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Librarians Join the Fight Against The Patriot Act 438

An anonymous reader writes "This article at the New York Times (free reg.) shows how lots of libraries are moving to destroy privacy related data as quickly as possible and still others have gone as far as posting signs and handing out leaflets to scare / educate their patrons."
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Librarians Join the Fight Against The Patriot Act

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 08, 2003 @10:44AM (#5685936)
    Than an angry librarian. Those books can really hurt!
  • Is that kinda like book burning?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Is that kinda like book burning?

      No, it's kind of like letting you read a book, and then not running to the FBI to inform them that since you read "Catcher in the Rye" you must be a suicide bomber.
    • by altp ( 108775 ) on Tuesday April 08, 2003 @10:49AM (#5685987) Homepage
      No. not anything like it.

      Libraries are trying to protect their patrons rights so that people will feel safe using what ever material is in the building.

      Without having to worry about big brother. If we don't have the material to give when the feds come knocking, we can't violate a persons right to privacy.

    • Sort of (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      But in the same way a German Jewish sympathiser might have burned their nehibor's linage records when the Nazi party was in power.
    • Did you read Fahrenheit 451? (Actually the movie was pretty good too). It does have a weird irony to have librarians shredding records. Maybe we just need to have some firemen burning them, too.

  • Librarians (Score:5, Funny)

    by mrgrey ( 319015 ) on Tuesday April 08, 2003 @10:45AM (#5685946) Homepage Journal
    Oh, librarians, not libertarians.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 08, 2003 @10:46AM (#5685950)
    Even the damn librarians are against it!
    • by Capt. DrunkenBum ( 123453 ) on Tuesday April 08, 2003 @11:57AM (#5686417) Homepage
      Is it just me, or do "The Patriot act" and "The Office of Homeland security", sound a lot like something from Orwell?

      Oh well, off I go to the library...

      • by Spoing ( 152917 ) on Tuesday April 08, 2003 @02:16PM (#5687176) Homepage
        Agreed. Whenever I see "Homeland" it seems like too many umlauts are missing.
      • by orichter ( 60340 ) on Tuesday April 08, 2003 @07:11PM (#5688970)
        A few years ago, I read a book by Neil Postman called: Amusing Ourselves to Death. In the first chapter, he compared the books 1984, and A Brave New World. The conclusion he came to is that it is much easier to control people through what they love, rather than through what they fear. A distopia like in 1984 can never last long (on a historical time span) because people will try to destroy it, either covertly, or overtly. On the other hand, we have already accomplished 90% of the distopia presented in A Brave New World, and no one is worried about it, no one rallies against it. People openly embrace it. The funny thing is I'm not too worried about our government ruling through fear. I'm more worried about how our government currently rules: through apathy. How do you think it was that we were presented with the Hobson's choice of Al Gore, or George Bush.

    • Even the damn librarians are against it!

      Probably the proponents of privacy invasion were those kids that in grade school that talked loudly, joked, farted, scraped chairs, cut up with each other, and generally made all kinds of obnoxious noises in the library and ticked off the librarians.

      Come to think of it, those kids, now grown up and in positions of authority, are still making all kinds of obnoxious noises!

  • by klparrot ( 549422 ) <klparrot@ho t m a> on Tuesday April 08, 2003 @10:46AM (#5685954)
    You can read the story here [] without registering. Whenever a NY Times link gets posted, replace www with archive to avoid registration.
  • Patriot Act (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 08, 2003 @10:47AM (#5685966)
    There are lot of privacy concerns ever since the "war on terror". It seems to be the "war on privacy", and coupled with the governments ability to hold anyone for as long as they want without charging them, this is quickly becoming a place where you are guilty until proven innocent, and even then it doesn't necessarily mean you will not be prosecuted.
  • by viking099 ( 70446 ) on Tuesday April 08, 2003 @10:48AM (#5685978)
    Everyone knows that to piss off a librarian is to call down unimaginable wrath, the consequences of which are often unpredictable.

    I'm glad they're on our side, as they are very tenacious, and having a dedicated, intelligent, and socially-friendly ally will do more for the cause than a hundred thousand emails to congressmen.
    • I'm glad they're on our side
      Speak for yourself. Not everyone is on "Your" side. Don't assume that every reader or poster on this site agrees with you.
      ...And before you get too cranky, I am somewhat wary of the patriot act myself. I am just making a point...
    • Don't mess with the librarians.

      Now we just have to organize a bunch of librarians to do the "squint and stare at you as if you've just commited a felony" at the appropriate federal buildings. how long can such a seige last? Maybe they can creatively miss-file several million people's library fines to Ashcroft's account.
  • by Anonymous Coward
  • by CommieLib ( 468883 ) on Tuesday April 08, 2003 @10:48AM (#5685981) Homepage
    So basically the Patriot Act says that library records can be used in terrorist investigations. Is that it, or is there something more sinister I'm missing? Honestly, I'm not trying to troll here.

    If that is it...then good grief, what are we talking about here? What is there about borrowing a book that should make it a sacrosanct activity like confessional, or attorney-client privelege? I'm sorry, but what books someone has borrowed certainly seems like it could be relevant to me. We're supposed to ignore this information, why?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 08, 2003 @10:51AM (#5686000)

      So basically the Patriot Act says that library records can be used in terrorist investigations. Is that it, or is there something more sinister I'm missing? Honestly, I'm not trying to troll here.

      Go to the library and read some history, before the books are edited. Then you'll understand the problems. I imagine reading Marx's works in the 50's, no, not Groucho - would get you a visit, put on lists, and maybe even thrown in the pokey for awhile. These are not good times for freedom.
    • I think that it has a bit more to do with people using the librarys PC's to access the Internet, and investigative parties forcing the libraries to turn over who uses which public PC and when. I am not clear, however, I do believe this to be more of the point than which book is being borrowed... Why should they have to tell (your favorite alphabet soup group) which PC I was using?....

      unless I am off, which I might be...

    • by Unknown Poltroon ( 31628 ) <> on Tuesday April 08, 2003 @10:55AM (#5686030)
      Looked at a chemistry book?
      Read Mein Kampft(sp)?
      Read a physics book?
      Dirty bomber
      Che Guveras biography?
      picke up a copy of 2600?

      When they control what you can read and see, they controll your mind. Of course it wont be illegal to read any of these(probably) but how many people will check them out to read once they realize that this will automaticaly get a record started on them with the FBI. I odnt know about you, but i buy my copy of 2600 with cash. How much longer will that be possible?
      • Don't forget! (Score:2, Informative)

        by Thud457 ( 234763 )

        If you're checking books on crypto from the library, you're obviously a terrorist and a danger to the status quo []!

      • by CommieLib ( 468883 ) on Tuesday April 08, 2003 @12:18PM (#5686533) Homepage
        But they don't control what you read. It's just that if, after the fact you're under investigation for being a terrorist, yeah, having checked out books on making bombs just might be relevant to the investigation!

        Now IANAL, and I have heard some talk of erosion of the need to get a subpoena for this stuff, and I disagree with that. We need to have a judge playing ref on this stuff.

        But failing that, I guess I just don't see a special privelege for checking out books. Consider that on one hand, it would be admissable in court that I purchased the supplies for a bomb but not that I checked out a book on how to make one. Really it comes down to the question of: why should library records be inadmissable? What special privelege exists? And before you answer, make sure that you believe that at least something should be admissable in terrorist investigations, otherwise you're wasting everyone's time here.
        • by Mr Guy ( 547690 ) on Tuesday April 08, 2003 @12:40PM (#5686643) Journal
          The problem, I think, is that they are not allowed to tell you they are using your records in this way.

          This means there is little to no control even if the FBI walked into the library and asked for EVERYONE who checked out "Catcher In the Rye".

          Very few people have problems with them specifically requesting information in connections to actual crimes, with oversight and proper paper trails indicating they are doing this. It's harassment for potential crimes that they collect data on without letting you know that makes people concerned.
      • Looked at a chemistry book?
        Read Mein Kampft(sp)?

        Checked out "The Prince"?
    • by cperciva ( 102828 ) on Tuesday April 08, 2003 @10:56AM (#5686040) Homepage
      If that is it...then good grief, what are we talking about here?

      Courts have ruled in several instances that if something is to be considered available, it must be available anonymously. Freedom of speech implies freedom of anonymous speech, because otherwise people will self-censor out of fear of retribution; access to abortions implies anonymous access to abortions, because otherwise the social stigma could stop people seeking abortions; access to public libraries implies anonymous access to public libraries, because otherwise people will avoid reading "subversive" material.

      You're right, it is unlikely that the ability to access these records would be abused; but it has been abused in the past, so many people are very wary of giving law enforcement that ability again.
      • McCarthy-era fears (Score:5, Insightful)

        by nano-second ( 54714 ) on Tuesday April 08, 2003 @12:09PM (#5686486)
        Someone in the article is quoted as saying they didn't want to hand out pamphlets and so forth for fear of scaring elderly people who lived during the McCarthy era. However, that's exactly what they should be doing. People need to see the parallel and need to be afraid that their rights have been eroded to do anything.

        There has been fear in the past about using people's book preferences for profiling on a larger scale. Took out a book on gay relationships? maybe you're gay. Took out a book about religion X? Maybe you practice religion X. Took out a book on living with disease X? maybe you have disease X. This becomes a lot more insidious if records of specialized bookstores are being examined. I seem to recall a case recently about a gay/lesbian focused bookstore refusing to release their customer records.

    • by ( 645325 ) on Tuesday April 08, 2003 @11:01AM (#5686069)
      We're supposed to ignore this information, why?
      For the same reason you probably don't want your ISP keeping permanent records of every site you've ever visited, ever. Privacy is a necessary component of intellectual freedom.

      See the Library Bill o' Rights [] for a more concise explanation than I could ever give., para-professional library drone

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 08, 2003 @11:04AM (#5686085)
      Every book the library has was selected to be shared with the public. So there should be nothing wrong with borrowing anything, since it's public knowledge. Additionally, people who are serious about doing bad things know that library logs are checked; they will simply not check books out, and read or copy them instead.

      So this is useless against people who are serious about committing crimes, just like a lot of the rest of the Patriot Act. What's it good for? Finding people who the government doesn't like.

      I'm sure I know the answer to this question, but do you not care that someone might be sitting in a room somewhere some day, looking at a list of books you've borrowed, and using their judgement to decide if your interest one weekend in Nuclear Engineering means you should be flagged for checks every time you try to fly? Right right, you have nothing to hide.
    • by warpSpeed ( 67927 ) <> on Tuesday April 08, 2003 @11:05AM (#5686091) Homepage Journal
      So basically the Patriot Act says that library records can be used in terrorist investigations. Is that it, or is there something more sinister I'm missing? Honestly, I'm not trying to troll here.

      If that is it...then good grief, what are we talking about here? What is there about borrowing a book that should make it a sacrosanct activity like confessional, or attorney-client privelege?...

      We are not talking about borrowing a book, we are talking about unfettered access, by the government, to records that we should reasonably expect to remain private. They want access to all personal data, in the name of national security, but there is no control over how that data is actually used. This can put a chilling effect on what we may or may not do just by association and the fear of being targeted for said associations.

      How long until you are stopped driving and asked for your 'papers', where are you going, why? Sounds far fetched, it probably is, but where it the line that once the governemnt crosses it is no longer OK for them to have unfettered access to our personal lives?

      If the government wants to know that I have read "such and such author", they should be required to tell me that they want to know, and further they should show a good reason for neededing the information.

    • Pre-crime... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Theaetetus ( 590071 ) <> on Tuesday April 08, 2003 @11:22AM (#5686174) Homepage Journal
      If that is it...then good grief, what are we talking about here? What is there about borrowing a book that should make it a sacrosanct activity like confessional, or attorney-client privelege? I'm sorry, but what books someone has borrowed certainly seems like it could be relevant to me. We're supposed to ignore this information, why?

      Yes, it could be relevant to terrorist investigations... And it can help find potential terrorists, too! For instance, if you see someone has checked out books on flying planes and September 11th, then they're probably a terrorist (or maybe a pilot); if you see someone has looked at books on chemistry and physics, they're probably a suicide bomber (or maybe a high-school teacher); if you see someone has read 1984, they're obviously a subversive commie-lovin' bastard (or maybe a student); if you've read anything on crypto, codes, Engima machines, numbers theory, you're obviously a cracker (or maybe a mathematician)... In any case, these potential terrorists, bombers, subversives, and crackers will likely commit crimes in the future, so for the safety of the little children, we MUST lock them up now!

      This has been a message from the Ashcroft Bureau of Pre-Crime.



    • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Tuesday April 08, 2003 @11:27AM (#5686202) Homepage
      We're supposed to ignore this information, why?

      Ok please tell me what books you have read over the past 6 months.
      also what movies you watched.

      and can you give me a list of the phone numbres you called last week?


      It doesnt bug you right.. If it does then what are you trying to hide?

      Are you up to some Terrorist activities?

      do you get the picture now?
    • by ray-auch ( 454705 ) on Tuesday April 08, 2003 @11:51AM (#5686380)
      Libraries have always been about public access to information, if reading some of that information gets you arrested then people will be afraid to read it and the library is not doing its job.

      It's basically censorship at the reader end - if you can't stop it being written you can harrass everyone who reads it instead.

      You think you have a free press right ? Do you still think you have a free press if reading a certain newspaper means you get questioned as part of a terrorist investigation ?

    • by sg3000 ( 87992 ) <> on Tuesday April 08, 2003 @01:00PM (#5686747)
      > So basically the Patriot Act says that library
      > records can be used in terrorist investigations.
      > Is that it, or is there something more sinister
      > I'm missing?

      Among other things, the PATRIOT Act allows the FBI to not only get a list of all web sites or books you've seen from a library, but it forbids the library to tell you that the FBI came-a lookin'.

      The ACLU has more information here [] and here [].

      Claiming that these brave new powers will only be used to combat terrorism is a bit misleading. "Terrorism" is whatever the government wants to call it. For example, the government at one time wanted to call computer cracking "computer terrorism". Or, consider the fact that Senate Bill 742 [] in Oregon, introduced by Republican John Minnis, would define as a terrorist, a person who "plans or participates in an act that is intended, by at least one of its participants, to disrupt" business, transportation, schools, government, or free assembly." Keep in mind, that means if you start a food fight, you could be a terrorist under this law.

      Brings to mind a line from Patrick McGoohan in The Prisoner, "Why don't you just put us all in solitary confinement and be done with it!"
    • by Qzukk ( 229616 ) on Tuesday April 08, 2003 @01:05PM (#5686793) Journal
      The Patriotic Act says a lot more than just "the feds can see what books you read", but thats a story for another day.

      No, today, I'll tell you the story about Jim. Jim was a fine young man, he just graduated with a degree in criminology. He was an honest and caring individual, who was selfless and brave. He would have been an outstanding police officer some day.

      Well, would have been, except that Jim's freshman year, his roommate Steve was arrested. He didn't know the guy too well, Steve always hung out with the "tough crowd" and usually didn't use the room at all, preferring to stay out all night or crash at his girlfriend's place. Anyway, Jim went home for summer break to see his old friends, and when he came back, he had a different roommate. He hadn't heard much about it, and nobody was too keen on talking about it, so he figured he'd just let it slide.

      So, after graduating, Jim applied to join the police force. He passed the civil service exams, and waited to hear the good news. And waited. And waited.

      Then one day, there was a knock on the door. He got up, to answer it, and suddenly there was a loud bang and the door splintered, then collapsed inwards. 5 armed FBI agents rushed him and threw him to the ground then pinned him down. That was the last anyone heard from Jim. His neighbors thought it was sad that he'd be hauled away, since he seemed like such a nice quiet boy.

      The End.

      So, what happened?

      Well, Jim's life started on the quick road to Hell when the university's random housing lottery placed him with Steve. Except Steve wasn't named Steve. He was just using that name while he was illegally in the US to study piloting airplanes. Then, Jim started checking out books on famous murders, criminology, DNA testing, and the like. His final mistake was applying for a position on the police force, thats when they ran the background check on him.

      They punched his name into the database, and out popped the following:

      Warning lived with "steve" for one year. Possible terrorist connection.

      Well, this was enough for the FBI to get involved, so they went and looked up the list of books Jim had checked out and read. The list certainly was eye-opening. They fed this data into their database (which incidentially had Jim's major incorrectly listed as "English". But that was OK, since it wasn't important for the information to be correct)

      The database churned for a few minutes and spat out the following:

      Warning subject lived with "steve" for one year. Possible terrorist connection.
      Warning subject has extensive interest in criminal behavior and violent crimes.
      Conclusion: HE'S A TERRIST! GET HIM!

      So now, Jim's sitting in a cell (if you can call those chain link things in Cuba "cells"). Been there for a few years. They still haven't told him why though. Every now and then they beat him or make him kneel with his head back and his arms straight out for hours on end, but they let up a little after a couple of other guys died. On the up side though, he's gotten to be good friends with this Ali guy in the next cell over, who seems like someone he knew his freshman year.

      Moral (if you're still reading):

      If you think this kind of thing is bullshit, you seriously underestimate the ability of the US justice system to be perverted. Take a look at the current mess the Houston Police Department is in, using shoddy lab work and practically lying through their teeth to get the conviction. Its not about justice here, no, its about having the big conviction numbers, whether or not the criminals are still roaming the streets. And now the FBI wants to maintain a database on everyone (oops, did I say "maintain"? That kind of suggests some effort in upkeep and keeping it correct) and is using terrorist arrests and secret trials which always end in conviction to convince everyone that they need even more power to catch every last terrorist out there.
  • I think they are on the right track. What we can do to help them is bring forth legislation that does the opposite of the patriot act. Lets make privacy a "right" again. If I was a more energetic I would try start some sort of movement to get this accomplished. Nothing like a little home grown legislation however I am just a lazy computer nerd and instead will post it to slashdot. However there is one argument that needs to be address first. And that is that you have the right to privacy not anonymity
    • The Constitution/Bill of Rights has no right to privacy enumerated. Amendment IV of the Bill of Rights states

      "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

      The Patriot Act doesn't bypass the "probable cause" warrant requir
      • The Constitution/Bill of Rights has no right to privacy enumerated.

        Yeah, but the Ninth Amendment [] explicitly states: The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
      • It doesn't need an enumeration. Read the 9th and 10th Amendments. Too bad not many people do.
      • by Iguanaphobic ( 31670 ) on Tuesday April 08, 2003 @11:35AM (#5686260)
        USAPA sec. 213. Can delay notification of a search warrant for "a reasonable period" and can the delay can be "extended for good cause shown" to court for any wire or electronic communication or tangible property. Problematic because notice to a searched person is a key component of Fourth Amendment reasonableness.

        So, they can enter your home while you are out, search and then notify you up to 30 days later. (reasonable is such an ambiguous word, isn't it?)

        Things have changed in America. Where once the Fourth Amendment ("The right of the people to be secure ... against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated") was presumed inviolate, now police complain such restrictions are making it impossible to fight the War on Drugs.
        The courts respond to the "pragmatic realities" of the Drug War by granting police a progressively greater presumption of "compelling need" to violate the terms of the Fourth -- first in a few cases of "fleeing suspects"; then in "random traffic stops"; finally tumbling down the slippery slope so far that today, "It's OK that you killed these innocent homeowners in their beds, as long as it was your anonymous informant who got the address wrong. But you really should pay to fix the door."

        The fourth amendment is history. Get over it.

        • Where once the Fourth Amendment ("The right of the people to be secure ... against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated") was presumed inviolate, now police complain such restrictions are making it impossible to fight the War on Drugs.

          I know I'm not the only one wondering at this turn of events... "Perhaps the Constitution was correct, and the War on Drugs is wrong?"

          I remember a quote from somewhere, "If your laws are turning your country into a police state, creating more crim

  • How does that get traced?
  • More Links! (Score:5, Informative)

    by tiltowait ( 306189 ) on Tuesday April 08, 2003 @10:52AM (#5686012) Homepage Journal
    Patron privacy and the confidentiality of library records is a fundamental tenet of librarianship. We've been on this issue for a while now [], but it's good to see it getting more popupar press.

    Support the Freedom to Read Protection Act [] today!
  • .. I had pictures of outraged librarians in glasses throwing of their chains... but no, apparently its just the good folks in Santa Cruz. I mean, I'm a liberal, but jeez, what happened to responsible journalism...

    • Not to pull out a RTFA on you, but: In a survey sent to 1,500 libraries last fall by the Library Research Center at the University of Illinois, the staffs at 219 libraries said they had cooperated with law enforcement requests for information about patrons; staffs at 225 libraries said they had not. It looks like Santa Cruz is hardly the liberal exception to the rule this time around.
    • by NecrosisLabs ( 125672 ) on Tuesday April 08, 2003 @11:04AM (#5686088)
      This is in libraries across the country. My wife is a Librarian at a College library in Chicago, and they expunge usage records after the books are checked back in explictily for the same purpose. The most insidious part of this is that it is a crime for a librarian to let someone know that their records have been requested... Check out [] for some good information and library activism.
  • by Visaris ( 553352 ) on Tuesday April 08, 2003 @10:53AM (#5686021) Journal
    I used to be into fireworks and explosives when I was a kid (Well, not too long ago; since I've found computers). I was always making little "bombs" and firecrackers and smokebombs, etc. It was really interesting to me. My dad even showed me some of the chemistry behind it.
    Then one day I saw the coolest book in the library! It was all about how to make black powder and colored sparks and pipe bombs and it just kept going! I was so excited! Now... I'm afraid to check it out. I start checking out books on explosives and the feds could show up at my door! Am I paranoid? Maybe... but I think things have gone a little too far here. So a kid wants to make a pipe bomb. So what. When my dad was a kid, he'd blow holes in the ground for the fun of it. On his dad's own 100 acre farm. I'm a terrorist! yay!
    • by Eric Ass Raymond ( 662593 ) on Tuesday April 08, 2003 @11:07AM (#5686105) Journal
      I start checking out books on explosives and the feds could show up at my door!

      So? You don't have to talk to them. If you choose to talk to them, tell them exactly what you said in your post. You are interested in chemistry and explosives and so was your father. "Since when was will to learn chemistry a cause for federal investigation?"

      Don't be confrontational or start spouting shit about your rights and they'll go away.

      Personally I'm so sick of the "padded safe world" the soccer moms and their friends want to create at the expense of the freedom to learn. Every time a kid blows himself up with a self-made explosive, you see his parents screaming about how the internet/books/movies made him do it. It's like the stupidity and carelessness on the part of the kid and bad parenting had nothing to do with it. And the society goes along with it. "They are the victims and we can't really put any blame on them then."

  • Now I just bet everyone in Washington is just crapping themselves, those Librarians, they've always been the biggest threat to any goverment.

    I mean what are they going to do, refuse to lend people books, or start an active "it overdue" campaign against representatives ?

    What is needed here is something to galvanise the seperate groups under one banner.

    Freedom once again needs a Martin Luther King.
  • Librarians (Score:5, Insightful)

    by luzrek ( 570886 ) on Tuesday April 08, 2003 @10:54AM (#5686029) Journal
    Librarians' main purpose is to provide information in a free and fair way. On top of that they are extremely well organized. It doesn't supprise me that libraries have adopted polices which violate the spirit of the patriot act, but I'ld be very supprised if they actually break the law.

    Librarians are also the ultimate beurocrats. Where I went to college, the library shared some of its physical space with the administration on a supposedly temporary basis. Much later tha administration moved its high-level offices to another building, but wanted to keep its basic functions in the library. The librarians produced a 30+ year old document showing that the administration was supposed to completely move out once X number of square feet became avalible in another building. The administration was forced to give back the space in the library.

    • "The librarians produced a 30+ year old document showing that the administration was supposed to completely move out once X number of square feet became avalible in another building. The administration was forced to give back the space in the library."

      Hence proving that libraries are the only well-functioning beurocracies.

  • by Mattygfunk1 ( 596840 ) on Tuesday April 08, 2003 @10:55AM (#5686037)
    It's great that groups make a consious effort to fight against these laws. Privacy laws (or no privacy laws in this case) are generally not understood by the general public. If you want your privacy you _must_ take a stand to protect it, and make others aware of why you are protecting it.

    Even a few hours ago I was informed by a telemarketer that the conversation would be recorded for quality assurance puposes, and asking for my consent. I declined and she seemed shocked, as if she had never heard somebody say no to it. She even followed up with "why not?", to which I explained briefly the privacy implications if I had chosen to do so.

    She said that she would note that I hadn't consented so the tape wouldn't be listened to. So, of course, the recording was made anyway because that was "standard practice". _______
    cheap web site hosting [] for those on a budget

  • by Treebeard the Ent ( 638978 ) on Tuesday April 08, 2003 @11:00AM (#5686068) Homepage Journal
    "The basic strategy now is to keep as little historical information as possible," said Anne M. Turner, director of the library system.

    I hope they do this at my library... then they won't have a leg to stand on for those 5 books and 2 videos I have had out since August, 2000... since they couldn't tell me what they were, how am I to know whether or not I took them out... This could be the best policy ever!!! Any chance of Blockbuster adopting this policy?

  • I've been thinking about how libraries could allow the anonymous borrowing of books, while still ensuring that the proper book is returned when it's due.

    I would do it by using some combination of details about the book, like ISBN, page numbers, etc to create a UID for the book when it is checked out, and then when it is returned perform the same calculation to make sure it is the same book.

    The important thing would be to make sure there existed nowhere a database of books and their IDs.

    Is this flawed in
  • What does Patriot Act say about bookstores and online bookstores [] in particular.

    If I search for books about nuclear weapons, nuclear technology and guns, am I going to get flagged for it.

  • by Loki_1929 ( 550940 ) on Tuesday April 08, 2003 @11:17AM (#5686151) Journal
    As anyone who studies political science will tell you, a democracy only works well when you have an educated public. Those who visit a library are obviously seeking knowledge, and so any attempt by the staff of said library to provide them with knowledge should be applauded.

    This, however, goes above and beyond simply providing their patrons with knowledge. This is an example of a group of people with a very subtle power using that power to advance the principles of freedom and democracy. By actively protecting the right to privacy of their patrons and seeking to educate them about laws that have a very real and chilling effect on their lives, they truly are making this country greater by the day.

    You won't see major media protesting this law; only showing how great it is that our wonderful government is protecting us so that we may feel warm and fuzzy all over. To see a group of people standing up in defense of the rights of citizens at the risk of being denied their own rights is both comforting and encouraging.

    If any of you notices a librarian tearing up a checkout card, handing out fliers or putting up posters on this subject, thank them; they deserve that much if not more. They're risking their safety and freedom to try and protect your's.

    • You won't see major media protesting this law

      One Al-Jazeera reporter died in a U.S. airstrike on a building housing Arab media.

      Of course they won't protest. This could happen to them!!

    • And I do wonder about electronic systems. The Los Angeles County system is all electronic now; you can search the book database anonymously, but that's where it ends. Everything else is recorded to your name. As to how long the data is kept, I have no idea (but I think I'll ask next time I'm there).

      [tinfoil hat]
      For that matter, do we really KNOW that computerized library systems haven't already been compromised by gov't trojans??
      [/tinfoil hat]

    • by sg3000 ( 87992 ) <> on Tuesday April 08, 2003 @01:26PM (#5686908)
      > As anyone who studies political science will tell
      > you, a democracy only works well when you have an
      > educated public.

      That explains what Karl Rove (you know, Bush's brain) was thinking when he said [], "As people do better, they start voting like Republicans--unless they have too much education and vote Democratic."

      You can easily steer the country on the road to fascism all the while calling it "democracy," if your citizens don't know any better. Republicans have made no secret of their anti-academic views (e.g. they want to teach Biblical Creation in science class, and the current president probably hasn't even read a book since The The Very Hungry Caterpillar []). Utimately, they want to replace our democracy with a plutocratic theocracy under their brand of Christianity. Sounds a little extreme, right? Well, Bush already believes that he was elected by God [] to lead this country.

      Wow, this post is probably one sentence away from violating Godwin's law. I should have read my sig before posting.
  • by rknop ( 240417 ) on Tuesday April 08, 2003 @11:36AM (#5686272) Homepage

    From the article:

    "There are people, especially older people who lived through the McCarthy era, who might be intimidated by this," he said.

    All I can say is, GOOD! I'm sure many of these same older people (whose sensibilities that some libraries are trying to protect) voted for the president and members of congress we have that gave us this act. All the better if they are made to realize just what they are voting for, and what is being done in the name of "protecting us from terrorsim."

    Scare tactics, spreading baseless FUD, and all that aren't good. Stating the facts and allowing people to be informed about what the government is giving itself the right to do, however, is a different matter altogether. Those who lived through the McCarthy era may have the perspective to realize that they should be intimidated by this, while those of us who are younger can shrug off based on the rest of that quote (that the probability that any one person will have their records searched is low, since there are so many people).


  • worth a reread (Score:5, Interesting)

    by denny_d ( 454663 ) on Tuesday April 08, 2003 @11:51AM (#5686378)
    It seems only librarians are able to appreciate the meaning of this:

    [The United States]Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    Fear of prosecution for reading is the corollary [] to abridging the freedom of speech.

    In reading the responses of some of the (probably younger) technophiles here at /. who see the end in libraries and librarians forget that there are people who still *use* libraries for their reading materials, reference and enjoyment. Beware /.ers! You scream when your electronic "rights" of privacy are violated but seem far too quick to sacrifice the rights of those who don't fit in your clique of 'libraries are old school, the web is the only way'. Beware the pendulum of opinion, it swings like the sword: both ways.

    Last I checked there were about 85,000 full text books on the web for free. That's less than roughly .02% of all the books ever published.(Correct me if I'm wrong!) I want to go to my library (and web site) and read whatever I like without having the latest incarnation of a Cloaked Big Brother leaning over my shoulder looking for Thought Crimes.

  • by darthtuttle ( 448989 ) <> on Tuesday April 08, 2003 @12:17PM (#5686523) Homepage
    Maybe we should create a list of "books of interest" and everyone goes and checks one of them out each month. One way to really screw with information systems is to throw useless data at it. If the government is collecting this information in legal or non legal ways, let's throw a wrench in it. After they find the 1000th person they have investigated for checking out "Leaving the 21st Century", "Lipstick Traces", "Days of War, Nights of Love", or any of the thousands of other subversive books out there, they will have to get more creative with things and stop looking at what I read as an idicator.
    • Maybe we should create a list of "books of interest" and everyone goes and checks one of them out each month.

      Teacher: Did you complete your library research assignments?

      Class (in unison): We couldn't - the library was Slashdotted again.
    • That is an excellent idea. It is impossible (and probably undesirable unless one advocates total anarchy) to dispense entirely with monitoring, but this method of community behavior can provide a modicum of intelligently-targeted cover for activities that ought not be infringed upon. It's not a great and sustainable solution, but it's probably an effective measure in a pinch: If you can't stop the monitoring, increase the noise level.

      I was witness to a moment of beauty, which (though slightly OT) demo
  • NPR Interview (Score:3, Informative)

    by ahoehn ( 301327 ) <andrew@h[ ]hn ['oe.' in gap]> on Tuesday April 08, 2003 @01:00PM (#5686756) Homepage
    On the March 13 Diane Rehm show on NPR, I remember hearing the president of the American Library Association, Mitch Freedman, interviewed. He talked about many things, the woefully inadequate funding of our library system, his distaste for government mandated censorship of library internet connections, and his anger at the Patriot Act's impact on the library system.
    You can find the real audio stream of his interview at

    I never appreciated librarians like I should before hearing this interview.
  • by EZmagz ( 538905 ) on Tuesday April 08, 2003 @01:06PM (#5686806) Homepage
    From the article:
    "There are people, especially older people who lived through the McCarthy era, who might be intimidated by this," he said. "As of right now, the odds are very great that there will be no search made of a person's records at public libraries, so I don't want to scare people away."

    Good. Those people SHOULD be intimidated, because they've lived through an era where absolute bullshit such as this went unchecked and they saw the results. And I don't CARE if it's unlikely that the public records will be unchecked. It's unlikely that someone will win the $300 million Powerball on Sunday, but that doesn't mean some guy won't be $300 million richer come Monday. It's also unlikely that my local library will run a check to see who's checked out "The Art Of War" and "1984", but that doesn't mean that it won't happen.

    It's at times like these that you realize how blind the general public really is.

  • by rogersc ( 622395 ) on Tuesday April 08, 2003 @01:54PM (#5687067) Homepage
    This law only lets one govt agency (the FBI) access records from another govt agency (the Santa Cruz library system) in the case of a foreign terrorist investigation. The libraries should not have been keeping long-term records on what books I check out in the first place. When I check out a book, it only needs to keep a record of that until I return the book. Then the record should be deleted from the library database. There is no law requiring the library to keep the records. The law just says that if they keep the records and they are subpoenaed, then the library has to turn them over.

    I live in Santa Cruz, and I am glad that this controversy has resulted in the libraries destroying old records. I am more concerned about Santa Cruz misusing the old data than about the FBI misusing its subpoenas. The best solution to privacy invading databases is to purge the unnecessary info from the database, and not to rely on controls on who can access the database. If the data is there, then it can be had by low-level workers who can be persuaded, bribed, or coerced.

  • by holland_g ( 651151 ) on Tuesday April 08, 2003 @04:27PM (#5687900) Homepage
    PATRIOT II as drafted would

    Allow the Attourney General to:
    o deport permanent residents
    o revoke citizenship

    Allow the government to:
    o Create DNA databases
    o grant immunity to police and businesses []

    Get Ready for PATRIOT II

    Matt Welch, AlterNet
    April 1, 2003
    Viewed on April 8, 2003

    The "fog of war" obscures more than just news from the battlefield. It also provides cover for radical domestic legislation, especially ill-considered liberty-for-security swaps, which have been historically popular at the onset of major conflicts.

    The last time allied bombs fell over a foreign capital, the Bush Administration rammed through the USA PATRIOT Act, a clever acronym for maximum with-us-or-against-us leverage (the full name is "Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism").

    Remarkably, this 342-page law was written, passed (by a 98-1 vote in the U.S. Senate) and signed into law within seven weeks of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack. As a result, the government gained new power to wiretap phones, confiscate property of suspected terrorists, spy on its own citizens without judicial review, conduct secret searches, snoop on the reading habits of library users, and so General John Ashcroft wants to finish the job. On Jan. 10, 2003, he sent around a draft of PATRIOT II; this time, called "The Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003." The more than 100 new provisions, Justice Department spokesperson Mark Corallo told the Village Voice recently, "will be filling in the holes" of PATRIOT I, "refining things that will enable us to do our job."

    Though Ashcroft and his mouthpieces have issued repeated denials that the draft represents anything like a finished proposal, the Voice reported that: "Corallo confirmed ... that such measures were coming soon."

    You can read the entire 87-page draft here. Constitutional watchdog Nat Hentoff has called it "the most radical government plan in our history to remove from Americans their liberties under the Bill of Rights." Some of DSEA's more draconian provisions:

    Americans could have their citizenship revoked, if found to have contributed "material support" to organizations deemed by the government, even retroactively, to be "terrorist." As Hentoff wrote in the Feb. 28 Village Voice: "Until now, in our law, an American could only lose his or her citizenship by declaring a clear intent to abandon it. But -- and read this carefully from the new bill -- 'the intent to relinquish nationality need not be manifested in words, but can be inferred from conduct.'" (Italics Hentoff's.)

    Legal permanent residents (like, say, my French wife), could be deported instantaneously, without a criminal charge or even evidence, if the Attorney General considers them a threat to national security. If they commit minor, non-terrorist offenses, they can still be booted out, without so much as a day in court, because the law would exempt habeas corpus review in some cases. As the American Civil Liberties Union stated in its long brief against the DSEA, "Congress has not exempted any person from habeas corpus -- a protection guaranteed by the Constitution -- since the Civil War."

    The government would be instructed to build a mammoth database of citizen DNA information, aimed at "detecting, investigating, prosecuting, preventing or responding to terrorist activities." Samples could be collected without a court order; one need only be suspected of wrongdoing by a law enforcement officer. Those refusing the cheek-swab could be fined $200,000 and jailed for a year. "Because no federal genetic privacy law regulates DNA databases, privacy advocates fear that the data they contain could be misused," Wired News reported March 31. "People with 'flawed' DNA have already suffered genetic

"There is no distinctly American criminal class except Congress." -- Mark Twain