Wednesday December WednesdayDecember THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE by redheadwaitress


									Wednesday, December 5, 1990                                             THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR                                                                                     13
WednesdayDecember 5, 1990                                              THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR                                                                                      13

                                            Computer Network Users Attempt a Mutiny
                                                                                             count, he also lost the E-mail his friends in do is monitor private E-mail between sub-
                                                                                             San Diego had sent him that pertained to his scribers. That's forbidden by the 1986 Elec-
Research under way at several US                    By Simson L. Garfinkel                   job as a researcher at the University of Pitts- tronic Communications Privacy Act. Niman
sites indicates it may be effective                                                          burgh.                                            suspects that the messages he sent advertis-
for plastics, too. According to An-                                                              Prodigy terminated Niman's account - ers were read by Prodigy's staff. Heine de-
thony Pometto III of Iowa State             T    T ENRY NIMAN got a bitter taste of          and the accounts of the 12 other people - nies that any monitoring took place.
University, "Lab studies showed                      the future last month when he be-       because "they violated the member agree-             Problems keep arising because services
that plastics containing 6 percent          Jl       ganan pay his bills with an elec-
                                                           to                                ment by using harassment and by using the like Prodigy don't neatly fit into any of the
starch lost up to 60 percent of             troruc banking system and discovered his ac-     system for purposes fr which it wasn't de- legal boxes we've developed over the past
their molecular weight in four              count had been terminated.                       signed," says Steve Heine, a company hundred years.
weeks when they were exposed to                Mr. Niman was an avid user of Prodigy,        spokesman. A few weeks later Prodigy                 Prodigy's on-line news services are a lot
the bacteria, temperatures, and             the fastest-growing computer network in the      rewrote its rules, forbidding                                      like those provided by
moisture they would encounter
in compost piles." He is conduct-
                                            United States. The system's 650,000 sub-
                                            scribers use it for everything from stock
                                                                                             customers from sending E-
                                                                                             mail to advertisers that does
                                                                                                                                            I                   newspapers, its con ierences
                                                                                                                                                                are like town meetings, and
ing studies at three municipal             -tracking to grocery shopping. Niman              not pertain to orders or Services ikE                              its E-imail like telephone
composts'to determine what actu-           -learned that the rights he took for granted      products. The company also are large e nough that service. All these services
ally happens and expects results            with. the. telephone do not apply to the na-     forbade people from send- they seem o cross a                      are very different, but all
in about one year.                          tion's burgeoning electronic networks.           ing out mailings to more line betwe n private
                                               His mrain use of Prodigy was to send elec-    than a few users at a time.                                        alre regulated in the salme
                                                                                                                                                                way - not at all.
                                            tronic mail to his friends. Unlimited "E-           "The phone company corporatior              I and                   And    there are      no
        make little impression on           mail" was a founding principle of the            would have no business tell- public trust                          alternatives, no competing
        environmental      groups,          system, but this summer the Prodigy Serv-        ing you that you couldn't                                          service where equal access
however. Jeanne Wirka, policy
analyst for the Environmental Ac-
                                            ices Company, a joint venture of Interna-
                                            tional Business Machines Corporation and
                                                                                             call your neighbor to protest
                                                                                             a hike in telephone rates,"
                                                                                                                                _      _
                                                                                                                                            I -_     |_mB~le for all is guaranteed and
                                                                                                                                                                free speech is protected.
tion ,-Foundation, says,- "Biode-           Sears, Roebuck & Company, decided to start       says Marc Rotenberg, director of the Wash-           Services like Prodigy are large enough
gradable plastics are so expensive          charging users who sent more than-30 mes-        ington-based Computer Professionals for that they seem to cross a line between pri-
to produce they're not used for             sages per month 25 cents per message.            Social Responsibility. But not being a com- vate corporation and public trust. Users as-
commodities. They're almost not                Such decisions are Prodigy's right: It's an   mon carrier, Prodigy is free to regulate the sume that their right and fi-eedoms will be
worth talking about. The reason             unregulated, private company.                    content of its network and terminate sub- respected, then learn otherwise the hard
plastics are used is .that they're             But Niman felt cheated. He sent out a         scribers as it wishes.                            way.
cheap, so these are not a replace-          survey and collected the names of 900 other         Earlier this year, Prodigy was accused of         "We've written to the 13 and invited
ment for hydrocarbons."                     Prodigy subscribers who felt the same way.       censorship when it shut down an electronic them back," says Prodigy's Heine. "I think
   As an example of those costs,            He started sending out a private electronic      conference dealing with homosexuality and that we are being extremely reasonable
ICI Ltd., which manufactures                newsletter. Then he started complaining to       another one discussing abortion. But about it." All the 13 have to do is follow
PHB under the name Biopol,                  Prodigy's advertisers. His account went          Prodigy was merely exercising editorial Prodigy's new rules.
says the product currently costs            dead shortly thereafter.                         judgment, says Mr. Heine, putting an end to
about $15 per pound, compared                  Data death.                                   discussions that had run their course.            * Sirmson L. Garfinkel writes about computers
with about 50 cents per pound for              Niman not only lost access to his bank ac-        In fact, the only thing that Prodigy can't and society for the Monitor.
polyurethane, and about $1.10
per pound for PET - the plastic
used for soft drink bottles. That
cost is expected to drop to $2 to
$3 per pound when ICI goes into
                                           A Business Guru's Advice to Nonprofit Groups
larger scale production in about
three years.                                                                  business executives do in later Girl Scouts, and an art museum. views laced throughout this book,
   n..t,.   -   ;-   r   rC arP   nnt nn                                      vears: retiring from the relatively Never mind that he sometimes "There is nobody clever enongh

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