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FBI Bugging Public Libraries 567

zamiel writes "Bill Olds writes in the Hartford Courant: 'I know my librarian, and I believe she would tell me if the government were tracking my computer use at the library. Don't you agree? No way. There's a gag order. When the FBI uses a court order or a subpoena to gain access to library computers or a list of the names of people who have borrowed certain books, librarians can't tell anyone - not even other librarians or you. They face a stiff federal penalty if they do. It's unfair that librarians should be placed in such a position.'" The American Library Association has a page with advice to librarians and links to previous news stories on the subject.
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FBI Bugging Public Libraries

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  • by L. VeGas ( 580015 ) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @03:57PM (#4601280) Homepage Journal
    Those cranky librarians have been shushing people for years. About time someone shushed them back!
  • Universities Too (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @03:58PM (#4601293)
    The same thing goes for Universities too. They used to have to tell you by law, now they can't. They also don't need a subpoena to monitor your computer use any more. I believe a court order will work which is easier to get than a subpoena. So add computer labs and dorms to list.

    Thanks Patriot Act.
  • Er, you don't say... (Score:3, Informative)

    by kableh ( 155146 ) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @03:59PM (#4601301) Homepage
    This was one of the nastier provision of the Patriot Act, and as I recall there was an uproar on /. when it first started getting press. <OB KARMA WH0REING>Related /. stories here [] and here [].</OB KARMA WH0REING>
  • by drxenos ( 573895 ) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @03:59PM (#4601304)
    Time to return by copy of "Catcher in the Rye!"
  • Wuh? (Score:3, Funny)

    by kaizenfury7 ( 322351 ) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @03:59PM (#4601312)
    What is this...library... you speak of?

    Is it anything like the Intarweb?
    • Re:Wuh? (Score:5, Funny)

      by McFly69 ( 603543 ) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @04:26PM (#4601566) Homepage
      No sure, but once I walked into a build named Boston Public LIBRARY, to take a piss. When I was inside, I became scared. There were lunatics sitting in chairs, very quiet, just starting at table tops with a neat stack of papers. Soem were even chantign soemthign without making a soudn but their lips were moving! I was so scared, I pissed all over my shoes and ran out. Never went back in there since then.
  • by dnoyeb ( 547705 ) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @04:00PM (#4601314) Homepage Journal
    Everything will be used against you if they need someone to blame. Just pick the one with the most "X"s.

    I have several books that might raise an eyebrow. One is "Blueprint for Black Power" Amazon inserted a small paper saying it was below their standards when I ordered it from them. But I couldn't find any visible damage...

    This book is primarily about cultural phychology and has nothing to do with any radical movements or any such violence or the like. But I could easily be marked by one of the various government "plans" if they feelt the need over books like this.

    This is garbage and we shouldn't allow this in a 'free as in beer' society.

    What do they really expect to find? They already have shown they have enough information, but their problem is a lack of digestion and comprehention. Perhaps some of the Arabs and muslims they so actively alienate could be of assistance...Only if they really cared about security would that happen!
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @04:22PM (#4601524)
      > What do they really expect to find? They already
      > have shown they have enough information, but
      > their problem is a lack of digestion and comprehention.

      I'd expect that they run your reading list against the following algorithm:
      * If you read at least two "radical" books like "Blueprint for Black Power"
      * And you read the Koran
      * Then you are likely are guilty of the thought crime of "Thought Terrorist" so you need to be watched.
      * If you are found to consort with others who have committed "Thought Terrorism"
      * Then you and your consorts must be brought in for "questioning" until you confess your guilt or "prove" your innocense. It's not "innocent 'till proven guilty" since they already have "proof" that you and your consorts have engaged in "Thought Terrorism".

      It's quite an effective strategy to deal with "underable elements". The "beauty" of it is that much of it can be automated and using Bayesian Filtering it can be made more accurate over time. There may be some false positives, but who cares? It's "for the greater good" and "we all have to make sacrifices to stop 'Terrorism'".

      • by dnoyeb ( 547705 ) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @04:51PM (#4601794) Homepage Journal
        Considering I live in Detroit and have many friends from that side of the world I suppose I get another "X".

        Does my christianity vindicate me?

        Its just that people are not legallay prosecuted so much anymore as they are prosecuted in a marketing fashion.

        For instance, so may people still think OJ was "obviously" guilty, but fail to point out any legitimate evidence to support that claim. He is basically culturally guilty at this point. Regardless to his guilt or not I like to make sensical arguements. This is not the way of the times.

        I am concerned.
    • one solution (Score:3, Interesting)

      by wrax ( 570032 )
      every society on earth has had to deal with terrorists at some time or another. There is no easy way to stop the threat that someone could unleash some plague, detonate some bomb or shoot unarmed people. The solution that the US has decided on seems to be surveilance of its own citizens and of anyone new comming into the country. For right or wrong this seems to be a decision that was reached by the people that were elected in the US by the people. The American people have become used to having alot of freedoms that most other nations on earth don't give to the ir citizens, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the right to keep and bear arms, the right to due process of law, the right to have privacy in your home. These rights are granted to all in the US, unfortunatly this also means that they get granted to people who would attack the US from within.

      Saying that your not a terrorist and that the FBI should not be monitering you doesn't work, how are the authorities supposed to know what you are thinking? What you are planning to do? Investigation seems to be a way that this can be accomplished but it means throwing away all the rights that the American people have lived so long with and have fought so hard to preserve, 2 wars and innumerable conflicts have been fought by the US to "preserve and maintain our way of life", you can't get rid of that and still call yourself an American.

      Its a dicey issue to be certian, balancing rights with the need for the authorities to protect Americans from their enemies.

      Think about it.
      • Re:one solution (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Loki_1929 ( 550940 )
        "These rights are granted to all in the US"

        They're not 'granted', we took them in several massive and very costly wars starting in the late 1700's. This is one of the problems with how people view our current government, and any government for that matter. The US government derives its power solely from the will of the goverened. Every so often, we put certain people in positions of power with the understanding that they will carry our out will. We are granted nothing by our government, our government is granted privileges and powers by us.

        "this also means that they get granted to people who would attack the US from within."

        Each person is granted certain unalienable rights by their creator. The extra rights we enjoy in the US are granted to all law-abiding citizens. Those who abuse those rights and use them in ways which infringe upon the rights of others lose some of them (ie. persons in jail). You cannot bar rights from those "who would do harm" until they've done harm or show imminent intent and ability to do so. To try to do otherwise is both futile and undermines the very principles upon which our judicial system founded. Those who do it in the name of "protecting Americans" are cowards who lack the courage and conviction to stand up for what is just.

        "how are the authorities supposed to know what you are thinking?"

        They're not, and that's why I have a problem with them monitoring what you and I are reading; it gets very close to what you're thinking. Policing thoughts is something so detestible to the senses of human freedom that it has no place beyond the depths of the Orwellian hell which we find ourselves so perilously close to experiencing first-hand.

        "2 wars and innumerable conflicts have been fought by the US to "preserve and maintain our way of life", you can't get rid of that and still call yourself an American."

        Our way of life? Are you joking? Our way of life shouldn't be even close to what we're worried about. How about our principles? How about beliefs (secular)? How about our childrens' future? How about our ideals? Our way of life can always be improved, but our ideals are just that; ideals. As for our way of life, if we stand firmly grounded in our ideals and beliefs, our way of life is intrinsically preserved. Our freedom is our strength; our courage is our protection; our ideals are the life through which we live eternally.

        I agree we need to protect ourselves from our enemy, but restricting the rights and liberties of Americans is NOT the way to do it. Nor is ubiquitous surveillence. Not only that, but none of these things will help us in the end. Most of the people who are involved in terrorist (and I use that word sparingly) plots and such against America grew up in countries that have more restrictions on freedom and more surveillance than you or I can possibly imagine. They've lived their lives bypassing security, surveillance, and other measures. Israel has security tighter that most Americans dream of, yet they must endure regular suicide bombings. Ask someone from Israel who's lost a loved one to a suicide bomber what super-tight security is good for; you'll have no shortage of people to talk to. You really think checking reading habits is going to help? Certainly checking mine doesn't help you; merely gives you more irrelevant data to sort through. Aside from that, just what the hell gives you the right to monitor what I read and judge whether the books I'm reading are ok?

        Most of the changes being made will do nothing to deter those who are determined to do us harm, and many of the new policies do nothing more than overwhelm authorities with data completely irrelevant to terrorism; only relevant to societal control. If you want to control what I think or control what I say, you're in for a big surprise. Myself and many like me will MUCH sooner die resisting you than let you destroy the freedoms and ideals preserved by the blood of the thousands who've defended that in which they believed and held dear. If you'd like to kill those willing and ready to defend their rights, you can start with me. To destroy the freedoms of Americans in the name of America is to disgrace our forefathers, our flag, our Constitution, and everything those things represent. To those like Ashcroft who commit these heinous acts, you are dishonoring the American government, your position, and yourself as an American. And you should know that the American people will not tolerate but so much of your totalitarianistic edicts before they rise up against you.

        Protect us from those who would do harm to America; do not "protect us" from ourselves, and do not believe for a moment that we will happily trade our freedom like candy for your bitter and distastful tyranical "protection".

  • by M.C. Hampster ( 541262 ) <> on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @04:00PM (#4601319) Journal

    ... the barage of posts talking about constitional rights, the Bush Administration and, of course, the 569 jokes about the "terrorists already winnning". But seriously, does anyone thing they have an absolute Constitional Right to anonymity when they use the internet or check out books in the library?

    I know that even posing the question is going to be seriously unpopular, but it should be asked.

    • by MoneyT ( 548795 ) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @04:04PM (#4601355) Journal
      Well now you have a point there though. Remeber, free speech et al was written in a time when there wasn't true anonmity. If you spoke or said something, you had every right to say it, but people could also identify you. Even things like newpapers and pamphlets could be tracked back to you. Anonmity and Freedom are not one in the same.
      • by puppet10 ( 84610 ) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @04:13PM (#4601454)
        Remeber, free speech et al was written in a time when there wasn't true anonmity.

        It was also a time of anonymous pamphleteering of political opinions unpopular with the established government which was part of the forsce behind the first amendment (speech and press) and has been held by the Supreme Court including a case of an Ohio law being struck down as unconstitutional because it wouldn't allow anonymous political speech through pamphleteering.
      • by EllisDees ( 268037 ) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @04:16PM (#4601479)
        >Remeber, free speech et al was written in a time when there wasn't true anonmity

        Yes there was. Even more than there is now. Anyone could make up a bunch of fliers and post them all over town in the middle of the night and there would be no way of knowing who did it. It's not like they could even check them for fingerprints...
        • by Dannon ( 142147 ) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @04:37PM (#4601678) Journal
          Thomas Paine's Common Sense, commonly regarded as one of the most influential writings of its time, was first published anonymously. The publisher knew who the author was, and people of his time found out if they really wanted to, but Paine didn't claim any credit up front.

          I've been reading it lately, as part of a compiled volume of Paine's best writings. I find it really interesting to read some of the thoughts that were influential in the forming of my government. And, in the process, I'm learning a few things about the history of British government that I didn't know, either....

          I've been taking my time reading through it, though. Some very deep words to think about. So it's probably a good thing I didn't borrow this book from the library.
      • by 4of12 ( 97621 )

        Remeber, free speech et al was written in a time when there wasn't true anonmity.

        Sort of.

        In that day and age, if I went to the town marketplace, people would know me and could tell someone that Joe over there had been talking like a Tory, or whatever.

        But the central government probably didn't know me on that basis. And neither did they know instantly if someone uttered a word against the King's will. It had to be really outrageous and it would take weeks or months for politically indiscreet speech to cause a reaction with the central governmental authority.

        But a desire for anonymity was still there, because some individuals were in jeopardy, even with the molasses-like speed of the British military and government's intelligence operation. Indeed, that action at a distance delay is one of the reasons why rebellion in the colonies succeeded where rebellion in Scotland or Ireland did not.

        Despite the practical protection of distance and not computerized databases on citizens, Thomas Paine, in particular, often wrote under a pseudonym.

        At any rate, technology has changed.

        Despite its bureaucratic nature, we can't rely upon the FBI to be as sluggish in keyword analysis as King George's government.

        But anonymity of one kind or another was an important protection back then. These days, anonymity is an even more important ingredient as a check on unrestrained power that seeks to stifle opposing points of view.

      • by thelexx ( 237096 ) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @04:32PM (#4601634)
        "Even things like newpapers and pamphlets could be tracked back to you."

        Where the hell did you get that idea? Ever hear of the Federalist Papers? Signed 'Publius', the authorship of some of them are still debated.

      • by DarkSkiesAhead ( 562955 ) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @04:35PM (#4601657)

        free speech et al was written in a time when there wasn't true anonmity. ... Even things like newpapers and pamphlets could be tracked back to you.
        How exactly could pamphlets be tracked to you 200 years ago? The point of pamphlets was that you didn't need to give your name to the printer and you could take them far away to distribute and simply post or drop them. You didn't need to show your government issued ID. There were no credit cards to track down. They wouldn't even be able to track your fingerprints down.

        What anonymity gives us is the ability to disagree even when we fear retaliation for our words. While this may not be a basic right listed in the Constitution it's certainly a valuable tool and worth fighting to keep.
    • by slow_flight ( 518010 ) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @04:05PM (#4601362)
      Maybe not, but we do have a constitutionally protected right to free speech. That right is infringed upon when the speaker (or listener) is concerned about repercussions from an oppressive government. It is not a stretch to expect this constitutional protection to extend to what we read, whether in books or on the internet.
    • Anonymity? No, not in America. But this has always been our way. Only we have insisted on oversight. This lacks "oversight."
    • by interiot ( 50685 ) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @04:08PM (#4601404) Homepage
      IMHO, it's not about the right to anonymity so much, it's that we can't really have much public debate over this if it's absotelutely illegal for the librarians to mention it at all. Here I thought it was only heavy-handed non-democractic countries who 1) spied on citizens, and then 2) resolutely deny that any spying activity is taking place
      • We can debate it publicly just fine. The librarians are allowed to complain about the law. They just aren't allowed to tell you you're being monitored. We know the law is in place. That's in the public record. There's no secret about what's going on.

        The problem is Americans don't care about their freedoms any more. Hell, how many slashdotters didn't know about this law 'till they read it here today?
    • by irregular_hero ( 444800 ) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @04:13PM (#4601452)
      A right to anonymity is not the point.

      The question you should be asking is whether you have the freedom from pervasive government oversight as a result of Constitutional statute. Anonymity has never been a right of every citizen (that's the American way, just ask the advertising and marketing industry). However, there is a reasonable expectation to freedom from having our actions _overseen_ by our own government. It's one of the core distinctions of democracy itself, that the citizenry are the government's overseers, not the other way around.

      • by mjolnir_ ( 115649 ) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @04:43PM (#4601729)
        The right to free speech isn't at issue here -- it's the freedom from unwarranted search and seizure (Amend. IV of the Bill of Rights) that has, in the modern age, been widely (and often inbcorrectly) interpreted as granting some notion of privacy. And it has nothing to do with democracy per se, rather the tyranny of powerful states that the framers were trying to avoid.

        Of course, we seem to be heading in that very direction now anyway.

        Did you vote today?
    • by thelexx ( 237096 ) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @04:21PM (#4601519)
      Unpopular due to being so wrong:

      Amendment IX

      The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

      Amendment X

      The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

      Goddamn right I don't expect the government to be snooping on library records. And no I don't give a fuck if Bin Laden himself had checked out 'How to Fly but not Land an Airliner for Dummies' the day before last Sept. 11.

      • Think I am joking? Try to find an opinion of the court (not a dissent) that rested its argument upon either amendment... It may be the case that most cases based upon retained or reserved rights never get cert, but in practical terms these amendments are about as important to the current court as the third amendment. I have heard reasonable arguments made that the 13th and 14th amendments effectively gutted 9 and 10 when combined with the commerce clause after the various civil rights cases.
        • by Stonehand ( 71085 ) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @06:06PM (#4602581) Homepage
          How about "US v. Morrison" -- in May 15, 2000 SCOTUS affirmed an US Court of Appeals ruling striking down 42 USC 13981 on the basis that the Constitution did /not/ give Congress the ability to legislate on the matter covered, and explicitly stating that the Commerce Clause could /not/ be stretched as ludicrously far as Congress and the President had wanted.

          The ruling even states, "Every law enacted by Congress must be based on one or more of its powers enumerated in the Constitution", and specifically cites Marbury v. Madison in rejecting arbitrary extensions of federal power.

          Incidentally, it was the four liberal justices who dissented in order to promote federal power over every little bit of American society (and likewise in striking down the Gun Free School Zone law, where again Congress tried to buy votes by grossly exceeding its limits).

          (And for the but-the-Conservatives-screwd-States-Rights-to-help -Bush whiners -- Florida did /not/ apply its own law evenly to its counties; hence, the 14th Amendment violation. SCOTUS got jurisdiction as an appellate court. Ergo, no states-rights problem, as the states do not have a right to apply their own laws unevenly and thus violate equal-protection.)
    • I don't think there should be any expectation of anonymity, since libraries are public institutions, after all. I'm also of the opinion that it's OK to have cameras on street corners, because how is that really different from the cop walking down the street watching for anything suspicious? Or just some guy staring at you while you walk by. It's a public place, other people can see you, so why pretend that you have any inherent privacy? On the other hand, if the feds are looking for people that check out controversial books, then it almost seems like entrapment: the books are there for the taking, but you better not touch them, or else. Of course, the alternative is for the libraries to remove the aforementioned "flagged" titles, but that would be outright censorship.
    • Generally YES (Score:3, Informative)

      by MacAndrew ( 463832 )
      Law enforcement has to have some particular reason to suspect YOU specifically before it probes through generally accepted expectations of privacy. The depth of the intrusion is propotional to the persuasiveness of the evidence. BUT NO FISHING EXPEDITIONS.

      The Patriot Act relies on a hysterical and ill-defined notion of a future terrorist threat to provide justification. This has been characteristic of many "emergency measures" in many countries over the years -- you know, we have to shut down the presses because it might cause trouble, etc. Now, it's been fairly quiet for over a year in the States -- when do you think they'll dilute the Act?

      A recent example abroad -- the Russian gov't interfered with internet and print press in the wake of the theater hostage-taking crisis. Although antiterrorism was the justification, a good portion of this appears to have been to save face for the gov't. They politely call this censorship "media restrictions." [] (NYT 11/2) Good precedent?

      Now, are we aiming to be more like the Russians, or more like us?

      If we go to war in Iraq, we'll see even more severe censorship than in Gulf I (when they couldn't lay hands on Peter Arnett) and who knows what sort of internal investigations looking for seditious intent. How many people here will end up on the list? (Actually, with the increased use of sniffers looking for keywords in email and postings, you probably all are on the list. ;-) Look what happened to the medical students in Florida, where even the traffic violation was a lie, disproved by videotape." [] Watch out for the next Eunice Stone, aided by fear.

      I am a great supporter of our government, but stop snooping in our libraries, this is pathetic.

    • by ChaosDiscord ( 4913 ) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @04:40PM (#4601700) Homepage Journal
      But seriously, does anyone thing they have an absolute Constitional Right to anonymity when they use the internet or check out books in the library?

      The general case is that you have a right to anonymously publish or read. Without this right, our right to free speech is shallow and nearly meaningless. The right to anonymously read ensures that if you're curious about the principles of Communism, you won't be dragged in front of the House Unamerican Activities Comission or any similar modern witch hunt. It ensures that your teenage fling with Anarchism isn't going to taint your job record twenty years later. Without anonymity, you put yourself at risk of future loss for what you read today, or you limit what you read to official sanctioned materials.

      The right to anonymously publish ensures that you can get your work out even if powerful forces attempt to silence you. Sure, in the long run the First Amendment should protect you, but in the short run your life can be destroyed. Our founding fathers (assert(reader.nationality==AMERICAN)) used anonymous publications to raise public support against the British and for the new Constitution []. The Supreme Court has ruled in favor of anonymous speech [] (repeatedly []).

      Given that anonymous speech and reading is essential to free speech, it's only natural that the same rules would apply to the internet and libraries. The internet is simply a new way to express yourself. Allowing anonymous pamphlettering, publishing, and speech, but prohibiting anonymous speech on the internet is silly. Similarly, public libraries exist in part to support an educated citizenry. If citizens are afraid to check out "dangerous" books to educate themselves, we're stifling the democratic process which requires free access to information.

    • It's right there in the Bill of Rights. The right to be secure in your person, papers and properties against unwarrented searches and sesures (paraphrasing, of course). The free speach aspect is secondary, although important as well.

      Yes, the library is a public place, but what I look at and what I check out is my private business, and unless I'm already under investigation, they have no right to this information. My email is as private as normal letters, phone conversations and even my private conversations with a librarian about my library searches. This practice needs to be tested in court, and it surely will not stand.

      The FBI has consistently shown themselves to be tools of buearocrats and the current administration, and they must be held to a higher standard. They don't need this to fight terrorism, they need to work with other government agencies and quit being so damned arrogant.

  • Also (Score:3, Informative)

    by Apreche ( 239272 ) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @04:01PM (#4601323) Homepage Journal
    At another very good website which seems to be a hotspot of the online librarian community there is excellent information as well as actual librarians saying stuff. Check out this story []. It looks like the site runs on slashcode, pretty nifty.
  • by EllisDees ( 268037 ) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @04:02PM (#4601330)
    Stop keeping records of who borrows what books beyond the time that they are checked out.
    • by Triv ( 181010 ) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @04:16PM (#4601481) Journal
      Stop keeping records of who borrows what books beyond the time that they are checked out.

      At least at the library I work at, that's already being done - in fact, it's always been done that way. We don't maintain a list of what a patron has checked out - we only know what's circulating at any given time so we know who to bug when their books're overdue. Different insitiutions might have different policies of course, but my guess is if my library [] doesn't care about keeping those records, none would. :P

    • More advice (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ThinkingGuy ( 551764 ) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @04:17PM (#4601488) Homepage
      If anything is to be done about this, people need to be made aware of it. The Patriot Act may prohibit disclosing FBI surveillance, but it doesn't prohibit disclosing the prohibition ;)
      What if the staff at every library put up a big sign over the counter reading "Notice: your reading and Internet activities MAY be monitored by the government." Then in smaller type underneath, "The Patriot Act forbids us from speaking about this matter. For more information call your congressional representatives at _______"
      Another random thought: How about a "Jam the FBI Day," similar to "Jam Echelon Day." We in the geek community pick one day when we all stop by at least one public library and do one of the following: browse to at least one "suspicious" site, send an email message with some "suspicious" keywords in it, or check out at least one "suspicious" title.
      • by redink1 ( 519766 ) <`moc.liamtoh' `ta' `1knider'> on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @04:27PM (#4601581) Homepage Journal
        We in the geek community pick one day when we all stop by at least one public library and do one of the following: browse to at least one "suspicious" site, send an email message with some "suspicious" keywords in it, or check out at least one "suspicious" title.

        WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The FBI has announced that it has discovered a new domestic terror group, 'Slashdot', which was using public computer terminals at libraries to plan a domestic terror event involving nuclear material, airplanes, and a mystical figure named CowboyNeal...

    • by vaxer ( 91962 ) <> on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @04:21PM (#4601514) Homepage
      My employer runs a library system that has hundreds of thousands of borrowers. We take privacy fairly seriously; if someone checks out a book called How To Safely Leave Your Abusive Spouse and that borrowing becomes public knowledge, someone could die.

      Since dead patrons are bad for our statistics, we use a system that keeps track of who currently has a book checked out. That's it. Once a book is returned to the library in good condition, its borrowing record is wiped clean (would that our young patrons' noses were too!). This protects us from having anything Officer Friendly is interested in looking at (except perhaps for certain books of "art" photos -- but that's his business, isn't it?)
  • is something that is very hard to understand - if you try to mangle it together with the concepts of democracy and "free of speech" and other nice things. Be a patriot, spy on your neighbour or even better, do it while on duty. You, the librarian, can make a difference. That just does not have a very nice sound in it. In fact, it makes the USA sound like East-Germany, 20 years ago. Sorry.
  • by McFly69 ( 603543 ) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @04:02PM (#4601334) Homepage
    Does anyone think this will really help catch "criminals"? If a person is using a computer in the libarary, most of the time it will not last more than 20 or 30 minutes (other people want to use it). Lets say the person does do somethign "naughty" on it, by the time the feds arrive (20 or 30 min) and track down which machine it is (thinking of the Boston Public Libaray at Copley Square) using the IP addy (5 minutes) and bring their fat sorry asses to the exact location (5 minutes), the person is long gone. After the 40 minutes all they have is the terminal that was used. What they going to do, check the history file of which websites were used? Even if they have a packet logger, they only whill have the things he has done.

    Granted the person might access their own email and the feds could get the person's where abouts that way. But will criminals be that stupid? Some might say yes. So there are two sides here.
    • Who says that "criminal" needs to even be at the terminal to do his evil deeds? They could run a process in the background and exploit the machine's internet connection remotely.

      Most library machines I have come across have not been well secured, many are easy leaping points for doing "naughty" things. They even give media access to use material on CDs.
    • by Blkdeath ( 530393 ) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @04:24PM (#4601554) Homepage
      Does anyone think this will really help catch "criminals"? If a person is using a computer in the libarary, most of the time it will not last more than 20 or 30 minutes (other people want to use it). Lets say the person does do somethign "naughty" on it, by the time the feds arrive (20 or 30 min) and track down which machine it is (thinking of the Boston Public Libaray at Copley Square) using the IP addy (5 minutes) and bring their fat sorry asses to the exact location (5 minutes), the person is long gone.
      Hate to nit, but ...

      Firstly, they can track the machine to its switchport, and with a simple table of switchport network drop, and/or a map of the physical layout they can easily find the exact machine in a matter of 30 seconds (or less). I administered a school with three wings, two floors and I could nail network traffic (IP or IPX) to its specific chair in under a minute.

      Couple this with strategically placed surveillance cameras (which many public institutions have installed already) and they can get a video image of the "perp" for facial recognition at a more convenient time.

      So we take a few stills from the video feed, add them to the TCP dump log / keystroke log / screen capture, and file it away for a later date.

      So easy, a child of five could do it.

      Someone fetch me a child of five! ;)

  • If I don't want tracking of my reading habits, I'll simply buy the books that I want to read, and pay cash for them. This especially works at used book stores, where the flunky at the counter doesn't know what you're buying, doesn't have a computer for asset tracking, and doesn't care. If I'm poor, I'll just read them _in_ the library, where I'll not be tracked as to what I'm reading.

    Geez. I thought that after the movie Seven [], this would have alerted anyone who they could possibly suspect to cease using public libraries with open, honest library cards.
  • As we all well know, the FBI has plenty of manpower to throw at watching bums download porn on public library computers.

    Additionally, terrorists have never used public computers in the past. And if they did, they didn't use public computers in the furtherance of terrorist plots.

  • "Sure you can say that, we don't mind at all! What's your name, current address, social security number, and credit history?"
  • When I called my representative about the Zoe Lofgren bill (the one that restores some fair-use and civil liberties to individuals taken away by the DMCA) I got a response that he didn't support her bill. As a representative, shouldn't that be exactly what he supports? Restoring civil liberties to those he represents?

    Soon enough, when enough of these freedoms are taken away, like the public unmonitored use of public libraries, then all of the so-called "public" institutions will be used less and less frequently by people who are concious about these things.

    In the movie Seven, there was a great hubbub about tracking the use of library card-holders' reading habits. Now it seems that it doesn't need to be kept a secret, that they can and will do it, and that you can't find out about it. That's troubling.
  • The acronym... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    In all the news about the USA PATRIOT Act, I had no idea it was an acronym for:
    the "Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act" (USA PATRIOT Act.) until I read the librarian guidelines. Call me s-l-o-w. I bet there is a full-time job to come up with those catchy titles. (I wonder what it pays)
  • That's why (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CaffeineAddict2001 ( 518485 ) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @04:05PM (#4601375)
    What library's need to do is allow for anonymous checkout of books - providing the person leaves collateral of course.

    When you return the books, you get the money back - just don't forget your receipt with matching barcode.
  • by Yoda2 ( 522522 ) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @04:06PM (#4601383)
    This is easy enough to fix - just burn all the books with questionable content. Might help to cut down on all of the mischief caused by those evil Harry Potter books.
  • by fungus ( 37425 )
    Security first.

    We just cannot let libraries protect terrorits. Imagine if a big "mushroom cloud" were to blow Washington, and we later found out that the author of this crime once borrowed a nuclear science book!

    Science books and books with a bias against the US should also be banned. Anyone saying the opposite is against the Homeland Security!!
  • Understandable (Score:3, Insightful)

    by swordgeek ( 112599 ) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @04:07PM (#4601388) Journal
    This is a questionable practice. It's nasty, and more than a bit frightening.

    BUT, it's fairly understandable, as are its counterparts.

    If an investigation into a robbery suspect led to a gun shop, should the gun shop owner be able to phone up the suspect and say, "Hey--the cops were asking after you."

    Due to the nature of crime (criminals don't want to get caught!), the cops have to have a reasonable opportunity to work quietly, and in private. After an investigation has been concluded, THEN this stuff should be made public.
  • by afidel ( 530433 ) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @04:07PM (#4601391)
    Yep, pretty much seems that way. Back to the FBI's old tricks like illegally monitoring the communciations of anyone they care to target. Back in McArthy's day it actually cost time and manpower so it was limited to famous,dangerous, or radical people. Today information tracking is so rediculously cheap that they can feasibly monitor some large percentage of the populations communications and even if they don't have the bandwidth to process it all they can store it for future use. I'm really not a conspiracy nut, but I do like to raise my voice when I see our liberties being needlessly trampled. I don't see my life becoming any more secure because the government can more easily monitor citizens conversations, they have and always will have the power to target criminals, now they are just grabbing for the power to use their tools against anyone. Maybe I should move to Canada, a federal judge there just threw out the evidence against 9 defendants that were caught importing 49Kg of heroin because he thought the RCMP had played too loose with their wiretap applications.
    • Today information tracking is so rediculously cheap

      er, no. It's quite expensive because of the sheer volume of data that needs to be tracked. And no, just stuffing it away for "future" perusal is not a viable option. Your assuming that either the information flow will decrease, or the methods used will increase productivity as a rate significantly higher than the data being captured. Until that happens, any saved (and my god this would be a massive amount) could only be used to go back and look for specific individuals, vs retro-processing.
    • by rizzo ( 21697 ) <don@seiler . u s> on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @04:42PM (#4601716) Homepage Journal
      We in Wisconsin have so little going for us, any publicity, good or bad, is needed.

      Of course we do have Jeffrey Dahmer and Ed Gein. Oh wait.
  • In Canada ... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by RebelTycoon ( 584591 )
    We don't have no the FBI... We have the RCMP, and its unfortunate, but they waste time tracking who borrows certain books when they SHOULD BE investigating our Prime Minister and the millions of tax dollars that got funnelled to friendly Liberal supporters.

    The legacy of our PM is broken promises... Case and point... GST and Free Trade...


  • by dachshund ( 300733 ) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @04:10PM (#4601429)
    I recall a scene in David Fincher's Se7en in which the investigators surreptitiously visit a friend at the FBI in order to obtain library records. The scene sticks out in my mind because I remember how much trouble they had to go to: even the FBI was scared to admit that they had access to such information, and as a result the whole process is conducted on the sly-- the FBI man is clearly terrified that someone'll find out what he's up to.

    That movie came out only a few years ago, and yet the scene would probably be meaningless today. It's funny how things change, and not necessarily for the better.

  • by jazzbotley ( 581155 ) <jazzbotley AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @04:10PM (#4601433) Homepage Journal
    I work at a University computer department. A lot of my work goes into writing/maintaining the software that provides a three-way cross between client IP address, username, and timestamp for every use of our computer facilities (except staff and faculty workstations). These logs are regularly used as evidence in court and in pre-trial proceedings. IANAL, and I don't actually interface with the lawyers, but my buddies in the security group are constantly reviewing the login records at the behest of xxAA or FBI or whatever (they always play the cloak and dagger routine -- "need to know only!" *rolls the eyes*). Every login is preceded by "By clicking the button you agree to these policies" with a URL to the pages and pages of dos and don'ts, or else published everywhere around these workstations as dead tree reminders of "acceptable use". I can't speak for public libraries, but here at University we try to be lenient and let the students off with a "never do that again!" If they cower and tremble and repent of their evil filesharing ways, we let them off. Otherwise, they get a permanent "incident report" filed on their student record and get to take their song and dance to the VP of student affairs.

    Which brings me to the point of, where's the right to privacy? Waived at the door, I guess, since apparently the presupposition is that by using your authentication to log in to these systems, you've agreed that you've read all these policies and have agreed to all these potential remedies against your violation of these policies. Any lawyers out there know if that holds water?

    "Limited government" will always exceed its bounds
  • Libraries? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by wolf- ( 54587 ) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @04:13PM (#4601451) Homepage
    When I was young, it was a great thing to go to the library once a week, get a stack of books, and read them through in the next 7 days. The star wars fiction series, Hardy Boys, Star Trek, The Odessey...

    College libraries were awesome places. Places to hang out, maybe study a bit, meet young ladies.

    Then I moved to Fayetteville, Georgia. Where the publicly funded library is run by the white hair Gestapo. The collection of books there is lacking. So you say, donate some? I did! I offered to donate 8 cases of books. Computer programming manuals, CS theory, even some copies of books I'v written or edited. Not 30 year old books, but fresh books. Books that a young teenager may not be able to afford to buy, but interested in reading. The offer was refused. No strings attached, just take them. No.

    Would the old bags in Fayetteville let you know whats going on? No. Odds are THEY'LL call the FBI first.

    Ok, thats my rant. If you are in the atlanta area, its worth the drive to the Georgia Tech library downtown if you really are looking for information. Georgia State's isn't too bad off either.
  • Just like echelon (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Restil ( 31903 ) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @04:14PM (#4601461) Homepage
    If they want to monitor, lets give them something to monitor. Find out what books would trigger the watchful eyes, and go check out ALL of them, frequently. Have everyone else do the same. Overwhelm them with useless information. When everyone is on the list, there's no point in having a list.

  • What is the issue? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by f97tosc ( 578893 ) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @04:22PM (#4601533)
    Is it not reasonable that the FBI, if it gets a court order, can bug a computer or a telephone? Is ./ really against bugging in any situation?

    If such power is misused then it is cause of great convern, but the article provides no evidence that this is the case.

    The author also seems upset that the library staff is not telling him. Well, it is pretty obvious that if you are going to bug something you can't tell the world what you are doing.

    • " Is it not reasonable that the FBI, if it gets a court order, can bug a computer or a telephone? Is ./ really against bugging in any situation?"

      Of course we're not against law enforcement monitoring communications between individuals who are under investigation so long as they show just cause to a judge and receive the appropriate warrents. The main problem I have with this is that what you read is very close to what you think. I don't believe that our government has the right to tell us which books are ok, nor do I believe they have the right to judge what we read or think. It's absolutely impossible that reading something can lead to imminent danger for yourself or others. You might use knowledge gained from a book to do harm to yourself or others, but that's a decision not affected by what you've read. If you believe it's ok for the government to look into what you read, what do you think about the government surveilling your thoughts as well? Think that's silly? NASA doesn't seem to think so [].

      "If such power is misused then it is cause of great convern, but the article provides no evidence that this is the case."

      Quite alright, I'll provide the much-anticipated evidence. The FBI began its campaign of illegal monitoring and other abuses back in the 1960's during the civil rights movements. Organizations such as SNCC were routinely infiltrated by FBI agents while many of the leaders were being bugged and had their phones tapped; most of it without even so much as a warrant. The abuses continued until the 1970's when major restrictions were put in place on the FBI's domestic spying capabilities. The culmination of these efforts was the 1974 Privacy Act. (back then, the names of laws weren't usually misleading like they are now). What's been going on lately? Well, just recently, the FISA court (secretive court created to deal with foreign intelligence gathering on US soil), in an unprecidented move, blasted the FBI [] publicly for abuse of the FISA act, lying to the FISA court about evidence and such, and a whole host of other things. They even barred one agent from ever again appearing before the court due to his consistantly inaccurate depositions and testimony before the court.

      What's my point? The FBI has, for the last 40 some-odd years shown a constant disregard for laws and civil liberties, as well as the Constitutionally-protected rights of citizens; especially with regard to matters of free speech. The evidence against the FBI is very damning, and the FISA court's anger with the FBI clearly shows they have no intention of staying within the limits of the law, even now. Now, we're giving the FBI more powers of surveillance? The USA PATRIOT act basically removed all the restrictions placed upon the FBI in the 1970's, and gave them a whole host of new powers. Did you know they can now look through your financial and banking information without so much as a visit to a courthouse? The book-bugging escapade appears as though it'll require judges to get rubber stamps made up just for the occasion. The fact that the entire process is secretive is even more frightening. As was said in a recent court ruling, "democracies die behind closed doors." But like I said, I don't think they should be able to monitor what you or I read anyway, so this is all moot.

      "Well, it is pretty obvious that if you are going to bug something you can't tell the world what you are doing."

      While this is correct, we also assume that when law enforcement takes an action, especially one which has the potential for massive abuse, there's going to be some kind of oversight. The USA PATRIOT act removes virtually all oversight, granting the FBI unprecidented free reign to spy on Americans.

      I don't know about you, but I really don't want my government spying on me.

      If anyone's interested in a little honesty-in-politics, we should rename the "war on terrorism" to "The War on Freedom and the Average Citizen", and then we should rename the USA PATRIOT act to the "Dividing and Frightening America by Providing Inappropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Freedom Act". Hmm, DFAPITRIOFA - perhaps not the best acronym, but certainly more accurate. USA PATRIOT act... What's patriotic about shredding the US Constitution?

  • See Also (Score:3, Informative)

    by devnullkac ( 223246 ) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @04:23PM (#4601537) Homepage

    See also the article [] posted in September on this topic

  • Laura Bush (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jasn ( 106824 ) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @04:27PM (#4601582)
    I'm curious about how notable librarian Laura Bush would weigh in on the matters of the Patriot Act and such.
  • The Irony Is... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NeuroManson ( 214835 ) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @04:29PM (#4601600) Homepage
    The Ad Council spot with the tagline "Freedom. Love it. Respect it. Cherish it." or some such, where a college age guy walks into a library and asks about the book he requested. "We don't carry that book anymore." is the librarian's curt reply, "But would you mind filling out this form, with your name, address, social security number?". Said college age dude backs out cautiously, "Um, no, that's okay, thanks-", turning around to find himself facing a couple of "agents". The spot ends with "What if you didn't have the freedoms you do now?".

    And the same government that financed that Ad Council spot (naturally, who else would pay for such drivel, or require networks to air them), is doing exactly the same thing.

    • by aaandre ( 526056 ) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @04:58PM (#4601851)
      The spot itself is available at fr eedom/

      Click on Library (links on the right).

      If security experts believe that a determined criminal's last resort for information would be the public library... too bad for all of us.

      Our society is built on the trust that most of its members lead lives based on "acceptable" line of behavior. There is no way to enforce high security against determined individuals without changing the environment, at a high cost, both monetary and human rights wise. Such environments are prisons, banks, airports, etc.

      The choice of a government to create conflicts and conditions which encourage the appearance of such "determined individuals" is a conscious decision to turn its citizens into hostages.

      Unfortunately, I don't see a quick solution.
      Maybe treat others with respect and/or leave them alone? Even that might not be a solution as it might be exploited as a sign of fear. I am not a politician and do not understand the rules in the battle for power. What I see is that a structure which was invented to support the best interests of "all people" is changing its function to support other entities by _exploiting_ "all people".

      Now what?
  • by hypermodernist ( 226007 ) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @04:30PM (#4601607)
    I am a network specialist at a very large public library system in the midwest with nearly 700 public PC's. We have had cases with law enforcement asking us for our proxy logs but have never been asked to actively monitor all PC's. There have been stalking cases, and death threats sent from our PC's and in those cases the only thing that we have been able to tell law enforcement is that they were sent from "this branch".
    We definitely do not log peoples traffic nor do we have the storage space to do so. We have a snort box for intrusion detection that does only logging. We had logging enabled for http for a day and we used up all 200gb of space.
  • Fake ID anyone? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eyeball ( 17206 ) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @04:34PM (#4601648) Journal
    The terrorists were able to falsify documents to get fake passports and drivers licenses. Library cards are by far the easiest piece of identity thing to fake. Do you really think that a terrorist that is here on an expired visa is going use his real ID (which either doesn't exist or isn't valid)?

    "Oh, looks like Chuck U. Farly checked out another copy of 'How to bow up big buildings with farm chemicals.' Where does he live? 110 Up-Yours Infidel St., New York, NY? Book him, dan-o"

    Meanwhile, somewhere on the other side of the country, little 4th grader Joey checks out 'How Power Plants Work" for a school project, and 10 minutes later the S.W.A.T. team is busting down his parent's door...

    I wonder where our government will put the concentration camps.

  • Election Day... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bemis ( 29806 ) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @04:35PM (#4601660) Homepage
    Well -- I'm more than a little disapointed to see that (as of 2:30p CDT) There hasn't been a front page article reminding American Slashdotters to get out and vote today. With all of the politics that buzz around this site I *really* expected to log onto slashdot this morning to not only a "Hey USers, remember to vote today!" story, but also some tips about certain candidates -- etc ...

    Perhaps this isn't the right topic for this gripe, but I guess if you're going to complain about an America-centric problem like the FBI tapping your library's computer, you should at least *try* to do something about it.

    Just my two cents.
  • by WildBeast ( 189336 ) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @04:43PM (#4601724) Journal
    If you where going to borrow or buy a book, let's say about communism or a book named "Mein Kampf" or a book that is critical of the US, wouldn't you think twice before doing it? And if you're of Arab decend I'm sure that you may even change your mind.

    Nobody wants his every move tracked by the FBI. So some people will stay away from certain books just to keep there private lives private. So the question is, would you rather be informed? Or would you prefer to keep the cameras and the spies away from you?
  • by shren ( 134692 ) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @04:48PM (#4601769) Homepage Journal
    Wow. This is begging - begging! - for a big fat stack of social engineering. You can fake being an FBI man and get into the library records of anyone you want. They're under gag order and they know it, so they won't look into it at all. Just run a line on the librarian about the Patriot Act and federal felony charges if they do anything to breach the secrecy of the inquiry, including looking into it. Even casual checking might reveal to the librarian that they're getting conned, but they can't check, or if they do check they have to do all the checking themselves without telling anyone why! Throw in some bullshit about how open phone lines arn't regarded as secure, and you can convince them that they can't even call the FBI to check your id!

    Christmas comes early this year for the black hats! How many other gag orders like this exist under the patriot act? How many people are hindered in finding out if inquiries are coming from a valid source? How many shady groups are already using this enviornment of secrecy to reach thier nefarious ends?

  • by watchful.babbler ( 621535 ) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @05:01PM (#4601874) Homepage Journal
    I'm going to lose precious karma with this post, but ...

    It's true that the USA-PATRIOT Act has a number of provisions that are of questionable Constitutionality and dubious value to the War Against Terror (TM, Pat. Pending). However, this article (gratuitous link [])is nothing more than gross conjecture without evidence. As we say down here in Texas, he's sellin' a whole lotta bull and not much steak.

    It is illegal for a wiretap or datatap to be undertaken without judicial oversight and authorization (see United States v. United States District Court, 407 U.S. 297 (1972), holding "Fourth Amendment freedoms cannot properly be guaranteed if domestic security surveillances may be conducted solely within the discretion of the Executive Branch."). The expanded tap provisions of USA-PATRIOT allow for a greater level of secrecy to surround specific wire- or datataps (specifically, those approved by the special FISA court for national security issues), but federal law enforcement does not have carte blanche to go around randomly listening in to our conversations. In order for a tap to pass Constitutional muster, it has to be narrowly drawn. Setting up a general-purpose dragnet to pull in data from all library patrons, the vast majority of whom cannot legally be targeted by a FISA tap order, would get drop-kicked out of the most deferential judge's chambers. (Orrin Hatch's statement on FISA taps under USA-PATRIOT is here [], and the ALA's interpretation of the Act is here []).

    The FBI does have expanded powers to grab library records, for purposes of domestic law enforcement as well as international espionage and terror investigations, but that's very different -- if no less disturbing -- than ongoing monitoring, and would be sufficient to trigger the librarians' circumspection. It certainly doesn't mean that the Feds slapped a Carnivore underneath the public terminal carousel.

  • by Anal Surprise ( 178723 ) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @05:02PM (#4601893)
    The article even suggests the answer. It may be illegal for a librarian to tell you he or she's been visited by the FBI, but it's not illegal for one to tell you he or she hasn't been.

    Start compiling a list of where the librarians answer like they're in a spy movie and where they go "huh?". Publish it. Ask for the official "we have not been visited by the FBI letter", if you can get it.

    If you can find where there's light, the darkness will also be visible.
  • Just DON'T keep (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Archfeld ( 6757 ) <> on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @05:05PM (#4601936) Journal
    the records. There is no requirement or really, any need to keep records of who checked out what specific books. If you want to record how many times a book was checked out for stocking issues so be it, but if you don't have the info, the FBI can't really do anything about it can they. I can't count how many times this kind of issue has come back and haunted companies or institutions, if you have data, it can be subpoenaed. I do volunteer work for local libraries and we altered the system to only retain the name/library card # of the person who has the book, until it is checked back in, then we blank those fields and record the fact that it was checked out, and returned and was in use for the specific dates. This ensure they know which books are getting used for ordering purposes while removing the onus from the librarians. The local city attorney agreed with the policy change, I am not sure if the county was consulted. Given the nature of the backups and technology, I am sure the FBI could recover what they need, but they must do the work, not the librarians.
  • by PineHall ( 206441 ) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @05:26PM (#4602157)
    1 2
    3 4

    1. Tools that help me see what others are up to.
    2. Tools that prevent others from seeing what I am up to.
    3. Tools that help others see what I am up to.
    4. Tools that prevent me from seeing what others are up to.

    Maybe we should promote laws that make everyone's activities transparent. We like 1 and 2, but reality is that it is either 1 and 3, or 2 and 4. And 1 and 3 promotes accountability while 2 and 4 is an "arms race" to see if one can remain hidden. If we could check and make certain the FBI was doing its job properly, it would reign in any questionable activities.
  • by M00NIE ( 605235 ) <poweredbystrutsg ... m ['o.c' in gap]> on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @05:50PM (#4602410)
    It seems like every day I read an article somewhere about how *MY* personal privacy is invaded by our government. I take small solace in the fact that there are just too many people to watch and that I am still just a number. But for how long I wonder? How long before video cameras are plentiful enough, digital satellites can map the planet to superb detail, and computers can catalog the behavior of ordinary citizens with ease and extrapolate patterns of behavior from it. I use the library. I walk into stores where I'm video-taped. I read "controversial" material. Most of all, I wonder how much of that is already recorded about me somewhere that I don't know about.
  • taking books out? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Malicious ( 567158 ) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @05:57PM (#4602481)
    I always made a point of doing my reading IN the library. That keeps nosey parents out of your interests, and provides a quiet place to read, and relax. You also eliminate the need for a library card. If you're worried that the book may not be there the next time you come back, hide it inside a reference book that no one will ever read.

    Now that's not so difficult is it?

  • by phorm ( 591458 ) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @07:24PM (#4603408) Journal
    Agent #1: You're under arrest

    Librarian: Shhhh

    Agent #1: You have the right to be silent

    Librarian: Shhhh

    Agent #1: Somebody shut that librarian up

    Agent #2: Shhhhh

    Agent #1: Not that way you idiot...
  • Note the irony. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by drdink ( 77 ) <> on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @07:47PM (#4603612) Homepage
    Only one jurisdiction, the District of Columbia, requires that a public library notify a patron when the library is served with a court order to turn over the patron's records.

    I'm glad a stupid law from DC has an exception in DC. I wouldn't want my representatives in DC to be subject to the same stupid laws as me. Funny how everybody seems to forget that before 9/11, there were FBI oversight hearings going on and they were being blackballed in the media.

    Note to FBI: I haven't been to a library in a while so don't even bother.

  • by Subgroove ( 623234 ) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @08:59PM (#4604225)
    I am a librarian, and nothing pisses myself and my fellow librarians off more than the government, religious action groups, or any other group of ignorant fools trying to stomp on the very ideals that have made this country what it is. The problem is that over the past decade these groups have only increased in numbers. The Patriot Act (as if enforcing or acquiescing to such assinine acts is a show true patriotism...) is just the latest (and most visible) in a long line of such infingments upon our civil liberties. As you can see in the link to the American Library Association website, the ALA has numerous lawsuits pending against the FBI regarding such draconian acts. All of the librarians I know are violently opposed to this act. Those who aren't; how dare they call themselves librarians! WE are commited to the preservation of knowledge and making said knowledge available to the masses. Any attempt to censor what a person may choose to read or persecution (and that is exactly what this is) of a person for their choice of reading goes against everything we stand for. There are countless librarians out there who are fighting this tooth and nail, often at the risk of our own jobs, to protect the civil liberties these acts attempt to toss in the gutter. I for one can not believe the librarians mentioned in this article are not screaming bloody murder at this heinous act. If you are opposed to these "patriotic" acts which "protect" our nation from unsubstantiated threats (and I know most of us /.ers do) talk to your local libraian about what you can do to FIGHT, contact the ALA and see how you can help, write your local newspaper, and most of all CONTACT YOUR REPRESENTATIVE and tell them how YOU were NOT represented when this was passed. This MUST be fought! This MUST be beaten! Otherwise we will lose much more than we have already lost. "Librarians are the secret masters of the world. They control information. Don't ever piss one off." -Spider Robinson

The shortest distance between two points is under construction. -- Noelie Alito