The RISKS Digest
Volume 21 Issue 52

Tuesday, 17th July 2001

Forum on Risks to the Public in Computers and Related Systems

ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy, Peter G. Neumann, moderator

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Subject: Re: real estate database
Info on RISKS (comp.risks)

Re: real estate database (Hudson, RISKS-21.51)

<"Peter G. Neumann" <>>
Tue, 17 Jul 2001 11:19:12 PDT

My humblest apologies for letting the 2600 Pennsylvania Avenue item slip by
my usually more alert moderation.  Moderation in the defense of moderation
is no virtue, and I should have caught that one.

However, perhaps we can consider the episode a successful test of your
collected readership alertness.  In the entire history of the Risks Forum,
we have never had the volume of responses from you all that Tramm Hudson's
contribution received, and thus it seemed appropriate to put out this
one-item issue.  There is also a correction note in the official archive
copies at SRI and Newcastle.

We received lots of comments about 2600 Pennsylvania Avenue *not* being the
most famous address in the DC area, and some analyses of the actual listing
for the White House at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  Andrew Brandt (PCWORLD)
noted that the correct listing for the White House gave a Total Assessed
Value: $340,000,000, Assessed Land Value: $314,975,600, Lot Size: 787,439
(18.1 acres), a blank ZONING field (ergo, no zoning violations there, eh?),
and Property use: Special Purpose-Misc, General use: UNKNOWN.

There may have been some wonderful humorous notes as well, but I could not
begin to read each of your over 100 messages.  For example, one of you
suggested that the author might have been the same guy responsible for the
targeting error that caused the U.S. to bomb the Chinese Embassy in
Yugoslavia.  In addition, a few messages noted that this kind of database
provides publicly available information, so what are the risks, and why
are we running this in RISKS in the first place?  Indeed, my relevance
criterion seems to have slipped in this entire thread.

Reflecting upon all of our past issues, I am actually delighted that the
Risks Forum has been so participatory.  Indeed, I hope that the occasional
slip-ups on the part of our contributors — and your moderator — have all
been rectified by subsequent postings (of which this is clearly an example).
Unfortunately, the volume of submissions has increased enormously, so I am
also guilty of not being able to give each and every message enough
scrutiny.  Consequently, your responses to errors are particularly
important.  If I do not get to them in a timely fashion, please resend with
a suitable SUBJECT line alerting me to my possible oversight.


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