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TBTF for 1995-08-21: Local tax losses, SSL cracked, and Scientology rampant

Keith Dawson (dawson dot tbtf at gmail dot com)
Mon, 21 Aug 1995 22:58:14 -0400

[You may have marked the relative paucity of TBTF numbers this summer. Of
the last seven weeks I've been travelling in five; two of those occasions
were 4-day business trips followed immediately by 3-day weekend getaways.
That sort of thing really cuts down on the time online. My travel plans
ease up for the fall, which should allow TBTF to get back on a twice-weekly

[And so to work...

[The Center for Community Economic Research at UC Berkeley has released
a report titled "Prop 13 Meets the Internet: How State And Local Govern-
ment Finances Are Becoming Road Kill On The Information Superhighway."
See <http://garnet.berkeley.edu:3333/budget/tax-internet.html>. The re-
port cites an estimated $3.3B annual loss nationwide to state and local
taxes due to out-of-state mail order, and predicts that matters will
swiftly get worse once standards for Internet commerce are in place.

[The report's recommendations for easing the coming crunch:

o Centralize revenue collection to the state and national levels;
o Scale back and even eliminate sales taxes as a revenue source;
o Prohibit "tax subsidy abuse" by local governments in competition
for business location.

[A summary of this report was posted or cross-posted to at least misc.-
activism.progressive, comp.org.eff.talk, comp.org.cspr.talk, and alt.-
clearing.technology. No discussion ensued; a single response on the
last-named newsgroup (devoted to discussion of Scientology topics --
see below for related topic) disparaged the view that government is
anything but the problem.

[I think the author, Nathan Newman, has a valid point; but I don't expect
his argument to slow the growth of commerce on the Internet.]

>>From Edupage (1995-08-17):

A French student at the Ecole Polytechnique was able to crack the 40-bit
encryption code used in foreign versions of Netscape Navigator, but the
company says it's not surprised. "This is a good indication of why the
government should allow us to ship more secure software," says Netscape's
marketing VP. "The laws are archaic." Netscape licenses the encryption
algorithm from RSA Data Security, which agrees that stringent U.S. export
rules hamper international commerce. "We've warned the government that
the level of security they allow our customers to export is too weak.
Maybe they'll listen now," says RSA's president. (Wall Street Journal
17 Aug 95 B3)

[The challenge to crack the Secure Socket Layers code was posted at
<http://www.portal.com/~hfinney/sslchal.html>. The cracker, Damien Doligez,
writes: "I found [the key] by a brute force search on a network of about
120 workstations and a few parallel computers at INRIA, Ecole Polytechnique,
and ENS. The key was found after scanning a little more than half the key
space in 8 days." A copy of his announcement of success in cracking the
code can be found at <http://pauillac.inria.fr/~doligez/ssl/announce.txt>.]

Threads Scientology's war against the Net
See also TBTF for
1997-11-17, 1996-01-22, 1995-12-18, 12-10, 12-06, 08-21
An "Ad-Hoc Committee Against Internet Censorship" says that Internet users
critical of Scientology have been systematically erased from the Usenet
newsgroup alt.religion.scientology "without their consent and without any
legal authority," by means of forged "cancel" messages.

[One of my correspondents, made wise by an intensive Catholic upbringing,
commented, "Oh, so they're acting like a real church." See

[This story is but the latest skirmish in a long-running battle between
the Church of Scientology and its detractors. The URL above also points
to details of an incident in February 1995 in which the operator of an
anonymous remailer in Finland was forced to give up the identity of one
of his system's users, who had posted without permission the contents of
some Church of Scientology internal documents. The church applied pressure
through the FBI to Finnish police, who threatened to impound the remailer's
computer if the operator did not surrender the name. The story was clouded
by coincidentally timed Finnish press accusations of porn posted via this
same remailer;a closer look indicated that evidence for this charge had
been forged by parties unknown. See

>>From Scout Report (1995-08-18): (For your own subscription, send mail to
majordomo@dsmail.internic.net without subject and with message
"subscribe scout-report".)

Rosalind Resnick's Cyberbiz column... offers some reasons why Bill and
Co. won't necessarily take the online world by storm even though one-
button access to the Microsoft Network is bundled with Windows '95.

[See <http://www.netcreations.com/cyberbiz/>. Sensible stuff. Her argument
is that the online audience is a tough crowd, and it's no sure thing that
Microsoft can succeed in this market as they have in the OS market.]


>> Scout Report -- mail majordomo@dsmail.internic.net without subject
> and with message "subscribe scout-report" .

>>Edupage -- mail listproc@educom.edu without subject
> and with message: subscribe edupage <your name> .

TBTF alerts you twice a week to bellwethers in computer and communications
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Keith Dawson dawson dot tbtf at gmail dot com dawson@atria.com
Layer of ash separates morning and evening milk.


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