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.



Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2010 @ 3:27am

    Perhaps twitter can have an option that enables people to indicate their privacy concerns on their twitter account so that the LOC can decide the privacy dynamics of each Twitter user or maybe the privacy dynamics of each tweet? Sounds like it's going to add a lot of complexity though.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2010 @ 3:51am

    I posted this in a public place, but I demand privacy!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    DS, May 7th, 2010 @ 3:57am

    Maybe, just maybe, if you are concerned about your privacy, you won't post your life online.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2010 @ 4:03am

    "Mommy, why were you a slut when you were little?" 8-o

    Tbh, can't the LoC find something more USEFUL to archive? Like old books or old films that are falling apart, for example. Hell, it'd be more useful for posterity if they archive every torrent they can get their hands on -- illegal or not.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2010 @ 4:25am

    Re:

    "Like old books or old films that are falling apart, for example"

    The LoC has the largest rare book collection in North America. They have 1 of 4 known Gutenburg Bibles. They have 2 copies of any book that anyone has wanted to publish in the U.S. (even if they don't intend to register the copyright). Tens of thousands of comic books.

    Believe me, they got all the regular important stuff covered.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2010 @ 5:48am

    Re:

    But that doesn't make for very much SENSATION and DRAMA now does it?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2010 @ 7:00am

    These restrictions prevent third parties from getting the corpus from the LOC for commercial use. Commercial users have to go to Twitter to get the data.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    icon
    Karl Bode (profile), May 7th, 2010 @ 5:09pm

    Re:

    yeah, exactly.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This