[ Akron Bulletin Board Closed by Authorities ]
The Akron bulletin board, Akron Anamoly (run by Mark Lehrer) is no more. After a police sting operation, the BBS was closed because of "obscene" files online. The Anamoly, which was known for its vast Fidonet message bases and OS/2 support, was closed after a parent complained to police because of the "dirty" GIFs that were available for download.
The following pieces include capture buffers from Akron boards discussing the incident as well as the actual news story concerning it.
This article is reprinted from the Cleveland [Ohio, USA] Plain Dealer,
Tuesday, July 21, 1992, Page B3 (?).
* POLICE PULL PLUG ON COMPUTER IN MORALS STING Munroe Falls Police Chief Steve Stahl knows computers are big with kids these days, byt he never thought he'd see the day when a healthy 15-year-old boy would choose a floppy disk over a playboy centerfold. But now that Stahl's seen some of the floppy disks popular with local youths, he understands the facscination. "Give me any kid, I know what he's going to donwload," Stahl said. In May, Munroe Falls police received a complaint fromn a resident who feared that a local computerized community byulletin board containing sexually explicit material might be accessible to children. Stahl said the resident showed him files called "Alison" and "Amber," both of which featured naked women. Stahl told the concerned resident, "Oh well, geez, I can see how that would be upsetting." For the past two months, police conducted an investigation and sting using a local 15 year old boy. After the youth was able to hook into the bulletin board, police arrested Mark Lehrer, 22, owner and operator of Akron Anomaly, a 1000-member bulletin board. Police also seized all of Lehrer's computer equipment. Lehrer is accused of distributing graphic sexual material via a computer modem from his parent's home in Munore Falls. Lehrer, whose father is chairman of the village's charter review commission, has been charged in Cuyahoga Falls municipal court with one count each of disseminating matter harmful to juveniles and possession of computer [probably was originally "criminal" -mst] tools – in this case, his computer. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for today. The case will probably be turned over to a Summit County grand jury. Lehrer did not return a phone call yesterday. Stahl said this will be the first case in Northeast Ohio and one of the first in the state in which an adult is accused of distributing graphic sexual materials to juveniles via a computer. "There's not a whole lot of case law on this kind of thing," he said, adding most material comes from books, magazines, or movies. According to Stahl, members of Akron Anomaly paid $15 to $30 a year to link into Lehrer's bulletin board. For that fee, they had access to games like chess, basketball, and euchre, compouter programming instructions, and a series of "gif" – "graphic interface files" [should be "'graphic information files'" -mst] – that feature pictures from James Bond to Captain Kirk to Scooby Doo. Some are labeled specifically for adults and are not supposed to be accessible to those under age 18, while many others are contained in a general file. However, when police seized Lehrer's records they found that even the "clean" files contained images not entirely wholesome. "One was Bugs Bunny eating a carrot, one was Bart Simpson riding a skate board and one was called (a slang term for oral sex) [probably "blow job" – drc], and that was in the clean file," Stahl said. Stahl said many files not listed in the adult category contained pictures of naked women and of naked women engaged in sexual acts. One file allegedly shows a nude image of Christina Applegate, who plays Peg on the television show "Married With Children." "Parents are happy their kids are upstairs using their computers. One parent we talked to was thrilled they weren't finding Playboy magazine. Well, I've got news for them, this is a rude awakening," Stahl said. In addition to the graphic interface images, juveniles were able to access adult movies, which are transmitted on color monitors. A brief editorial comment: this sucks. Any comments, please send e-mail, as I don't monitor this group. David – =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= THIS MESSAGE IS FROM =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= | David R. Cohen or Tracey L. Ridgeway | | email@example.com | =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= *
Msg # 171 of 184 Date: Fri 7-24-92, 8:43 From: TERMINATOR Read: 11 times [1 Reply] To: THE ASSASSIN Subject: Re: Anomaly
The Munroe Falls police cooperating with FTC federal trade commision.Sent the 15 year old on to the system to find such files. I agree with Mark's lawyer its just a small town police station trying to gain publicity,and may cause problems for other bbs systems. Through the grape vine I have heard bulliten board system may be requiring a license by the city here in the near future,giving them a chance to do periodical checks of the system at any given time,I think this is unfair and maybe some of the bulliten boards should go underground to avoid the attack by the city,this would be for private members only.
* Msg # 177 of 184 Date: Sat 7-25-92, 15:44 From: METAL STORM To: All Subject: Akron Anomoly We as BBS user's and some as Sysops should ban together to support this kind of invasion. I DO NOT agree with such setups as to using a 15 year old child to find a little bit of incriminating evidence to shut down a BBS that was not causing any harm to begin with. The Sysop by Federal Regulation is NOT RESPONSIBLE for the content of his BBS from which users upload this kind of material. Also the actual theme of The Akron Anomoly BBS was not that of an X-Rated board. I myself do not download this kind of material because I feel that it is a little off colored, but I do not aggree with this type of action. BBS systems all over Akron are in serious threat because of the raid on AA BBS, and we should all send letters. ACT NOW. or you may not be chatting like this in the future. I will post some address real soon on this message area and others soon. Metal Storm… Msg # 178 of 184 Date: Sat 7-25-92, 23:17 From: ALATNA Read: 9 times [1 Reply] To: METAL STORM Subject: Re: Akron Anomoly I'm all for it. I run a Cleveland BBS and have been in that community for a while, they've also much threat. Also, if they were hit, there are many things that could be found there, ranging from satanism (yes, Cleveland DOES have at least ONE board like that) to Drug Dealing. Maybe some of those boards should be shut down, but, I believe people have a right to chose and if they chose to communicate about this stuff online, they shouldn't be afraid to do so. *
Msg # 180 of 184 Date: Sun 7-26-92, 4:42 From: METAL STORM Read: 9 times To: ALATNA Subject: Re: Akron Anomoly
Well, I feel that using your phone for voice or for data is virtually the
same. Having someone put restrictions on a BBS is like putting restrictions on your voice conversation with your friend. If the contents of your BBS were being broadcast so all could see and here then I could see some concern in that, but online BBS systems do not fall into that category. I do agree that some of those BBS systems you mentioned should be down because I do not support anything that is ilegal or immoral but I do have to mention that it is still basically a phone conversation and should be dealt with as one.
Msg # 182 of 184 Date: Sun 7-26-92, 18:31 From: THE ASSASSIN Read: 3 times To: METAL STORM Subject: Re: Akron Anomoly
I was chatting with a sysop that knows Mark (the Sysop of Anomaly) and he said that Mark had been warned several times. He also said that distribution of pornographic materials to minors is wrong. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. It is unfortunate that Mark got in trouble, but he should have been more careful. And you are sadly mistaken. A sysops responsibility is too the BOARD, and the ARE responsible for what is uploaded and downloaded, since they can be put in jail for it. You can now go to prison and be fined severely for having commercial software on a bbs. If the sysop does not regulate their files, then they should not have a files section in the first place.
[ ... ]
Information concerning a sysop effort to put pressure on law enforcement officials will be featured in further issues of Stark Naked. Also featured will be specific FCC regulations concerning adult access for minors, how to protect yourself, etc. Stay tuned to Stark Naked for further developments on this story.
[ Stark Modem Meeting a "Success" ]
The Modem Meeting that Swells was held on Sunday, July 26th, at the Country Manor on West Tusc at 7:30pm. Attendance was much better than expected with a few surprises. Among the various users that showed up early included Varicose Brain, the Sorcerer, Spew Queen, Anarchy, Semidri, Beef Jerky, Sentinel, the Magister, Sidewinder, Ceasaro, Strider and Iron Eagle. Later on, the JEW Krew came down from Akron to visit, bringing Ziltron, The Human Computer and Rattlehead. A surprise visit by Elminster and Nightstalker added to the "enjoyment" of the evening. Of course, where Elminster goes ... the Lion's Pride goes. Rampant Lion, the Joker, Silicon Mage and Gunslinger showed up with surprisingly few words for Elminster. Their focus appeared to be on Sentinel, who was also known for a short while as the Lion Tamer.
The course of events eventually led to a verbal argument between Sentinel and TLP, which ended rather peacefully. Rampant Lion, who was toting a cam-corder (apparently for a future demo) was heard saying to Sentinel, "Hey, man, I was just joking around with you," as he was going to his car.
The evening came to a startling close around 10:30pm when the Sorcerer received a phone call from Country Manor, who wanted the money for his bill! Supposedly, the bills were switched and the Sorcerer ended up paying for someone else's meal.
For the most part, a good time was had by all and hopefully, future modem meetings will be as much of a success.
[ Canton Connection Censors Newsletter ]
An Editorial by the Sorcerer
I hope that what you read in this newsletter is useful and informative to you. I know that in the research I've done both for this issue and future issues, I have learned quite a lot about what is going on around me. Unfortunately, certain sysops in the Stark area do not share the same enthusiasm that I do.
When Stark Naked Issue #1 first came out, I posted it on the Canton Connection. I received a note (which I thought) was nasty from Larry, the sysop at Canton Connection. He said that he didn't want my "modem wars" on his bulletin board and that I am just making myself look "small." So I posted a message telling people that the newsletter was in existence and was available on other bulletin boards. That message, too, was deleted. Finally, I just posted a message asking people to send me private e-mail concerning something that I was not allowed to post publicly about. I was under the misconception that private e-mail on Canton Connection was just that -- private.
Sunday morning when I logged onto Canton Connection, I was answering numerous e-mail that I had received concerning the newsletter. In the middle of one of my replies I was knocked off the bulletin board. Dismissing it as line trouble or something akin to that, I called back to find that my ID no longer worked. I was puzzled, because I didn't think that private e-mail was something interfered with on Canton Connection. After repeated attempts of logging on as new, I asked Larry to call me voice. He did and told me that I was no longer welcome on Canton Connection. He also said that he wished to talk to my parents about harrassment charges. However, I told him that my parents were not home and that I could handle these situations by myself. He insisted that because I was a minor I couldn't ... but I did.
So now I'm stuck off Canton Connection. I can't say it is that much of a loss to me, though. However, it certainly does say something for the direction of telecommunications in this area. It used to be that the free exchange of information was the key to bulletin boarding. Now it seems like the only free exchange is that which is approved by sysops who feel they should decide what their users can read and can't read. Larry did say one thing: he pays the bills for Canton Connection. And he's right. He does pay the bills and it is his board. But the day that sysops start ignoring user suggestions and start censoring is the day that I'm happy not to be part of that system.
I'd like to thank the users that came to my defense on that system. I've talked to a few of you. The rest of you ... if you are concerned about the course of events that is taking place here ... perhaps you should speak to the sysops of Canton Connection and get their side of the story as well.
As for me, I am very disappointed. But, oh well. I'm just
[ In future issues of Stark Naked … ]
In upcoming issues of Stark Naked, we'll be taking a more in-depth look at the Akron Anamoly incident and how it affects bulletin boards everywhere, we'll explore Unix and Internet, we'll be looking at Renegade BBS and its features, and we'll be talking more about the first anniversary of the Dragon's Lair BBS. Until then ... speak freely among yourselves!