of its mission dictates that there would be no time to repair it. Consequently, such a
strategic defense system would be inherently more vulnerable to catastrophic software failure than is
the telephone system.
The Strategic Defense Initiative Organization has recently announced a new concept in strategic defense,
called "Brilliant Pebbles." Brilliant Pebbles is a proposal to put thousands of small, computer-
controlled projectiles into orbit. These "pebbles" would circle the earth waiting for a "turn on"
command from U.S. authorities. Once turned on, the projectiles would look for, identify, and then
destroy enemy missiles simply by crashing into them. The "pebbles" would be able to do this, according
to supporters of the program, because of on-board intelligence provided by small but very powerful
This proposal perpetuates a common misconception about computers. Powerful computers and computer
miniaturization are often seen as the panacea to many problems. It is true that computers will become
increasingly powerful and more compact in the years to come. However, even powerful computers need
to be programmed, and computer programs are nothing more than sets of instructions provided by
human beings who believe they know what the computer ought to do. Computers with more speed allow
more data to be processed in a given time span, but the fundamental requirement that the task be well
understood and manageable does not change. In fact, the increasing power of computers often has the
effect of making software development increasingly expensive and difficult, because as computer
programs get larger and more complex they are harder to understand, harder to make reliable, and
harder to test.
The Brilliant Pebbles concept does not escape these problems of software development, nor does it solve
the dilemmas inherent in ballistic missile defense. The computers on-board the Brilliant Pebbles
components would have to be programmed just like the computers for any other SDI component. And the
software controlling the Brilliant Pebbles projectiles would be subject to the same unreliability.
The problem of developing trustworthy software for the SDI is not a problem that will be solved in our
lifetimes or those of our children. The unique problems inherent in the SDI concept, principally the
fact that its conditions of use will always remain unknown, make the development of reliable and
effective software so improbable that such a prospect should not form the basis, of national policy or
government funding priorities. Were such software ever to be deployed, the Congress could expect
decades of expensive revisions, tests, and enhancements in pursuit of the ever elusive goal of
trustworthy defense. Developments in computer technology will not change this.
In an attempt to show that the SDI will work, the Pentagon will present Congress with an onslaught of
computer simulations, dazzling computer graphics and reports of component testing in space. None of
these things will be valid evidence that space-based ballistic missile defense will ultimately work as
Because there can be no confidence that this expensive weapons system will work as it is designed to
work, and because there will be no way to establish such confidence, the Congress should abandon this
We hope that you will take advantage of this window of opportunity to reconsider funding priorities and
invest in programs that will truly strengthen national security over the long term.
SDIO Responds to CPSR Letter
Strategic Defense Initiative Organization Rebuttal to the Open Letter on the Strategic Defense Initiative
by the Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility Introduction
In a 16 February "Open Letter to Congress," the Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility
(CPSR) restate previous claims that Strategic Defense System (SDS) software cannot be made reliable
and trustworthy. The Open Letter asserts that the functions of the SDS software cannot be specified
because not enough is known about nuclear war, that the system can never be tested under actual
conditions of use, and that unknown software errors will exist that cannot be anticipated. The CPSR also
assert that the recent failure of AT&T's long distance switching system demonstrates the fragility of the
software controlling large, automated networks, and that the "Brilliant Pebbles" concept offers no
advantage in the development of reliable SDS software. From these premises, the CPSR conclude that
reliable, trustworthy software for the SDS cannot be achieved. In this rebuttal, the Strategic Defense
Initiative Organization (SDIO) challenges each of the CPSR premises and rejects the CPSR conclusion.
(Passages in italics are quotes from the CPSR letter.- ed.)
Assertion of "Unknowable"
First, we do not know enough about nuclear war to specify precisely what functions the software must
of the critical variables in a nuclear war will remain unknowable. Without accurate, adequate, and
verifiable data for specifications. command and control software, the very heart of the SDI, must be
largely the result of guesswork, and consequently unreliable.
The claim that the basic characteristics of the Soviet threat and of nuclear war are unknowable is
incorrect. The CPSR fail to credit decades of U.S. intelligence data collection and analysis of Soviet
attack capabilities, as well as the engineering and scientific community's extensive knowledge of
ballistic missile and related sensor and weapons technology. Also ignored is over forty-five years of
U.S. research into the effects of nuclear weapons. Important knowledge about system specification has
been gained from the deployment of military systems with similar requirements, such as air defense
systems and the Safeguard system, and our offensive missile deterrent force. In short, our intelligence
information, experience in similar systems, the basic laws of physics and engineering, and our ability
to allow for excursions and contingencies gives us adequate knowledge to specify SDS software.
Assertion of Untestability
Second, we cannot test an SDI system in its complete configuration and under its conditions of use....In
many cases. even comprehensive testing will fail to detect some of the significant errors, which are
instead found only when the software is actually used.
The CPSR imply that a SDS will fail because of logic errors and incorrect software specifications that
cannot be detected except under the conditions of nuclear attack. This claim ignores innumerable cases
of technological achievement in which the applicable real world state was not replicated exactly in
development testing. The Voyager software, the Mars Viking lander software, and the Space Shuttle
avionics are excellent examples of complex software systems that worked for the first time in
environments not encountered until actual use.
The difficulty of identifying every possible error in the SDS software is acknowledged by the SDIO. The
SDIO has adopted a "prototyping" approach to SDS software engineering. This approach, supported by
rigor, standardization, and control of interfaces, emphasizes the identification of errors and validation
of software requirements early in development. Early identification of errors in software prototypes is
crucial, and will be conducted through a coordinated program of simulation and field testing. The
gradual replacement of simulations with large scale emulation of software, hardware, and human
interaction will allow the system concept to be validated. Before it is determined mission ready, the
SDS software will be evaluated in progressive stages and subjected to widely used methods of failure
analysis, on the ground and in space, though not under the conditions of a nuclear attack. The SDIO
believes that the existing technologies for software engineering, simulation, and testing will be
sufficient to deploy a trustworthy SDS that will perform its mission at the time of its first use.
The National Test Bed (NTB) has been created to test and integrate the elements of the prototype SDS and
will play a major role in the development of reliable SDS software. Prototype mission software for the
SDS elements of increasing functionality and fidelity will be integrated and evaluated in a total system
context through end-to-end simulations, as well as through smaller scale simulations concentrating on
segments of the SDS and specific phases of ballistic missile defense. These simulations will be driven by
environment models and classified threat models including all conceivable defense suppression
measures. To concentrate on specific complex functions to be performed by SDS software, testbeds are
being implemented now in the areas of multi-object tracking, battle plan execution, and network
Regarding the testability of SDS software, the CPSR also imply that the system will be used only once
and that the first use will provide the only opportunity to assess system performance. During
peacetime, the system will be in continuous use conducting the missions of surveillance, detection, and
situation assessment. Engagement exercises will be conducted that will validate the correct execution of
the SDS software. Confidence in the system will increase through successful peacetime operations.
Assertion About Software Errors
Today, all computer scientists agree that the software developed for any strategic defense will have
errors or "bugs. . . " The effects of unknown errors in software are clearly impossible to predict or
anticipate. A single error in the SDI's software could cause complete system failure under
It is not possible to guarantee that any complex hardware or software system is completely free of
"bugs". This does not imply that a catastrophic failure resulting from a "bug" would be likely. SDS
software engineering and testing will reduce the probability of failure and this will be done
systematically and progressively, accounting for all operational functions and with full knowledge of
how the SDS is designed and constructed. In this manner, the worst-case consequences of an error will
be known, and the system can be designed to detect and respond to errors that do occur. The complete
system, as well as the individual elements, are being designed to be fault-tolerant, fail- safe, and
trusted. Furthermore, experience with complex, real-time systems indicates that software "bugs" do
not necessarily result in complete system failure. For example, the AT&T switching software error did
not completely shut down telephone service, though network capacity was reduced appreciably until the
problem was corrected.
SDS battle management computing resources will be distributed in order to reduce the chances of an
error in a single node from causing a total system failure. Distributed battle management concepts
reduce software size and complexity. Compared with the proposed SDS command and control network,
control of the AT&T telephone switching system is more highly centralized, which compounded the
effects of an error in the routing software. The AT&T network switching software error does not lead to
the CPSR conclusion that trustworthy SDS software is impossible. In fact, the excellent overall
reliability of AT&T's system better supports the opposite claim. However, there is a drastic difference
in requirements between the AT&T telephone network and the SDS command and control network that
makes comparison of the two systems difficult. Inexpensive and reliable service through network
efficiency to millions of users is the goal of commercial telephone and data service and this requirement
is better satisfied by centralized control. Efficient distribution of traffic is also important in the SDS,
but the number of elements connected is much smaller and cost is less important than reliability,
requiring a highly distributed routing system.
Assertion About Brilliant Pebbles
This proposal (Brilliant Pebbles) perpetuates a common misconception about computers. Powerful
computers and computer miniaturization are often seen as the panacea to many problems.... The
Brilliant Pebbles concept does not escape these problems of software development, nor does it solve the
dilemmas inherent in ballistic missile defense....And the software driving the Brilliant Pebbles
projectiles would be subject to the same unreliability.
The CPSR fall to recognize the advantages that Brilliant Pebbles (BP) and other "boost-phase"
interceptors offer. Relative to the CPSR assertion of ignorance, BP are designed to negate enemy
missiles in the early portions of their trajectories, before re-entry vehicles are deployed and large
numbers of variables are introduced into the battle. BP tracks and intercepts enemy boosters with
little information provided other than authorization to protect the nation. This does not require
extensive understanding of nuclear war strategies or scenarios, but is essentially a tracking and
intercept problem which is routinely performed in many tactical missile systems today. The
destruction of enemy boosters simplifies the requirements of the battle management in later stages of
the battle and makes the SDS less dependent on the unknown consequences of nuclear war.
With respect to the assertion of untestability, BP are designed to operate autonomously and will provide
a decentralized missile intercept capability without complicated data interfaces. Unlike the telephone
switching system example used in the CPSR argument, BP will result in a capability that is not highly
dependent on network communications. Since all BP are the same, a successful field test of a single
interceptor will provide confidence that it will operate the same in larger quantities.
Additionally, the CPSR has expressed a concern that the capability of smaller and more powerful
computers envisioned for BP will exceed the limits of current software development to program them.
To the contrary, established BP processing requirements are not believed to be unmanageable and, as
stated above, are well understood. The reason that BP computers must be made smaller and
computationally more powerful than any existing computer is to improve the BP system performance
through a reduction of size and weight. Development of the Brilliant Pebbles software will not be
radically different from the rest of the SDS software.
To summarize, the CPSR letter claims that the SDS software must be perfect in order to be
trustworthy. Our national experience with similar systems strongly denies this claim. Further, the
CPSR opinion is not shared by other prestigious groups which have reviewed the SDI program. The goal
of the SDI is not to create a perfect system, but rather one that is as adaptable and robust as possible in
strengthening our defense capabilities. Although at an early stage of development, the SDIO feels assured
that reliable and trustworthy software for the SDS is achievable by experienced computer and software
professionals implementing a software development program based on careful consideration of the most
successful software engineering efforts from both DoD and industry and utilizing the extensive
simulation and check-out facilities of the National Test Bed.
Update on SDI Funding
The Bush administration has asked Congress for $4.663 billion for Strategic Defense initiative
spending for fiscal year 1991. This is a 22% increase from the current year's authorized funding of
The SDI program with the largest increase is the "Brilliant Pebbles" concept, which has jumped from
$129 million this fiscal year to a proposed $329 million in 1991, a 155% increase. Funding for
"Brilliant Pebbles" is the project proposed by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientist
Very few people expect the DSI to be funded at the level requested by the President. The SDI budget was
cut below inflation for the first time in the 1990 budget. This year expectations are that the SDI
budget will go to at least $3.5 billion, and perhaps as low as $3 billion.
The Arms Race and the Peace Movement As History Book Review Jonathan JackyÑCPSR/Seattle
A Shield in Space? Technology, Politics and the Strategic Defense Initiative, Sanford Lakoff and Herbert
York, University of California Press, 1989, xv + 409 pages. $35.00, hardcover.
Guardians of the Arsenal: The Politics of Nuclear Strategy, Janne Nolan, Basic Books, Inc. 1989, xiii +
320 pages. $21.95, hardcover.
The Shield of Faith; The Hidden Struggle for Strategic Defense, B. Bruce Briggs, Simon and Schuster,
1988, 464 pages. $22.95, hardcover.
Nuclear Fear: a History of Images, Spencer Weart, Harvard University Press, 1988, 535 pages.
The Nuclear Seduction: Why the Arms Race Doesn't MatterÑAnd What Does, William A. Schwartz and
Charles Derber, University of California Press, 1990, xiii + 294 pages. $25.00, hardcover.
Remember the anti-nuclear weapons movement? The Freeze? Helen Caldicott's fiery speeches?
Remember when the big demonstrations were in West Germany? Reagan's "Star Wars" speech? The
They're historyÑliterally. You'll find the history in these books.
A Shield in Space is a comprehensive history of the first five years of the Strategic Defense Initiative.
Its authors are Sanford Lakoff, a political science professor at UC San Diego, and Herbert York, a
physicist with every distinguished careerÑhe was the first chief scientist at the Defense Advanced
Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and served as chief U.S. negotiator to the Comprehensive Test Ban
Treaty talks in the Carter administration, among many other accomplishments.
It's all here, the political history, the technical background, the weapons proposals that came and went,
the studies and assessments, official and "gadfly," friendly and critical, the economic assessments, the
implications for arms control treaties and the role of the NATO allies (Lakoff's specialty). Lakoff and
York have taken pains to summarize the many arguments for and against SDI in each of these areas,
taking scrupulous care to report all views as fairly as the contents of the arguments permit. However,
they make no secret of their own conclusions, which are the full subtitle of the book: "How the Reagan
administration set out to make nuclear weapons 'impotent and obsolete' and succumbed to the fallacy of
the Last Move." Serious students and activists working on SDI will want to have a look at this book.
Since it only covers the period through early 1988, it is already a bit dated; there is nothing about the
currently favored weapons scheme, "Brilliant Pebbles," nor SDI's recently faltering budget.
"Star Wars" gets less respectful treatment in Guardians of the Arsenal. Author Janne Nolan based her
book on interviews with dozens of officials and observers, some very senior indeed, and volumes of
recently declassified documents. She is not comprehensive like Lakoff and York; she focuses on one
theme, and she makes good use of her interview material, much of it quite colorful. The result is far
livelier book than A Shield in Space, a story rather than a reference work.
Nolan's theme is the schism between professed political values and nuclear war-fighting plans. She
asks what effect the endless civilian theorizing about nuclear strategy has on actual operations and the
choice of targetsÑon what might happen if there really were a nuclear war. Her surprising answer is,
not much. The terms in which civilian analysts and politicians discuss nuclear issuesÑdeterrence,
stability, etc.Ñare so abstract that they offer no practical guidance as to what sort of weapons to buy or
what targets to select.
As a result, the record of civilian oversight of nuclear war plans is "dismal." According to one former
national security advisor, "(the President of the United States) really doesn't want anything to do with
it." For all his support of the nuclear weapons buildup, Reagan attended just one briefing intended to
acquaint him with the SIOP, the "Single Integrated Operating Plan" for fighting a nuclear war with the
Soviet Union. It lasted twenty minutes. Similarly, Congress' behavior amounts to "deliberate avoidance
of a 'no-win' subject." The result is "civilian abdication" of the details of nuclear operations to the
separate military services and their own stables of experts. Their plans show little regard for the
political ends they are supposed to achieve, but are dominated by the purely technical considerations of
getting their weapons to work.
For example, while MX vulnerability and basing modes have obsessed Congress and defense analysts for
ages, the Air ForceÑwhich actually operates the missilesÑ doesn't give a damn. As General Vessey said
at one point, "We need those warheads so bad, I'd put them in the Pentagon parking lot." Nolan confirms
other investigators, including Daniel Ford and CPSR member Clifford Johnson, who have concluded that
the Air Force's actual operational plans are oriented toward pre-emption and launch-on-warning:
"[MX survivability] is not an issue to the Air Force because the idea of riding out a Soviet attack is so
implausible. . .that the whole question is academic.'' Along with other evidence, she cites a 1989
remark by current Strategic Air Command (SAC) chief General John T. Chain to the effect that
launch-on-warning is the de facto policy of SAC.
The "Star Wars" Diversion
According to Nolan, "Star Wars" is just a political sideshow, something to divert Congress, the public,
and the President himself from the enormous nuclear buildup of the 1980s. The realities of nuclear
planning are so horrible, and the contradiction with stated political beliefs so blatant, that they can't
bear examination. She quotes one senior Air Force official who said, "If we hadn't had the SDI, we would
have had to invent some other distraction to get all this gravy." In fact, Nolan points out, "despite SDi
there has been no real change in American nuclear doctrine;" it is but "the most recent example in the
history of nuclear deceit."
The essential "Star Wars" history is presented compactly by Nolan: President Reagan, appalled at the
dismal reality of nuclear deterrence, filled with confidence in technology and encouraged by a few far-
out weapon scientists (but without consulting his defense technology establishment) announced a
program which he intended should protect the American population from a massive Soviet missile
attack. The idea enjoyed considerable popular support, but there is no technology available or
foreseeable which can do anything close to what the President asked for. Instead, a whole menagerie of
government and industry researchers came forward with projects they had been cultivating with an
antimissile flavor. The administration began dispensing money to all. Unguided by a coherent plan, the
program lurched from one approach to another as technical flaws appeared in each. Population defense
was forgotten; almost nobody noticed, Meanwhile, debate raged on, but given the vague and ever-
shifting program content, and the complexity of the technical issues, positions on "Star Wars" were
merely regarded as indicators of the speaker's sympathy to the administration's overall political
Not Enough Weapons
For something completely different, try The Shield of Faith, a history of air, missile, and civil defense
programs from the invention of flight through "Star Wars." Author B. Bruce Briggs is from The Hudson
Institute, originally founded by godfather defense intellectual Herman Kahn to study civil defense.
Briggs quivers with loathing for everyone who doesn't like fallout shelters and antimissile missiles; as
one physicist after another in his account becomes disillusioned or turns critic, we learn that this one
"broke," that one "cracked," pretty much everyone "lost his nerve." Peace activists are "evil"Ñnot
particularly agents or dupes of the Soviets, mind you, but just evil, like something out of Stephen King.
I liked this book. All the vituperation aside, he got the story; it's a sprawling, compulsively detailed
account. It is far too well-researched, and too quirky and personal, to dismiss as just a right-wing
tract: as Briggs admits, "our side [is] thick with ordinary hustlers and cranks." Since Briggs is
constantly complaining that critics are "unqualified," it is appropriate to note here that he takes all
technical claims at face value; never mind, it's political history we're after here.
It is fascinating to see the arms race through the eyes of someone who feels we haven't gone nearly far
enough. The pages are almost stained with Briggs' tears for one abandoned weapon after another. Briggs
has accumulated an amazing pile of little-known nuclear lore, some of it quite chilling (during the
1962 Cuban missile crisis, Briggs says, SAC visibly parked its older bombers on major civilian
airfields to encourage Soviet targeters to allocate more weapons to the cities, in hopes of sparing some
SAC bases). It is also a gossipy social history of a particular community of defense intellectuals. Learn
whose wife stitched the footstool cover for Paul Nitze's fallout shelter; it's almost Hawks: An Oral
History of Hardliners.
Briggs has done more than simply assemble The Big Book of Doomsday Trivia. The history is there; the
real eye-opener for me was his painstaking documentation of how skilled the folks in what he terms
"The Business" (of defense analysis) are at building careers for themselves, feathering their nests, and
creating a whole community of institutes, agencies, and consultancies to inhabit. They don't neglect to
bring up promising youngsters; Richard Perle was cultivated literally from high school. Briggs is
particularly good at telling of the long march of "the rearmament network" from their dark days in the
seventies. They were "a cult of mostly marginal people" reduced to "mere nagging," scrambling for
jobs; some were actually reduced to consulting on the environment. The ailing Herman Kahn told them,
"what you should be doing is planning how to spend a hundred billion dollars." They listened, and when
Ronald Reagan came to town, they were ready.
I was expecting Briggs to cheer Star Wars, but he seems disappointedÑon this he agrees with Nolan: SDI
is a shambles. The right doesn't understand what the real problems are and pressures the
administration for immediate deployment. The administration seems willing to fritter it all away,
according to Briggs. The defense is once more "discombobulated."
What Spencer Weart calls the "war fear revival" of the 1980s is already receding into the past,
providing the opportunity for chroniclers to move on from polemics or journalism into something
more historical. Weart, director of The Center for the History of Physics at the American Institute of
Physics, takes this longer view. Nuclear Fear is more than a "history of images," it is a history of
nuclear technology of all kindsÑweapons, power, industrial, medicalÑtold from the point of view of
popular attitudes and coverage in the media, including fiction and and popular culture like science
fiction B-movies. It is reviewed here because it contains the best history of the campaigns against
nuclear power and nuclear weapons that I have seen. Other attempts I've seen are brief, journalistic,
often patronizing and usually melodramaticÑthey try to portray anti-nuclear movements as heroic or,
like Briggs, as villainous. This book views them with some detachment, though not without sympathy.
Weart thinks that most people worry too much about nuclear power and not enough about nuclear
weapons. One of the themes running through his book is why things have turned out opposite from what
he might have wished. The anti-nuclear power movement in this country has been quite successful but
the anti-nuclear weapons movement has largely failed: the strategic nuclear weapons buildup they
opposed is now a fait accompli; the candidate that favored the buildup won by two of the biggest
landslides in American history.
Part of the explanation lies with the workings of the political and legal system. The process of
approving a new power plant is relatively open and can be quite responsive to volunteer organizations;
control over nuclear weapons is much more closely held. But the movement itself has problems. Weart
documents that many who are attracted to anti-nuclear weapons movements are not just motivated by
the weapons issue, but harbor deep dissatisfactions with many aspects of our technically specialized and
economically differentiated (and unequal) society. So, anti-nuclear movements are more politically
leftist and philosophically pacifist than the society that contains them. This was a particular
disadvantage during the 1980s, when the political wind was blowing hard the other way.
And, the peace movement has a hard time staying on track after setbacks. Weart examines the parallels
between the two big waves of anti-nuclear weapons sentiment, the first in the late fifties and early
sixties, the second twenty years
later. During each cycle, the movement mobilized large numbers rapidly by focusing attention on issues
that worried people in the apolitical mainstream: fallout in the 50s, Euromissiles in the 80s. In both
cases, arms control agreements took away the issue, and subsequent failure to achieve other goals
caused the largely volunteer movement to melt away, with some participants taking up other causes
where prospects seemed brighter. This is in telling contrast with the inhabitants of Briggs' world, who
manage to keep their network going with money from industry, foundations and the government even
when they are out of political favor.
Nolan, in Guardians of the Arsenal, also places little hope in grass-roots activism. Instead, she hopes
for "a more robust meritocracy," "an informed constituency that is not very vulnerable to political
diversion"Ñadmittedly "an elitist idea, not a clarion call to action." She warns that "exhortation" aimed
at "discrediting the entire defense establishment as part of its exorcism" is doomed to "fail again."
Activism With A Different Agenda
The anti-nuclear weapons movement of the 1980's is subjected to plenty of criticism in these books,
which variously regret that it failed to achieve its goals or gloat over that fact. I am waiting for an
account from inside the movement, reflecting on what happened and considering what to do next. The
Nuclear Seduction, by members of The Boston Nuclear Study Group (which set itself up in opposition to
a mainstream arms control organization, The Harvard Nuclear Study Group) is the only book reviewed
here authored by self-avowed activists who directly address an audience of peers. They are on target
when they point out the ineffectiveness of anti-nuclear weapons protests, and the very limited
accomplishments of arms control, in view of the vast energy that concerned citizens have expended. But
their answer disappoints me. Essentially, it is "change the subject."
They advise the activist community to abandon the nuclear arms issue and concentrate instead on U.S.
foreign policy toward the Third World. They argue against trying to reduce the number of weapons or
eliminating particular kinds of weapons. The real risk of nuclear war, they say, comes from escalation
of some Third World conflict in which the superpowers have a stake. They present a history of
superpower confrontation from Korea through Afghanistan, devoting particular attention to the 1962
Cuban missile crisis, in each instance warning that the U.S. and Soviets "could have" or "might have"
come to nuclear blows. They conclude that the best way to avoid nuclear war is to refrain from military
intervention in the Third World, and to refrain from providing military aid to Third World regimes.
Moreover, this new stance cannot be piecemeal, but amounts to a deep and thoroughgoing campaign
against fundamental trends in American politics: "(We) can't just oppose individual acts of military
intervention by the U.S., but must attack the ideologies and interests that pursue them."
These authors are examples of a tendency Weart discusses: some participants in anti-nuclear weapons
movements are really more interested in some other agenda. In The Nuclear Seduction we find: "The real
threat of the antinuclear movement has always been that it might politicize and encourage a mass revolt
against American militarism in the Third World," but "as long as citizens busy themselves with (MX,
Pershing 11, and Star Wars) this threat is coopted."
Readers who agree should expect the authors to recommend an effective way to act on their concerns. As
these authors point out, fundamental criticism of foreign policy of the kind they prescribe is even less
welcome in America than concern about nuclear weapons. Why should their program fare any better
than the campaign against nuclear weapons?
I feel that their view of what constitutes effective dissent exhibits a fixation on images from the past: "A
movement able to call millions into the streets could seriously inhibit the reckless state actions that
have long constituted the primary threat to human survival." Well, maybe. At its height the anti-
nuclear weapons movement was able to turn out big crowds, but to what lasting effect? Some dissenters
seem to cling to the big civil rights and anti-Vietnam War demonstrations of the 1960s as models of
effective protest, but perhaps it is time to reconsider tactics and the role of critics, at least for the
nuclear weapons issue. Nuclear weapon buildups and military aid for Third World regimes are simply
not like racial segregation or the Vietnam war, because they do not visibly affect most citizens' daily
lives, and do not depend on the active cooperation of ordinary citizens in order to proceed. Instead, they
are controlled by refractory cliques of specialists who take care to insulate their work from the
everyday life of the country. Nolan and Briggs both document this very well: The Public Is Not Invited.
So there is much to recommend The Boston Study Group's advice to apply one's energies to some other
issue entirely. And yet, and yet. . .the specialists are not having much success eliminating The Problem
(of nuclear weapons) either. But critics of nuclear weapons and strategy have to solve their own
problem, in addition to The Problem, which is how to make their unwelcome advice heard and heeded
within the inhospitable environment of The Business.
Jon Jacky is associate professor of radiation oncology at the University of Washington School of
Medicine. He specializes in developing software-based tools for cancer therapy regimens. He has served
on the CPSR Board of Directors and as president of the Seattle chapter.
The Institute for Global Communications PeaceNet EcoNet ConflictNet Cooperation Through
The Institute for Global Communications (IGC) is an online communication system supplying electronic
mail and computer conferencing services to the peace, social change, and environmental communities
throughout the world via its networks PeaceNet, EcoNet, and ConflictNet. A host computer connected to
Telenet enables IGC subscribers to communicate globally, usually through a local phone call. In addition
to its computer in Northern California, IGC is affiliated with Alternex in Brazil, Nicaro in Nicaragua,
GreenNet in England, The Web in Canada, FredsNaetet in Sweden, and Pegasus in Australia. Together
they make up the Association for Progressive Communications. The networks have over 8,000
subscribers worldwide who use over 800 public conferences, thirty gateways to other mail services,
fax, telex, and private conferences to inform and organize.
The IGC System
The IGC system is an 80386-based microcomputer operating Interactive UN IX. The computer
currently has 16 megabytes of RAM and nearly a gigabyte of disk storage in addition to Telenet access.
There are three dial-in modems, all 2400 baud, and all support MNP. The system uses a X.25 packet-
switching interface manufactured by Adax Corporation.
The mail system, custom built by IGC programmers, is based on the standard UNIX mailer. The
conferencing system is a heavily modified public domain program called Notesfile, developed at the
University of Illinois. INFORMIX and FoxPlus database software provide online database capacity.
Programmers are currently enhancing IGC's database capability.
Upgrades are made to different software modules on a weekly basis. Several of the fundamental pieces
are well established. The basis of the conferencing system and Notes was first released in the early
eighties. In December of 1988 IGC upgraded the hardware from a Plexus P-60 mini computer to the
80386. The software was then ported over with alterations.
IGC Networks can accommodate 30 users online, with 20 of those coming in through packet-switching.
Additional ports will be available as needed.
IGC's electronic mail system can be used to send and receive private messages to and from over 8,000
people using the Network and its worldwide affiliates. Telex, Fax, and gateways to over thirty other
networks such as DialCom, MCI Mail, EasyLink, AT&T, and Bitnet are standard features. Currently
many organizations have come to rely on electronic mail as a primary means of communication between
field offices and members. The elimination of "telephone tag" and the ability to get business done in an
asynchronous environment has proved to be a great way to reduce telephone expenses and increase
communication efficiency. Communication and Coordination
Many organizations, individuals, and committees are using teleconferencing in group communication
and event coordination. People who are relatively new to computers understand that teleconferencing
works like a face-to-face meeting except that all the participants do not have to be in the same room at
the same time, and teleconferencing creates a written record of the meeting. Geographically dispersed
people can communicate electronically on any subject, whether it is related to the administration of an
organization, the creation of a magazine article, or the distribution of important information about an
event. Conferencing enhances in-person meetings; but face-to-face discussions become more
productive when issues and points of view are aired first over the network.
Conferences can also be established as public resources such as regional, national, and international
even/calendars, newsletters, legislative alerts, press releases, action updates, breaking stories, calls
for support, as well ongoing discussions on issues from China to economic conversion, toxics to rain
forests. Private conferences are used to facilitate group decision-making and task-sharing processes on
sensitive communication issues.
Through IGC's international affiliates in Toronto, London, Rio de Janeiro, Managua, Stockholm, and
Sydney, people in many parts of the world can work together on the network without expensive
international communication bills. The network can also be reached from over seventy countries
through local phone access on Telenet. You can "dial locally, act globally".
The Volunteer Assistance Network
If you are an existing user and are willing to help somebody in your area become familiar with IGC
Networks, the IGC has introduced the Volunteer Assistance Network (VAN).
Our users cover a full spectrumÑfrom computer experts to novices. Computer professionals
participating in the VAN program contribute substantially to the organizing efforts of people in the
peace, social justice and environment communities by assisting people interested in learning how to use
telecommunication tools effectively. We invite your participation in the VAN program committing the
amount of time you determine. You do not have to be a expert. We have outlines of primary training
points that cover the basics. Often, assistance in properly setting up a modem is the greatest need.
A Service Mandate
IGC has a mandate to provide telecommunications services at low fees. The sign-up fee is $15.
Thereafter you pay a monthly subscription of $10. For the subscription fee you receive one free hour
of off-peak time each month. Additional connect time is charged at the rate of $5 per hour for off-peak
and $10 for peak time. (Peak time is 7:00 AM to 6:00 PM, Monday through Friday, your time; all
other time is off-peak.)
Telecommunications tools such as those offered by the Institute for Global Communications are not the
panacea communication and coordination between concerned citizens, the government, and the activist
community, but used in coordination with telephones, in-person meetings, and other mass media tools,
electronic mail and teleconferencing are becoming indispensable pieces of the fabric. For more
information about IGC services, write IGC at 3228 Sacramento Street, San Francisco, CA 941 15, or
call (415) 923-0900.
From the Secretary's Desk Eric RobertsÑNational Secretary
In the five months covered by this double issue, there have been several items of CPSR news that need
to be covered. One of the most exciting changes around the office, and one that holds forth much promise
for the future of CPSR, is the appointment of Barbara Thomas as Director of Development (see sidebar,
page 15). Barbara attended the March meeting of the CPSR Board of Directors after only a week on the
job, and already she was ready with many useful ideas and suggestions for fundraising that we hope will
help stabilize the sometimes scary financial situation we've seen over the last year. We are all very
pleased to have Barbara on staff.
In February, we held a special election to amend the CPSR bylaws. The purpose of the amendment was
two-fold: (1 ) to give members the right to elect the CPSR officers directly, and, (2) to give the Board
more flexibility in the appointment of Special Directors. The amendment passed by a vote of 792-12,
which represents almost a 30% response.
The CPSR program on computers in the workplace took a major step forward this year with PDC '90,
an international conference on "participatory design." The purpose of the conference was to bring
together researchers, system designers, and usersÑfrom Europe as well as the United StatesÑto
explore the topic of participatory design. Participatory design stresses direct user involvement
throughout the design and implementation of a system and has been used with considerable success in
Europe. This approach is quite different from the traditional methodologies used in the United States,
which often fail to utilize the experience and knowledge workers have about their jobs. One-hundred
and eighty people from nine countries and sixteen states attended PDC '90, which was organized by the
Palo Alto-based CPSR Workplace Project and held at the University of Washington in Seattle.
Proceedings of the conference are available from the CPSR National Office.
The participatory design conference was only the first of four CPSR national CPSR meetings planned for
1990. On July 28, the third Directions and Implications of Advanced Computing Conference (DIAC-90)
will be held in Boston. You should also mark your calendars for October 20-21 when we hold the 1990
Annual Meeting of CPSR in Palo Alto. Finally, plans are underway to hold a major national conference in
Washington, D.C. on computers and privacy in mid-December; details will follow in future issues of the
newsletter. We hope to see you there for at least one of these.
Refitting federal agencies for the war on drugs may produce some unintended consequences if the
Congress is not careful. A proposal to expand the surveillance capability of law enforcement agencies
and to interconnect separate databases poses significant civil liberties concerns, as CPSR said in a
letter to Senator Joseph Biden, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Subsequent articles in
Federal Computer Week detailed the problems with several of the proposed systems. Federal Computer
Week said there are "continuing concerns about the security of large databases that are being combined
into mega-data matching efforts." A letter from Senator Biden to CPSR states that as the Judiciary
Committee "continues its review of anti-drug technologies, the impact of such technology on civil
liberties and privacy will be thoroughly considered." CPSR members interested in pursuing this issue
should contact the Washington Office.
Computer Virus LegislationÑBoth the House and Senate are looking at possible amendments to the
Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. CPSR has proposed the creation of a new computer crime based on the
concept of criminal recklessness. The change could discourage acts by computer users which, though not
intended to cause harm, nonetheless are clearly beyond the bounds of responsible computing. Several
members of Congress appear receptive to this suggestion.
Telephone Privacy--A White House advisory panel on telecommunications privacy has been meeting
with representatives from industry, consumer groups, and civil liberties organizations, to develop
privacy principles for communication networks. CPSR is among the groups represented. The panel is
directed by Dr. Bonnie Guiton, the Special Adviser to the President for Consumer Affairs. Dr. Guiton has
done much to advance the interests of privacy protection since she was appointed to the office, though
the real test of her support will be found when Congress attempts to move key privacy legislation at the
end of this session.
Information Access Policy--Even as the end of the Congress draws near, key legislation on electronic
information policy remains unresolved. Meanwhile, the National Commission of Library and
Information Science has put together a fine statement of principles designed to promote public access to
government information. The statement is based on earlier work by the Association of Research
Libraries and may be obtained by contacting
NCLIS, 1111 18th St., NW, Washington, D.C. 20036, or the CPSR Washington Office, at 1025
Connecticut Ave., N.W., Suite 1015, Washington, D.C. 20036.
Credit Privacy--In the first extensive review in twenty years of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the
Congress is now hoping to tighten certain key provisions and bring the privacy safeguards of the bill
more in line with current technology. CPSR Program Associate Mary Culnan, a professor at the
Georgetown School of Business Administration, has recommend key changes in the FCRA to improve
privacy protection for credit customers.
Data Protection HearingÑCongressman Bob Wise recently held a hearing on the proposed establishment
of a Data Protection Board to develop new privacy initiatives. As Western Europe is looking toward a
unified privacy standard for EC 92, the absence of a comprehensive policy in the United States could be
a serious problem. CPSR testified at the hearing in support of the initiative.
FOIA RequestÑCPSR's Freedom of Information Act request to the FBI about the conduct of computer
crime investigations was discussed at a Congressional hearing chaired by Representative Don Edwards
(D-CA) earlier this year. In August 1989 CPSR had asked for information from the FBI about the
collection of computer communications exchanged through bulletin boards and networks. So far, the FBI
has failed to provide information responsive to the request. Now several Congressional committees are
pursuing the matter.
Voting Standards AdoptedÑAfter several years of review, the Federal Election Commission has decided to
endorse proposed standards for computer security for vote tabulation. But experts involved with the
project are dissatisfied, citing inadequate safeguards, the absence of an independent test authority, and
the failure to make the standards mandatory. More work clearly needs to be done.
Reading CornerÑA new book by David Flaherty, Protecting Privacy in Surveillance Societies: The
Federal Republic of Germany, Sweden, France, Canada, and the United States, (Chapel Hill, 1989) is
worth a careful look. David Flaherty is a professor of history and law at the University of Western
Ontario and has written extensively on privacy protection. His most recent book compares the privacy
protection agencies in five different countries. The topic is particularly timely as the United States now
considers the development of a Data Protection Board.
Alan J. Perlis 1922-1990
Alan J. Perlis, a member of the CPSR National Advisory Board, passed away on February 7,1990, at
the age of 67. Perlis was a pioneer in computer science and education. His career paralleled the
development of computer science since its beginnings as a discipline, and he was one of the field's major
contributors. Perlis was one of the world's leading authorities on programming languages and software
Professor Perlis received his Ph.D in mathematics from MIT in 1950. He worked at the Multi-Machine
Computing Laboratory at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, and he was also an adviser to
Project Whirlwind. In 1956 Perlis moved to the Carnegie Institute of Technology, now known as
Carnegie-Mellon University. He became chairman of the mathematics department there, and director of
the computer center. In 1965 he started the school's Department of Computer Science and became its
Perlis was president of the Association of Computing Machinery from 1962 until 1964, and the first
editor-in-chief of the Communications of the ACM from 1958 to 1962. In 1966 he received the Turing
Award from the ACM, the first time the award was given. In 1973 he was elected as a fellow of the
American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and in 1976 he was made a member of the National Academy of
From 1971 until his death, Dr. Perlis was Eugene Higgins Professor of Computer Science at Yale
Computer Professionals for Social Responsibilty DIAC-90 SYMPOSIUM Directions and Implications of
Advanced Computing July 28, 1990
Computer technology significantly affects most segments of society, including education, business,
medicine, and the military. Current and emerging computer technology will exert strong influences on
our lives, in areas ranging from work to civil liberties. The DIAC symposium considers these
influences in a broad social contextÑethical, economic, politicalÑas well as a technical context seeking
to address directly the relationship between technology and policy.
Gutman Conference Center/Monroe C. Gutman Library 6 Appian Way Cambridge, Massachusetts
Dr. Michael Rabin Computer Security and Privacy Keynote Address
Computer security is essential not just for the protection of valuable assets but also for safeguarding
privacy. To this end technical tools are needed for correctly specifying who will access what personal
data and for enforcing and monitoring the specified regime. These new technical tools as well as a new
legal framework for defining the status of personal data will be presented.
Michael Rabin is a Turing Award winner who is T.J. Watson Sr. Professor of Computer Science at
Harvard. He teaches and conducts research in the fields of computer algorithms and computer security.
Papers to Be Delivered
"Four Genres of Social Analyses of Computerization"Ñ Rob Kling
"The Rainbow Pages - Building Community with Voice Technology" ÑPaul Resnick and Mel King
"AI at War: A Preliminary Analysis of the Aegis System in Combat" ÑChris Hables Gray
"Thinking about Computers and Schools, A Skeptical View"ÑHank Bromley
"Software for the Detection of Code AbuseÑAnswers and Issues" ÑSue Stafford
"The Effects of Computer Models of Global Warming on Regional Environmental Policies in East Africa
and Southeast Asia"ÑJudith Perrolle, Glenn Pierce, Michele Eayrs, A. Gilbert, Nightingale Rukuba
"Software R&D in the Department of Defense in the 1980s: Institutional Resistance to the Demand of
New Information Technology"ÑNance Goldstein
"Language, Logic and Expertise: The Human Interface of Expert Systems"ÑDoris Schoenhoff
"Affectionate Technolology"ÑDavid Durlach
"A Conduct Code: An Ethics Code with Bite"ÑJoel Wolfson
"Developing an International Participative Code of Computer Ethics"ÑHarold Sackman
"Moral Issues Involved in Protecting Computer Software as Intellectual Property"ÑNatalie Dandekar
"Machine-, Human-, or Culture-Centered Computing? A View from the Trenches"ÑDavid Hakken
DIAC-9O PANEL DISCUSSION Virtual Reality: What Does it Really Mean?
Co-Sponsors American Association for Artificial Intelligence American Philosophical Association
Boston Computer Society Harvard University Science, Technology and Public Policy Program MIT
Science, Technology and Society Program
in cooperation with ACM SIGCAS and ACM SIGCHI
DIAC-90 is partially supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 8811437, Ethics
and Values Studies Office.
The DIAC 90 symposium will run from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm. Registration will start at 8:15 am. Lunch
will be provided. A reception will follow.
For additional information, contact symposium co-chairs: Coralee Whitcomb (617) 891-3103
(weekdays) or (508) 945-0360 (weekends); or Peter Russo (206) 965-1976, or on electronic
mail at email@example.com.
The CPSR Newsletter is published quarterly by:
Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility P.O. Box 717
Palo Alto, CA 94301 (415) 322-3778
Also located at: 1025 Connecticut Ave., N.W., #1015 Washington, D.C. 20036 (202) 775-1588
The purpose of the Newsletter is to keep members informed of thought and activity in CPSR. We
welcome comments on the content and format of our publication. Most especially, we welcome
contributions from our members. Deadline for submission to the next issue is July 15, 1990.
This Newsletter was produced on an Apple Macintosh II, using the desktop publishing program
Pagemaker 3.0 and Adobe Illustrator 88. The hardware and software used were donated to CPSP by
Apple Computer, the Aldus Corporation, and Adobe Systems. The Newsletter was typeset from a
Pagemaker file on a Linotronic 100.
If you move....
Please be sure to notify the CPSR National Office. The CPSR Newsletter is mailed bulk rate, and such
mail is not forwarded by the Post Office. Let us know if you move so we can keep your records current.
CPSR, P.O. Box 717, Palo Alto, CA 94302.
In the next issue of
The CPSR Newsletter
Special issue on computers and the environment
Featured articles on:
*Chris Crawford's new game,
"Balance of the Planet"
*The CD-ROM "Ecodisk"
*Computer simulation and acid rain
*Environmental computer networks
*EPA toxicity assessment methods
*Environmental hazards in the semiconductor industry
Created before October 2004