Fun_People Archive
5 Apr

Date: Fri, 5 Apr 96 14:28:34 -0800
From: Peter Langston <psl>
To: Fun_People
Subject: uncons=schroeder=utional

Forwarded-by: Keith Bostic <>
From: (James Williams)

Network Working Group                                        J. Williams
Request for Comments: XXXX                                  1 April 1996
Category: Experimental

   	    The text/quoted-unprintable MIME Content-type

Status of this Memo

   This memo describes an experimental method for the encoding of obscene
   and indecent speech for transmission on the Internet.  This encoding
   allows for adult discussion of obscene speech without violation of the
   Communications Decency Act, while remaining child-safe.  This is an
   experimental, not recommended standard.  Distribution of this memo is

Overview and Rationale

   The Communications Decency Act (CDA), part of the Telecommunications
   Reform bill of 1996, has make the transmission of "indecent" speech
   via the Internet a criminal offense.  In protest to this Act, various
   authors [ADAMS96] [BARRY96] have suggested the use of alternate
   encodings for various words and phrases that have been previously
   classified as "obscene", and therefore not permissible under the CDA.
   Unfortunately, these authors don't all agree on the encoding that
   should be used.  This presents a serious impediment to the transmission
   of indecent speech on the net.  Note that the author does not advocate
   the transmission of indecent speech, however, if the Internet community
   is to debate this issue, it would be helpful to have an encoding for
   indecent speech that would allow us to freely interchange messages that
   contain such speech without violating the CDA.

   Obviously, there is an urgent need for a standard in this area.  This
   document defines a MIME content-type by which obscene words can be
   transmitted via the Internet without violating the CDA.  The encoding
   used is reversible such that software on the receiving end can, if
   desired, translate the encoded strings back into their original form.
   Note that this encoding may not be sufficient to guarantee that a
   message does not violate the CDA.


    The Communications Decency Act bans "indecent" or "patently obscene"
    speech on the net.  Unfortunately, no adequate definition of these
    terms exists that would let us define a comprehensive standard.  We
    have therefore chosen to encode only a few words that are likely to
    be judged "obscene" and therefore "indecent".  There are seven well
    known words that have previously been banned for use on the public
    airways [FCC78].  We have chosen to provide an encoding for only those
    seven words.  Future versions of this standard may define additional

Content-type text/quoted-unprintable

   It is difficult to define a standard for the encoding of obscene words
   in such a way that the standard itself can be transmitted over the
   Internet without being encoded.  The author has chosen the
   unsatisfactory solution of replacing all the vowels in the obscene
   words, (hereinafter called "target strings") with the octet '*'.  It
   is hoped that the reader will understand the difficulties here and bear
   with us.  Here then are the seven target strings which must be encoded.

      Target Strings
      1) c*ck-s*ck*r
      2) c*nt
      3) f*ck
      4) m*th*r-f*ck*r
      5) p*ss
      6) sh*t
      7) t*t
   The observant reader will note that word 4 is a special case of word
   3.  Thus, any encoding that renders word 3 acceptable for transmission
   should therefore work for word 4 as well, leaving us with only six
   words to encode.

Method of Encoding

   The encoding method chosen was inspired by the quoted-printable
   content-transfer-encoding defined by the MIME standard [RFC1521]. A
   single octet, '=', was chosen as an escape character.  Every instance
   of '=' in the input text is replaced by the string "==".  Every
   instance of one of target strings in the input text is replaced by the
   string "=XXX=", where XXX represents the encoding for that target

   Upon receipt, the message can be decoded by replacing all strings of
   the form "==" with the string "=", and all strings of the form
   "=XXX=" with the appropriate target string.  Any string found between
   matching '=' octets that is not one of the defined encodings should
   be left unchanged by the decoding process.

   A stated goal of the CDA is the prevention of exposure of children to
   obscene or indecent material.  It is not the intent of this memo to
   circumvent this goal.  To prevent children from gaining access to the
   original, unencoded strings, it is suggested that parents provide their
   children with MIME handlers that treat text/quoted-unprintable exactly
   as if it were text/plain.  The ability of the end user to control
   whether he or she sees the target strings encoded or unencoded makes
   the use of a MIME-based encoding scheme ideal for this application.


   The question arises as to what encoded strings to use for the target
   strings.  There are many, many possibilities.  One possibility would
   be to replace the offending term with the strings used in this memo.
   Thus, "The CDA was passed by a bunch of c*ck-s*ck*rs" would encode as
   "The CDA was passed by a bunch of =c*ck-s*ck*rs=".  (Except, of course,
   that the first instance of "c*ck-s*ck*rs" above contains the actual
   vowels in the word "c*ck-s*ck*rs".)

   Another possibility is to use common slang terms.  One could use
   "=fudge=" for "f*ck", and "=shoot=" for "=sh*t=".  Or, the strings
   could be encoded numerically: "sh*t" could be encoded as "=6=", since
   it is word 6 on the above list.  This system has the advantage of being
   highly extensible, in case future legislation should outlaw more target

   Ultimately, however, we took our cue from the above cited works and
   chose the following strings, in honor of those most responsible for
   the CDA.

      Target String	Encoded String	Contribution to the CDA
      -------------	--------------	-----------------------
      1) c*ck-s*ck*r	=exon=		Author/co-sponsor
      2) c*nt		=coates=	Author/co-sponsor
      3) f*ck		=goodlatte=	Amended "harmful to minors"
					to "indecent"
      4) m*th*r-f*ck*r	=clinton=	Signed Telecom Bill
      5) p*ss		=hyde=		Authored abortion-gag amendment
      6) sh*t		=conyers=	Supported Goodlatte amendment
      7) t*t		=schroeder=	Supported Goodlatte amendment
   The encoded strings are case-insensitive, thus "=goodlatte=",
   "=GOODLATTE=", and "=Goodlatte=" are all encodings for "f*ck". For
   completeness, an encoding is provided for word 4, even though, as noted
   above, that is not completely necessary, as most examples of word 4
   will be encoded as examples of word 3.

Case Maps

   As defined above, the encodings do not allow for the recovery of the
   case of the original target string.  "P*ssing on free speech is p*ssing
   off the net" is encoded "=hyde=ing on free speech is =hyde=ing off the
   net".  To address this, the encoded string may include an optional case
   map.  The case map is placed after the encoded string, preceded by the
   octet '-'.  The case map consists of the octets 'u', 'U' (for upper
   case), 'l' and 'L' (for lower case).  Each case map octet specifies
   the case of the corresponding octet in the target string, reading left
   to right.  The default case for decoded target string octets is lower

   Using case maps, the earlier example would encode as "=hyde-Ulll=ing
   on free speech is =hyde-llll=ing off the net".  Since lower case is
   the default, this may be elided to "=hyde-U=ing on free speech is
   =hyde=ing off the net".  As a stylistic issue, the author recommends
   using 'l' for lower case and 'U' for upper case.

Context for Encoding

   In order to be certain that every instance of the target strings is
   encoded, it is not acceptable to search for these strings as whole
   words.  They must be encoded regardless of context.  Obviously, this
   will lead to gratuitous encodings.  For example, "unconstitutional"
   will become "uncons=schroeder=utional".  This is an unfortunate
   consequence of the need to be 100% certain that none of the target
   strings is inadvertently transmitted unencoded.


   [ADAMS96] Adams, Scott, "The Dilbert Newsletter 10.0", March, 1996,

   [BARRY96] Barry, Dave, syndicated newspaper column.

   [RFC1521] Borenstein N., and N. Freed, "MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail
       Extensions) Part One:  Mechanisms for Specifying and Describing
       the Format of Internet Message Bodies", RFC 1521, Bellcore,
       Innosoft, September 1993

   [FCC78] Supreme Court Case "FCC v. Pacifica Foundation" (1978)

Author's Address

   James W. Williams

Jim Williams				Pixar Animation Studios			Richmond, CA

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