Grand scenario's in hindsight and hacker sensitivity

Because I was curious to find out what I had actually witnessed I did some research via the Internet in the spring of 2006 and found that in hindsight this 'accidental' connection was part of a much greater development. The San Francisco Moscow teleport was founded as a charitable trust in 1983 by George Soros.

Its mission was to provide communications between California and universities in Russia (Baker and Yang 1999). The first director of the SFMT was named as Joel Schatz on several Internet sites. He was part of the Ark Communications Institute. Joel Schatz published with Context Publications. This Ark Communications Institute, together with the Center for Innovative Diplomacy, Community Data Processing and the Foundation for the Arts of Peace (which was Peacenet at the time) founded the Association for Progressive Communications. The APC was also founded by the Institute of Global Communication, which was funded by the Tides Foundation. I cannot find any information about the Ark Communications Institute but they are mentioned again and again as one of the founders of the Association for Progressive Communication (APC), which supports Peacenet, Greennet and Econet and also supported the US connection for Glasnet. In 1989, Glasnet was founded as a direct spin off of the SFMT. It became part of the APC and was supported by the International Foundation for the Survival and Development of Mankind (IFSDM), which was half based in Moscow with Russian officers and half in Washington with American officers. Gordon Cook writes in a report on the Russian telecommunications sector that at least one director of the IFSDM was proven to be a KGB agent (Cook 1992). The fact that Glasnet may have been a joint venture between the KGB and the CIA was not at all clear at the time for its users. Tracy LaQuey writes about Glasnet in the "Internet Companion: A Beginners Guide to Global Networking":

"GlasNet became fully operational in 1991, with Voronov on staff. This time the San Francisco connection went through PeaceNet, a detour" that proved very helpful during the August coup d'Žtat. "Our traffic grew tenfold," Voronov remembers. "We got hundreds of 'get-well messages' from all over the world. I remember a posting from a Chinese student in America, a participant in the Tiananmen Square events in Beijing, offering to share his personal experiences of how to beat tanks in the heart of the city."
People wondered why the KGB didn't cut our connection. I wonder too. I think they simply didn't know that we existed. And we had a trick: the UUCP connection was originated in San Francisco, because at that time a non-authorized person or organization could not call abroad from Moscow. And it was impossible even for the KGB to cut the phone link for the whole of Moscow."(LaQuay 1994).

This quote shows the euphoria that has characterized Internet from the beginning. The feeling of being connected and being able to exchange information and communication made formal underlying structures unimportant. The assumption that the KGB did not know that Glasnet existed, while later one of its founding partners appeared to be connected to the KGB, proved to be false in later years. What is interesting to me is that people did not ask themselves what it was that they were using. Just as we used what was offered without questioning it at the GHP. Nevertheless, Rop and his fellow hackers did realize something was the matter with the SFMT, the predecessor of Glasnet. "We also started to use a computer link to exchange questions with the Russians. We used the San Francisco Moscow teleport for this, a by governments protected 'border' for computer data." (Gonggrijp 1989, 22). Rop writes 'governments', implying there is more than one government monitoring the traffic. With 'hacker sensitivity' it was clear for them that this link was 'not to be trusted'.

Another spin off from the SFMT was the creation of SOVAM Teleport, which grew to be Global TeleSystems Group, which became Golden Telecom. Golden Telecom is one of the largest telecommunications operators in Russia today. George Soros founded the Soros Foundation, later known as the Open Society Institute, which played a role of significance in the new democracies in Eastern Europe from 1989 on by supporting many initiatives including the support of independent media. Today, the Soros Foundation operates on a global scale and has over 2000 people working for it.