#018: Zany Fedz!

[F.U.C.K. is an e-zine that I started on January 24, 1993 and ended on January 24, 2000. One concept is that articles should be timeless if possible, so they were not released with dates. As such, the date on this blog is not exact but I will try to use a date as close as possible.]

Those zany feds. This is just a small file that insults our lovely government, and in particular, the secret service. And to be more precise, the SS that deal with computers, investigating piracy, and fraud, and whatnot. The more you look at them, and the more you hear about them, the more you have to question them.

First, I live in Lubbock. Texas, for those of you that have never heard of it. This is a town of 250,000 or so people. The BBSing scene here is pretty big considering the amount of people, and the intelligence around here. We have a federal building with a SS office, with 4 agents employed and working there. Their job, is to investigate many things, and among them local BBSs. Second, the BBSing scene here is really laid back. Almost all boards use handles, don’t require real info(many tell you not to use real info), and almost none do voice validation. Quite different from most other towns/cities. Third, many of the BBSers around here know each other. They are often times friends, have met, chat on subs or whatever. There are around 30 boards at any given time, and despite the numbers, most people that BBS frequently will know/recognize other handles. If a new handle pops up, then it is quite obvious that it is a new person. Each month the BBSers meet at a local place and have lunch, introduce themselves, and chat. (that is for later reference)

Enough background. Ok. So the SS here decide they will stick their nose in the BBS scene. Quietly at first. A handle pops up on a board, doesn’t post a message, doesn’t mail anyone except the sysop. Through friends, the sysop finds out this is a SS agent. The handle itself is a slight giveaway, a nickname of a federal agent in a movie. No big deal, and most people don’t know all this anyway. Next, the feds decide to set up a BBS. A BBS comes up. The sysop, and co-sysop are unknown to the BBSing community. The board had a 9600 baud modem(rare at the time), a CD Rom(Real rare at the time), a perfectly modded and registered BBS package, eight registered doors, and various other little stuff that clued people in. They had the ANTIFED.TXT as a disclaimer in their newuser login sequence. Any mail regarding warez, asking about them, who they were, etc., were not answered. Any mail sent on Friday night, would not get answered to Monday morning usually(federal hours) and on each Monday, the sysop posted an excuse explaining why mail didn’t get answered. A few of the local BBSers decided to find out who these people were, so they checked all the local boards, and did some other stuff. Basically, the sysop was only on one other board, and that account had not been active for months, the number was unlisted, and when checked, was found to be registered to a kid known to have had trouble with the law. At the monthly BBS lunch, two kids show up a little late and one says “We’re from Zog” (the name of the board was Planet Zog). They didn’t introduce themselves individually like everyone else. They left early and weren’t seen again. So people thought about it, and came to the conclusion this was a fed board. So all the people that called(very few) started posting things like “fedz suck” and other stuff like that. They posted ads for boards with “2 gigs of warez” and “more codez than you can shake a stick at”. The whole time, the sysops never played the games, never posted, and barely answered mail about anything. Mail was sent to them saying “I can get you warez” and other such stuff and that mail was ignored. They didn’t say “sure” or “not interested” but just ignored it.

The point of it you ask? What the hell is their problem? I mean, you have a group of people that are not very knowledgeable about computers (will tell more about that later), that come into town, and expect to bust people that easy? There are people here that have been BBSing for 8+ years, copying “warez”, exchanging k0d3z, etc. They know computers, networks, modems, phones, and everything else relating to it, a hellavu lot better than the feds do. In the last two or so years, the fedz have busted 3 people for BBS related stuff, and the only reason they got them was a) one was careless b) one accidentally led to the other two c) blind luck.

I have talked with a few people about the bust, one of the guys that got busted, and other people that are involved. When the SS busted the three, they handled the whole bust with a severe lack of thinking. The story is too long to tell details, and hopefully that will be a future file, written by one of the guys who went down. While being questioned for the weeks after the bust, one of the guys was asked several questions that showed the lack of knowledge they had. The SS didn’t even know about the pirate boards in town, didn’t know who all was involved, didn’t know about many of the boards until they got their hands on a list of them put out by one of the local BBSers. Their knowledge of equipment and technical know-how regarding computers and BBSs were severely lacking(once again, this is based on questions put to one of the guys who got busted.)

It all boils down to this. Why are they here? Shouldn’t they be getting some much needed training? Why are my tax dollars paying for them to sit in an office and investigate something they have no clue about? I am the last one who wants boards to go down, but I am one of the first that wants his/her tax dollars to go to a GOOD use. Since the bust about 6 months ago, the only thing they have managed to do, is scare a few boards into getting rid of adult GIF files. They made a point to scare a lot of the locals into getting rid of GIFs with young “models” and making sure they were not accessible to under age users. And it takes 4 agents to do all this? The underground scene is mutating quite rapidly, and the users seem to keep up with it barely, and the fedz expect to keep up with it just as well? For example, the agent in charge didn’t know a certain board went down until a week later when he questioned one of the guys about it. Not knowing if a board is up or down?!? All it takes is a simple voice call to verify it, and they don’t even do that? Bah. Get some better trained monkeys.

Even though it may diminish the underground scene, it would almost definitely keep it higher quality, and prevent lamers from ruining it. It could present more jobs, or whatever, but what is the point? You stop one person, and his friends, and two more boards pop up to take its place. I don’t know where all this is leading, but if the SS are that undertrained to take on the job of busting pirates and “k0d3z d00ds” then how bout the rest of our government? What do they do? Are they trained better and prepared to take on their job? I think not.

P.S. “Ontogeny Recapitulates Phylogeny” – Apply that to the above discussion.

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