Jan 26, 2001

Hands Off My Web Site
Free Speech
1/26/2001; 2:02:07 PM 'But lately, I've run into a rather annoying something about the Web's "fixability." It has emboldened certain companies to try to cross the line between what, in journalism, is called the separation of church and state.

'In the last few weeks, on separate occasions, two writers on our staff have approached me to say they were getting grief from the companies they interviewed, with the way a story had been written and appeared on the Web site. Not on factual matters, mind you, which we will always correct, but on matters of style, or emphasis, or, in the most recent case, who got the headline. And they wanted it changed.'

Applause for the author who posted this. It doesn't matter how free your speech is if you let others dictate what you can and cannot say. And let it be said there are still some people with ethics in the world.

Jan 26, 2001

Web-filter data is put up for sale
Privacy from Companies
1/26/2001; 1:38:15 PM

'Few companies know more about what children do on the Internet at school than N2H2 Inc. The company’s Web-filtering software, called Bess, is used by more than 12 million students in kindergarten through 12th grade, and new federal rules are likely to push the number higher.

'BECAUSE IT TYPICALLY is installed as a school’s gatekeeper to the Internet, Bess knows where the students go on the Web and how long they spend there. It also knows when students try to access a site that’s on N2H2’s blacklist for being too violent or containing pornography.

'The question is whether marketers should get to know students’ surfing habits, too. Late last year, N2H2 began selling its data. The information, called Class Clicks, is aggregated, meaning it can’t be used to identify surfing habits of specific students, or even specific schools. But privacy advocates say the sale of children’s usage data is troubling, and they worry that marketers are encroaching on ground that once was sacred.'

This is especially interesting in light of the possibility that filters will be required in schools and libraries.

Jan 26, 2001

Ego Surfing: Is your Online Personality Preventing Hiring?
1/26/2001; 1:27:34 PM

'What do your online activities say about you to potential employers?

'Recently I entered my name into a search engine to see what would turnup - a practice called "ego surfing." Within seconds I was browsing through scholarly letters I`d posted to the Linguist List in 1995, websites whose address books I`d signed, listings for my own web site - and a VERY dirty joke I posted to the Humor List. The Humor List is a moderated, subscription-based e-mail discussion list, but apparently they had posted their archives on the Web. And there was my dirty mind displayed for all the world to see, in the form of a joke titled "Blowing Chunks."'

Jan 26, 2001

U.S. vs. Europe on Online Privacy
Privacy from Companies
1/26/2001; 12:54:15 PM

'A group called Consumers International has released a report about online privacy in the U.S. and Europe. The report's sound-byte conclusions - "U.S. beats Europe in online privacy protection" - have been widely reported in tech media, but I'd like to take issue with the report in a brief analysis below.'

Unusually insightful critique of an article for Slashdot. Is perhaps the criticism of their recent sloppiness started to get through to them? I can't really add anything to it, and that's unusual! Well worth the read.

Jan 26, 2001

Etoy Wants Trademark 'Closure'
General IP Issues
1/26/2001; 12:41:06 PM 'A European Internet artists group called etoy -- with all lower-case letters -- said on Thursday it has filed a complaint in a U.S. court against online toy retailer eToys Inc. alleging trademark infringement.

'The action, filed in the U.S. District Court of Southern California in San Diego, is the latest shot fired between etoy, an international artist's collective whose medium is the Internet, and the U.S.-based online toy retailer.'

The article may say this wasn't an act of revenge, but surely this is at least partly a joke.  A serious joke, a legally binding joke, but I bet the humor value was a consideration in the decision to counter-sue (Publicity value, too )

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