Fun_People Archive
14 Sep
Bits o' TBTF for 9/14/98

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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Mon, 14 Sep 98 02:20:27 -0700
To: Fun_People
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Subject: Bits o' TBTF for 9/14/98

X-Lib-of-Cong-ISSN: 1098-7649
From: (Keith Dawson)
Excerpted-from: TBTF for 9/14/98: Hypocrites

    T a s t y   B i t s   f r o m   t h e   T e c h n o l o g y   F r o n t

    Timely news of the bellwethers in computer and communications
    technology that will affect electronic commerce -- since 1994

    Your Host: Keith Dawson

    This issue: < >

..The Net handles the Starr report in stride

  The report may have damaged the Presidency, Congress, and
  families -- but not the Net

    When the report of Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr hit the Net,
    to the immense relief of Web workers everywhere it was in text form.
    Its 7 files total 854K; the largest is 466K. Many newspapers and
    news sites obtained the report from the Associated Press, which set
    up an FTP server with a zipped text file, a Mac Stuffit file, and a
    Unix tar archive, each under 300K. I had dreaded the vision of clue-
    less government functionaries distributing the 445 pages as PDF
    files or even as scanned GIFs. They seem to have obtained a clue
    somewhere along the way. (Do you think the 46 TBTF subscribers in
    the .gov domain helped? Nah...)

    The report appeared on House of Representatives sites and mirrors
    [1], [2], [3] as advertised; almost immediately it was hosted and
    linked from the top pages of most news sites and some ISPs, such as
    AOL and @Home. The result was that, while overall Net traffic jumped
    to record levels around 2:00 PM eastern time on Friday 9/11, no site
    or handful of sites caused a bottleneck. CNN reported record traffic
    levels of 5600 hits per second [4], but was handling the load. Traf-
    fic through the MAE-East exchange point jumped by 100 MBit/sec at
    2:00. Here is a picture derived from a posting to a network opera-
    tors' mailing list [5].

    One other aspect of the Starr report is germane to TBTF concerns,
    and that is the confluence of prurience with politics and public
    policy. Had the Supreme Court not struck down the Communications
    Decency Act, passed as part of the omnibus Telecommunications Reform
    Act in 1996, anyone posting the Starr report to the Web might have
    been liable for a fine of $250,000 and a jail sentence of 5 years.

    How many of the Congresspeople who voted for the CDA do you suppose
    also voted to release the report that reads like a borderline por-
    nographic dime-store romance written by a Texas preacher's son?

    We can find the answer easily with the help of Thomas [6], [7]. 366
    individuals were Members of Congress during both of the votes, 197
    Republicans and 169 Democrats. Of that total, 261, or 71.9%, voted
    Aye both times. 171 of the Republicans, or 86.8%, voted Aye both
    times. 90 of the Democrats, or 53.3%, voted Aye both times.

    Here are the names of the two-hundred sixty-one most hypocritical
    members of the US House of Representatives on the subject of the
    Internet [8].

    Thanks to Dan Kohn and Alexander Blakely, who first suggested this
    exercise in democracy and public accountability; Dan Thompson wasn't
    far behind.


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