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Web Site Just Says No to Hillary

by / July 31, 1999
NEW YORK -- A sure sign that one of the letters in www should stand for "weird," an Internet politics site dedicated not to a campaign, but against one, is claiming phenomenal amounts of traffic. The site debuted within days of April Fool's Day, but is no joke. The small site, opposing the idea of First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton running for Daniel Patrick Moynihan's U.S. Senate seat, is the work of a fund-raising committee for New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, considered one of the likeliest Republican aspirants for the seat.

"We knew that the site would be popular, but we're talking about 'Victoria's Secret runway show' type traffic," said Tim Hockaday, president of Campaign Solutions, which designed the site for Friends of Giuliani. Campaign Solutions claims to have scored more than 1.1 million hits in its first week from more than 125,000 unique users, and more than 10,000 signatures on an online petition urging Clinton to stay out of the New York race. The firm also claims to have registered 4,500 volunteers for Giuliani's as-yet-unannounced Senate run.


Forget about photocopied mug shots tacked to post office walls. The wave of the future may be Web postings. While the FBI has for some time listed its 10 most wanted on its Web site, and photos of missing persons often reach the Internet, it took a major civil disturbance to really draw investigators into the Web.
In late March, students rioted around the Michigan State University campus in East Lansing when the Spartans lost to Duke in the NCAA's Final Four basketball tournament.

Within days, the multiagency postriot task force built a special Web site with photos from print and video media coverage posted and a tip line asking the public to phone or e-mail the identities of those captured -- figuratively but not yet literally -- in states of uncivilized disobedience.

The site had 28,000 hits by the time the riots were a week old, although one presumes that many of those were from nervous rioters looking only for their own faces. Or perhaps parents of MSU students, wondering whether they should raise money for tuition or bail.

The site's "Hall of Shame" includes four galleries of clickable thumbnails with numbers and tags such as "Wanted for Malicious Destruction of Property." Other crimes tied to photographed students include inciting to riot, arson, felonious assault, disorderly conduct and, because they're cops, not copy editors, "Procession of Stolen Property." By the fourth gallery, police seem to be running out of serious crimes, posting mercifully decent shots of a dozen young women wanted for brief moments of indecent exposure.

There may still be bugs in the system. Each gallery ends with an all-capitals warning not to download photos for personal use, yet all of the hundred-odd images are posted in text-free JPEG format, the easiest for downloading.

Maybe someone should call the MSU yearbook staff. -- Brian McDonough


Norway: Haven For Electronic Raiders?
OSLO, Norway -- It's not so surprising when you remember that they're the people who gave us Vikings.

Some fear the fair northern nation could become a haven for Gortex-wrapped crackers after its Supreme Court ruled last winter that trying to break into a computer over the Internet is not a crime unless you're actually good enough to breach the system. In theory, hackers in Norway can now legally search computers anywhere in the world for security holes. Such information could then be passed on to other crackers for possible illegal use.

In the decision, believed to be the first of its kind, the court stated that those connecting a computer system to the Internet must expect that outsiders will seek ways to enter their system, and that it is the owners' responsibility to protect their computers.

Critics said the ruling is comparable to allowing burglars to check all the doors and windows of a house for locks and not intervening until they actually break in. And prospective tourists would be advised to make sure that the court doesn't also consider it fair for muggers to check your pockets for cash.

The ruling arose from a 1995 case against a company that specializes in computer security. Oslo-based Norman Data Defense Systems sought ways to break into the University of Oslo's computers through the Internet for a news report by the Norwegian state broadcasting network NRK. Norman attorneys claimed that the company simply mapped holes in the computers' security systems, without breaking in, tampering with or stealing any information.

The university, feeling violated anyway, sued, and won $13,500 from a lower court. Norman appealed, and the case reached the Supreme Court, which dismissed the fine, partly because the company had not broken into the computer system.

Norman claimed it did nothing more than what any Internet user does each time while searching the global network for information. No word yet of digital longships being sighted on the electronic horizon.

Courtesy of The Associated Press.


We're not sure what it is. Rob cobbled it together from paper clips and stuff in the mail room, but MAN wait till you see how scalable it is."