Hackers with heart

Grant Bayley, who heads up 2600 Australia, the international organisation's Australian operation, said it was currently devising a 15-second broadcast, which he said would contain text files, delivered at 12 frames per second, and suggestions pertaining to the "ethics" of datacasting, computer security and privacy, and access-controlling DVD encryption.

Bayley said the text contained in the broadcast would not be comprehensible as it appeared live on television, but he suggested viewers record the broadcast on video and then watch the information afterwards "frame by frame".

Bayley said the broadcast would be "fed" to Channel 10 by MindShare, a company that supplies advertising material in bulk for the television station. MindShare's own advertising slogan is "Head space invaders". The broadcast time was not yet known, but Bayley said it was expected to screen between 3:00 and 4:00 am "some time in the next few weeks".

Bayley maintained information contained in the broadcast would "primarily encourage ethical", educational use of new technologies such as datacasting. However, he admitted some information -- pertaining to the decryption of DVD access codes -- which could not be legally broadcast in the US, would be screened.

Australian Federal copyright laws, even those currently being amended, were unable to prevent broadcasting of information such as DVD decryption codes, regardless of how commercially crippling the information might potentially be, he said.

Bayley said he was convinced that he knew the 15-year-old hacker who penetrated the ASX website two weeks ago "pretty well". The ASX hack caused an outage of four hours, leaving the site littered with banner messages reading "Prosthetic owns the ASX". Bayley maintained 2600 did not support or encourage vandalistic hack attacks such as this. "Stupid people do stupid things," he said.

The title "2600" refers to the frequency of pitch that technology-savvy Americans played into their telephone receivers to thwart long distance call charges in the early 1980s.

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Byron Kaye

PC World
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