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NYT Discovers Internet's Wild Side: IRC 627

Posted by michael
from the ok-corral dept.
maztec writes "The New York Times (free soul-sucking registration required) published an article today entitled The Internet's Wilder Side. Apparently, according to the article, 'the Internet has come to resemble a pleasant, well-policed suburb , [but] a little-known neighborhood known as Internet Relay Chat remains the Wild West.' In essence the article concerns itself with how IRC is the breeding ground of all the Internet's Evils, from animal pornography and illegal file sharing to virus making and computer cracking, it all starts here. I'd continue pointing out interesting quotes, but that'd be a waste. Go read it yourself. And if you're on IRC, remember, you're evil. Even if you're one of those do-gooders who uses Mozilla, LFS, or FreeNode servers for software development."
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NYT Discovers Internet's Wild Side: IRC

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  • God forbid (Score:5, Funny)

    by Corbets (169101) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @11:27AM (#9073773) Homepage
    I can't wait to see what happens when they discover newsgroups. Man, their heads will pop. ;)
    • by JaffaKREE (766802) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @11:48AM (#9074091)
      I always suspected I was an evil, conniving, warez trading, mp3 album pre-releasing, movie theater recording and distributing bastard from the moment I typed /server irc.dal.net lo those many years ago. Now I know for sure. Time to go kill some puppies and take pictures and post them in #MurderedPuppies.
    • Re:God forbid (Score:5, Interesting)

      by GreyPoopon (411036) <gpoopon@RABBITgmail.com minus herbivore> on Thursday May 06, 2004 @11:48AM (#9074103)
      I can't wait to see what happens when they discover newsgroups.

      This has already happened to one of the Philadelphia news channels, although I must say that they have no clue what newsgroups really are. They ran a special feature about Voicenet, accusing them of supporting child pornography and all kinds of things. They showed the police going into the office and seizing Voicenet assets. I was shocked when it first came on. About twenty minutes into it, I became surpised at just how idiotic the whole thing was. It was all about the "Quickvue" search tool that can basically thumbnail internet content, in particular Usenet newsgroups. Apparently, a number of people were using the tool to thumbnail some of the alt.binaries.*.erotica.* newsgroups with child pornography. The news made it sound like all of this was the fault of Voicenet, and that they were doing something sinister. When Voicenet responded that they were not really able to police the content of the newsgroups, the TV station asserted that this was ridiculous, making it sound like an easy task to monitor every single post that comes into every single of the 120,000+ newsgroups out there for banned content. Just for the record, the servers were seized in January and no charges have yet been filed against Voicenet. I think the authorities are looking for subscriber lists to go directly after people viewing the content. I'm not sure if the seizure was really legal, though.

      • Re:God forbid (Score:5, Informative)

        by Jack Comics (631233) * <jack_comics@post x s . o rg> on Thursday May 06, 2004 @12:07PM (#9074341) Homepage
        Just FYI, you can find a transcript of the local news station's (WPVI's), report here [go.com]. WPVI even takes credit for informing the local police. If anything, what WPVI did was abuse of journalism, IMO. They in effect created their own story, and effected the operation of a large ISP as a result.
    • by Alexis Brooke (662281) <alexisbrooke AT adelphia POINT net> on Thursday May 06, 2004 @11:52AM (#9074163) Homepage
      This IRC thing sounds pretty bad. I can't wait for the New York Times to do a report on the 1995 documentary "Hackers".
    • Re:God forbid (Score:5, Insightful)

      by in7ane (678796) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @11:53AM (#9074165)
      "The pirated copies of music, films, games and other software were generally distributed using a separate Internet file-transfer system"

      You are right, and they are getting close as well.

      With newsgroups it will be even better though, since the groups are actually stored (possession) on company owned servers somewhere, which people pay subscriptions (profit) to access the messages (distribution) from - no, don't give them the idea... (actually I do wonder, how to the 'complete' newsgroup providers get away with this?)
      • They don't (Score:5, Informative)

        by poptones (653660) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @12:27PM (#9074596) Journal
        In the US the "complete" newsgroup providers I know of have begun either denying posting access to certain groups, or just filtering out binary content altogether. Easynews especially seems to have been hit hard since that virus made its debut from one of their accounts. Every now and then you see a complaint from someone in the support forum because godzilla deleted binary content - their response is almost always "get over it, things have changed." That old paradigm about carriers of content not being responsible for the actual content seems to have gone out the window - lots of "police," self appointed and otherwise, sending in complaints. Once the complaint is made, the carriers have no choice but to delete it.

        I use easynews and regularly READ (important note there) several of the "shady" groups. There's plenty of music and movies and stuff, but the kiddie fans and site crackers have ALL gone underground. LOTS of groups now flooded with PGP posts and encrypted RARs, locked away from everyone but the cliques that communicate elsewhere and use the groups as massive file stores. All that's left in the clear are stories about arrests and rumors of arrests - those folks are all running scared and getting busted even in places like Finland and Singapore. Even many of the bigger MP3 posters have left the building.

        I do believe usenet is about to "grow up" the way the web did. Except newsgroups are useless to businesses for anything except support forums, so how this is going to affect things in the future remains to be seen.

        Even most of the stuff in the DVD rip groups is intentionally mislabelled and you often hear about folks having their accounts cancelled due to their posts in the music and video groups. The only reason none of this affects me is because I don't post ripped movies or pop music (or illegal shit) - all my trading is done in the "international" and techno music groups where artists are more independant and copyright coverage a bit murkier.

        That said, I think these folks must be late to the party. I'm sure there are plenty of newbs on IRC doing illegal shit, but nobody with more than half a brain would be doing it in the open on IRC where your IP can be grabbed in realtime. I'd say the NYT is, as usual, arriving VERY late to this party.
    • Re:God forbid (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Dun Malg (230075) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @11:53AM (#9074176) Homepage
      I can't wait to see what happens when they discover newsgroups. Man, their heads will pop. ;)

      Heh. Newsgroups are less interactive, so I bet they wouldn't be as impressed. They can't watch live conversations between skript kiddiez and warez d00dz, so it'll have less "punch". Personally, that's what I like about newsgroups-- not having to talk to a 14 year old doofus and stroke his tiny ego enough to give me what I'm looking for is worth the spam-wading.

    • by pyros (61399) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @12:09PM (#9074366) Journal
      First rule of Usenet: You do NOT talk about Usenet!!
    • Re:God forbid (Score:4, Insightful)

      by caluml (551744) <slashdot AT spam ... OT calum DOT org> on Thursday May 06, 2004 @12:48PM (#9074849) Homepage
      Yep. IRC + newsgroups = the original P2P and IM. alt.binaries.movies.divx or alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.* anyone?

      Why hasn't someone set up a second internet over the main one, where IP allocation is dynamic, and untracable? You're only tracable through your IP address, so if you get allocated a random one, and routing still works, and you throw in a little IPsec, voila.
    • Re:God forbid (Score:5, Insightful)

      by cshark (673578) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @01:13PM (#9075093)
      This was some of the most irresponsible journalism I've seen in a long time.

      First off, since when is the www a "well policed little suburb?" There's just as much shadiness on the web as there is on IRC. And it's super easy to get at. Just enter it into Google, and you're on your way. All without even touching IRC.

      The author also made some funny contradictions. Like the part where he says there are only 50,000 people on all of IRC on at any given time. And then in the next paragraph and the rest of the article he goes on to say how there's no way to know how many people are online. Funny, but a NYT editor should have caught that.

      The article was big on assumptions, and short on fact. If they really wanted to bring it home, they should have interviewed a virus writer or hacker who actually uses the system for this kind of thing. That would have made it an interesting piece.

      And rather than going on about how bad the thing is, the author should have proposed a solution, or spoken to someone who offers a solution.

      I don't know.
      A lot of this should have been covered in Journalism 101. I guess if the point of the article was fear mongering of the technically challenged, it got it's point across. But it seemed kind of yellow to me.

      • Re:God forbid (Score:5, Informative)

        by Skjellifetti (561341) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @01:54PM (#9075506) Journal
        Did you read the same article I did?

        First off, since when is the www a "well policed little suburb?"

        Actual quote from NYT:

        Even as much of the Internet has come to resemble a pleasant, well-policed suburb, a little-known neighborhood known as Internet Relay Chat remains the Wild West. While copyright holders and law enforcement agencies take aim at their adversaries on Web sites and peer-to-peer file-sharing networks like Napster, I.R.C. remains the place where people with something to hide go to do business.

        Sounds like a reasonable statement to me. The cops ARE going after child porn web sites and p2p networks.

        The author also made some funny contradictions. Like the part where he says there are only 50,000 people on all of IRC on at any given time. And then in the next paragraph and the rest of the article he goes on to say how there's no way to know how many people are online. Funny, but a NYT editor should have caught that.

        Actual NYT quote:

        Probably no more than 500,000 people are using I.R.C. worldwide at any time, and many of them are engaged in legitimate activities, network administrators say. [SNIP] It is almost impossible to determine exactly how many people use I.R.C.

        Note the careful use of qualifiers probably vs. exactly.

        The article was big on assumptions, and short on fact.

        Actual NYT quote:

        "I.R.C. is where all of the kids come on and go nuts,'' William A. Bierman, a college student in Hawaii who helps develop I.R.C. server software and who is known online as billy-jon, said in a telephone interview. "All of the attention I.R.C. has gotten over the years has been because it's a haven for criminals, which is a very one-sided view.
        "The whole idea behind I.R.C. is freedom of speech. There is really no structure on the Internet for policing I.R.C., and there are intentionally no rules. Obviously you're not allowed to hack the Pentagon, but there are no rules like 'You can't say this' or 'You can't do that.'"


        The article was full of well researched facts including interviews with the authors of the most popular IRC software.

        I guess if the point of the article was fear mongering of the technically challenged, it got it's point across. But it seemed kind of yellow to me.

        The article wasn't aimed at you. It was aimed at the general public. It was fairly balanced and described the good, the bad, and the ugly of IRC. You've just got your panties in a twist because you think you're an l337 d00d.
        • Re:God forbid (Score:5, Insightful)

          by gad_zuki! (70830) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @02:55PM (#9076122)
          Sorry but lets look at the web and then see if its a well maintaned suburb. Just like a real suburb, once you scratch the surface you see the crap underneath that makes city life so fulfilling.

          1. Fake amazon, paypal ,etc sites. It doesn't matter if they get pulled down, within minutes they have your credit card number. How often do people drop their cc number in newsgroups or irc?

          2. Spyware. Lots of it. Misleading ads. Electronic extortion "look we can open your cd drive with activex, pay us 20 dollars for "security software"

          3. Web exploits.

          4. Ads and cookies compiling data about your surfing.

          5. Sites that teach hacking, p2p info, etc that no one on irc would bother to tell n00bs.

          Seems to me the web is a lot more dangerous for users than irc and newsgroups combined.
  • by Jaywalk (94910) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @11:27AM (#9073784) Homepage
    Wow. The New York Times has discovered IRC. What an amazing discovery. What are they going to discover next? Pennsylvania? I'd love to hear their hard-hitting expose about Pittsburgh.
    • Re:Such a discovery! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by beh (4759) * on Thursday May 06, 2004 @11:29AM (#9073803)
      It's kind of interesting that the NYT would engage in what I would
      consider sensationalist press. I remember that in the late 1990s a
      German TV report came out with a sensationalist article about the
      fact that there was a "secret document" on the Internet which would
      describe how to build bombs - and that this would be totally
      scandalous.

      This "*secret* document" was the FAQ rec.pyrotechnics...

      • by gmuslera (3436) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @11:36AM (#9073925) Homepage Journal
        Well, in the mid-90's there was a lot of hype (not sure if in the media) about a document that described how to build atomic bombs.

        Of course, that document started saying something like "go to your local grocery store and buy 3 kg of U-235" :)

        • Re:Such a discovery! (Score:5, Informative)

          by AKAImBatman (238306) <akaimbatman @ g m a i l . c om> on Thursday May 06, 2004 @11:48AM (#9074093) Homepage Journal
          Of course, that document started saying something like "go to your local grocery store and buy 3 kg of U-235" :)

          Then use an old buick as a shell. Carefully pack the entire contraption in a few tons of traditional explosives like plastique or nitroglycerin....

          The really amusing part is that it isn't all that hard to build an atomic bomb. Only two ingredients are difficult to come by:

          1. Enriched U-235 or Pu-239. The enrichment process requires a massive chemicals and refining infrastructure. Pu-239 is produced inside worked reactors and is carefully accounted for by UN watchdogs. Plus the Pu-239 has to be very pure. If it contains a large amount of Pu-238, it will be useless.

          2. The initial charge has to be carefully shaped or else the bomb will fizzle. The only known ways to test a design are by actually blowing one up or running computer simulations. The former is rather noticeable, while the later is the reason we put an embargo on computing technology to certain countries.

          If you want to know how to build a hydrogen bomb, go do a search for the Progressive article. Good luck on manufacturing a uranium neutron reflector!
    • by TWX (665546) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @11:34AM (#9073894)
      "Wow. The New York Times has discovered IRC. What an amazing discovery. What are they going to discover next? Pennsylvania? I'd love to hear their hard-hitting expose about Pittsburgh."

      Wait'll they discover that IRC is twelve years old! I think that the protocol is older than most of the people that use it, at least on a mental level.
  • by Black Rabbit (236299) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @11:28AM (#9073788)
    Next thing you know, they'll be raving about the wonders of Archie, Veronica and Gopher!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 06, 2004 @11:28AM (#9073800)
  • by jejones (115979) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @11:29AM (#9073809) Journal
    I guess I need to work on a maniacal laugh or on holding my extended pinkie to the corner of my mouth. And there I thought I was just getting help with Gentoo and Fedora Core 2 Test 3...
  • by Lugor (628175) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @11:29AM (#9073814)
    ..they haven't found bash.org [bash.org] yet!
  • by Roadkills-R-Us (122219) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @11:29AM (#9073817) Homepage
    Obviously, they're refering to usenet. I mean, I haven't seen a fatal shooting there in quite some time.
  • Of course (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Orgazmus (761208) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @11:30AM (#9073822)
    Is not every place with free speech and relative stealthness a breedingplace for:
    -terrorists
    -virusmakers
    -worms
    -terroris ts
    -porn
    -terrorists

    ?
    • Re:Of course (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Black Rabbit (236299) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @11:40AM (#9074000)
      This century, it's the Internet. 200 (or so) years ago, it was coffeehouses. No matter what the forum, it will always be used to discuss dissention.
    • Re:Of course (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Dhalka226 (559740) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @12:00PM (#9074248)

      It's not entirely applicable, but your comment reminded me of a quote:

      "The only freedom which counts is the freedom to do what some other people think to be wrong. There is no point in demanding freedom to do that which all will applaud. All the so-called liberties or rights are things which have to be asserted against others who claim that if such things are to be allowed their own rights are infringed or their own liberties threatened. This is always true, even when we speak of the freedom to worship, of the right of free speech or association, or of public assembly. If we are to allow freedoms at all there will constantly be complaints that either the liberty itself or the way in which it is exercised is being abused, and, if it is a genuine freedom, these complaints will often be justified. There is no way of having a free society in which there is not abuse. Abuse is the very hallmark of liberty."
      -- Lord Chief Justice Halisham

  • by steve buttgereit (644315) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @11:30AM (#9073824) Homepage
    I think this best sums up what is at play here:

    "The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear. And the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown." -- Lovecraft.

    IRC is still more difficult to use than AOL chat rooms and largely the domain of techies. Sure bad stuff happens there because it's not part of the mainstream, but I don't know that it's worse there than anywhere else... ...god help them if they find USENET.

    Cheers!
    SCB
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 06, 2004 @11:30AM (#9073830)
    Time to go back to BBS for all the evil stuff.
  • /list (Score:5, Funny)

    by Himring (646324) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @11:30AM (#9073834) Homepage Journal
    IRC is the breeding ground of all the Internet's Evils

    It was in 1996 that I developed my eye twitch. That was just after having read /list for the first time on efnet....
  • seems odd (Score:5, Interesting)

    by theMerovingian (722983) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @11:30AM (#9073836) Journal

    I think its funny that file sharing is now on a par with animal pornography...

    The vilification plan is almost complete.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 06, 2004 @11:30AM (#9073838)
    It was just another Wednesday on the sprawling Internet chat-room network known as I.R.C. In a room called Prime-Tyme-Movies, users offered free pirated downloads of "The Passion of the Christ'' and "Kill Bill Vol. 2.'' In the DDO-Matrix channel, illegal copies of Microsoft's Windows software and "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time,'' an Xbox game, were ripe for downloading. In other chat rooms yesterday, whole albums of free MP3's were hawked with blaring capital letters. And in a far less obtrusive channel, a hacker may well have been checking his progress of hacking into the computers of unsuspecting Internet users.

    Even as much of the Internet has come to resemble a pleasant, well-policed suburb, a little-known neighborhood known as Internet Relay Chat remains the Wild West. While copyright holders and law enforcement agencies take aim at their adversaries on Web sites and peer-to-peer file-sharing networks like Napster, I.R.C. remains the place where people with something to hide go to do business.

    Probably no more than 500,000 people are using I.R.C. worldwide at any time, and many of them are engaged in legitimate activities, network administrators say. Yet that pirated copy of Microsoft Office or Norton Utilities that turns up on a home-burned CD-ROM may well have originated on I.R.C. And the Internet viruses and "denial of service'' attacks that periodically make news generally get their start there, too. This week, the network's chat rooms were abuzz with what seemed like informed chatter about the Sasser worm, which infected hundreds of thousands of computers over the weekend.

    "I.R.C. is where you are going to find your 'elite' level pirates,'' said John R. Wolfe, director for enforcement at the Business Software Alliance, a trade group that fights software piracy. "If they were only associating with each other and inbreeding, maybe we could coexist alongside them. But it doesn't work that way. What they're doing on I.R.C. has a way of permeating into mainstream piracy.''

    Two weeks ago, the F.B.I., in conjunction with law enforcement agencies in 10 foreign countries, announced an operation called Fastlink, aimed at shutting down the activities of almost 100 people suspected of helping operate illegal software vaults on the Internet. The pirated copies of music, films, games and other software were generally distributed using a separate Internet file-transfer system, said a Justice Department spokesman, but the actual pirates generally used I.R.C. to communicate and coordinate with one another.

    "The groups targeted as part of Fastlink are alleged to have used I.R.C. to have committed their crimes, like almost all other warez groups,'' the spokesman, Michael Kulstad, said in a telephone interview. Warez, pronounced like wares, is techie slang for illegally copied software.

    When I.R.C. started in the 1980's, it was best known as a way for serious computer professionals worldwide to communicate in real time. It is still possible - though sometimes a bit difficult - to find mature technical discussions among the tens of thousands of I.R.C. chat rooms, known as channels, operating at any one time. There are also respectable I.R.C. systems and channels - some operated by universities or Internet service providers - for gamers seeking opponents or those who want to talk about sports or hobbies.

    Still, I.R.C. perhaps most closely resembles the cantina scene in "Star Wars'': a louche hangout of digital smugglers, pirates, curiosity seekers and the people who love them (or hunt them). There seem to be I.R.C. channels dedicated to every sexual fetish, and I.R.C. users speculate that terrorists also use the networks to communicate in relative obscurity. Yet I.R.C. has its advocates, who point to its legitimate uses.

    "I.R.C. is where all of the kids come on and go nuts,'' William A. Bierman, a college student in Hawaii who helps develop I.R.C. server software and who is known online as billy-jon, said in a telephone interview. "All of the attention I.R.C. has
  • by Tebriel (192168) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @11:31AM (#9073841)
    they should see Ebay. There's some weird shit for sale there....
  • by lxt (724570) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @11:31AM (#9073843) Journal
    The article implies IRC is the cause of the evils. IRC is a medium, not a cause. It's just a way of organising so called "evils". You still have to want to get to the "evil" material in the first place.
    • by mrtroy (640746) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @11:38AM (#9073957)
      I believe the article proves you are incorrect. IRC is not just a medium, apparently.
      Yet that pirated copy of Microsoft Office or Norton Utilities that turns up on a home-burned CD-ROM may well have originated on I.R.C.
      Pirated software can originate from IRC itself (not the clients or the servers)
      The whole idea behind I.R.C. is freedom of speech. There is really no structure on the Internet for policing I.R.C., and there are intentionally no rules. Obviously you're not allowed to hack the Pentagon, but there are no rules like 'You can't say this' or 'You can't do that.'
      You can hack the pentagon from IRC, you just arent supposed to.
    • by frinkster (149158) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @11:40AM (#9073998)
      You still have to want to get to the "evil" material in the first place.

      And if there's anything the drug war has taught us, it's that as long as people want something, people will get it.
  • Hmm... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Peden (753161) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @11:31AM (#9073854) Homepage
    While the submitter might be right in hinting that the New York Times, does not know jack about the internet, they do have a point. IRC _IS_ the breeding ground for all sorts of weird stuff, be that legal or illegal, and although many people use it for strictly legal purposes, it could do with some cleanup. The question remains though, should IRC be censored along with everything else (little by little, our precious internet is going mainstream), or should it remain as it is? Personally I am for the staying of IRC, yet I also share the concerns of the Times.
    • Re:Hmm... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by stratjakt (596332) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @11:39AM (#9073977) Journal
      The "problem" with IRC is that it connects people. IRC isnt a breeding ground for weird stuff, humanity is.

      The main beef is that IRC is an old, open protocol with countless free servers out there. How are you supposed to charge 10 cents per instant message when such things exist?

      Babies are safer when you write a lot of checks. Beware free things, they're inherently evil and unamerican. IRC is like a slum (he doesnt mention which network, I'll assume they're all the same). AOL chat rooms are where high class individuals masturbate.
    • Re:Hmm... (Score:3, Interesting)

      The WEB is mainstream. Most people just can't tell the difference between the www, ftp, e-mail, irc, and usenet. I get the strangest looks when I tell some people to type "eff tee pee colon slash slash" sometimes...

    • Re:Hmm... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by painandgreed (692585) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @11:45AM (#9074047)

      The question remains though, should IRC be censored along with everything else...

      Umm, what's censored currently? Nobody reviews my webpages before I put them up. There are plenty of porn and even illegal porn sites out there that you can get onto if you want to spend the time. Warez exist still and with a little work i coudl probalby find any program authentification code I want. The only place there might be censorship would/could be Google or other search engines if they blocked certain searches.

      If by censorship, you mean when illegal activity is found it is acted against, it has been censored for a very long time. Long before the web became a household word, IRC warez were being traded and people were being arrested for doing so. Police are already in IRC looking for peadophiles just as they are chat rooms.

  • by jez9999 (618189) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @11:32AM (#9073874) Homepage Journal
    <b1lbo> The NYT has an article on us being 'evil'! Just saw it on Slashdot, go see it :-P
    <creat1ve> What?
    <creat1ve> Damn.. they suck!!
    <creative> hack-bot, DDOS nytimes.com
    <hack-bot> Initializing DDOS

    ...

    <l1ght> Haha, nytimes.com down :-) That'll teach them to badmouth irc, thank god for that Slammer virus that let us build up those zombies!
  • by toupsie (88295) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @11:33AM (#9073877) Homepage
    You mean the Discovery channel distributes on IRC? How many times have I seen two Rhinos doing the nasty with some British snooty guy narrating on PBS? Please, NY Times. This is nothing new. Heck, I even got a shot of flies getting busy [mac.com] on my balcony. You would think these New York City folk wouldn't be such prudes.
  • Whatever (Score:5, Insightful)

    by stratjakt (596332) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @11:33AM (#9073882) Journal
    Wow, talk about your corporate motivated propoganda.

    the Internet has come to resemble a pleasant, well-policed suburb

    I guess the key here is well-policed, huh. Wouldn't want to offend.

    The problem that the corporate world has with IRC is that it's a network of humans, exchanging ideas and conversing freely. And, to make matters worse, they aren't paying a monthly/weekly/hourly fee to do so.

    I've read a lot of these "watch out for these free social based things on the internet, the only way to keep your kids safe is to stay on amazon.com with your credit card in hand" articles.

    Meh, fuckit.
  • by genner (694963) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @11:33AM (#9073887)
    The internet is nothing remotley like a suburb, it's the wild west all over again complete with brothels and shoot outs. IRC and USENET where the orginal storehouses of sub-legal activities before P2P came along.
    • by Paulrothrock (685079) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @12:22PM (#9074528) Homepage Journal
      I think the luddite who wrote the article means "Amazon, Yahoo, MSN, AOL" instead of "the internet." The internet is a den of sin and debauchery. People are stealing things all the time; code, pictures, software. It can't be enforced because any action by the enforcers will be circumvented. This scares people, and so they stay in their little gated communities and talk about how wonderful life is. These are the same people who sued Hustler and put warning labels on CDs: They don't want to admit to there being A) People different from themselves and B) Sex, drugs, alcohol, or other naughty things.

      They are the thought police we've been warned about. (A few of them are in alt.sex.pictures.baaa and then condemn us for being in alt.sex.pictures.chicks)
  • by Lord Graga (696091) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @11:36AM (#9073931)
    "I.R.C. is where you are going to find your 'elite' level pirates,'' said John R. Wolfe, director for enforcement at the Business Software Alliance, a trade group that fights software piracy."

    rofl,im1337h4xx0r!iwill0wnj00rb0x0r!
  • by jejones (115979) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @11:37AM (#9073942) Journal
    "Quite often, once they get their hands on a prerelease, they will use I.R.C. as the first distribution before it goes out into the wider Internet," Brad A. Buckles, the [RIAA]'s executive vice president for antipiracy efforts, said in a telephone interview.

    One has to give the author credit for getting one thing right, though:

    In some ways, the biggest problem is Microsoft Windows itself. Windows has holes that can allow a hacker to install almost anything on a computer that lacks a protective program or device called a firewall. Users' vulnerability can be compounded if they have not installed the latest patches from Microsoft.
  • by tobsucht (752647) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @11:37AM (#9073945)
    Apparently they have discovered bash.org [bash.org].
  • by darthcamaro (735685) * on Thursday May 06, 2004 @11:38AM (#9073960)
    I live on IRC and sure as 'hell' don't consider myself to be evil. This lame ass journo probably got flamed and didn't know what do to. IRC is better than IM and is used by anyone and everyone in the dev community. I can't imagine participating in any of the FOSS projects that I do without IRC - it just wouldn't be possible.
    Speaking of which, is there a /. specific channel on Freenode?
  • What a load of BS (Score:4, Insightful)

    by phyruxus (72649) <jumpandlink@yahoAUDENo.com minus poet> on Thursday May 06, 2004 @11:39AM (#9073979) Homepage Journal
    IRC isn't any different, really, than a web page or a video cast. It's all just bits. The reason NYT can't understand this isn't that they're dumb, it's that they're inherently journalists not technologists.

    IRC isn't "where animal porn comes from", animal porn comes from people who like animal porn. Failure to apprehend this fact smacks of gross stupidity. IRC is just a chatroom. It's exactly the same as an AOL chatroom or an ICQ chatroom. The room isn't the place, the conversants are the place. Conversations can happen Anywhere. Plus our Constitution (you know, that thing Dubya keeps trying to shred) GARUANTEES us the right to free speech and peacable assembly. IRC is not some magical source of villainy, it's every streetcorner in America rolled into one blank page awaiting words.

    IRC isn't the problem. People are the problem. And we already have the solution. It's called the code of law. Not that the law is always the best law, but my point is that IRC is neither good nor evil, merely a tool. People who realize this can take the proper step, which is to try to fight the problem not the symptom. People who don't realize this make total asses of themselves in very public fora.

    "A witty saying proves nothing." - Voltaire
    "d'Oh!" - Homer

    PS, I didn't RTFA because I'm too lazy. Did YOU rtfa? ;-) Okay, then flame on, but please post a link without registration so I can rtfa and flame you back. One.

  • Godwin's Law (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aneurysm9 (723000) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @11:40AM (#9073985)
    ...and I.R.C. users speculate that terrorists also use the networks to communicate in relative obscurity.

    Am I the only one who thinks Godwin's law needs a new corrolary?

  • by mattgreen (701203) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @11:41AM (#9074009)
    One more established form of media just disparages another because it doesn't understand it, or because it fears it. It's a shame, because average newspaper readers inevitably equate, "IRC = bad," and continue to spread the hearsay when it comes up in conversation.

    What are they smoking, anyways? The web is anything but a well-policed suburb. If anything, it's a middle school that is in perpetual recess. They just know if they were to apply these same arguments to the web that people would not stand for their bullshit.

    Once again, social acceptability shows itself to be completely arbitrary.
    • The print media look down on something different from their lofty, tradition-bound medium? Say it ain't so! They're objective journalists.* They'd never do such a thing.

      (But don't mention Jayson Blair, the USA Today dude, or William Randolph Hearst, lest you get your shins bitten).

      *journalist: n. a reporter who refuses to think.
  • by rbanzai (596355) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @11:44AM (#9074041)
    Although my 65 year-old father has been using newsgroups for years for his cancer support contacts the mainstream media still doesn't have a clue about them. It's kind of amazing since these weenies don't have anything else to do other than dig up things to try and scare the public with.

    As for IRC I'm sure it's the pit of sin and mania that they describe but really, so what? Any communication stream will be used that way!

    I've tried IRC a couple of time but have to admit I don't know how to use it properly. I've tried about five different IRC clients and still am completely lost when I try and do anything.

    Maybe if I wait long enough it will be replaced by something that doesn't confuse me. :)
  • by kc0dby (522118) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @11:46AM (#9074076) Homepage
    In some ways, the biggest problem is Microsoft Windows itself. Windows has holes that can allow a hacker to install almost anything on a computer that lacks a protective program or device called a firewall. Users' vulnerability can be compounded if they have not installed the latest patches from Microsoft.

    Finally, its good to see it in the NYT. It was starting to get old seeing it on /. every day without anybody else picking it up....
  • by potus98 (741836) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @11:50AM (#9074127) Journal

    The suburbs is where all the s#!t happens that everyone *thinks* is limited to the "inner city".

    Leading market for gang growth and presence? The burbs.

    Leading market of drug users and drug spending? The burbs.

    Leading market for pr0n? Burbs.

    By far the leading market for SUVs (speaking of so-called evil)? Burbs.

    Number one users of so-called Earth killing pollutants? Burbs.

    The list goes on and on and on...

    Why do so many entities (read: media) STILL portray the suburbs as some sort of pure, loving, pastures of solice? The suburbs are like a nice, ripe tomato: All shiny and pretty on the surface, but a disgusting mess 1mm below the surface.

  • by DroopyStonx (683090) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @11:50AM (#9074129)
    It is still possible - though sometimes a bit difficult - to find mature technical discussions among the tens of thousands of I.R.C. chat rooms, known as channels, operating at any one time.

    What the hell? How is it difficult to find mature technical discussions? What do you want to discuss? Windows? Type "/list windows". Linux? "/list linux". When the results are complete, click the channel you want. Simple. Use your head, if results come back "#linux_sluts - Sluts who get naked and slutty for linux guys XXX", then chances are that's not a good place to discuss the latest kernel.

    These news articles are always reporting about unnecessary things. Why target IRC? AOL has the same type of shit. Take a look in the member created chat rooms... "m4m will swallow" "my dog, ur place" "azn m4 hamster" "canadian hookers" etc..
  • Uh.... what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by KeeperS (728100) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @11:53AM (#9074168)
    the Internet has come to resemble a pleasant, well-policed suburb

    Uh... it has? Are we using the same internet? The internet is full of spammers, annoying flash and pop-up advertising, worms, spyware, and all kinds of other undesirable things. If anything, it sounds more like the ghetto to me, not a well-policed suburb.

    a little-known neighborhood known as Internet Relay Chat

    Little known? I wouldn't call IRC mainstream, but it's certainly not obscure either.

    Anyway, given the crap ratio of that quote, I don't think I'll bother to read the article. (Gasp! What's this, someone posting without reading the article?)

  • by Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @11:54AM (#9074188)

    >And if you're on IRC, remember, you're evil.

    First, that's Doctor Evil to you.

    Second, one wonders what sort of fit the NYT would have if someone ever tells them about Usenet.
  • by Samurai Cat! (15315) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @11:54AM (#9074191) Homepage
    ..."IRC: Making megalomaniacs out of little boys since 1985" :P
  • by bl8n8r (649187) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @11:58AM (#9074240)
    The soccer moms are going to freak out.
  • Need proof? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Rorschach1 (174480) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @11:59AM (#9074245) Homepage
    Don't believe IRC is evil? Just try logging on with an even remotely female-sounding nick sometime.

  • by Milican (58140) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @12:11PM (#9074391) Journal
    We use IRC every day for legitimate work. We're not the only ones. Don't take my word for it though. Check out this link [ircxpro.com]. We progam, chat every day on IRC, and use source control tools to get our work done. This article while accurate in many ways was very unbalanced. That is a mark of poor journalism and is only done to sell newspapers. This is expected of publications like The Enquirer, but should not be the mark of the NYT.

    JOhn
  • Mos Eisley (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bfsmith9 (614114) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @12:28PM (#9074603)
    What a miserable article. It makes me sick. "Hackers gone wild." (It's always hackers, right? It's never, ever crackers, or phreaks, or software/music pirates, or whatever. Hackers, yes. Drill it home. Though the author does seem to know about other terms - like "warez", which the article carefully defines.) Love the SW reference. Can you picture righteous Obi Wan Ashcroft? "IRC... you will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy." A breeding ground for terrorists. OK, all set. Pack it up - we're done. Why read any more? We'll just have to outlaw this, along with guns, 747's, non-GPS cellphones, non-M$ systems, boxcutters, etc.

    "It is still possible, though sometimes a bit difficult, to find mature technical discussions..." Oh, come on! Which is it? Is it careening toward almost impossible, or do you just not know how to use IRC or what to look for? Then they have Bill Beer^h^h^h^h Bierman from U. of Hawaii who talks about how the "kids" use it to "go nuts." Girls Gone Wild - IRC!! "...seem to be ...dedicated to every sexual fetish!" Love this article! It's got everything! Violence, fear, sex, depravity. You have to admit - this kind of thing will sell newspapers.

  • grrrrrrr! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheHawke (237817) <rchapin@@@pelicancoast...net> on Thursday May 06, 2004 @12:32PM (#9074650)
    *snarls and kicks maztec in the 'nads*

    In my 8+ years on IRC, I've helped countless users with PC problems, helped hunt down a script kiddie that was beating on a IRC network (that will go unnamed), founded a dozen or so channels that have gone and done quite well for themselves after naming a successor to (this is true!), I either single-handedly or helped saved 3 fellow users from killing themselves due to personal or financial problems.

    You go download a IRC client, sign onto ANY IRC network, hang around for a month on a channel, then you tell ME that IRC is evil.

    With groups or people, there will always be evil, but the balance of good always seems to outweigh evil in certain aspects.

    IRC has simply unleashed the power of international relations upon each other. So we are unwittlingly amabassadors for our own state or country.
    So make the best of it folks, the author and the poster needs to get on IRC and experience it first-hand for a year, THEN make his or her report.
  • by beforewisdom (729725) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @01:50PM (#9075466)
    IRC is a niche thing, so I don't think it is very silly the NYT "discovers" it now.

    It can only have been in the last few years with popularization of the internet that non IT people would be on the net enough to hear the term "IRC"...enough for it to move into a reporter's vocabluary.

    Earlier ( and still many present clients ) irc clients had very unfriendly interfaces.

    Now there is chatzilla and gaim which make it friendly enough for ordinary people to venture into it.

    I still run into many IT people who never heard of IRC or even USENET.

    Regarding their other point which people made fun of, usenet is wild if you look at decorum, but its not wild if you think that one time you had to know something to use it and now anyone with a browser can go to Google and read it like a blog.

    The streets are paved there.

    Steve
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 06, 2004 @04:50PM (#9077364)
    IRC is just a tool for communication. Just like every other communication tool it could be used for both good and bad things.

    Newspapers are for some reason considered inherently good, TV stations too... although I could post quite oposite example.

    In Serbia, under Milosevic regime *all* classic media (TV, radio, press) were actually his main tools for spreading nationalistic (fascistic) euphoria. Naturaly, there were some independent media, but they were always under heavy preasure.

    Maybe such misuse of classic media is always the case when some country goes to war without proper reason?

    In 1996, eight months after Serbia was connected again to Internet, mass scale protest against rose in Belgrade and other cities due to obvious electoral fraud. Web, email and IRC were main tools for us to stay informed and to spread the correct information. IRC was remedy for many of us to remain normal in such desperate situation (regime's represion was very tough in that particular period).

    Two years later, during NATO bombing, while wondering wether to hate more those who bombed me or those who had caused the bombing, IRC was tool for expressing thoughts and spreading hope. And for those who like emotional scenes, I will never forget one situation when I was online in the moment when air strike alert started. One by one, people reported that. Really scary, when you see list of towns and cities reporting, just like a flood. There is no other medium that in real time could represent some situation happening to so dispersed persons.

    Or just in one sentence: there is no inherently 'good' or 'bad' media, they are all good but easily misused.

    Sig for today: "Don't blame me for posting as AC."

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