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Bookseller Purges Records to Avoid PATRIOT Act 560

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the not-the-records-you're-looking-for dept.
Skyshadow writes "Vermont Bookseller Bear Pond Books has announced that they will purge their sales records at the request of customers . This would effectively sidestep typically insideous a provision of the PATRIOT Act which allows government agencies to secretly seize sales records. The store's co-owner, Michael Katzenberg, put it this way: 'When the CIA comes and asks what you've read because they're suspicious of you, we can't tell them because we don't have it... That's just a basic right, to be able to read what you want without fear that somebody is looking over your shoulder to see what you're reading.' Now if only certain other booksellers would show that same conscience, we might have something here."
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Bookseller Purges Records to Avoid PATRIOT Act

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  • Law Enforcement (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jlrowe (69115) on Thursday February 20, 2003 @10:40PM (#5349357)
    Why don't we just enforce the law in the USA. And the premier first set is the US Consitution and the amendments.

    Vote some decent congressmen in and maybe we can win the country back!

    • Re:Law Enforcement (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DarwinDan (596565)
      I'm with ya! How about first getting people to actually VOTE in our elections, huh? Then we can focus on getting the decent politicians back where they belong -- in power.
      • Re:Law Enforcement (Score:4, Informative)

        by elmegil (12001) on Thursday February 20, 2003 @11:04PM (#5349476) Homepage Journal
        The problem is most of us have given up on finding any decent politicians. Quite honestly I can't think of any where I'm from.
        • Re:Law Enforcement (Score:3, Interesting)

          by DarkVein (5418)
          Anyone who wants my vote doesn't deserve it.
          We should:
          • Pick people at random
          • Elect people who aren't running for office
          • Re:Law Enforcement (Score:4, Interesting)

            by sconeu (64226) on Friday February 21, 2003 @01:32AM (#5350230) Homepage Journal
            Arthur C. Clarke, \i{Imperial Earth}. Anyone who wants an office was, by definition, unqualified for it. Officeholders had to be dragged kicking and screaming into office.
          • Re:Law Enforcement (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Poeir (637508) <poeir.geo@yahoo. c o m> on Friday February 21, 2003 @02:11AM (#5350411) Journal
            The late Douglas Adams put it rather well: "Those people who most want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it. To summarize the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made president should on no account be allowed to do the job." And he's right. Just look at Bush.
            • Exactly. (Score:4, Insightful)

              by ratamacue (593855) on Friday February 21, 2003 @02:24PM (#5353917)
              To put it another way, the individuals most likely to strive for political power are those with a desire to control others and reduce personal liberty. Those who just want to live their lives in peace, according to their own will, are those least likely to strive for political power. And there we have the reason why, as time progresses, the US government becomes more expensive, more corrupt, and more oppressive.
          • Re:Law Enforcement (Score:5, Insightful)

            by rppp01 (236599) on Friday February 21, 2003 @09:38AM (#5351711) Homepage
            And, damn it, pick people other than Old, Rich, White Lifetime politicians.

            I have been thinking of Cincinattus of late, how he was called upon by the people of Rome to leave his farm, become the dictator and lead the Romans to war against the Truscans (I think). He does so, leads his people, defeats his enemies, and then returns to his farm after the war has ended.

            I want a leader like that! Well, multiple leaders. I agree here, select people who at least have some education. President Cletus may get us into a war with Alabama simply because his sister's name has been desicrated on a water tower.

            At the same time, get the hell rid of those people who are lifetime people in government. Those that serve who ever is in power, and help with the status quo.
      • Re:Law Enforcement (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        We don't need more voters, we need voters who actually understand the freaking issues. Increasing the number of uninformed fuckwits involved in politics won't get us anywhere.
      • Re:Law Enforcement (Score:4, Insightful)

        by namespan (225296) <namespan@elitema i l . org> on Friday February 21, 2003 @03:51AM (#5350758) Journal
        I'm with ya! How about first getting people to actually VOTE in our elections, huh? Then we can focus on getting the decent politicians back where they belong -- in power.

        Only if they vote in a studied, deliberate manner, rather than simply taking in traditional campaign rhetoric. If you vote just to vote, you're adding noise to the signal of people who did study carefully. And if you choose a candidate on some litmus-test issue -- like abortion or gun rights, as many do now -- then you get... well, a system much like we do now, where it's all partisan perception and no real policy and statecraft.

        We don't need more voters, we need better voters. [metafilter.com] That's what Thomas Sowell thinks, and I think I'd have to agree.
    • by ewhenn (647989) on Thursday February 20, 2003 @11:14PM (#5349531)
      I think the problem is finding decent congressman. Remember, these people come from the population. The politicians don't suck, the population sucks if this is the best we have to offer. An ignorant population is easy to control. I bet the people who ran out and bought duct tape and plastic think the PATRIOT act is a great idea. Considering what it is the name, "PATRIOT act", makes me want to vomit.

      I have com to the the conclusion that in general us Americans give up lots of our rights (think freedom) without a fight for the illusion of protection. We are no better protected than we were before this abomination to our freedom, American politics at its finest.

      Think about that while you eat your red, white, and blue cake.
      • by ShatteredDream (636520) on Friday February 21, 2003 @12:47AM (#5350034) Homepage
        Both parties together represent the ideal combination of ideologies needed to create a system ripe for mass-control of the populace. The Democrats don't really represent the better parts of the left, they represent the worst and same for the Republicans on the Right. IMO our system would be a lot more (Classical) Liberal if it were a 3 way control by the Libertarian, Green and Reform parties.

        The people have on paper usually two choices. Two choices isn't a choice, it's a coin flip and a mockery of representative republican values. Both parties have tried for years to convince the public that having 10-190 people officially registered on the ballot is irresponsible because it creates chaos somehow. Having two people on the ballot is akin to having only one choice in most races. Hell in my last congressional election, we had literally only one choice for the House.

        The average slashdotter is too sheltered or politically and socially immature to see most of those points. Who here thinks a lot of the Right loves the PATRIOT Act? FreeRepublic is a very right wing website and when the PATRIOT part deux was discussed, no less than 85% of the posts were calling for Bush and Ashcroft's heads on pikes out on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue if they seriously pushed it.
        • FreeRepublic is a very right wing website and when the PATRIOT part deux was discussed, no less than 85% of the posts were calling for Bush and Ashcroft's heads on pikes out on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue if they seriously pushed it.

          And thus was hope restored to my world.

        • by I am Jack's username (528712) on Friday February 21, 2003 @06:37AM (#5351204)
          You blame the parties, I'll keep blaming the people who keep voting for the republicrats, and the vast majority who don't vote at all - not even to go and spoil their votes by writing "none of the above" on their ballots.

          "It comes from a very ancient democracy, you see..."
          "You mean, it comes from a world of lizards?"
          "No", said Ford, who by this time was a little more rational and coherent than he had been, having finally had the coffee forced down him, "nothing so simple. Nothing anything like so straightforward. On its world, the people are people. The leaders are lizards. The people hate the lizards and the lizards rule the people."
          "Odd", said Arthur, "I thought you said it was a democracy."
          "I did", said Ford. "It is."
          "So", said Arthur, hoping he wasn't sounding ridiculously obtuse, "why don't the people get rid of the lizards?"
          "It honestly doesn't occur to them", said Ford. "They've all got the vote, so they all pretty much assume that the government they've voted in more or less approximates to the government they want."
          "You mean they actually vote for the lizards?"
          "Oh yes", said Ford with a shrug, "of course".
          "But", said Arthur, going for the big one again, "why?"
          "Because if they didn't vote for a lizard," said Ford, "the wrong lizard might get in. Got any gin?"
          "What?"
          "I said", said Ford, with an increasing air of urgency creeping into his voice, "have you got any gin?"
          "I'll look. Tell me about the lizards."
          Ford shrugged again.
          "Some people say that the lizards are the best thing that ever happened to them." he said. "They're completely wrong of course, completely and utterly wrong, but someone's got to say it." - Douglas Adams, So long, and thanks for all the fish, chapter 36.

          "It's better to vote for what you want and not get it than to vote for what you don't want and get it." - Eugene V. Debs

        • Having easier registration rules is only one part of the solution, and won't really fix much in the current system. Because the most states have a "winner take all" system, any candidate that doesn't have enormous numbers of backers to begin with isn't going to win anyways. The rest of the solution to this is to have representational voting and runoff elections.

          If you are voting in Massachusetts or Texas, and you vote against the state-wide party bias, your vote is thrown away. The winner takes all the electoral seats in the state and you wasted your time voting. (The electoral college, by the way, should go, too, but it's small fry compared to the other problems). This is the main reason the two parties are still in power.

          The problem with proportional voting, is that the winner may not have a mandate (not that that has stopped Bush, but in theory it should be a problem). So, if no candidate gets a majority, you have a run-off among the top contenders.

          Think of how this would have worked in the last election. The people who were on the fence about Nader vs. Gore would have voted for Nader. Nader would have won somewhere between 5-15% of the vote, enough to be an obvious contender instead of being covered up with statistics (he got no electoral votes, he couldn't have had an important position). Then, Bush and Gore would have had a run-off, with a Dem/Rep winning. So far, it's business as usual. In 2004, Nader's party would have much more clout since they got somewhere between 1/9th to 1/3rd of the votes that the major parties got. They would be able to get more air-time and respect instead of having to start over from basically zero. A multiparty system would appear within 4 election cycles.

          Now that I think about it, getting rid of the electoral college would have the same effect as insisting on proportional represntation of electoral college seats. If 15m people live in a state, and 13m votes go to the Republican candidate, the other 2m would protest if their votes were also counted as votes for the Republican. However, since there is this "electoral college" gimick, people don't seem to notice/care that they aren't represented.
          • by ChristTrekker (91442) on Friday February 21, 2003 @11:23AM (#5352433)
            Because the most states have a "winner take all" system, any candidate that doesn't have enormous numbers of backers to begin with isn't going to win anyways.

            "Winner takes all" only applies in presidential elections. There are a number of other problems which apply in all elections. The plurality voting system is chief among them.

            So, if no candidate gets a majority, you have a run-off among the top contenders.

            Bad idea. Learn about the problem with Instant Runoff Voting [electionmethods.org]. The same problem applies in any runoff, instant or not. Sometimes the best "compromise" candidate may get eliminated first, and you're stuck voting between two bad choices - exactly what we have now. Yes, plurality voting is bad, but IRV isn't really any better (even though it seems to be). The system you want is Condorcet [eskimo.com] voting [electionmethods.org]. Same ranking method, but you consider all preferences simultaneously rather than sequentially.

            Now that I think about it, getting rid of the electoral college would have the same effect as insisting on proportional represntation of electoral college seats.

            Not really. True proportional representation by popular vote forgets that the states, as political entities, should be represented in the federal government too. (That's what federal government means, the federation of individual states.) In Congress we have one house that represents the states (at least we did until that lousy 17th Amendment) and one that represents the people. The EC is an attempt to unify the interests of the states and the people when voting for a singular office (president). That's why the number of EC votes a state has is the total number of Senators and Representatives from that state.

            I do agree that "winner takes all" is a broken system. The legislators that put it in place were very short-sighted - in giving more power to "their state's party" in presidential elections, they didn't think that the balance of power in their state might swing another way in the future and end up hurting "their party". NE and ME allocate their EC votes (less two) proportionally by congressional district to the plurality winner of that district. That's a good attempt at compromise. I think it would be better if we used Condorcet, better still if the last two EC votes were decided in the state legislature (if they are supposed to represent the state's interest) and we scrapped the 17th Am. while we're at it. Remember, these issues are decided by your state legislators, not DC. This gives you much greater ability to make a change to the system. It's closer to you, and hence more responsive.

            I've also heard people say that we don't have enough representatives in Congress. With only 435, each has far too many constituents to respond to. The Constitution originally called for a 1:30k ratio. Maybe several thousand would be a tad excessive, but with modern technology I don't see why the number couldn't be increased without hampering the ability to debate. This means you'd have more chance of your view being represented in Congress, and combined with the idea of allocating EC votes by CD, a better chance of picking the president too.

        • I agree. It is interesting to note that only third parties generate ANY change in the political arena. Socialists, Communists, Populists, etc. all had more influence on society than Republicans and Democrats -- working conditions (40hr week), freedom of speech (IWW), unionization, etc. I'm sure that some would argue differently, of course.

          Another problem is that third parties have a hard time getting on state ballots. Here in North Carolina it is almost impossible for candidates to get on the ballot. For example, there was a Write-In candidate for Senator last election, but he wasn't able to get his name on the ballot. They had a blank for you to write his name on. How hard would it have been to put his name as a choice, rather than printing "Write In _________"? I wrote his name on my hand before voting so I wouldn't misspell it...
      • >Remember, these people come from the population.

        Congressmen come from State and local politicians.
        These are elected based on apathy, and the jobs are not considered to be worth much except as starting points for national politics.

        If we would simply be involved in local government, by actually voting, and by developing personal relationships with the politicians and party staff, we would end up with national politicians who actually represent the will of the people.

        Another view, which terrifies me, is that we ARE doing this, and the national politicians DO represent the will of the people. We are greedy, insular hawks who know or care nothing of world politics or domestic diversity.

      • Close... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by intermodal (534361)
        the fact is that everyone good enough for the job either is smart enough to know that they don't want the job, or while more qualified, could easily be smeared to death by the Democrats, Republicans, or anyone else really. People think that US leaders should be exemplary, but get angry if you tell them that Jefferson had slaves and that Washington had a 'hemp garden'. Perhaps if they weren't elected by hypocrites it would be easier to get quality candidates rather than a lesser of two evils.
  • Amazon (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Queer Boy (451309) <dragon.76@m[ ]com ['ac.' in gap]> on Thursday February 20, 2003 @10:41PM (#5349359)
    I like that Amazon keeps records of what people are buying. I just think they should do it in an anonymous basis. I like being able to see what people are buying in addition to a certain DVD. On a sidenote I like that they have a spot to add your opinions about what to watch in addition to a movie and what to watch instead of a particular movie.
    • Re:Amazon (Score:2, Insightful)

      by EugeneK (50783)
      That WOULD be great if you had some assurance of privacy.


      This is a brilliant move by this small bookstore. People talk about Amazon driving small stores out of business. Amazon can't compete with this though.

      • Re:Amazon (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ceejayoz (567949)
        Amazon can't compete with this though.

        I'm sure Amazon will sorely miss the couple dozen paranoids who switch over.

        Honestly, do you think the average consumer really cares about stuff like this?
  • by soupdevil (587476) on Thursday February 20, 2003 @10:42PM (#5349362)
    Someone should show them how to slag their hard drives, quick!
  • by thoolie (442789) on Thursday February 20, 2003 @10:43PM (#5349366) Homepage
    The real question is, did the bookseller binge beforehand? If so, this could be a very serious condition.......
  • Hey! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jackjumper (307961)
    That's right up the road from me! I'll have to pop in and thank them...
  • by MrLint (519792) on Thursday February 20, 2003 @10:45PM (#5349376) Journal
    This poses an instresting question, if destruction of records is not a normal business practice (to my knowledge its not), then i have to wonder if some creatative sort in the DoJ is going to try to attack them for obstuction of justice for destorying potential "evidence"
    • by Sunlighter (177996) on Thursday February 20, 2003 @10:47PM (#5349392)

      Not unless they destroy it after it has actually been subpoenaed or otherwise requested.

      If they or you destroy data that no one wants, then, hey... that's life.

      • Well these days you aren't 'good' unless you are into creatitve law enforcement. I recall reading of a DA taht tried to prosecute someone for assault with a deadly weapon. What was the weapon you ask? A spitball.
      • Not unless they destroy it after it has actually been subpoenaed or otherwise requested.

        IANAL, so I don't have a reference handy, but I do recall reading that if you have reason to believe that materials will be subpoenaed in the future, and you destroy it with the express intent of avoiding having to comply with the subpoena, then that counts as obstruction of justice.

        I'm really curious to hear from someone who actually is a lawyer on this point.

        • All right. The answer is, there is no short answer. The elements of obstruction of justice or of spoliation vary from State to State. The safest bet is to establish a regular, consistent regime for destruction of old documents. That is, to institute a verifiable program under which you or your organization sends all inactive files to the doc disposal company every three months or so. Even if there were a generalized -- and in my view, unsubstantiated -- fear that the Gov't might want old receipts within this book store's possession, absent knowledge of more specific and imminent legal proceedings, the book store's destruction of records probably would not cause it any legal trouble.

          This is not legal advice, of course. And if you are interested in real legal advice, you ought to hire an expensive lawyer.
    • I thought the same... then I thought "why keep records at all?"

      Records to tie purchases to people, anyways. Sure, you can keep track that you've sold 230 copies of "The Road Ahead", and that customer Bob has used his Visa to purchase $400 worth of stuff, but just don't tie names to books.

      Not keeping the records at all, I think, would be a safer defense from obstruction charges.

      • And what about when customer Bob wants to return his copy of "Road Ahead" ? It's already hard enuf returning things online as it is, imagine hearing this ... "I'm sorry, we dont have any records of you purchasing this, so you can't return it." Or how bout the fact that they had to charge his Visa, they need proof of what he purchased, not just, "Yes, he did purchase $400 in books, no we can't tell you what he purchased, only that he did spend the money so go ahead and charge his account" I worry that the system would be a little to easily abused, and non-functional.
        I could go on ad nausem about the other pitfalls of your "not keeping records at all" idea, but hopefully you can already tell it holds no water.

        • by glitch! (57276) on Thursday February 20, 2003 @11:57PM (#5349741)
          And what about when customer Bob wants to return his copy of "Road Ahead" ?

          Assuming that Bob is willing to admit buying it in the first place ;-) Bob keeps his receipts, right? Well, the store can print an MD5 checksum of the important sales fields on the bottom of the receipt, signed by the store's private RSA key. When Bob wants a refund, he goes back to the store with his receipt, and the store can instantly verify that the receipt and its items are genuine. This protects the customer's privacy and still gives the store a way to verify old receipts. (If you object to the potential data entry, the receipt can have the critical info barcoded.)
    • by Queer Boy (451309) <dragon.76@m[ ]com ['ac.' in gap]> on Thursday February 20, 2003 @10:52PM (#5349412)
      if destruction of records is not a normal business practice (to my knowledge its not), then i have to wonder if some creatative sort in the DoJ is going to try to attack them for obstuction

      From what I gathered, they are informing their customers of a new customer service policy. They only keep records from customers that agree to it and they are giving everyone equal footing by purging existing records by request.

      It's also an "all or nothing". They are not purging individual items from their database.

      This is typical retail practise. Customer wants their information purged from the company's system, fine. Bear Pond is just making it sound like they're the only one doing it.

  • by sludg-o (120354) on Thursday February 20, 2003 @10:46PM (#5349384)
    I purge email logs over a week old

    I don't keep squid (http cache) logs logs at all

    In my humble opinion, Your admin shoud do the same
  • Problem Solved (Score:3, Interesting)

    by w.p.richardson (218394) on Thursday February 20, 2003 @10:47PM (#5349386) Homepage
    Buy in "meatspace", pay in cash. Or Ebay.
    • Or Ebay.

      Seems that ebay isn't a great guardian of your privacy [privacydigest.com].

      W
    • Re:Problem Solved (Score:2, Interesting)

      by kfg (145172)
      AHA! Gottcha.

      Only drug dealers use cash and drug dealers fund terrorists, therefore, you sir, are a terrorist.

      Ipso Facto.

      Ok, a bit of a stretch. Well, unless you buy something for more than $10,000. Then you have to actually *prove* you're not a drug dealer.

      All they have to do now is gradually lower the bar.

      KFG
    • uhhhh...eBay DOES track you and will hand over the info without a subpoena. furthermore, if they think you ARE acting suspicious they will turn you over to law enforcement and suggest they check you out
  • by DarwinDan (596565) on Thursday February 20, 2003 @10:47PM (#5349389) Homepage
    Does this remind anyone of Farenheit 451? You know, where they burn the books so people won't revolt against the government? This is a similar restriction [ala.org] placed upon our libraries and bookstores that silences any mention of a subpoena for a list of books a certain individual has purchased or borrowed.

    I still don't understand how Mr. Ashcroft and his DoJ thugs [usdoj.gov] got PATRIOT through Congress. Oh wait, I forgot! Our US Congress was so freaked out by September 11 and thought that somehow if they took away Americans' right to privacy and freedom from harassment that this world would somehow be a better place!
    • Is it just me, or does anyone else think it's pretty stupid to check out "How to make a bomb in your basement" from the library or to order it online with your credit card? Isn't that the first think you learn in Anarchy 101, to read or photocopy the books at the library, or buy such books with cash at the local army suplus store?

      Oh, and it's USA PATRIOT Act, USA PATRIOT being an acronym...

  • by blair1q (305137) on Thursday February 20, 2003 @10:47PM (#5349391) Journal

    Where's a HERO tag when you need one?
  • Aren't you Americans glad you live in such a free country? Aren't you glad your beloved constitution actually MEANS something?

    Welcome to the NEW New World Order. ...and don't worry...OUR fun loving Canadian government will follow right along in due course.
  • Good way to go. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pharmboy (216950) on Thursday February 20, 2003 @10:51PM (#5349408) Journal
    The Patriot Act is a violation of what my father fought for in Korea and Vietnam, and what I stood for while in the military.

    I am upset that people are associating the Patriot Act with conservatism. Violation of my rights isn't conservative, its facism. Fellow conservatives need to speak up. We DO need some stronger laws and enforcement tools, and I do believe this is a passing problem, but only if we speak up.

    Some may compare our current situation to that during the Civil War (oxymoron if there ever was one) when Lincoln suspended Habius Corpus, but I don't feel the two events can be compared in this way. The threat is real, more real than that era, but not as localized.

    Until then, destroying sales records is a legal way to not comply with this over reaching Act. Hopefully, others will follow their lead.
    • Re:Good way to go. (Score:2, Interesting)

      by elmegil (12001)
      I am upset that people are associating the Patriot Act with conservatism.

      I would recommend that you inform those who you politically support that conservatives don't support this any more than liberals. And quite honestly, watching congress go like a bunch of sheep to pass this atrocity, it's clear that it's not just a left/right issue. Nonetheless, the self-proclaimed conservatives have draped themselves in the flag and put this abomination forth to begin with (let's hear it for Johnny Ashcroft, who is getting his revenge for being beaten out of his senate seat by a dead man).

    • Re:Good way to go. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by benzapp (464105) on Friday February 21, 2003 @09:04AM (#5351578)
      The Patriot Act is a violation of what my father fought for in Korea and Vietnam, and what I stood for while in the military.

      Bullshit. The military is nothing more than a gigantic make work program, to keep nitwits from causing trouble. We have wars to make people content with bad economic times and to make people accept a temporary command economy. I won't even get into the supposed economic benefits of redirecting wealth to irrelevant industries to produce war related shit we don't need. Every single war of the 20th century was simply a tool of social control, nothing more.

      You and your father were nothing more than willing participants in a gigantic scheme akin to prison, except the illusion of freedom is maintained.

      Violation of my rights isn't conservative, its facism

      I have got news for you, standing armies, forced schooling, government directed industry, those are all the tools of every fascist regime.

      It all goes back to Germany. After Napolean's defeat of the Prussian army in 1807, a huge transformation took place. You see, Germany's primary source of revenue back then was renting their huge mercenary army. Remember the British sending the Hessian soldiers to America? To see the world's foremost professional army defeated by Napolean's peasant army was unbelievable.

      When Germany regained their independence, their entire society was transformed into a military machine. Prior to this, forced schooling didn't exist anywhere in the world outside of caste schools in India and to a lesser extent in China. Children were ripped from the families, and drilled in the mindless art of discipline all in order to make them better soldiers. Eventually, the entire society conformed to a hierarchical military system.

      Perhaps you aren't aware of the huge influx of German immigrants from 1830-1880. There wasn't a place for the independent farmer of tradesman in that military machine, so they left and came to the US. Thats why, they just wanted to be left alone. This is also why the trades died far more quickly in Germany than the US. While in the US, fathers taught their sons their art, in Germany that pretty muched ceased by 1880. Thus, shit modern architecture can be quite ancient there.

      Anyway, the legacy of this is our own military society. Every company is structured like a military. The classic bussinessmen's suit is a copy of late 19th century military style. Classroom schools are the same size as typical military units. Discipline is the goal, rather than education. There is a reason schools make people stupid and passive. Soldiers are not particularlly good at taking orders when they have the ability to question them.

      Anyway, look into. You have been duped into believing you are free, but you have been spending your entire life doing what you were trained to do: Take orders, and do so willingly.

      Heil Hitler!
  • How about this? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by antiprime (121253) on Thursday February 20, 2003 @10:52PM (#5349416) Journal
    They shouldn't be keeping records about who buys what books in the first place. I know what I buy, and I have the ability to look for new reading material in catalogs, libraries or via social contacts. Why is a bookseller keeping track of my book purchases any better than a government keeping track?

  • by standards (461431) on Thursday February 20, 2003 @10:53PM (#5349418)
    But still, why should I trust this bookseller? Sure, they claim that they won't manage any lists of customer purchases... but how do I, as a customer, know that they don't have some lists somewhere?

    And even if they don't have lists, they might have knowledge in their heads or on scraps of paper or whatever. All this is fair game when it comes to the law... perhaps just not as accessible as an explicit list.

    I remember when my sister was asked about her former (fired) boss by her new boss. "Don't worry", he said, "we'll seal all this so that you can talk freely".

    Nothing was written down. But when the new boss took the stand, he discussed the details of what my sister had said.

    So much for records; so much for corporate promises.
    • Well, either you can buy books from small retailers, who at the very least say that they don't keep records, or you can stop buying books altogether, aside from government approved books. If you want to let paranoia stop you from buying books, that's your decision. But I'll continue, and I'll buy locally.
  • by benevold (589793) on Thursday February 20, 2003 @10:53PM (#5349421) Homepage Journal
    The CIA does not, and is not allowed, to opperate within the borders of the united states. It may be the FBI or NSA that comes looking but CIA is strictly for international matters.

    And I highly doubt they would be interested in what books a person reads, but that's just me.
    • by Wingnut64 (446382) on Thursday February 20, 2003 @11:13PM (#5349524)
      That was 'fixed' by the USPA. [ratical.org]. Key quote:
      "Section 901 of the USA PATRIOT Act would empower the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency ("DCI"), to establish the priorities for the collection and dissemination of intelligence information gathered in the U.S."

      And I highly doubt they would be interested in what books a person reads, but that's just me.
      Uh, they want to know if people entering the US asked for meals without pork [slashdot.org]...

      This could be a subtle atempt to outlaw certain books. People would be scared away from 'subversive' material if they knew that the Gov't was watching their every move.
      • The DCI is in charge of *all* the US intel branches, as well as the CIA. So just because the DCI establishes priorities for "domestic intelligence", doesn't mean that the CIA would carry it out.

        (Well, that's how it used to work. For all I know, ol' Tom Ridge is in charge of everything now.)
    • by dameron (307970)
      The CIA does not, and is not allowed, to opperate within the borders of the united states. It may be the FBI or NSA that comes looking but CIA is strictly for international matters.

      Wow, someone who actually believes this. You should be tranquilized, tagged, and returned to the wild so scientists can study your habits because you are a rare and fascinating aberration.

      Here's a brief summary of what the Church Committee came up with in 1975: link [labournet.net]. A few select quotes from the article sited:
      • the CIA infiltrated religious, media, and academic organizations.
      • the CIA engaged in drug experiments (the MK/ULTRA Project) against unsuspecting subjects (two of whom died from side effects).
      • intelligence agencies carried out burglaries in the homes and offices of suspected "subversives".
      • a CIA program to open mail to or from selected American citizens generated 1.5 million names stored in the Agency's computer bank.

      Here's a fine page with many links to goverment documents such as the Church Committee's and the Rockefeller reports on CIA abuses within the U.S.: link [history-matters.com]

      Now of course all these things are in the past, and the Church report defanged the CIA right? Right? Surely the CIA would never do that again... But it really doesn't matter, as the USA PATRIOT Act gives the CIA pretty much a free hand at intelligence gathering in the US anyway.

      -dameron

  • Could the feds (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Gyan (6853) on Thursday February 20, 2003 @10:54PM (#5349424)
    charge the bookstore for subverting a law ?

    I mean, they're out in the public saying they're knowingly taking steps to hinder a possible request from the Feds for information.

  • by Stoutlimb (143245) on Thursday February 20, 2003 @10:54PM (#5349426)
    Purging sales records is one way to get a government agency off your back. Unless it's the IRS.

    I wonder if the management has thought through all the implications of their new policy.
  • by dandelion_wine (625330) on Thursday February 20, 2003 @10:54PM (#5349427) Journal
    It wouldn't take much to add a provision (were it passed) to make retention of such records mandatory. Rather like walking in to see a psychologist here (Canada) and asking him/her not to keep records, knowing that they could be subject to subpoena -- they'll tell you they must by law keep records, with certain minimum information.

    On another sobering note, in 1983 the Supreme Court of Canada allowed evidence of a newspaper clipping found in an accused's home as sufficiently probative to admit, despite the potential prejudice of propensity evidence -- aka: "See? He's the kind of person who would do this." He had been charged with heroin smuggling from Hong Kong. The article was titled: "The heroin trade moves to Pakistan." This flew in the face of all caselaw on that point, but has been followed since. The lesson being: what you read can be held against you! The case is R. v. Morris [1983] 2 S.C.R. 190, if anyone is interested.
  • Publicity Stunt (Score:2, Insightful)

    by $$$$$exyGal (638164)
    Bear Pond Books in Montpelier will purge purchase records for customers if they ask, and it has already dumped the names of books bought by its readers' club.

    This is overall a great thing, but still an elaborate publicity stunt ;-). I'm pretty surprised that this made /. news, but then again.

    --sex [slashdot.org]

  • Amazon Lists (Score:5, Interesting)

    by n0tqu1tesane (540679) on Thursday February 20, 2003 @10:57PM (#5349448)
    I was, as a result of this post, going to create a list on Amazon cataloging a number of books that might make the government look at me a little closer. Little did I know, someone had already done just that :\ Here. [amazon.com][amazon.com]
  • Remember that AD? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 20, 2003 @10:58PM (#5349453)
    Anybody remembers that AD that shows how america would have been if everybody was not free? The one that takes place in a library... Where a guy is gonna get arrested...

    Remember that???
    • Re:Remember that AD? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by LighthouseJ (453757)
      Yeah, it's very interesting. The guy goes to look for a book, he can't find it so he walks up to a librarian and says "I can't seem to find this book" and the librarian says "I'm sorry, we don't have that book anymore." and she steps back as if she knows what's going to happen. The guy looks puzzled, thinking something along the lines of "that doesn't make sense". The camera then moves back and a narrator vocalizes the message and at the same time you can see the guy standing in the background and two or three government-looking guys in black suits come up and surround him and escort him away.

      It's a pretty powerful ad to me.
  • It is nice to see... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by WindBourne (631190) on Thursday February 20, 2003 @10:59PM (#5349455) Journal
    that some are opposing such horrible violations of our rights. I only hope that they do not pay a terrible price for fighting against this.
    The truely sad part of this, is that this is not the worse. This admin has been not only stealing so many of our rights, but also taking away our ability to know what is going on. Public scrutiny of all processes (check and balances) is just as important to prevent abuses.
  • by nuwayser (168008) <pete&tux,org> on Thursday February 20, 2003 @11:14PM (#5349535) Homepage Journal
    aren't they required to keep logs of the books their customers take out? they can't just delete that information, can they??
  • by Everyman (197621) on Thursday February 20, 2003 @11:38PM (#5349635) Homepage
    ISPs and search engines are affected by the Patriot Act also. The authorities can claim that search terms are part of the URL, because they get logged with the URL in normal httpd logging. Therefore they fall under the definition of "routing and addressing" information that is subject to "tap and trace device" scrutiny. Judges are required to approve orders for such scrutiny without a showing of probable cause.

    Google saves your cookie ID, your IP number, your search terms, the date and time stamp, and your browser configuration with every search request you make to Google, and Google retains all this data indefinitely, and Google will not comment on their dealings with the authorities.

    But this is cool because Google has cute colored letters in their logo, right?
  • by NineNine (235196) on Thursday February 20, 2003 @11:40PM (#5349640)
    Yet another reason to support your local retailer, instead of some monstrous mega-billion dollar international conglomerate that pays people minimum wages and operates nothing more consumer friendly than giant warehouses wherever rent is cheap. There's no "community" when you buy from these giants. Stroll down to your local bookstore (or any small retail establishment). You'll be surprised at pricing, selection, and customer service.
  • Buy local (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FattMattP (86246) on Thursday February 20, 2003 @11:43PM (#5349666) Homepage
    How about buying from your local bookseller and paying cash?
  • by jeramybsmith (608791) on Thursday February 20, 2003 @11:50PM (#5349701)
    Let me be frank with you people, John Ashcroft could care less what you read. There is no clerk in the government right now fishing book sales records looking for the enemy within. Now, you can bet your ass that when they arrested the buffalo 6 they tried to find out what books they checked out from their local library or bought from a local book store. Why? The answer is of course, DUH. If they bought a bunch of books on chemistry that had information that could be used to make bombs, then they had better start busting their asses to figure ot if any had been made and where they went. Meanwhile, you and I have not had our civil liberties infringed one single bit. This is pure scaremongering on the parts of some groups and ignorant fear on the part of others. Ponder this, you have expose a terror cell and don't capture one of them. You find out at the local book store they were buying books on flying small aircraft. Ah ha! You have a lead! The level of paranoia some people have about patriot really perturbs me. Most of the patriot act was an excuse to update federal surveillance and evidence gathering to account for the computer age and also to close various loopholes that kept them from doing some no-brainer stuff. As a customer though, I feel good that a bookstore will toss my records. That is between them and me. However, I feel government should be able to access the records that are there if there is an imperative national security interest. Most of you would agree with that statement, and lo and behold that is what patriot does.
    • by Flamerule (467257) on Friday February 21, 2003 @12:16AM (#5349836)
      John Ashcroft could care less what you read
      Oh, he doesn't care. That must be why he inserted this provision into the PATRIOT act, giving him the ability to get bookstore records without authorization from a judge. Because he doesn't care.
      Now, you can bet your ass that when they arrested the buffalo 6 they tried to find out what books they checked out from their local library or bought from a local book store. Why? The answer is of course, DUH.
      I like how your tortured, laughable explanation for this law -- which I'll demolish immediately below -- is so obvious it merits a "DUH".
      If they bought a bunch of books on chemistry that had information that could be used to make bombs, then they had better start busting their asses to figure ot if any had been made and where they went.
      Really? So, the police/FBI, having gathered enough evidence to arrest those 6 men, interrogate them, search their apartments, work, etc., will then go to their neighborhood bookstore to find out what they've been buying? Bullshit. How about they look at the fucking books in their fucking houses. The only reason to have unhindered access to bookstore records is to use them to form opinions on the suspect, or clarify to the ones they already have.
      Meanwhile, you and I have not had our civil liberties infringed one single bit.
      Good god, what do you think "infringe" means? "Look up my bookstore records, FBI guy! It's all fine by me!" "Put a tail on me 24/7! Take plenty of pictures!" "Feel free to bug my house, feds! Be sure to get a camera in the bedroom!" "I'm jeramybsmith, and I don't want any civil liberties!"
      Ponder this, you have expose a terror cell and don't capture one of them. You find out at the local book store they were buying books on flying small aircraft. Ah ha! You have a lead!
      As I said above, this is FINE! Because if you've fucking arrested them, then you got a warrant, and you can go to the bookstore with that. Not that you'd need to, since you collected all their fucking books when you tossed their place.
      However, I feel government should be able to access the records that are there if there is an imperative national security interest.
      If national security is at stake, then I imagine they won't have much trouble getting a warrant from a judge.

      Lastly: get a clue and toss in some fucking line breaks.

    • That may be the case now...but the future situation may change.

      Let's assume for the moment that you are right, and Ashcroft and Co. don't care what I am reading (and it is a good assumption I believe). That is not to say that in the FUTURE they wouldn't start scanning bookstore and library records, scanning for key words and tricky phrases. The order of events is now turned--they scan the records, THEN start pursuing individuals that have suspicious reading habits. I read up on the theory and evolution of the nuclear bomb because I find it scientifically interesting. I also happen to be working towards a pilot's license. Does this make me a terrorist? No, but it might raise a flag due to the key words "nuclear", "bomb", and "pilot." Now I have the Feds investigating me for no reason at all, other than my own intellectual curiousity. I am now viewed as "suspicious" for no reason.

      I try to use PGP whenever I use e-mail. Do I have something to hide? No. Is my correspondence anybody else's business? No. You use an envelope when you mail a letter. If you have nothing to hide, why use it? Why not send a postcard? Simple answer: privacy. Just because you have nothing to hide doesn't mean you don't want your privacy.

      It's far easier now to prevent such a precident from forming than fighting it after it has been set. An ounce of prevention and all that...is it a bit of paranoia? Maybe--I hardly think it is as intrusive or Orwellian as some make it out to be. BUT, you can't let it get that way. I'd rather be a bit paranoid and defend my civil liberties while I still have them than be complacent and have to try winning them back later on. You have to admit that our government isn't the most trustworthy or careful organization on the planet (Carnivore, lost laptops, Watergate, etc. etc.)

      Would you rather defend your civil liberties or have to fight for their return?
  • by ramzak2k (596734) on Friday February 21, 2003 @12:30AM (#5349927)
    how much of an information about you can be gleaned from Slashdot comments ?

    All you goatse terrorists , you better stop.
  • by Zhe Mappel (607548) on Friday February 21, 2003 @12:55AM (#5350073)
    This cancer on the Constitution is the real problem. And the harm has yet to spread. Wait until the prosecutions start, or private data is leaked to discredit opponents, or blacklisting begins; all this happened half a century ago and can happen again.

    Which politician is man or woman enough to lead the fight to undo these un-American powers? We know that in the Senate only Feingold resisted, although colleagues have become braver since. And yet the nation remains enthralled to right wing fantasies, driven hysterical by an irresponsible administration and its cynical Democratic allies who use fear to control the public as ranchers use cattle prods.

    The hour demands a Lincoln; all we have is a Bush! Is there no one in office with love great enough for our freedom to save it?

  • by Denver_80203 (570689) on Friday February 21, 2003 @01:04AM (#5350116)
    longer than 3 months. It it's demanded for legal reasons, we don't have it. The deal is that for this to be legally solid, you must maintain the same policy for all users without exception. This means no .pst or .ost (offline outlook folders -oh god now you know I use MS). What's nice is: this forces people to maintain their email, and thus their jobs a little better. Of course, it's not the most popular policy my IT dept offers.
  • by SmurfButcher Bob (313810) on Friday February 21, 2003 @01:04AM (#5350120) Journal
    Companies have had this concept for years. Typical document retention policy is "useful life" - for contracts, it'd be life of contract + 6.5 years. For crap records, it's as long is it's relevent, then whack it immediately.

    And the reason is simple - all this junk needs to be stored, which costs money, and managed - which costs more money. Then, if someone wants it (and you have it), you have to find it - that's a ton of money... then the lawyers etc. get to review it, and that's a fortune, over a freakin post-it note that would never be used in your favor, meaning at best it won't be used against you in a suit... more often than not, it'll simply provide the cause needed for them to request more documents.

    Yick.
  • by Mantorp (142371) <mantorp 'funny A' gmail.com> on Friday February 21, 2003 @01:24AM (#5350193) Homepage Journal
    People whom we help get arrested also bought...
  • by 31 Flavas (534728) on Friday February 21, 2003 @03:26AM (#5350689)
    Now if only certain [barnesandnoble.com] other [amazon.com] booksellers would show that same conscience, we might have something here.
    What keeps me coming back to Amazon.com (and countless more people) is their record keeping.

    Every order is organized by year newest to oldest. Every order is clickable to bring up the exact specifics of what was ordered: the number of shipments, the tracking numbers, what was order, it's price, and totals (shipping, tax, subtotal, grand total).

    Attack the source problem *cough* Patriot Act *cough* not Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, or whoever you want to smear because of some hivemind mentality.

    If you don't want even record of the sale you need not shop at all, online or offline.

    There is always going to be some paper trail; no matter if its a reciept, a CC statment, or the cashier remembering you.

  • by Embedded Geek (532893) on Friday February 21, 2003 @03:32AM (#5350703) Homepage
    ...if only certain other booksellers would show that same conscience...

    <redundant rant>

    A business in this era of consolidation purging it's records, thus disabling itself from selling you more crap in the future via Spam or (at a minimum) junk mail? The only way that would work is if they were only in the business of selling books. That isn't going to happen as long as they can afford a consultant who can whisper fairy tales about that mythic beast "synergy" in the CEO's ear.

    Face it. Most businesses these days are not what they claim to be on their signs - booksellers, grocers, bakers. They're many businesses lumped together under one roof that are just as comfortable selling you your morning coffe or a cemetary plot. Thanks to consolidation, only multiheaded hydras survive. And sometimes, the customers suffer instead of benefiting.

    </redundant rant>
  • by I am Jack's username (528712) on Friday February 21, 2003 @06:08AM (#5351139)
    "Peggy Bresee was in Bear Pond Books recently to buy "
    War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning" and "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy" as birthday gifts for a son who lives in Utah. She had the store purge the purchase records." - Vt. bookseller purges files to avoid potential `Patriot Act' searches [sfgate.com]
    Searching google now not only reveals what books Peggy has bought her son, but also her home address, telephone number, job description, and a recent anti-war petition she signed.
  • by froth (466330) on Friday February 21, 2003 @09:49AM (#5351782)
    I've got an idea. The public is generally considered very bad at governing itself right? (In terms of making logical descions) Masses of people tend to act on whims, emotions, and whatever the "group" feels at the moment. Mob mentality on a grand scale if you will. I suppose that this is because people don't tend to think logically in these kinds of situation, whether because they don't want to think for themselves out of laziness, lack of time, or lack of resources to educate themselves. I don't know. What if a public service was started that during elections, say maybe.. the whole week before the election, every TV station has a voter education segment that reviews each canditate and issue in a non-partisian fashion. And I don't mean just a half hour election primer sitcom deal. I'm talking every channel, several hours worth of information. Does anyone think this might help?

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