[Owasp-topten] accessibility of owasp site

Hoffman Allen W Allen.W.Hoffman at irs.gov
Mon Jan 13 15:31:42 EST 2003

Would it be possible to get you all to label your links with the alt-tag so
the site could be minimally accessible.
e.g. alt="link to somewhere.org".

See the w3c web accessibility initiative for more information, or
section508.gov for a subset of the w3c guidelines for accessibility.
and, could you make the report available in something besides PDF--PDF has
numerous and endless accessibility problems since most often it is presented
as unstructured information.

The Adobe plug-ins for PDF Acrobat Reader, are not well behaved applications
for accessibility, and many people with visual disabilities can not use
their screen readers to read the materials.\

As a blind former systems administrator of hundreds of Linux and FreeBSD
systems, open source project's lack of attention to accessibility drives me
crazy since "open" means "not closed" and using formats which make life
harder for people with disabilities to access information certainly is not

See this document about right to read:
The Right to Read - GNU Project - Free Software Foundation (FSF)

The Right to Read

Richard Stallman
 [image of a Philosophical Gnu]
Czech |
English |
French |
German |
Japanese |
Korean |
Polonais |
Portuguese |
Russian |
Spanish ]

Table of Contents
List of 3 items
* Author's Note
* References
* Other Texts to Read
list end

This article appeared in the February 1997 issue of Communications of the
ACM (Volume 40, Number 2).

Block quote start
(from "The Road To Tycho", a collection of articles about the antecedents of
the Lunarian Revolution, published in Luna City in 2096)
Block quote end
For Dan Halbert, the road to Tycho began in college--when Lissa Lenz asked
to borrow his computer. Hers had broken down, and unless she could borrow
she would fail her midterm project. There was no one she dared ask, except

This put Dan in a dilemma. He had to help her--but if he lent her his
computer, she might read his books. Aside from the fact that you could go to
for many years for letting someone else read your books, the very idea
shocked him at first. Like everyone, he had been taught since elementary
that sharing books was nasty and wrong--something that only pirates would

And there wasn't much chance that the SPA--the Software Protection
Authority--would fail to catch him. In his software class, Dan had learned
that each
book had a copyright monitor that reported when and where it was read, and
by whom, to Central Licensing. (They used this information to catch reading
pirates, but also to sell personal interest profiles to retailers.) The next
time his computer was networked, Central Licensing would find out. He, as
computer owner, would receive the harshest punishment--for not taking pains
to prevent the crime.

Of course, Lissa did not necessarily intend to read his books. She might
want the computer only to write her midterm. But Dan knew she came from a
family and could hardly afford the tuition, let alone her reading fees.
Reading his books might be the only way she could graduate. He understood
situation; he himself had had to borrow to pay for all the research papers
he read. (10% of those fees went to the researchers who wrote the papers;
Dan aimed for an academic career, he could hope that his own research
papers, if frequently referenced, would bring in enough to repay this loan.)

Later on, Dan would learn there was a time when anyone could go to the
library and read journal articles, and even books, without having to pay.
There were
independent scholars who read thousands of pages without government library
grants. But in the 1990s, both commercial and nonprofit journal publishers
had begun charging fees for access. By 2047, libraries offering free public
access to scholarly literature were a dim memory.

There were ways, of course, to get around the SPA and Central Licensing.
They were themselves illegal. Dan had had a classmate in software, Frank
who had obtained an illicit debugging tool, and used it to skip over the
copyright monitor code when reading books. But he had told too many friends
it, and one of them turned him in to the SPA for a reward (students deep in
debt were easily tempted into betrayal). In 2047, Frank was in prison, not
for pirate reading, but for possessing a debugger.

Dan would later learn that there was a time when anyone could have debugging
tools. There were even free debugging tools available on CD or downloadable
over the net. But ordinary users started using them to bypass copyright
monitors, and eventually a judge ruled that this had become their principal
in actual practice. This meant they were illegal; the debuggers' developers
were sent to prison.

Programmers still needed debugging tools, of course, but debugger vendors in
2047 distributed numbered copies only, and only to officially licensed and
bonded programmers. The debugger Dan used in software class was kept behind
a special firewall so that it could be used only for class exercises.

It was also possible to bypass the copyright monitors by installing a
modified system kernel. Dan would eventually find out about the free
kernels, even
entire free operating systems, that had existed around the turn of the
century. But not only were they illegal, like debuggers--you could not
install one
if you had one, without knowing your computer's root password. And neither
the FBI nor Microsoft Support would tell you that.

Dan concluded that he couldn't simply lend Lissa his computer. But he
couldn't refuse to help her, because he loved her. Every chance to speak
with her
filled him with delight. And that she chose him to ask for help, that could
mean she loved him too.

Dan resolved the dilemma by doing something even more unthinkable--he lent
her the computer, and told her his password. This way, if Lissa read his
Central Licensing would think he was reading them. It was still a crime, but
the SPA would not automatically find out about it. They would only find out
if Lissa reported him.

Of course, if the school ever found out that he had given Lissa his own
password, it would be curtains for both of them as students, regardless of
she had used it for. School policy was that any interference with their
means of monitoring students' computer use was grounds for disciplinary
It didn't matter whether you did anything harmful--the offense was making it
hard for the administrators to check on you. They assumed this meant you
doing something else forbidden, and they did not need to know what it was.

Students were not usually expelled for this--not directly. Instead they were
banned from the school computer systems, and would inevitably fail all their

Later, Dan would learn that this kind of university policy started only in
the 1980s, when university students in large numbers began using computers.
universities maintained a different approach to student discipline; they
punished activities that were harmful, not those that merely raised

Lissa did not report Dan to the SPA. His decision to help her led to their
marriage, and also led them to question what they had been taught about
as children. The couple began reading about the history of copyright, about
the Soviet Union and its restrictions on copying, and even the original
States Constitution. They moved to Luna, where they found others who had
likewise gravitated away from the long arm of the SPA. When the Tycho
began in 2062, the universal right to read soon became one of its central

Author's Note

This note was updated in 2002.

The right to read is a battle being fought today. Although it may take 50
years for our present way of life to fade into obscurity, most of the
laws and practices described above have already been proposed; many have
been enacted into law in the US and elsewhere. In the US, the 1998 Digital
Copyright Act established the legal basis to restrict the reading and
lending of computerized books (and other data too). The European Union
imposed similar
restrictions in a 2001 copyright directive.

Until recently, there was one exception: the idea that the FBI and Microsoft
will keep the root passwords for personal computers, and not let you have
was not proposed until 2002. It is called "trusted computing" or

In 2001, Disney-funded Senator Hollings proposed a bill called the SSSCA
that would require every new computer to have mandatory copy-restriction
that the user cannot bypass. Following the Clipper chip and similar US
government key-escrow proposals, this shows a long-term trend: computer
are increasingly set up to give absentees with clout control over the people
actually using the computer system. The SSSCA has since been renamed to the
CBDTPA (think of it as the "Consume But Don't Try Programming Act").

In 2001 the US began attempting to use the proposed Free Trade Area of the
Americas treaty to impose the same rules on all the countries in the Western
Hemisphere. The FTAA is one of the so-called "free trade" treaties, actually
designed to give business increased power over democratic governments;
laws like the DMCA is typical of this spirit. The
Electronic Frontier Foundation
asks people to explain to the other governments why they should oppose this

The SPA, which actually stands for Software Publisher's Association, has
been replaced in this police-like role by the BSA or Business Software
It is not, today, an official police force; unofficially, it acts like one.
Using methods reminiscent of the erstwhile Soviet Union, it invites people
to inform on their coworkers and friends. A BSA terror campaign in Argentina
in 2001 made veiled threats that people sharing software would be raped in

When this story was written, the SPA was threatening small Internet service
providers, demanding they permit the SPA to monitor all users. Most ISPs
when threatened, because they cannot afford to fight back in court. (Atlanta
Journal-Constitution, 1 Oct 96, D3.) At least one ISP, Community ConneXion
in Oakland CA, refused the demand and was actually sued. The SPA later
dropped the suit, but obtained the DMCA which gave them the power they

The university security policies described above are not imaginary. For
example, a computer at one Chicago-area university prints this message when
log in (quotation marks are in the original):
Block quote start
"This system is for the use of authorized users only. Individuals using this
computer system without authority or in the excess of their authority are
to having all their activities on this system monitored and recorded by
system personnel. In the course of monitoring individuals improperly using
system or in the course of system maintenance, the activities of authorized
user may also be monitored. Anyone using this system expressly consents to
such monitoring and is advised that if such monitoring reveals possible
evidence of illegal activity or violation of University regulations system
may provide the evidence of such monitoring to University authorities and/or
law enforcement officials."
Block quote end

This is an interesting approach to the Fourth Amendment: pressure most
everyone to agree, in advance, to waive their rights under it.


List of 5 items
* The administration's "White Paper": Information Infrastructure Task Force,
Intellectual Property and the National Information Infrastructure: The
of the Working Group on Intellectual Property Rights (1995).
* An explanation of the White Paper: The Copyright Grab,
Pamela Samuelson, Wired, Jan. 1996
* Sold Out,
James Boyle, New York Times, 31 March 1996
* Public Data or Private Data, Washington Post, 4 Nov 1996. We used to have
a link to this, but Washinton Post has decided to start charging users who
to read articles on the web site and therefore we have decided to remove the
* Union for the Public Domain--
an organization which aims to resist and reverse the overextension of
copyright and patent powers.
list end

This essay is published in
Free Software, Free Society: The Selected Essays of Richard M. Stallman.
Other Texts to Read
List of 2 items
* Philosophy of the GNU Project
* Copy Protection: Just Say No
Published in Computer World.
list end

author's note
talks about the battle for the right to read and electronic surveillance.
The battle is beginning now; here are links to two articles about
now being developed to deny you the right to read.

List of 2 items
* Electronic Publishing:
An article about distribution of books in electronic form, and copyright
issues affecting the right to read a copy.
* Books inside Computers:
Software to control who can read books and documents on a PC.
list end

Return to
GNU's home page.

FSF & GNU inquiries & questions to
gnu at gnu.org.
ways to contact
the FSF.

Comments on these web pages to
webmasters at www.gnu.org,
send other questions to
gnu at gnu.org.

Copyright 1996 Richard Stallman

Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any
medium, provided this notice is preserved.

Updated: $Date: 2002/12/05 21:23:23 $ $Author: brett $

Allen Hoffman
IRS:IRAP:Section 508 Project
Voice: 202-283-4207
email: allen.w.hoffman

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