From Marketplace.org: I was at a dinner table about a year ago, right after the first Edward Snowden leaks, when I heard for the first time an argument I've heard many times since.
"Why should I care? I'm not doing anything wrong." This appears to be the opinion of the majority when it comes to the idea of the government using surveillance to fight terrorism. By Pew Research's estimates, 56 percent of Americans support the government listening in while it fights the "bad guys." And it has been this way for something like 12 years -- right after the September 11th attacks and the beginning of the war on terror.
All of this thinking about surveillance, government, and legislation has also reminded me of a chapter in my own history that I haven't thought of in a while. During my junior year of college in 2003, I worked in the D.C. office of a moderate Republican Congressman. My main job was to answer constituent correspondence with letters that represented the Congressman's policy positions, which he would then sign. One day near the end of my spring semester, I had an assignment I couldn't complete: I was supposed to answer a constituent letter about a proposed expansion of the Patriot Act. The letter had been sent, and signed, by librarians throughout the Congressman's home state who were opposed to the Patriot Act's allowance of officials to access library records. They were asking the Congressman to oppose any extension or expansion of the legislation, and really to roll it back entirely. As I was preparing to tell the librarians that the congressman fully supported the legislation, I made a discovery. One of the librarian signatures on the constituent letter was familiar to me. It belonged to my mother.
Whether it's logs of phone calls or GPS data, commentator Geoff Nunberg says it still says a lot about who you are: "Tell me where you've been and who you've been talking to, and I'll tell you about your politics, your health, your sexual orientation, your finances," he says.
This week's episode brings a brief essay, retransmission of an excerpt of a program from US government external broadcaster Voice of America concerning the cyber-snooping situation, and a news miscellany.
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Doug Archer thinks twice before he Googles.
Archer, a reference and peace studies librarian at the University of Notre Dame, is careful not to type potentially inflammatory words, such as "bomb."
Why? Because he knows the government might be watching.
The Patriot Act, which was passed in the weeks following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, authorizes the government to monitor which library books people check out and what they search for on the Internet.
Ten years later, Archer and a group of librarians continue to fight for changes to that controversial law, which they say is unconstitutional.
Andrew Stiles, writing at National Review Online's The Corner, notes the US House of Representatives failed to pass an extension of various USA PATRIOT Act provisions. The Washington Post's Paul Kane and Felicia Sonmez report that library-related provisions were included in the bill that failed.
A key line this week:
"Content remains content regardless of the form it is fixed in."
You'll hear more in this week's episode.
Yahoo News bringing word on WikiLeaks
John Perry Barlow on the first infowar
John Perry Barlow equating Julian Assange with Salman Rushdie
How to nuke your Amazon account
WikiLeaks moving to Elastic Compute Cloud
Wikileaks getting kicked off the Elastic Compute Cloud
Dave Winer on WikiLeaks
Reporters Without Borders on WikiLeaks
Julian Assange And The Potential Case of a Very Nasty Assassination
Related links to materials posted since the recording session concluded:
WikiLeaks releases US listing of critical infrastructure across the planet
RedState.com: Wikileaks now comic-opera Bond Villian group.
The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables claim al-Jazeera changed coverage to suit Qatari foreign policy
Meitar Moscovitz on running a cablegate mirror
Twitter versus WikiLeaks
As I've seen quite a bit of chatter on library-related e-mail reflectors, it is perhaps best to mirror the new signage the TSA just put out for holiday travel. I'm attaching the PDF here so it will distribute outward as a booklet as far as iTunes is concerned in the podcast feed. Podcast feeds can handle more than just audio and video files...
You can find more signage and the government PSA we'll likely be airing here: http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/holiday_travel.shtm
Like many technologists, I may have had some vague notion that librarians had something to contribute to discussions about information and metadata and standards and access, but my concept of what librarians did and what they knew probably had more to do with stereotypes and anecdote than on an understanding of reality. Which is a shame. Although in the last few years I think we’ve done a really good job of making clearer connections between libraries and technology, I don’t think anyone is surprised when librarians are omitted from discussions about and between prominent technologists, such as the one facilitated by the Setup. (Note: by “librarians” I mean anyone who works in, with, or for libraries. Hat tip to Eli Neiburger for saying what I’d been thinking, only less clearly, for some time before he said those words out loud.)
President Obama recently signed into law the re-authorization of three contentious provisions of the Patriot Act. Shane Harris, author of The Watchers, returns this week to discuss the implications for the future of American surveillance. Transcript here.
The Obama administration has told Congress it supports renewing three provisions of the Patriot Act due to expire at year’s end, measures making it easier for the government to spy within the United States.
In a letter to Sen. Patrick Leahy, the Vermont Democrat and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Justice Department said the administration might consider “modifications” to the act in order to protect civil liberties.
“The administration is willing to consider such ideas, provided that they do not undermine the effectiveness of these important authorities,” Ronald Weich, assistant attorney general, wrote to Leahy, (.pdf) whose committee is expected to consider renewing the three expiring Patriot Act provisions next week. The government disclosed the letter Tuesday.
It should come as no surprise that President Barack Obama supports renewing the provisions, which were part of the Patriot Act approved six weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.