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The Elgin Courier News - Elgin,IL - has an Interesting Look At patron privacy. Libraries in the area have recently tightened Internet access. Many libraries that formerly allowed visitors to simply walk up to a computer and surf the Internet now mandate that patrons first punch in identifying information, such as their library card number, before accessing the Internet.
Library employees cite this as an example of keeping up with the times and increasing patron convenience.
However, they say, it also raises privacy concerns, an issue that was spotlighted when the U.S.A. Patriot Act â€” which expanded the government's authority to fight terrorism â€” was adopted in October 2001.
The Senate brushed aside an attempt to block renewal of the antiterrorism law known as the USA Patriot Act today, voting 96 to 3 against changes urged by Senator Russell D. Feingold, the act's most persistent critic.
The House has already voted to renew the Patriot Act. But the law met stiff resistance from some senators of both parties. Modifications to the statute in recent weeks have satisfied the overwhelming majority of the senators.
According to this CNN story
A band of Senate Republican holdouts reached agreement Thursday with the White House on changes in the Patriot Act designed to clear the way for passage of anti-terror legislation stalled in a dispute over civil liberties.
Included in the compromise is a clarification that most libraries are not subject to requests for information about suspected terrorists in National Security Letters. Russ Feingold, (D-WI) is not impressed in the least, and says that the compromises are not particularly significant.
Reuters Is One PLace reporting the House of Representatives agreed on Wednesday to a second brief extension of key provisions of the anti-terrorism USA Patriot Act while lawmakers try to settle differences over civil liberties.
First passed after the September 11 attacks, the act expanded the power of federal authorities on such fronts as wiretaps and secret searches. With a number of provisions set to expire on Friday, the House approved a measure on a voice vote to extend them until March 10.
Search-Engines writes "Prominent Journalists, Nonprofit Groups, Terrorism Experts and Community Advocates Join First Lawsuit to Challenge New NSA Spying Program.Saying that the Bush administration's illegal spying on Americans must end, the American Civil Liberties Union today filed a first-of-its-kind lawsuit against the National Security Agency seeking to stop a secret electronic surveillance program that has been in place since shortly after September 11, 2001. THe ACLU Site Explains"
The Reader's Shop writes "The American Library Association's Executive Board is filing the FOIA request to determine if the FBI has been collecting information on the Association and its leaders as a result of their opposition to certain provisions of the USA Patriot Act."
Tom Owad over at Applefritter.com presents an interesting look at privacy, data mining, and Amazon.com wish lists in an article entitled Data Mining 101: Finding Subversives with Amazon Wishlists.
The article, while technical, shows the frightening and fascinating results of a small-scale data mining operation. Using public domain tools and without violating the Amazon terms of service, Mr. Owad was able to collect and correlate the addresses and potential reading interests of hundreds of persons. This article is sobering and--without hyperbole--a must read.
The Boston Globe says Clyde Barrow, head of policy studies at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth wants the university to suspend a student who made up a story about being grilled by federal antiterrorism agents over a library book and to reprimand faculty members who spread the tale.
The House of Representatives agreed to extend a controversial domestic surveillance law this afternoon, but it limited the extension to one month and rejected a carefully brokered compromise from the Senate that had given the law a six-month reprieve. Looks like the Republicans will not get their automatic four year extension as hoped. News from the Washington Post .