Library of Congress Responds To Privacy Gripes By Making Twitter Archive Less Useful
from the qualifed-researcher-of-inane-arcana dept
We recently noted how the Library Of Congress and Twitter made a big deal of the fact that the LOC would now be archiving Twitter conversations. The idea is that researchers may find a mountain of largely-incoherent blathering about the Twilight films useful in providing context as they try to piece together events of the twenty-first century. Late last week a little more detail of the archiving process leaked out, the LOC saying that in response to privacy complaints they wouldn’t store deleted tweets, and they’d also be placing all tweets under embargo for a period of six months (for whatever that’s supposed to accomplish). For good measure, they’re also apparently locking down the Twitter archive to "qualified researchers" and considering further restrictions:
"The library will embargo messages for six months after their original transmission. If that is not enough to put privacy issues to rest, she said, “We may have to filter certain things or wait longer to make them available.” The library plans to dole out its access to its Twitter archive only to those whom Ms. Anderson called "qualified researchers."
The historical dangers of "filtering certain things" aside, what’s the point of these restrictions? The entire archive is already being indexed by Google in real time, with no delays or restrictions — and other copies are being doled out to companies like Microsoft and Yahoo. In an age where phone companies are feeding every single byte of data in real time to the NSA with questionable oversight — worrying too much about the storage of your clever Twitter barbs seems to be missing the forest for the trees. The Library of Congress appears to have responded to these largely-senseless privacy concerns (you are communicating using a public service) by making the government’s Twitter archive more annoying to use. Though hey, if the apocalypse manages to decimate every other copy of the Twitter archive — you can sleep well knowing that you’ll still be able to dig through OchoCinco’s insights at The Library Of Congress with a laminated community college ID.