Online Privacy

Berkeley Watchdogs Bark at RFID Plan

A group of concerned citizens are protesting the use of RFID tags (which they call "spy chips") at an authors gala today says Inside Bay Area.

Berkeleyans Organizing for Library Defense will gather in front of the library on Kittredge Street at 6 p.m. as people arrive at the $250-a-plate event, where more than two dozen Bay Area authors are expected, including Mark Danner, Judy Rodgers, Peter Coyote, Mary Roach and Deborah Santana.

The sold-out event, which this year includes dim sum, sushi and high-end vodka martinis, draws an elite crowd and raises thousands of dollars every year for the library.

Could Future Subpoenas Tie You to 'Britney Spears?

Anonymous Patron writes "Fred von Lohmann, senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, has an interesting Article On that says DOJ's subpoena of Google may lead to more intrusive examination of Internet users' online records. von Lohmann says, "Search engines should stop keeping so much information about us, and points to the The Video Privacy Protection Act, and says a similar rule has recently been proposed for search engines in legislation introduced by Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass. Such a rule would go a long way toward protecting our privacy online."

Civil Liberties: from DC to the Newton Library

From The Bostonist , opinions about civil liberties and libraries, particularly as they pertain to the attempted seizure of materials at the Newton Library last week. The paper offers a link to quotes from Boston lecturer Richard Cravatts, also submitted here by LISNews reader DeeS:

"The more thorny and pressing question is why a library director could even exercise the authority to block access to vital evidence requested by the police and FBI, stalling an investigation during an ongoing crime where stakes are high. More to the point, why are librarians, whose professional training concentrates on mastering the use of the Dewey Decimal System, making any decisions that affect law enforcement?"

The op-ed above was printed in the Boston Globe in response to their own editorial on the subject of the attempted Newton seizure.

City Stalls FBI Access in Library

From The Daily News Tribune:

"Law enforcement and Newton Free Library officials were embroiled in a tense standoff last week when the city refused to let police and the FBI examine library computers without a warrant."

"Police rushed to the main library last Wednesday after it was determined that a terrorist threat to Brandeis University had been sent from a computer at the library."

"But requests to examine any of its computers were rebuffed by library Director Kathy Glick-Weil and Mayor David Cohen on the grounds that they did not have a warrant."

DOJ Search Engine Requests, Intrusive, yet futile

Daniel is sharing this interesting piece by Danny Sullivan on the SearchEngineWatch blog about the trustworthiness of search engines in the aftermath the government's request for information.

Alberto Gonzales v. Google

Google has now been taken to court in California by Alberto Gonzales, the US Attorney-General. The lawsuit describes any privacy concerns as illusory, arguing that it does not want to see any additional information that would identify the person who entered the search.

The site's lawyer said: Google's acceding to the request would suggest that it is willing to reveal information about those who use its services. This is not a perception that Google can accept. This report is from Times Online UK, which also outlines how search engines in Great Britain must comply with the "Home Office Code," recommending that they seriously consider blocking weblinks that contain illegal child abuse images.

Mining Subversion Is Just a Wish(list) Away

Tom Owad over at presents an interesting look at privacy, data mining, and 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.

Privacy? Why no I don't value privacy.

mdoneil writes "I had a nice sandwich from Subway this evening. They gave me a game piece for some promotion. I scratched the thing off and then went to the website as instructed to see if I won.
I never got around to entering the code number as I was offended by the data they wanted before I could find out if I won. Name and Address, well I guess that is OK, but birthdate... before I could even check to see if I won!
The privacy policy linked in tiny type at the bottom of the page is so full of holes it could be cheese for my sandwich. They can share the information I provide with affiliates... they note this after telling me how they will safeguard my informaiton... unless they don't.
The privacy policy even says it is less stringent than that required in companies in the EU member states. At least that is something that won't be offshored, crappy privacy policies. Then it ends with an arbitration clause so you can't sue them if they whore out your information.
The scary thing is the sheeple will fill this out hoping they win a free sandwich. We wonder why we have privacy anympre, because we freely give it away that's why.
I like Subway, but this stuff annoys me."

Tattling Library Elf

Mary Minow's LibraryLaw Blog reports that people using Library Elf to track their checkouts and overdues may have their records exposed like these 228 Bloglines users.

My impression is that this that circulation records wouldn't show if people used a pc-based newsreader instead of a public web-based one like Bloglines.

It's also important to let any outraged people know that this isn't the fault of the libraries because it is the patrons who sign up for Library Elf accounts.

Interlibrary Loan Monitoring Story Smelling Fishy

There is now another version of this story about a Dartmouth student who received a visit from Homeland Security after requesting an original version of Mao's Little Red Book. The latest version takes place at University of California/Santa Cruz and mentions History Professor Bruce Levine. I emailed Levine to see if he could verify the story, but my email was the first he'd heard about it. He was a bit amused, as his specialty is Civil War history, and curious about his name got tacked on to the story. ALA's Public Information Office is digging into the story as well. More details as they become available!

Update: 12/19 22:45 GMT by R :Jessamyn contacted the reporter of the original, Dartmouth story, and he's trying to confirm what he heard from the sources. What's clear is that the UCSC version of the story is a total rip-off of the Dartmouth story. Here's a cached page explaining that the UCSC story was bogus, and removed at the request of one of the professors mentioned in the story.


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