Battle for the Soul of the Internet

The world's largest computer network, once the playground of scientists, hackers and gearheads, is being overrun by lawyers, merchants and millions of new users. Is there room for everyone?

There was nothing very special about the message that made Laurence Canter and Martha Siegel the most hated couple in cyberspace. It was a relatively straightforward advertisement offering the services of their husband-and-wife law firm to aliens interested in getting a green card -- proof of permanent-resident status in the U.S. The computer that sent the message was a perfectly ordinary one as well: an IBM-type PC parked in the spare bedroom of their ranch-style house in Scottsdale, Arizona. But on the Internet, even a single computer can wield enormous power, and last April this one, with only a tap on...

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