Libraries Learn How To Protect Patrons From Patriot Act

from the keep-no-records dept

Librarians are getting together to discuss the best ways to protect the privacy of their users without violating the Patriot Act, which lets the government snoop on what people do in libraries. Mostly, librarians say they’re making sure that they keep little to no records of anything. They delete internet cache and histories as soon as people log off, and they shred daily records of who checked out what books or who signed up to use a computer. It really makes you wonder what’s going on when librarians are being forced to skirt the law, just to let their patrons use their facilities without giving up any privacy.

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Comments on “Libraries Learn How To Protect Patrons From Patriot Act”

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JD says:


Why do the libraries feel obligated to do any more than follow the law? You’re in a public place, using public equipment. It’s no different than picking your nose at McDonalds over that Big Mac. Somebody is liable to see you; but you’re in public!

It is not the libraries job to circumvent the law; just abide by it. It is *your* choice if you want to avail yourself of public services, but you cannot reasonably expect the same amount of privacy as if you were at home in your closet. (I understand that there really is not that much more privacy there either…)

The United States is slowly being eaten alive from within.

Sofa King Stoned says:

Re: Why?

Assuming you are not a troll, your analogy is flawed. Picking your nose in a public restaurant may subject you to ridicule for your (lack of) higene, but a list of books you have read, or websites you have visited has the potential for far greater abuse than simple embarrasment at being caught picking your nose. What if your spouse found out you had checked out “Divorce for Dummies,” or if the IRS knew you had been reading up on “Tax Shelters for Dummies?” Also, just because a place is publicly accessible, doesn’t mean you expect everything you do to be available for scrutiny to any curious parties. You would not expect any random person to be able to approach the McD’s cashier and get an itemized list of what you bought, at what time and how you paid for it, over the last three months and whether you like extra cheese (against your doctor’s orders) would you?
Besides, more information does not mean better information. As far as we know established terrorist protocol is to conduct all exchanges of material information via face-to-face meetings or via blind drops, not via library facilities. Our HSA would better spend it’s time securing vulnerable targets rather than pouring over library receipts for Ossama.

thecaptain says:

Re: Re: Why?

I agree with you and wanted to add another point to feed the troll.

Beyond collecting information about you (which is bad enough) the big fear is the possible misinterpretation of that information.

You aren’t necessarily a terrorist because you read certain book, but someone will likely ASSUME you are eventually when they profile you.

IS Doctor says:

Re: Re: Why?

It’s simple – the facilities are being paid for by public dollars in a public place….you have no reasonable expectation of privacy…period. Regarding what HSA should be doing, it is public knowledge that they used library computers in the execution of 911, so why not keep an eye on them? An are you putting yourself forward as an expert on terrorist activity? I would prefer to leave it to people who are paid to know. After 911, yeah, I want to know who is using public facilities. If that keeps you and your buddies from whatever perversive or subversive activities that you fear will somehow be exposed to the light of day by this purported loss of “privacy” (which most of you happily abrogate for $1.00 off coupon to McDonalds), I can live happily with that.

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