Jun 01, 2001

Controversial Ruling on Library Filters
Free Speech6/1/2001; 1:12:34 PM 'In early 1997, the Minneapolis Public Library began giving its patrons unfettered and unlimited access to the Internet. The library’s First Amendment-inspired policy was intended to provide a needed service to the community. But Wendy Adamson, a reference desk librarian at the library's central branch, said it effectively made her working life a nightmare, and federal officials appear poised to agree with her. 'Acting on complaints from Adamson and other librarians at the city’s central branch library, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s Minneapolis office ruled last week that the library, by exposing its staff to sexually explicit images on unrestricted computer terminals, may have allowed for a hostile work environment. The blockbuster finding, issued on May 23 following an investigation by the agency, came in response to complaints filed a year ago by Adamson and 11 of her colleagues.'An intriguing angle on the issue. Still, one wonders why "filters" are necessarily the answer. While the Internet may have been involved, the activities described in the rest of the article are already illegal... why didn't anybody ever call the police and arrest these men? Problem more-or-less solved. I'd bet a good case could be made for negligence on the part of the librarians for not taking those steps.As usual, the knee-jerk reaction is to blame the new technology, but no Internet filter in the world can prevent a man from masturbating in a public place; that's for law enforcement.

May 31, 2001

Response to Request for Clarification
5/31/2001; 12:15:38 PM The responses to the request for clarification from the judges in the 2600 vs. MPAA case are in. You can read the response from 2600 and the response from the MPAA. I recommend reading them side-by-side and comparing the answers, as hopefully the judges will.

Commentary later... I haven't been able to read them yet.

May 29, 2001

Scott McNealy and FUD on Privacy
Privacy from Companies5/29/2001; 7:57:55 PM I'm not normally prone to paranoia, but I'm seriously beginning to wonder about people like Scott McNealy. Mr. McNealy wrote another essay on privacy in the Washington Post. The quote that most raises my ire is this:' I know medical records are a hot button for a lot of people, and I agree they need to be protected. But it would be a mistake to lose sight of the real benefits of sharing information about ourselves. One of the chief benefits, to use a more routine example, is personalized service. In exchange for a little information, you can get an online experience that's more in tune with your interests and needs. I have agreed to let my car company, for instance, track my every move through GPS satellites. Some people might consider that an invasion of privacy, but I find it comforting to know that, should my air bag deploy, they know where I am and can send help.'Seriously, who would consider that a violation of privacy? Nobody cares whether you choose to allow a company to have data. The issue is whether that data can be traded away to another company without asking Scott, or whether that data could be gathered without permission, not whether Scott should or should not share the information if he choses! As this point is central to his thesis, the whole rest of the editorial is pointless.This is the third or fourth person I've seen arguing this point, and I'm beginning to smell a rat. Is there some conspiracy of common cause afoot to spread this FUD about privacy? (Scott would in fact be a special case, 'cause he just has a point to prove about his earlier famous quote, "You have no privacy. Get over it.") Why would anyone think we want to totally abolish giving information to companies? Answers welcomed.

May 29, 2001

Conspiracies of Common Cause
5/29/2001; 7:36:12 PM Another idea I want to write on iRights so I can refer to it later, ''conspiracies of common cause'' occur when groups of people act in such a way that it may lead you to believe there is a conspiracy, when the reality is simply that they share motivation.

(Links lead to a longer explanation, which is the one I intend to link to in later conversations.)

May 27, 2001

Web form allows people to opt out of data collection
Privacy from Companies5/27/2001; 4:59:30 PM 'People seeking to protect their privacy can complete a single Web form to keep major advertising companies from collecting data about their Internet browsing and shopping habits.'Under pressure to protect privacy better, the advertising industry has set up two new Web sites that let computer users refuse to have their personal data collected and profiled when they visit popular commercial Internet sites.'The article does give the website URLs at the bottom: Network Advertising Initiative and Anderson Compliance. The Network Advertising Initiative site seems to be the one with the actual opt-out functionality.I was curious how you are identified to the opt-out program, so I decided to try it with Doubleclick. As I expected, all the opt-out does is set your Doubleclick cookie to the string "OPT_OUT", which means that the opt-out only applys to the current user of the current browser, and if your cookies are ever deleted the opt-out is gone. Not only is the average consumer going to have a difficult time opting out due to lack of knowlege of the process, but even for a savvy computer user like me, it's going to be virtually impossible to stay opted out, since the system is so weak.Frankly, this opt out thing is virtually useless, because even if you intend to opt out, the slightest disruption to your cookie store (changing browsers, changing computers, changing logons, changing profiles), and you are once again not opted out. This doesn't even rate an A for effort; this is as pathetic as possible.

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