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net.wars

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Overview

Full text online version at www.nyupress.org/netwars.

Who will rule cyberspace? And why should people care? Recently stories have appeared in a variety of news media, from the sensational to the staid, that portray the Internet as full of pornography, pedophilia, recipes for making bombs, lewd and lawless behavior, and copyright violators. And, for politicians eager for votes, or to people who have never strolled the electronic byways, regulating the Net seems as logical and sensible as making your kids wear seat belts. Forget freedom of speech: children can read this stuff.

From the point of view of those on the Net, mass-media's representation of pornography on the Internet grossly overestimates the amount that is actually available, and these stories are based on studies that are at best flawed and at worst fraudulent. To netizens, the panic over the electronic availability of bomb-making recipes and other potentially dangerous material is groundless: the same material is readily available in public libraries. Out on the Net, it seems outrageous that people who have never really experienced it are in a position to regulate it.

How then, should the lines be drawn in the grey area between cyberspace and the physical world? In net.wars, Wendy Grossman, a journalist who has covered the Net since 1992 for major publications such as Wired, The Guardian, and The Telegraph, assesses the battles that will define the future of this new venue. From the Church of Scientology's raids on Net users to netizens attempts to overthrow both the Communications Decency Act and the restrictions on the export of strong encryption, net.wars explains the issues and the background behind the headlines. Among the issues covered are net scams, class divisions on the net, privacy issues, the Communications Decency Act, women online, pornography, hackers and the computer underground, net criminals and sociopaths, and more.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Both newbies (newcomers to the Internet) and Netizens (old-timers) will find challenges and rewards in this witty, knowledgeable and timely report from the electronic front. Journalist Grossman covers in considerable depth the battles now raging over First Amendment rights, security, privacy and general standards of conduct in cyberspace. The Net has been a place where people speak their minds, freely and even offensively, and many Net users would like to keep it that way. As Grateful Dead lyricist and Electronic Frontier Foundation co-founder John Perry Barlow has declared, "cyberspace should be its own sovereign state." Politicians and various special-interest groups don't see it that way, however, and push to govern what may well be an ungovernable universe. Grossman's tour takes in pornography and the Communications Decency Act; cliques and kooks on the Net; gender online; and issues of Internet capacity, overload and access. She highlights thorny issues related to encryption, including the ongoing efforts of the U.S. government to outlaw "strong encryption" software, which it ranks as a munition for export purposes. Such topics as "public-key cryptography" may seem remote and difficult to grasp now, but they're bound to start entering everyday conversation soon, as we all struggle to decide how much of our own business to conduct, secrets to send and lives to live online. (Jan.) FYI: For an online version of net.wars, with links to many of the sites mentioned, go to www.nyupress.nyu.edu/netwars.html
Library Journal
Fans of Grossman, whose Wired magazine article, "alt.scientology.war," won her an award in 1996 from the American Society of Journalists and Authors, will appreciate her latest endeavor. Grossman sets out to answer questions about the future of the Internet and how it will be regulated. She does a fine job of explaining the issues and the background behind online controversies ranging from the Church of Scientology raids on net users to the derailment of the Communications Decency Act. She also addresses such issues as net scams, class divisions on the net (especially regarding America Online users), privacy issues, women online, pornography, hackers, and computer crime. Her approach is one of informed skepticism, which is not surprising from someone who founded Britain's The Skeptic magazine in 1987. Grossman predicts that the world's governments will confront further issues as if dealing with an alien invasion, making the net wars of the 1990s look like a mere fracas. Most of her predictions are obvious, and she doesn't always propose solutions to problems she sees, but her book serves effectively as a warning flag. [An electronic full-text version of this work is available at .Ed.]Joe Accardi, Northeastern Illinois Univ. Lib., Chicago
Booknews
London-based American journalist Grossman continues her coverage of the Internet by assessing the battles she believes will define its future. Among them are scams, class divisions, privacy, the Communications Decency Act, women online, pornography, hackers and the computer underground, criminals, and sociopaths. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814731031
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 1/1/1998
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.22 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 0.86 (d)

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