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Фантастика. Фэнтези
   Зарубежная фантастика
      Bruce Sterling. The hacker crackdown -
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re the Bell system's profits and preeminence. This was the second birth -- the political birth -- of the American telephone system. Vail's arrangement was to persist, with vast success, for many decades, until 1982. His system was an odd kind of American industrial socialism. It was born at about the same time as Leninist Communism, and it lasted almost as long -- and, it must be admitted, to considerably better effect. Vail's system worked. Except perhaps for aerospace, there has been no technology more thoroughly dominated by Americans than the telephone. The telephone was seen from the beginning as a quintessentially American technology. Bell's policy, and the policy of Theodore Vail, was a profoundly democratic policy of *universal access.* Vail's famous corporate slogan, "One Policy, One System, Universal Service," was a political slogan, with a very American ring to it. The American telephone was not to become the specialized tool of government or business, but a general public utility. At first, it was true, only the wealthy could afford private telephones, and Bell's company pursued the business markets primarily. The American phone system was a capitalist effort, meant to make money; it was not a charity. But from the first, almost all communities with telephone service had public telephones. And many stores -- especially drugstores -- offered public use of their phones. You might not own a telephone -- but you could always get into the system, if you really needed to. There was nothing inevitable about this decision to make telephones "public" and "universal." Vail's system involved a profound act of trust in the public. This decision was a political one, informed by the basic values of the American republic. The situation might have been very different; and in other countries, under other systems, it certainly was. Joseph Stalin, for instance, vetoed plans for a Soviet phone system soon after the Bolshevik revolution. Stalin was certain that publicly accessible telephones would become instruments of anti-Soviet counterrevolution and conspiracy. (He was probably right.) When telephones did arrive in the Soviet Union, they would be instruments of Party authority, and always heavily tapped. (Alexander Solzhenitsyn's prison-camp novel *The First Circle* describes efforts to develop a phone system more suited to Stalinist purposes.) France, with its tradition of rational centralized government, had fought bitterly even against the electric telegraph, which seemed to the French entirely too anarchical and frivolous. For decades, nineteenth- century France communicated via the "visual telegraph," a nation-spanning, government-owned semaphore system of huge stone towers that signalled from hilltops, across vast distances, with big windmill-like arms. In 1846, one Dr. Barbay, a semaphore enthusiast, memorably uttered an early version of what might be called "the security expert's argument" against the open media. "No, the electric telegraph is not a sound invention. It will always be at the mercy of the slightest disruption, wild youths, drunkards, bums, etc.... The electric telegraph meets those destructive elements with only a few meters of wire over which supervision is impossible. A single man could, without being seen, cut the telegraph wires leading to Paris, and in twenty-four hours cut in ten different places the wires of the same line, without being arrested. The visual telegraph, on the contrary, has its towers, its high walls, its gates well-guarded from inside by strong armed men. Yes, I declare, substitution of the electric telegraph for the visual one is a dreadful measure, a truly idiotic act." Dr. Barbay and his high-security stone machines were eventually unsuccessful, but his argument -- that communication exists for the safety and convenience of the state, and must be carefully protected from the wild boys and the gutter rabble who might want to crash the system -- would be heard again and again. When the French telephone system finally did arrive, its snarled inadequacy was to be notorious. Devotees of the American Bell System often recommended a trip to France, for skeptics. In Edwardian Britain, issues of class and privacy were a ball-and-chain for telephonic progress. It was considered outrageous that anyone -- any wild fool off the street -- could simply barge bellowing into one's office or home, preceded only by the ringing of a telephone bell. In Britain, phones were tolerated for the use of business, but private phones tended be stuffed away into closets, smoking rooms, or servants' quarters. Telephone operators were resented in Britain because they did not seem to "know their place." And no one of breeding would print a telephone number on a business card; this seemed a crass attempt to make the acquaintance of strangers. But phone access in America was to become a popular right; something like universal suffrage, only more so. American women could not yet vote when the phone system came through; yet from the beginning American women doted on the telephone. This "feminization" of the American telephone was often commented on by foreigners. Phones in America were not censored or stiff or formalized; they were social, private, intimate, and domestic. In America, Mother's Day is by far the busiest day of the year for the phone network. The early telephone companies, and especially AT&T, were among the foremost employers of American women. They employed the daughters of the American middle-class in great armies: in 1891, eight thousand women; by 1946, almost a quarter of a million. Women seemed to enjoy telephone work; it was respectable, it was steady, it paid fairly well as women's work went, and -- not least -- it seemed a genuine contribution to the social good of the community. Women found Vail's ideal of public service attractive. This was especially true in rural areas, where women operators, running extensive rural party- lines, enjoyed considerable social power. The operator knew everyone on the party-line, and everyone knew her. Although Bell himself was an ardent suffragist, the telephone company did not employ women for the sake of advancing female liberation. AT&T did this for sound commercial reasons. The first telephone operators of the Bell system were not women, but teenage American boys. They were telegraphic messenger boys (a group about to be rendered technically obsolescent), who swept up around the phone office, dunned customers for bills, and made phone connections on the switchboard, all on the cheap. Within the very first year of operation, 1878, Bell's company learned a sharp lesson about combining teenage boys and telephone switchboards. Putting teenage boys in charge of the phone system brought swift and consistent disaster. Bell's chief engineer described them as "Wild Indians." The boys were openly rude to customers. They talked back to subscribers, saucing off, uttering facetious remarks, and generally giving lip. The rascals took Saint Patrick's Day off without permission. And worst of all they played clever tricks with the switchboard plugs: disconnecting calls, crossing lines so that customers found themselves talking to strangers, and so forth. This combination of power, technical mastery, and effective anonymity seemed to act like catnip on teenage boys. This wild-kid-on-the-wires phenomenon was not confined to the USA; from the beginning, the same was true of the British phone system. An early British commentator kindly remarked: "No doubt boys in their teens found the work not a little irksome, and it is also highly probable that under the early conditions of employment the adventurous and inquisitive spirits of which the average healthy boy of that age is possessed, were not always conducive to the best attention being given to the wants of the telephone subscribers." So the boys were flung off the system -- or at least, deprived of control of the switchboard. But the "adventurous and inquisitive spirits" of the teenage boys would be heard from in the world of telephony, again and again. The fourth stage in the technological life-cycle is death: "the Dog," dead tech. The telephone has so far avoided this fate. On the contrary, it is thriving, still spreading, still evolving, and at increasing speed. The telephone has achieved a rare and exalted state for a technological artifact: it has become a *household object.* The telephone, like the clock, like pen and paper, like kitchen utensils and running water, has become a technology that is visible only by its absence. The telephone is technologically transparent. The global telephone system is the largest and most complex machine in the world, yet it is easy to use. More remarkable yet, the telephone is almost entirely physically safe for the user. For the average citizen in the 1870s, the telephone was weirder, more shocking, more "high-tech" and harder to comprehend, than the most outrageous stunts of advanced computing for us Americans in the 1990s. In trying to understand what is happening to us today, with our bulletin-board systems, direct overseas dialling, fiber- optic transmissions, computer viruses, hacking stunts, and a vivid tangle of new laws and new crimes, it is important to realize that our society has been through a similar challenge before -- and that, all in all, we did rather well by it. Bell's stage telephone seemed bizarre at first. But the sensations of weirdness vanished quickly, once people began to hear the familiar voices of relatives and friends, in their own homes on their own telephones. The telephone changed from a fearsome high-tech totem to an everyday pillar of human community. This has also happened, and is still happening, to computer networks. Computer networks such as NSFnet, BITnet, USENET, JANET, are technically advanced, intimidating, and much harder to use than telephones. Even the popular, commercial computer networks, such as GEnie, Prodigy, and CompuServe, cause much head-scratching and have been described as "user-hateful." Nevertheless they too are changing from fancy high-tech items into everyday sources of human community. The words "community" and "communication" have the same root. Wherever you put a communications network, you put a community as well. And whenever you *take away* that network -- confiscate it, outlaw it, crash it, raise its price beyond affordability -- then you hurt that community. Communities will fight to defend themselves. People will fight harder and more bitterly to defend their communities, than they will fight to defend their own individual selves. And this is very true of the "electronic community" that arose around computer networks in the 1980s -- or rather, the *various* electronic communities, in telephony, law enforcement, computing, and the digital underground that, by the year 1990, were raiding, rallying, arresting, suing, jailing, fining and issuing angry manifestos. None of the events of 1990 were entirely new. Nothing happened in 1990 that did not have some kind of earlier and more understandable precedent. What gave the Hacker Crackdown its new sense of gravity and importance was the feeling -- the *community* feeling -- that the political stakes had been raised; that trouble in cyberspace was no longer mere mischief or inconclusive skirmishing, but a genuine fight over genuine issues, a fight for community survival and the shape of the future. These electronic communities, having flourished throughout the 1980s, were becoming aware of themselves, and increasingly, becoming aware of other, rival communities. Worries were sprouting up right and left, with complaints, rumors, uneasy speculations. But it would take a catalyst, a shock, to make the new world evident. Like Bell's great publicity break, the Tarriffville ъail Disaster of January 1878, it would take a cause celebre. That cause was the AT&T Crash of January 15, 1990. After the Crash, the wounded and anxious telephone community would come out fighting hard. # The community of telephone technicians, engineers, operators and researchers is the oldest community in cyberspace. These are the veterans, the most developed group, the richest, the most respectable, in most ways the most powerful. Whole generations have come and gone since Alexander Graham Bell's day, but the community he founded survives; people work for the phone system today whose great-grandparents worked for the phone system. Its specialty magazines, such as *Telephony,* *AT&T Technical Journal,* *Telephone Engineer and Management,* are decades old; they make computer publications like *Macworld* and *PC Week* look like amateur johnny-come-latelies. And the phone companies take no back seat in high- technology, either. Other companies' industrial researchers may have won new markets; but the researchers of Bell Labs have won *seven Nobel Prizes.* One potent device that Bell Labs originated, the transistor, has created entire *groups* of industries. Bell Labs are world-famous for generating "a patent a day," and have even made vital discoveries in astronomy, physics and cosmology. Throughout its seventy-year history, "Ma Bell" was not so much a company as a way of life. Until the cataclysmic divestiture of the 1980s, Ma Bell was perhaps the ultimate maternalist mega-employer. The AT&T corporate image was the "gentle giant," "the voice with a smile," a vaguely socialist-realist world of cleanshaven linemen in shiny helmets and blandly pretty phone-girls in headsets and nylons. Bell System employees were famous as rock-ribbed Kiwanis and ъotary members, Little-League enthusiasts, school-board people. During the long heyday of Ma Bell, the Bell employee corps were nurtured top-to-botton on a corporate ethos of public service. There was good money in Bell, but Bell was not *about* money; Bell used public relations, but never mere marketeering. People went into the Bell System for a good life, and they had a good life. But it was not mere money that led Bell people out in the midst of storms and earthquakes to fight with toppled phone-poles, to wade in flooded manholes, to pull the red- eyed graveyard-shift over collapsing switching-systems. The Bell ethic was the electrical equivalent of the postman's: neither rain, nor snow, nor gloom of night would stop these couriers. It is easy to be cynical about this, as it is easy to be cynical about any political or social system; but cynicism does not change the fact that thousands of people took these ideals very seriously. And some still do. The Bell ethos was about public service; and that was gratifying; but it was also about private *power,* and that was gratifying too. As a corporation, Bell was very special. Bell was privileged. Bell had snuggled up close to the state. In fact, Bell was as close to government as you could get in America and still make a whole lot of legitimate money. But unlike other companies, Bell was above and beyond the vulgar commercial fray. Through its regional operating companies, Bell was omnipresent, local, and intimate, all over America; but the central ivory towers at its corporate heart were the tallest and the ivoriest around. There were other phone companies in America, to be sure; the so-called independents. ъural cooperatives, mostly; small fry, mostly tolerated, sometimes warred upon. For many decades, "independent" American phone companies lived in fear and loathing of the official Bell monopoly (or the "Bell Octopus," as Ma Bell's nineteenth- century enemies described her in many angry newspaper manifestos). Some few of these independent entrepreneurs, while legally in the wrong, fought so bitterly against the Octopus that their illegal phone networks were cast into the street by Bell agents and publicly burned. The pure technical sweetness of the Bell System gave its operators, inventors and engineers a deeply satisfying sense of power and mastery. They had devoted their lives to improving this vast nation-spanning machine; over years, whole human lives, they had watched it improve and grow. It was like a great technological temple. They were an elite, and they knew it -- even if others did not; in fact, they felt even more powerful *because* others did not understand. The deep attraction of this sensation of elite technical power should never be underestimated. "Technical power" is not for everybody; for many people it simply has no charm at all. But for some people, it becomes the core of their lives. For a few, it is overwhelming, obsessive; it becomes something close to an addiction. People -- especially clever teenage boys whose lives are otherwise mostly powerless and put-upon - - love this sensation of secret power, and are willing to do all sorts of amazing things to achieve it. The technical *power* of electronics has motivated many strange acts detailed in this book, which would otherwise be inexplicable. So Bell had power beyond mere capitalism. The Bell service ethos worked, and was often propagandized, in a rather saccharine fashion. Over the decades, people slowly grew tired of this. And then, openly impatient with it. By the early 1980s, Ma Bell was to find herself with scarcely a real friend in the world. Vail's industrial socialism had become hopelessly out-of-fashion politically. Bell would be punished for that. And that punishment would fall harshly upon the people of the telephone community. # In 1983, Ma Bell was dismantled by federal court action. The pieces of Bell are now separate corporate entities. The core of the company became AT&T Communications, and also AT&T Industries (formerly Western Electric, Bell's manufacturing arm). AT&T Bell Labs become Bell Communications ъesearch, Bellcore. Then there are the ъegional Bell Operating Companies, or ъBOCs, pronounced "arbocks." Bell was a titan and even these regional chunks are gigantic enterprises: Fortune 50 companies with plenty of wealth and power behind them. But the clean lines of "One Policy, One System, Universal Service" have been shattered, apparently forever. The "One Policy" of the early ъeagan Administration was to shatter a system that smacked of noncompetitive socialism. Since that time, there has been no real telephone "policy" on the federal level. Despite the breakup, the remnants of Bell have never been set free to compete in the open marketplace. The ъBOCs are still very heavily regulated, but not from the top. Instead, they struggle politically, economically and legally, in what seems an endless turmoil, in a patchwork of overlapping federal and state jurisdictions. Increasingly, like other major American corporations, the ъBOCs are becoming multinational, acquiring important commercial interests in Europe, Latin America, and the Pacific ъim. But this, too, adds to their legal and political predicament. The people of what used to be Ma Bell are not happy about their fate. They feel ill-used. They might have been grudgingly willing to make a full transition to the free market; to bec

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