Web Warfare Comes to America
M. Junaid Alam
redjaguar at attbi.com
Sun Sep 22 23:20:26 MDT 2002
[Note: I swear I have plain text enabled in my options, but copying and
pasting this seems to have left it in the appearance of HTML text?]
Other note: the gangsters at campus-watch.org have gone into full effect. No
more than a week after its establishment, all 8 members of its hit list [my
father included] have been receiving massive e-mail bombing, and spoof-mail
from one another containing hate and garbage. Isn't spoofing illegal?
Web Warfare Comes to America
by Lawrence Davidson
A new front in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has been opened in the
United States. This has not been done by Islamic fundamentalists, or radical
Palestinians. It has been done by American and Israeli computer hackers.
Action on this new front has taken the form of identity theft, harassment,
incitement to harassment, defamation of character, and malicious
misrepresentation through the misuse and misappropriation of computer e-mail
facilities and lists. In the process, the reliability of the web based
system of communication has been undercut, the integrity of some very
prestigious universities have been called into question, and the judgment of
law enforcement authorities made to look tainted with bias. Let me give a
number of examples.
In early July a recent graduate of the University of Pennsylvania by the
name of Marc Dworkin, using a university e-mail account, sent a message to
recipients of his e-mail lists directing them to harass Professor Mona Baker
at England's University of Manchester Institute for Science and Technology.
His exact words, after giving Professor Baker's e-mail address and telephone
number, were "harrass (sic) the motherfucker." This was Mr. Dworkin's way of
expressing his disagreement with Professor Baker over her support of the
boycott of Israel. Soon Professor Baker was receiving hundreds of obscene
and threatening communications. When the University of Pennsylvania's Vice
President for Information Systems and Computing, Ms Robin Beck, was informed
of this incident her reply to Baker was that a "careful assessment based on
what we currently know, does not reveal either a violation of University
policy, nor a violation of law." When it was pointed out to University of
Pennsylvania officials that Dworkin's actions had indeed violated Penn's
policies on "Acceptable Use of Electronic Resources" and "Guidelines on Open
Expression" (his behavior is also a possible violation of the Pennsylvania
law on "harassment and stalking by communication or address") they still
refused to take any action. Why should the University of Pennsylvania refuse
to move against someone using their e-mail accounts in a fashion that
undermines its educational purpose, violates its own policies, and possibly
constitutes criminal behavior?
In late August Professor Shahid Alam at Northeastern University in Boston,
Massachusetts wrote a piece in CounterPunch, later reprinted at Al-Ahram
Weekly On Line, in which he made a case for the boycott of Israeli academia
as one example of a non-violent alternative to the increasingly desperate
violent resistance of the Palestinians. In the process he explained the
conditions of Israeli occupation that had resulted in the various forms of
violent Palestinian struggle, including suicide bombings. The piece was
reconstructed and misrepresented in the Jerusalem Post to make it appear
that Alam "justified terror attacks against Israelis." On September 4th the
Boston Herald, apparently not checking the accuracy of the Jerusalem Post
report, announced "Professor Shocks Northeastern with Defense of Suicide
Bombers." Almost immediately Professor Alam began receiving a large number
of harassing e-mails. In addition, in an act of identity theft, e-mails
misrepresenting his position were forged and sent out under Alam's name.
Northeastern University's response to the Boston Herald report was to
"distance" itself from Alam. The professor's remarks were his alone and the
University did not "condone or officially recognize them." The impression
was left that Northeastern assumed the Herald piece accurate. Why should
Northeastern University react in such a timid fashion to an incorrect report
that threatened the reputation of one of their own faculty members?
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