Navigation: Return to: Seth Finkelstein - EFF 2001 Pioneer Award or Anticensorware Investigations
Since the day CWP began, you've all wondered who my Anonymous Friend is, whether my AF is "Red", colorfully portrayed by Brock and Declan in "Keys to the Kingdom", and other similar matters. Hell, some of you likely have wondered whether there even was a Red, or whether that was an invention to cover the authors' tracks.
Pay attention, because in light of recent developments (including, but not limited to today's official release of the Cyber Patrol crack) AF has released me from attorney-client privilege obligations, and has asked me to tell you the real deal.
Red is real.
Red = AF.
Red = AF = Seth.
Seth = former CWP member Seth, not some other Seth.
Starting in late 1995, Seth was alarmed by some of the things being said about censorware, and set out to prove what it was. Leading up to "Keys", he decrypted CYBERsitter, Cyber Patrol and SurfWatch, and got the Net Nanny list. All of what Brock and Declan wrote came from Seth's work. All of the content of the former Censorware Search Engine came from Seth. Not surprisingly, Seth was Declan's source and fact-checker for Declan's 8/97 TIME magazine article, "Censor's Sensibility."
Later, Seth cracked X-stop and I-Gear. X-Stop was particularly important because it was done, in about September 1997, in direct response to a plea for help from a member of Mainstream Loudoun. Seth decrypted it, he and I analyzed it, Jonathan wrote the first X-Stop piece, compliments of a "tip" JW received through an anonymous remailer (sent by me). It is arguable that, without that handiwork before there was a CWP, the Loudoun case may never have happened.
(In fairness to Bennett, whom Seth admires greatly, Bennett later independently cracked X-Stop and CYBERsitter, and Seth does not mind at all that it is his crack (in October 1997) of I-Gear that is the basis of Bennett's program. Bennett got it through me from my AF, just as we've all had the benefit of Seth's handiwork.)
And of course, one thing which Seth did do in the open (within CWP) was the core dump of WebSense. You've seen some of his skills, somehow I doubt that this revelation is a huge surprise to some of you.
And BTW, if you're wondering why I sounded semi-intelligent about cryptography in my nastygram to Brian Milburn in early 1997, it is because Seth gave me all the time and education I needed, something which even Bennett did not know before reading this sentence. (Bennett helped me also, of course, nothing I write here is meant to diminish anything Bennett has done, but there's a reason why I'm disclosing this about Seth.)
Some of you are at odds with Seth, and I am not a dispute arbitrator, but now that you know these facts, I believe you will better appreciate some of the things Seth has said which has put some of you at odds with him. (This is blind-copied to Seth, by the way; I did not cc: him as at least one of you may have him killfiled, so I did not want his address showing anywhere in the headers.)
Why has Seth been so secretive? He can explain better than I, but in a nutshell, think about how he's been flamed by Brock and Declan over the years, despite what they knew. And yes, think even more about how brutal Godwin has been on Seth, and then know that Godwin has known this little secret from day one, and he has known it from within the framework of an attorney-client relation which he briefly had with Seth. I am not revisiting now whether we, as a group, should have supported Seth more after Godwin's Salon piece (I take some blame here, since I, unlike you guys, knew the secret then). But I am asking you to revisit your thoughts about that whole episode in light of what you now know about both Seth and Godwin.
Add the ProCD case into what Seth got in return from Brock, Declan, Mike, it is no surprise that, for a long time, he chose not to share his secret with anyone else. I agreed to "beard" for Seth because it was the only way to make CWP happen. We have done some good things since Seth left CWP, and we each made our contributions while Seth was still a part of CWP, but CWP never would have existed without Seth's (undisclosed) involvement.
There is a ton more which could be written, but the big unanswered question is "why now?" Two related reasons. First, Bennett mentioned that EFF has talked to him about being a Plaintiff in a frontal challenge to DMCA. Seth and I have been speaking with EFF too, and it is likely that Seth will be a Plaintiff, so his secret will at least potentially be out there soon. In that regard, the censorware company which always has concerned Seth the most is Cyber Patrol, in no small part because they are located just a few miles from where he lives. But with today's release of the new codebreaker, which Seth had nothing to do with, he feels a bit more comfortable (though not 100% so) about his own risk factors.
Second, now that some within EFF know about Seth's history, there is serious consideration for giving Seth a Pioneer Award at this year's CFP. (EFF has changed a lot in the post-Godwin era.) It would be extremely helpful, now that you all know the basics of the tale, if each and every one of us were to nominate Seth. EFF staff has some influence, but the award judges are independent of staff, and supporting nominations from us likely would do a great deal of good. Whatever some of your personal feelings about him may be, given this history, it is at least my view that it would be really hard to say that he does not deserve one. I haven't done my nomination yet, as it was only earlier today when Seth made the relevant decision, but I am going to be doing one, and I hope that each of you will as well.
Pioneer Award details at http://www.eff.org/awards/pioneer.html The deadline is March 15, so if you will nominate Seth, it must be done in the next few days.
Please, let us do this.
James S. Tyre mailto:j.s.tyre[at]cyberpass.net
[old address deleted]
Co-founder, The Censorware Project http://censorware.[.NET]
Return to: Seth Finkelstein - EFF 2001 Pioneer Award or Anticensorware Investigations