The Hacker Crackdown_ Law and Disorder on the Electronic Frontier

The Hacker Crackdown_ Law and Disorder on the Electronic Frontier
Title: The Hacker Crackdown_ Law and Disorder on the Electronic Frontier
Release Date: 1994-01-01
Type book: Text
Copyright Status: Copyrighted. Read the copyright notice inside this book for details.
Date added: 24 March 2019
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Literary Freeware: Not for Commercial Use


Law and Disorder on the Electronic Frontier


Bruce Sterling

COPYRIGHT 1992, by Bruce Sterling


Preface to the Electronic Release of The Hacker Crackdown

Chronology of the Hacker Crackdown



A Brief History of Telephony
Bell's Golden Vaporware
Universal Service
Wild Boys and Wire Women
The Electronic Communities
The Ungentle Giant
The Breakup
In Defense of the System
The Crash Post-Mortem
Landslides in Cyberspace


Steal This Phone
Phreaking and Hacking
The View From Under the Floorboards
Boards: Core of the Underground
Phile Phun
The Rake's Progress
Strongholds of the Elite
Sting Boards
Hot Potatoes
War on the Legion
Phile 9-1-1
War Games
Real Cyberpunk


Crooked Boards
The World's Biggest Hacker Bust
Teach Them a Lesson
The U.S. Secret Service
The Secret Service Battles the Boodlers
A Walk Downtown
FCIC: The Cutting-Edge Mess
Cyberspace Rangers
FLETC: Training the Hacker-Trackers


NuPrometheus + FBI = Grateful Dead
Whole Earth + Computer Revolution = WELL
Phiber Runs Underground and Acid Spikes the Well
The Trial of Knight Lightning
Shadowhawk Plummets to Earth
Kyrie in the Confessional
A Scholar Investigates
Computers, Freedom, and Privacy

Electronic Afterword to The Hacker Crackdown, Halloween 1993


Law and Disorder on the Electronic Frontier

by Bruce Sterling

Preface to the Electronic Release of The Hacker Crackdown

January 1, 1994—Austin, Texas

Hi, I'm Bruce Sterling, the author of this electronic book.

Out in the traditional world of print, The Hacker Crackdown is ISBN0-553-08058-X, and is formally catalogued by the Library of Congress as"1. Computer crimes—United States. 2. Telephone—UnitedStates—Corrupt practices. 3. Programming (Electroniccomputers)—United States—Corrupt practices."

'Corrupt practices,' I always get a kick out of that description.Librarians are very ingenious people.

The paperback is ISBN 0-553-56370-X. If you go and buy a print versionof The Hacker Crackdown, an action I encourage heartily, you may noticethat in the front of the book, beneath the copyright notice—"Copyright(C) 1992 by Bruce Sterling"—it has this little block of printed legalboilerplate from the publisher. It says, and I quote:

"No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form orby any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying,recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, withoutpermission in writing from the publisher. For information address:Bantam Books."

This is a pretty good disclaimer, as such disclaimers go. I collectintellectual-property disclaimers, and I've seen dozens of them, andthis one is at least pretty straightforward. In this narrow andparticular case, however, it isn't quite accurate. Bantam Books putsthat disclaimer on every book they publish, but Bantam Books does not,in fact, own the electronic rights to this book. I do, because ofcertain extensive contract maneuverings my agent and I went throughbefore this book was written. I want to give those electronicpublishing rights away through certain not-for-profit channels, andI've convinced Bantam that this is a good idea.

Since Bantam has seen fit to peacably agree to this scheme of mine,Bantam Books is not going to fuss about this. Provided you don't tryto sell the book, they are not going to bother you for what you do withthe electronic copy of this book. If you want to check this outpersonally, you can ask them; they're at 1540 Broadway NY NY 10036.However, if you were so foolish as to print this book and startretailing it for money in violation of my copyright and the commercialinterests of Bantam Books, then Bantam, a part of the giganticBertelsmann multinational publishing combine, would roust some of theirheavy-duty attorneys out of hibernation and crush you like a bug. Thisis only to be expected. I didn't write this book so that you couldmake money out of it. If anybody is gonna make money out of this book,it's gonna be me and my publisher.

My publisher deserves to make money out of this book. Not only did thefolks at Bantam Books commission me to write the book, and pay me ahefty sum to do so, but they bravely printed, in text, an electronicdocument the reproduction of which was once alleged to be a federalfelony. Bantam Books and their numerous attorneys were very brave andforthright about this book. Furthermore, my former editor at BantamBooks, Betsy Mitchell, genuinely cared about this project, and workedhard on it, and had a lot of wise things to say about the manuscript.Betsy deserves genuine credit for this book, credit that editors toorarely get.

The critics were very kind to The Hacker Crackdown, and commerciallythe book has done well. On the other hand, I didn't write this book inorder to squeeze every last nickel and dime out of the mitts ofimpoverished sixteen-year-old cyberpunk high-school-students.Teenagers don't have any money—(no, not even enough for the six-dollarHacker Crackdown paperback, with its attractive bright-red cover anduseful index). That's a major reason why teenagers sometimes succumbto the temptation to do things they shouldn't, such as swiping my booksout of libraries. Kids: this one is all yours, all right? Go givethe print version back. *8-)

Well-meaning, public-spirited civil libertarians don't have much money,either. And it seems almost criminal to snatch cash out of the handsof America's direly underpaid electronic law enforcement community.

If you're a computer cop, a hacker, or an electronic civil libertiesactivist, you are the target audience for this book. I wrote this bookbecause I wanted to help you, and help other people understand you andyour unique, uhm, problems. I wrote this book to aid your activities,and to contribute to the public discussion of important politicalissues. In giving the text away in this fashion, I am directlycontributing to the book's ultimate aim: to help civilize cyberspace.

Information WANTS to be free. And the information inside this booklongs for freedom with a peculiar intensity. I genuinely believe thatthe natural habitat of this book is inside an electronic network. Thatmay not be the easiest direct method to generate revenue for the book'sauthor, but that doesn't matter; this is where this book belongs by itsnature. I've written other books—plenty of other books—and I'llwrite more and I am writing more, but this one is special. I am makingThe Hacker Crackdown available electronically as widely as I canconveniently manage, and if you like the book, and think it is useful,then I urge you to do the same with it.

You can copy this electronic book. Copy the heck out of it, be myguest, and give those copies to anybody who wants them. The nascentworld of cyberspace is full of sysadmins, teachers, trainers,cybrarians, netgurus, and various species of cybernetic activist. Ifyou're one of those people, I know about you, and I know the hassle yougo through to try to help people learn about the electronic frontier.I hope that possessing this book in electronic form will lessen yourtroubles. Granted, this treatment of our electronic social spectrum isnot the ultimate in academic rigor. And politically, it has somethingto offend and trouble almost everyone. But hey, I'm told it'sreadable, and at least the price is right.

You can upload the book onto bulletin board systems, or Internet nodes,or electronic discussion groups. Go right ahead and do that, I amgiving you express permission right now. Enjoy yourself.

You can put the book on disks and give the disks away, as long as youdon't take any money for it.

But this book is not public domain. You can't copyright it in your ownname. I own the copyright. Attempts to pirate this book and makemoney from selling it may involve you in a serious litigative snarl.Believe me, for the pittance you might wring out of such an action,it's really not worth it. This book don't "belong" to you. In an oddbut very genuine way, I feel it doesn't "belong" to me, either. It's abook about the people of cyberspace, and distributing it in this way isthe best way I know to actually make this information available, freelyand easily, to all the people of cyberspace—including people faroutside the borders of the United States, who otherwise may never havea chance to see any edition of the book, and who may perhaps learnsomething useful from this strange story of distant, obscure, butportentous events in so-called "American cyberspace."

This electronic book is now literary freeware. It now belongs to theemergent realm of alternative information economics. You have no rightto make this electronic book part of the conventional flow of commerce.Let it be part of the flow of knowledge: there's a difference. I'vedivided the book into four sections, so that it is less ungainly forupload and download; if there's a section of particular relevance toyou and your colleagues, feel free to reproduce that one and skip therest.

[Project Gutenberg has reassembled the file, with Sterling'spermission.]

Just make more when you need them, and give them to whoever might wantthem.

Now have fun.

Bruce Sterling—[email protected]


Law and Disorder on the Electronic Frontier

by Bruce Sterling


1865 U.S. Secret Service (USSS) founded.

1876 Alexander Graham Bell invents telephone.

1878 First teenage males flung off phone system by enraged authorities.

1939 "Futurian" science-fiction group raided by Secret Service.

1971 Yippie phone phreaks start YIPL/TAP magazine.

1972 RAMPARTS magazine seized in blue-box rip-off scandal.

1978 Ward Christenson and Randy Suess create first personal computer bulletin board system.

1982 William Gibson coins term "cyberspace."

1982 "414 Gang" raided.

1983-1983 AT&T dismantled in divestiture.

1984 Congress passes Comprehensive Crime Control Act giving USSS jurisdiction over credit card fraud and computer fraud.

1984 "Legion of Doom" formed.

1984. 2600: THE HACKER QUARTERLY founded.


1985. First police "sting" bulletin board systems established.

1985. Whole Earth 'Lectronic Link computer conference (WELL) goeson-line.

1986 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act passed.

1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act passed.

1987 Chicago prosecutors form Computer Fraud and Abuse Task Force.


July. Secret Service covertly videotapes "SummerCon" hacker convention.

September. "Prophet" cracks BellSouth AIMSX computer network and downloads E911 Document to his own computer and to Jolnet.

September. AT&T Corporate Information Security informed of Prophet'saction.

October. Bellcore Security informed of Prophet's action.


January. Prophet uploads E911 Document to Knight Lightning.

February 25. Knight Lightning publishes E911 Document in PHRACK electronic newsletter.

May. Chicago Task Force raids and arrests "Kyrie."

June. "NuPrometheus League" distributes Apple Computer proprietarysoftware.

June 13. Florida probation office crossed with phone-sex line in switching-station stunt.

July. "Fry Guy" raided by USSS and Chicago Computer Fraud and Abuse Task Force.

July. Secret Service raids "Prophet," "Leftist," and "Urvile" inGeorgia.


January 15. Martin Luther King Day Crash strikes AT&T long-distance network nationwide.

January 18-19. Chicago Task Force raids Knight Lightning in St. Louis.

January 24. USSS and New York State Police raid "Phiber Optik," "Acid Phreak," and "Scorpion" in New York City.

February 1. USSS raids "Terminus" in Maryland.

February 3. Chicago Task Force raids Richard Andrews' home.

February 6. Chicago

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