1997-06-16 - Homer on Terrorism

Header Data

From: Tim May <tcmay@got.net>
To: Tom Weinstein <tomw@netscape.com>
Message Hash: 723967a61bc2f3f545cb5ecb7987c944e034083f4b768bd60584025b68c6aeae
Message ID: <v03102803afca3d1a5715@[]>
Reply To: <v03020931afc8ee48fc8f@[]>
UTC Datetime: 1997-06-16 01:27:46 UTC
Raw Date: Mon, 16 Jun 1997 09:27:46 +0800

Raw message

From: Tim May <tcmay@got.net>
Date: Mon, 16 Jun 1997 09:27:46 +0800
To: Tom Weinstein <tomw@netscape.com>
Subject: Homer on Terrorism
In-Reply-To: <v03020931afc8ee48fc8f@[]>
Message-ID: <v03102803afca3d1a5715@[]>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

At 5:11 PM -0700 6/15/97, Tom Weinstein wrote:
>Tim May wrote:

>> (What the Danes offered was a straight buiness deal, albeit made
>> weirder and more frantic by the constraints of time, publicity, and
>> worldwide attention. Still a business deal, though. When Collabra
>> wanted X dollars to be acquired by Netscape, was this also
>> "terrorism"? The term "terrorist" hardly applies in business deals.)
>If it was just a business deal, that would be okay.  We would have a
>right to not pay him.  It becomes blackmail when he says "If you don't
>pay me, I will try to damage you."  That's what he did.  He said that
>if we didn't pay him, he'd time his press announcement to coincide with
>DevCon in order to cause us the maximum damage, which he did.

It's still not "terrorism." Just ordinary high-pressure bargaining, as when
a film star holds out to the last minute on a deal, knowing her value
increases as the deadline approaches.

Or scads of similar examples, as when Netscape or Microsoft time their
announcements for maximum impact.

One can imagine people approaching a company with reports of a bug--as a
certain math professor approached a certain chip company with reports of a
strange FDIV problem--and being given the polite runaround. "Thank you for
sharing. We'll have one of our QA engineers look into your report and maybe
he'll get back to you."

(I have no idea if Netscape reacted in this way, but I can imagine that the
flow of bug reports may cause many to linger in the "In" baskets without

By reporting the bug to PC Magazine and CNN-FN, the "value" of the bug
information shot up rather dramatically. The Arrhus team may not have
gotten any bucks from Netscape--and may not even get a free "Bugs Bounty"
sweatshirt--but their consulting rates and business have probably both gone

Browsers are big business, and high stakes poker. It's not surprising to me
to see this kind of bluffing and "terorrism" (to quote Homer, with his
rosy-fingered typing). What's surprising is that it hasn't happened more
often, or at least hasn't gotten as much publicity.

--Tim May

There's something wrong when I'm a felon under an increasing number of laws.
Only one response to the key grabbers is warranted: "Death to Tyrants!"
Timothy C. May              | Crypto Anarchy: encryption, digital money,
tcmay@got.net  408-728-0152 | anonymous networks, digital pseudonyms, zero
W.A.S.T.E.: Corralitos, CA  | knowledge, reputations, information markets,
Higher Power: 2^1398269     | black markets, collapse of governments.
"National borders aren't even speed bumps on the information superhighway."