[svlug] LoveLetter reporting -- Microsoft, not computer, virus

Charles Peterman peterman at eecs.tufts.edu
Fri May 5 07:06:55 PDT 2000

<BLATANT RANT mode="Where did my rights go?">
NPR was chocked full of sound-bites this morning with one Congressman
requesting "21st century laws for 21st century crimes." The intention is
to punish those who subvert computer software away from the intentions of
its publishers.  No provision is made for engagement in offensive testing
as a protected right.  Even more minimally, no provisions for consumer
level inspection or recourse for lack of functionality are made in the
batch of bills slithering through our legislatures.  Bills in state
legislatures, such as UCITA, are punitive to the small software producer
and protective of the large publisher.  UCITA provides explicit
protections against prosecution for faulty products to large software
publishers while making the penalties for smaller software producers much
higher.  Evidently, they are repealing all the 19th and 20th century laws
regulating corporations and banking to make room for their "21st century
laws" to punish individuals who would get in the way of the moneyed
interests. The  short term goals of these moves is obvious:

1. Outlaw the individual's ability to inspect and understand the
   technology they use.
2. Force the acceptance substandard products produced
   by increasingly large corporate entities. 
3. Reduce the liability for defective products of these corporate
entities to 0.
Its worse than the "car with the hood welded down" that Bob Young referred
to.  Not only is the  hood welded, you will be arrested and prosecuted for 
even guessing at what goes on inside.

Look more closely at the ILOVEYOU coverage and the bias is evident.   At
no point in any of the mainstream coverage of this "virus" did it
mention the faulty design of the system it exploited: MS Outlook coupled
with Visual Basic.  Initial coverage reported this as a general computer
virus, and only after numerous corrections did even NPR begin to cover it
as MS specific.  As of this morning, NPR refered to it as a virus "mostly
affecting MS Outlook." This is incorrect, it affects only MS Outlook based
products.   No suggestion of a defect or liability on the part of the
publisher is suggested.
  The upshot is this: the wild frontier of the internet in America is on
its last legs. Here comes the railroads, and they are going to lay track
across anyone who gets in their way. Who's got the dynamite?



On Thu, 4 May 2000, Jeffrey B. Siegal wrote:

> When contacting the press via legacy technologies here are a couple of
> issue to suggest they investigate:
> 1. Why, despite multiple occurances of such viruses, does Microsoft
> refuse to remove the ill-conceived and poorly designed "features" which
> allow such viruses to exist?
> 2. Why, despite having caused, on multiple occasions, at least hundreds
> of millions of dollars in damages, including to innocent third parties
> not even using Microsoft products, shouldn't Outlook and Exchange be
> considered "defective products"?
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