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FBI Bugging Public Libraries

michael posted more than 11 years ago | from the liberty-is-just-a-brand-of-jeep dept.

Privacy 567

zamiel writes "Bill Olds writes in the Hartford Courant: 'I know my librarian, and I believe she would tell me if the government were tracking my computer use at the library. Don't you agree? No way. There's a gag order. When the FBI uses a court order or a subpoena to gain access to library computers or a list of the names of people who have borrowed certain books, librarians can't tell anyone - not even other librarians or you. They face a stiff federal penalty if they do. It's unfair that librarians should be placed in such a position.'" The American Library Association has a page with advice to librarians and links to previous news stories on the subject.

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FRAST PAST! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4601256)

I mean "screw you."

Wokas ! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4601392)

Mgfpft zrrlsptz.

Sorry guys... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4601260)

I guess I just can't resist...


no (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4601262)


first prost (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4601266)

I checked out first.

pirst fost (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4601279)

don't know.

It's about time! (4, Funny)

L. VeGas (580015) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601280)

Those cranky librarians have been shushing people for years. About time someone shushed them back!


Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4601292)

Proof again that you can get anything passed if it has a snazzy acronym.

Re:USA-PATRIOT (5, Insightful)

mr_z_beeblebrox (591077) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601354)

Proof again that you can get anything passed if it has a snazzy acronym.

That and a president who implies that by challenging him or his cabinet you are voluntarily helping terrorists.

Universities Too (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4601293)

The same thing goes for Universities too. They used to have to tell you by law, now they can't. They also don't need a subpoena to monitor your computer use any more. I believe a court order will work which is easier to get than a subpoena. So add computer labs and dorms to list.

Thanks Patriot Act.

Re:Universities Too (4, Insightful)

Fembot (442827) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601370)

Fortunatly here in the UK AFAK this doesnt happen (yet) or is very hush hush still.. It strikes me as remarkably ironic that on the one hand there is all this anti-communist/anti-china propoganda and yet we're heading towards an orwellian future more than they are.

michael, shut up (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4601299)

you have the credibility of day old dogshit.

nobody wants to hear your crap anymore.


amen brother! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4601441)

this is the best post i've read all year.

on an unrelated note, does anyone know what happened to jon katz? was he finally arrested for pedophilia?

just wondering...

Er, you don't say... (3, Informative)

kableh (155146) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601301)

This was one of the nastier provision of the Patriot Act, and as I recall there was an uproar on /. when it first started getting press. <OB KARMA WH0REING>Related /. stories here [] and here [] .</OB KARMA WH0REING>

Now you tell me! (4, Funny)

drxenos (573895) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601304)

Time to return by copy of "Catcher in the Rye!"

Re:Now you tell me! (2)

McFly69 (603543) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601436)

Oh shit... thanks for reminding me. I still have my Dr. Suess book. It was due back in 82 :(

Re:Now you tell me! (3, Funny)

Blkdeath (530393) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601486)

Oh shit... thanks for reminding me. I still have my Dr. Suess book. It was due back in 82 :(
Duude! Don't Bundy that book!

(Sorry; couldn't resist)

Re:Now you tell me! (2)

unicron (20286) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601492)

Sometime in 83 the final reached $25 dollars, and was turned over to a collection agency. Your credit has now been getting anally raped for 19 years and now you're at the point where you wouldn't qualify for a Bic Mac and fries.

Oh, great. (0, Redundant)

BIGstan (308841) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601307)

Now they're gonna find out about that copy of Winnie the Pooh that's been overdue for 27 years.

Is this gonna make it a Federal offence?

Re:Oh, great. (2)

JUSTONEMORELATTE (584508) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601344)

Now they're gonna find out about that copy of Winnie the Pooh that's been overdue for 27 years.

Is this gonna make it a Federal offence?
Not unless you're in California, and have two prior convictions. (Then, it's a felony, and you get 25-to-life for the newly-promoted felony charge)
How I wish this was +1 funny instead of +0 JustPlainSad (but realistically, -1 OffTopic)


CONNECTICUT!!!!!!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4601311)


Wuh? (3, Funny)

kaizenfury7 (322351) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601312)

What is this...library... you speak of?

Is it anything like the Intarweb?

Re:Wuh? (2, Funny)

The Turd Report (527733) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601438)

It is just like the interweb, except you have to leave your house to access it and there is considerably *less* porn.

I don't trust them. (5, Insightful)

dnoyeb (547705) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601314)

Everything will be used against you if they need someone to blame. Just pick the one with the most "X"s.

I have several books that might raise an eyebrow. One is "Blueprint for Black Power" Amazon inserted a small paper saying it was below their standards when I ordered it from them. But I couldn't find any visible damage...

This book is primarily about cultural phychology and has nothing to do with any radical movements or any such violence or the like. But I could easily be marked by one of the various government "plans" if they feelt the need over books like this.

This is garbage and we shouldn't allow this in a 'free as in beer' society.

What do they really expect to find? They already have shown they have enough information, but their problem is a lack of digestion and comprehention. Perhaps some of the Arabs and muslims they so actively alienate could be of assistance...Only if they really cared about security would that happen!

Mass Monitoring for "Security" made simple. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4601524)

> What do they really expect to find? They already
> have shown they have enough information, but
> their problem is a lack of digestion and comprehention.

I'd expect that they run your reading list against the following algorithm:
* If you read at least two "radical" books like "Blueprint for Black Power"
* And you read the Koran
* Then you are likely are guilty of the thought crime of "Thought Terrorist" so you need to be watched.
* If you are found to consort with others who have committed "Thought Terrorism"
* Then you and your consorts must be brought in for "questioning" until you confess your guilt or "prove" your innocense. It's not "innocent 'till proven guilty" since they already have "proof" that you and your consorts have engaged in "Thought Terrorism".

It's quite an effective strategy to deal with "underable elements". The "beauty" of it is that much of it can be automated and using Bayesian Filtering it can be made more accurate over time. There may be some false positives, but who cares? It's "for the greater good" and "we all have to make sacrifices to stop 'Terrorism'".


I can already see ... (5, Insightful)

M.C. Hampster (541262) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601319)

... the barage of posts talking about constitional rights, the Bush Administration and, of course, the 569 jokes about the "terrorists already winnning". But seriously, does anyone thing they have an absolute Constitional Right to anonymity when they use the internet or check out books in the library?

I know that even posing the question is going to be seriously unpopular, but it should be asked.

Re:I can already see ... (5, Interesting)

MoneyT (548795) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601355)

Well now you have a point there though. Remeber, free speech et al was written in a time when there wasn't true anonmity. If you spoke or said something, you had every right to say it, but people could also identify you. Even things like newpapers and pamphlets could be tracked back to you. Anonmity and Freedom are not one in the same.

Re:I can already see ... (4, Insightful)

puppet10 (84610) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601454)

Remeber, free speech et al was written in a time when there wasn't true anonmity.

It was also a time of anonymous pamphleteering of political opinions unpopular with the established government which was part of the forsce behind the first amendment (speech and press) and has been held by the Supreme Court including a case of an Ohio law being struck down as unconstitutional because it wouldn't allow anonymous political speech through pamphleteering.

Re:I can already see ... (5, Insightful)

EllisDees (268037) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601479)

>Remeber, free speech et al was written in a time when there wasn't true anonmity

Yes there was. Even more than there is now. Anyone could make up a bunch of fliers and post them all over town in the middle of the night and there would be no way of knowing who did it. It's not like they could even check them for fingerprints...

Re:I can already see ... (5, Insightful)

slow_flight (518010) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601362)

Maybe not, but we do have a constitutionally protected right to free speech. That right is infringed upon when the speaker (or listener) is concerned about repercussions from an oppressive government. It is not a stretch to expect this constitutional protection to extend to what we read, whether in books or on the internet.

Re:I can already see ... (2)

dnoyeb (547705) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601372)

Anonymity? No, not in America. But this has always been our way. Only we have insisted on oversight. This lacks "oversight."

Re:I can already see ... (4, Insightful)

interiot (50685) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601404)

IMHO, it's not about the right to anonymity so much, it's that we can't really have much public debate over this if it's absotelutely illegal for the librarians to mention it at all. Here I thought it was only heavy-handed non-democractic countries who 1) spied on citizens, and then 2) resolutely deny that any spying activity is taking place

Re:I can already see ... (1)

drxenos (573895) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601409)

Yes, its a good question. But done confuse the right with the difficulty. Just because the Internet make anonymity hard, doesn't negate the right. Free of expression without fear of reprisal is one of our most basic and important rights, and anonymity is part of it.

Re:I can already see ... (5, Insightful)

irregular_hero (444800) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601452)

A right to anonymity is not the point.

The question you should be asking is whether you have the freedom from pervasive government oversight as a result of Constitutional statute. Anonymity has never been a right of every citizen (that's the American way, just ask the advertising and marketing industry). However, there is a reasonable expectation to freedom from having our actions _overseen_ by our own government. It's one of the core distinctions of democracy itself, that the citizenry are the government's overseers, not the other way around.

Re:I can already see ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4601516)

Followed by another barrage of posts bewailing the first and backed up by no stronger arguments than "But, seriously...", and informed by a point of view that anything not explicitly guaranteed by the Constitution is fair game for government rule, which is, of course, the exact opposite of the Document's intent. Between your way of thinking and totalitarianism lies a short, straight, utilitarian line. Read history.

Re:I can already see ... (5, Insightful)

thelexx (237096) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601519)

Unpopular due to being so wrong:

Amendment IX

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment X

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Goddamn right I don't expect the government to be snooping on library records. And no I don't give a fuck if Bin Laden himself had checked out 'How to Fly but not Land an Airliner for Dummies' the day before last Sept. 11.

what books? (1)

mad mad ninja (610973) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601322)

so they put you on the list based on books you check? i wonder which ones, i hope fight club isnt on it..

Re:what books? (2, Insightful)

TWX_the_Linux_Zealot (227666) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601414)

It's probably a matter of flagging certain titles with rankings of likelihood, with certain books being red-hot, and others being more mellow, but still show up in case there is a noticeable pattern of circulation. For example, it's very common for someone in high school to read Mein Kampf, but combine that with firearms, chemistry, and other social writers that do not conform with the status quo, and such might just appear on their list as someone to potentially watch out for.

On the other hand, the problem with being a geek is that we generally have diverse enough interests that simply being a geek could show up, _IF_ you happened to have read Hitler's book while a senior in high school, read several other books on conspiracies in college, and are now into weapons, chemistry, etc. So, it's probably not too terribly accurate.

Also (3, Informative)

Apreche (239272) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601323)

At another very good website which seems to be a hotspot of the online librarian community there is excellent information as well as actual librarians saying stuff. Check out this story [] . It looks like the site runs on slashcode, pretty nifty.

Re:Also (4, Funny)

L. VeGas (580015) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601376)

I'm sorry, "hotspot of the online librarian community "?
That sounds about as exciting as a Mormon keg party.

Mormons.......... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4601513)

I fucking hate mormons! They're worse than Jews!

Re:Also (1)

Farmer Jimbo (515393) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601386)

Actually, they appear to run a PHP port of shlash-0.2 [] . Nitpick aside, interesting site. Librarians with foul language and attitudes.

My advice to librarians (5, Interesting)

EllisDees (268037) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601330)

Stop keeping records of who borrows what books beyond the time that they are checked out.

Wouldn't work (2)

No Such Agency (136681) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601443)

Either it'd be made illegal to delete the records, or the FBI/NSA/CIA would simply install software to monitor the records in real time and log every borrowing event as it happened. That's the level of paranoia/fascism at work now in the US "government" (a.k.a. "dictatorship of the Executive Branch").

Re:Wouldn't work (1, Flamebait)

EnderWiggnz (39214) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601532)

dont worry - we're taking care of that today.

vote Democratic, and reign in the chimp.

Re:My advice to librarians (5, Interesting)

Triv (181010) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601481)

Stop keeping records of who borrows what books beyond the time that they are checked out.

At least at the library I work at, that's already being done - in fact, it's always been done that way. We don't maintain a list of what a patron has checked out - we only know what's circulating at any given time so we know who to bug when their books're overdue. Different insitiutions might have different policies of course, but my guess is if my library [] doesn't care about keeping those records, none would. :P


More advice (4, Insightful)

ThinkingGuy (551764) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601488)

If anything is to be done about this, people need to be made aware of it. The Patriot Act may prohibit disclosing FBI surveillance, but it doesn't prohibit disclosing the prohibition ;)
What if the staff at every library put up a big sign over the counter reading "Notice: your reading and Internet activities MAY be monitored by the government." Then in smaller type underneath, "The Patriot Act forbids us from speaking about this matter. For more information call your congressional representatives at _______"
Another random thought: How about a "Jam the FBI Day," similar to "Jam Echelon Day." We in the geek community pick one day when we all stop by at least one public library and do one of the following: browse to at least one "suspicious" site, send an email message with some "suspicious" keywords in it, or check out at least one "suspicious" title.

Good idea! We already do that. (5, Interesting)

vaxer (91962) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601514)

My employer runs a library system that has hundreds of thousands of borrowers. We take privacy fairly seriously; if someone checks out a book called How To Safely Leave Your Abusive Spouse and that borrowing becomes public knowledge, someone could die.

Since dead patrons are bad for our statistics, we use a system that keeps track of who currently has a book checked out. That's it. Once a book is returned to the library in good condition, its borrowing record is wiped clean (would that our young patrons' noses were too!). This protects us from having anything Officer Friendly is interested in looking at (except perhaps for certain books of "art" photos -- but that's his business, isn't it?)

The USA patriot act (2)

jukal (523582) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601332)

is something that is very hard to understand - if you try to mangle it together with the concepts of democracy and "free of speech" and other nice things. Be a patriot, spy on your neighbour or even better, do it while on duty. You, the librarian, can make a difference. That just does not have a very nice sound in it. In fact, it makes the USA sound like East-Germany, 20 years ago. Sorry.

Re:The USA patriot act (2)

jukal (523582) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601351)

"free of speech"

Wow, it has been a decade since I last passed such good freudian. :)

Re:The USA patriot act (5, Funny)

mr_z_beeblebrox (591077) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601415)

In fact, it makes the USA sound like East-Germany, 20 years ago. Sorry.

In an effort to combat this image John Ashcroft announced yesterday, the creation of an organization which will monitor American security in the private sector. He is calling it 'Society of Trusted American Service Interests' or STASI
Humor....not really

Ways around this (1)

wiggys (621350) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601333)

1) Read the "How to be a terrorist" books in the library 2) Steal the books 3) Buy the books... cash only.

Will it really help? (4, Insightful)

McFly69 (603543) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601334)

Does anyone think this will really help catch "criminals"? If a person is using a computer in the libarary, most of the time it will not last more than 20 or 30 minutes (other people want to use it). Lets say the person does do somethign "naughty" on it, by the time the feds arrive (20 or 30 min) and track down which machine it is (thinking of the Boston Public Libaray at Copley Square) using the IP addy (5 minutes) and bring their fat sorry asses to the exact location (5 minutes), the person is long gone. After the 40 minutes all they have is the terminal that was used. What they going to do, check the history file of which websites were used? Even if they have a packet logger, they only whill have the things he has done.

Granted the person might access their own email and the feds could get the person's where abouts that way. But will criminals be that stupid? Some might say yes. So there are two sides here.

Re:Will it really help? (3, Interesting)

GeorgieBoy (6120) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601421)

Who says that "criminal" needs to even be at the terminal to do his evil deeds? They could run a process in the background and exploit the machine's internet connection remotely.

Most library machines I have come across have not been well secured, many are easy leaping points for doing "naughty" things. They even give media access to use material on CDs.

Missing the point (2)

No Such Agency (136681) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601495)

As I understand it, the idea here is to keep records of who uses terminals and what websites are visited by them (as well as monitoring borrowing). The point is not to catch them in the act of something illegal (eg. downloading kiddy pr0n), but to retroactively examine the past surfing habits of somebody already under suspicion/surveillance. At the only public library I've ever used a terminal in (Kingston, ON) they recorded who used which terminals when by making you sign the sheet, and holding your library card while you surfed. This was presumably for the purpose of banning you if they caught you looking at nekkid pictures or something.

Re:Will it really help? (1)

Le Marteau (206396) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601496)

Does anyone think this will really help catch "criminals"?

No. Of course not. 95% of the stuff implemented in the name of 9/11 is useless. Most people (polititians are included in that group) are fucking stupid, they live lives unexamined, they pass stupid laws, infringing on peoples rights. All the more reason for adhering to a philosophy of a drastically limited government, to keep these idiots from boning us.

Re:Will it really help? (2)

binaryDigit (557647) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601512)

Your missing the point. They want to find any info on future plans, not catch you launching your DDOS on They want your cached hotmail email about when and where you are going to meet the other bad guys or blow up whatever.

What We Can Learn From BSD (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4601336)

What We Can Learn From BSD
By Chinese Karma Whore [] , Version 1.0

Everyone knows about BSD's failure and imminent demise. As we pore over the history of BSD, we'll uncover a story of fatal mistakes, poor priorities, and personal rivalry, and we'll learn what mistakes to avoid so as to save Linux from a similarly grisly fate.

Let's not be overly morbid and give BSD credit for its early successes. In the 1970s, Ken Thompson and Bill Joy both made significant contributions to the computing world on the BSD platform. In the 80s, DARPA saw BSD as the premiere open platform, and, after initial successes with the 4.1BSD product, gave the BSD company a 2 year contract.

These early triumphs would soon be forgotten in a series of internal conflicts that would mar BSD's progress. In 1992, AT&T filed suit against Berkeley Software, claiming that proprietary code agreements had been haphazardly violated. In the same year, BSD filed countersuit, reciprocating bad intentions and fueling internal rivalry. While AT&T and Berkeley Software lawyers battled in court, lead developers of various BSD distributions quarreled on Usenet. In 1995, Theo de Raadt, one of the founders of the NetBSD project, formed his own rival distribution, OpenBSD, as the result of a quarrel that he documents [] on his website. Mr. de Raadt's stubborn arrogance was later seen in his clash with Darren Reed, which resulted in the expulsion of IPF from the OpenBSD distribution.

As personal rivalries took precedence over a quality product, BSD's codebase became worse and worse. As we all know, incompatibilities between each BSD distribution make code sharing an arduous task. Research conducted at MIT [] found BSD's filesystem implementation to be "very poorly performing." Even BSD's acclaimed TCP/IP stack has lagged behind, according to this study [] .

Problems with BSD's codebase were compounded by fundamental flaws in the BSD design approach. As argued by Eric Raymond in his watershed essay, The Cathedral and the Bazaar [] , rapid, decentralized development models are inherently superior to slow, centralized ones in software development. BSD developers never heeded Mr. Raymond's lesson and insisted that centralized models lead to 'cleaner code.' Don't believe their hype - BSD's development model has significantly impaired its progress. Any achievements that BSD managed to make were nullified by the BSD license, which allows corporations and coders alike to reap profits without reciprocating the goodwill of open-source. Fortunately, Linux is not prone to this exploitation, as it is licensed under the GPL.

The failure of BSD culminated in the resignation of Jordan Hubbard and Michael Smith from the FreeBSD core team. They both believed that FreeBSD had long lost its earlier vitality. Like an empire in decline, BSD had become bureaucratic and stagnant. As Linux gains market share and as BSD sinks deeper into the mire of decay, their parting addresses will resound as fitting eulogies to BSD's demise.

nothing good about this (1, Interesting)

jayhova (591785) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601337)

Just plain bad, how can this be anything but bad. This is the kind of thing that makes you want to actually dust off your political views and drop the apathy. Definitely worth fighting for, I think that the government went to far.

Simple Solution... (2, Interesting)

TWX_the_Linux_Zealot (227666) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601338)

If I don't want tracking of my reading habits, I'll simply buy the books that I want to read, and pay cash for them. This especially works at used book stores, where the flunky at the counter doesn't know what you're buying, doesn't have a computer for asset tracking, and doesn't care. If I'm poor, I'll just read them _in_ the library, where I'll not be tracked as to what I'm reading.

Geez. I thought that after the movie Seven [] , this would have alerted anyone who they could possibly suspect to cease using public libraries with open, honest library cards.

Sign O' the Times (2)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601341)

As we all well know, the FBI has plenty of manpower to throw at watching bums download porn on public library computers.

Additionally, terrorists have never used public computers in the past. And if they did, they didn't use public computers in the furtherance of terrorist plots.

Secure code? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4601343)

During the Windows Security Push in Feb/Mar 2002, the Microsoft Internet Explorer team devised a method to reduce the risk of cookie-stealing attacks via XSS vulnerabilities.

In a nutshell, if Internet Explorer 6.0 SP1 detects a cookie that has a trailing HttpOnly (case insensitive) it will return an empty string to the browser when accessed from script, such as by using document.cookie.

Obviously, the server must add this option to all outgoing cookies.

Note, this does _not fix_ XSS bugs in server code; it only helps reduce the potential damage from cookie disclosure threats. Nothing more. Think of it as a very small insurance policy!

A full write-up outlining the HttpOnly flag, as well as source code to set this option, is at l/secure10102002.asp.

Cheers, Michael Howard
Secure Windows Initiative
Microsoft Corp.

Writing Secure Code

Free Speech (2)

Jacer (574383) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601349)

"Sure you can say that, we don't mind at all! What's your name, current address, social security number, and credit history?"

another reason to avoid libraries? (2, Interesting)

udecker (251844) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601350)

When I called my representative about the Zoe Lofgren bill (the one that restores some fair-use and civil liberties to individuals taken away by the DMCA) I got a response that he didn't support her bill. As a representative, shouldn't that be exactly what he supports? Restoring civil liberties to those he represents?

Soon enough, when enough of these freedoms are taken away, like the public unmonitored use of public libraries, then all of the so-called "public" institutions will be used less and less frequently by people who are concious about these things.

In the movie Seven, there was a great hubbub about tracking the use of library card-holders' reading habits. Now it seems that it doesn't need to be kept a secret, that they can and will do it, and that you can't find out about it. That's troubling.

The acronym... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4601359)

In all the news about the USA PATRIOT Act, I had no idea it was an acronym for:
the "Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act" (USA PATRIOT Act.) until I read the librarian guidelines. Call me s-l-o-w. I bet there is a full-time job to come up with those catchy titles. (I wonder what it pays)

more about this issue (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4601363)

A more thorough discussion of this controversy can be found here. [] I think that the only way that the issue can be resolved is the two parties have dialogue, work through constraints and differences, and then come to an agreement that works for everyone. This is the only hope for a quick resolution.

hmmm... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4601364)

I wonder why everyone is always so worried about what someone might see them doing? Are you that morally degraded that you can't do what's right when nobody is looking? And then you have the gall to complain when someone does? Come on now...grow up!

Re:hmmm... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4601422)

...nibbling at the flaim bait...

(in a Yosemite Sam voice) Doooohhhhh, I hate that pesky Anonymous Coward varmint!

Re:hmmm... (2)

teamhasnoi (554944) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601447)

I find it funny that the person who always says this is an Anonymous Coward. Show yourself - unless you don't have anything to hide, of course.

Re:hmmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4601467)

"Show yourself - unless you don't have anything to hide..."

I don't have anything to, I guess I won't show myself. lol

Re:hmmm... (1)

DeltaSigma (583342) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601504)

This one's clever... that completely unintelligent way.

There's many reasons that poking around people's business, be it in a private or public place, is unsettling. For one thing, such acts are indirectly signifying an inability of the american people to respect/trust their neighbors. You can't have a working, civilized, society without respect and trust.

Re:hmmm... (1)

DeltaSigma (583342) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601483)

No, say this to him:

I wonder why you are so worried about what someone might see you saying? Are you that morally degraded that you can't do what's right when nobody knows who you are? And then you have the gall to complain when someone else does the same? Come on now...grow up!

That's why (5, Insightful)

CaffeineAddict2001 (518485) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601375)

What library's need to do is allow for anonymous checkout of books - providing the person leaves collateral of course.

When you return the books, you get the money back - just don't forget your receipt with matching barcode.

Even worse than the feds bugging the library (1)

wiggys (621350) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601377)

is the feds bugging slashdot. You ARE reading this from behind an anonymous proxy aren't you?

this is something alltogether awful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4601379)

I cannot
respect free speech

I should be:
an attourney General

see more here []

One solution... (5, Funny)

Yoda2 (522522) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601383)

This is easy enough to fix - just burn all the books with questionable content. Might help to cut down on all of the mischief caused by those evil Harry Potter books.

Re:One solution... (1)

Dunark (621237) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601499)

Just wait until everything is published electronically and there are no more printed books. Then, the government can just push a button and revoke the certificates on books it doesn't like, or force you to get updates that omit the offending parts.

Re:One solution... (2)

Triv (181010) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601502)

Might help to cut down on all of the mischief caused by those evil Harry Potter books.

Alternatively, you could just write a book about it. []


A Good Thing (2, Funny)

fungus (37425) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601385)

Security first.

We just cannot let libraries protect terrorits. Imagine if a big "mushroom cloud" were to blow Washington, and we later found out that the author of this crime once borrowed a nuclear science book!

Science books and books with a bias against the US should also be banned. Anyone saying the opposite is against the Homeland Security!!

Understandable (3, Insightful)

swordgeek (112599) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601388)

This is a questionable practice. It's nasty, and more than a bit frightening.

BUT, it's fairly understandable, as are its counterparts.

If an investigation into a robbery suspect led to a gun shop, should the gun shop owner be able to phone up the suspect and say, "Hey--the cops were asking after you."

Due to the nature of crime (criminals don't want to get caught!), the cops have to have a reasonable opportunity to work quietly, and in private. After an investigation has been concluded, THEN this stuff should be made public.

Re:Understandable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4601485)

Two different cases, though.

The robbery of a gun shop is an actual crime, with physical evidence, witnesses, and stolen property.

Borrowing books from the library on questionable subjects isn't technically illegal (yet). There is no theft and no crime has been committed. It's more of a "don't read anything the govenmnent doesn't approve of". Couple that with the concept of not knowing your accusers or what you're guilty of and things like the "Patriot" Act...

Oh, and you realy think the government will release everything after the fact? Right.

Ashcroft is the reincarnation of McArthy? (5, Interesting)

afidel (530433) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601391)

Yep, pretty much seems that way. Back to the FBI's old tricks like illegally monitoring the communciations of anyone they care to target. Back in McArthy's day it actually cost time and manpower so it was limited to famous,dangerous, or radical people. Today information tracking is so rediculously cheap that they can feasibly monitor some large percentage of the populations communications and even if they don't have the bandwidth to process it all they can store it for future use. I'm really not a conspiracy nut, but I do like to raise my voice when I see our liberties being needlessly trampled. I don't see my life becoming any more secure because the government can more easily monitor citizens conversations, they have and always will have the power to target criminals, now they are just grabbing for the power to use their tools against anyone. Maybe I should move to Canada, a federal judge there just threw out the evidence against 9 defendants that were caught importing 49Kg of heroin because he thought the RCMP had played too loose with their wiretap applications.

In Canada ... (2, Interesting)

RebelTycoon (584591) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601393)

We don't have no the FBI... We have the RCMP, and its unfortunate, but they waste time tracking who borrows certain books when they SHOULD BE investigating our Prime Minister and the millions of tax dollars that got funnelled to friendly Liberal supporters.

The legacy of our PM is broken promises... Case and point... GST and Free Trade...


New world people, get used to it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4601395)

Things change, you should understand that. You have witnessed huge changes. Change should be easy for you to accept.

Why would a library provide subversive reading material?

Is it entrapment?

Reminds me of a scene... (5, Interesting)

dachshund (300733) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601429)

I recall a scene in David Fincher's Se7en in which the investigators surreptitiously visit a friend at the FBI in order to obtain library records. The scene sticks out in my mind because I remember how much trouble they had to go to: even the FBI was scared to admit that they had access to such information, and as a result the whole process is conducted on the sly-- the FBI man is clearly terrified that someone'll find out what he's up to.

That movie came out only a few years ago, and yet the scene would probably be meaningless today. It's funny how things change, and not necessarily for the better.

Re:Reminds me of a scene... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4601487)

David Fincher's Se7en

I really enjoyed that documentary.

universities track logins (5, Informative)

jazzbotley (581155) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601433)

I work at a University computer department. A lot of my work goes into writing/maintaining the software that provides a three-way cross between client IP address, username, and timestamp for every use of our computer facilities (except staff and faculty workstations). These logs are regularly used as evidence in court and in pre-trial proceedings. IANAL, and I don't actually interface with the lawyers, but my buddies in the security group are constantly reviewing the login records at the behest of xxAA or FBI or whatever (they always play the cloak and dagger routine -- "need to know only!" *rolls the eyes*). Every login is preceded by "By clicking the button you agree to these policies" with a URL to the pages and pages of dos and don'ts, or else published everywhere around these workstations as dead tree reminders of "acceptable use". I can't speak for public libraries, but here at University we try to be lenient and let the students off with a "never do that again!" If they cower and tremble and repent of their evil filesharing ways, we let them off. Otherwise, they get a permanent "incident report" filed on their student record and get to take their song and dance to the VP of student affairs.

Which brings me to the point of, where's the right to privacy? Waived at the door, I guess, since apparently the presupposition is that by using your authentication to log in to these systems, you've agreed that you've read all these policies and have agreed to all these potential remedies against your violation of these policies. Any lawyers out there know if that holds water?

"Limited government" will always exceed its bounds

get to the polls (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4601442)

I'd like to ask everyone to remember to get to the polls today and put in a straight ticket vote for Republicans. Send representatives to Washington who will work with the president. Also, if you're in Michigan, make sure that Dick Posthumus is our next governor and not Granholm.


Let me tell you about the FBI (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4601446)

They don't have to follow rules.

They came and confiscated my computers over some little shit. What can you do? Resist? They will fuck your world up so fast, you won't know what happened.

They can do WHATEVER they want. And they don't have to tell anyone. They don't follow rules.

Libraries? (4, Interesting)

wolf- (54587) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601451)

When I was young, it was a great thing to go to the library once a week, get a stack of books, and read them through in the next 7 days. The star wars fiction series, Hardy Boys, Star Trek, The Odessey...

College libraries were awesome places. Places to hang out, maybe study a bit, meet young ladies.

Then I moved to Fayetteville, Georgia. Where the publicly funded library is run by the white hair Gestapo. The collection of books there is lacking. So you say, donate some? I did! I offered to donate 8 cases of books. Computer programming manuals, CS theory, even some copies of books I'v written or edited. Not 30 year old books, but fresh books. Books that a young teenager may not be able to afford to buy, but interested in reading. The offer was refused. No strings attached, just take them. No.

Would the old bags in Fayetteville let you know whats going on? No. Odds are THEY'LL call the FBI first.

Ok, thats my rant. If you are in the atlanta area, its worth the drive to the Georgia Tech library downtown if you really are looking for information. Georgia State's isn't too bad off either.

So what? (0, Troll)

Call Me Black Cloud (616282) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601457)

This is "news for nerds"? It may be important to discuss in the big scheme of things but let EFF run their own discussion boards on these topics. I suppose the criminal nerds and terrorist nerds have reason to be concerned but this is off topic for the average nerd.

It's time to implement modding of topics. Crap (like "version 0.1001a of 'abc' has been released!") can be shunted off to the dead pool for those that care and marginal topics that may have been rejected otherwise could get voted to the front page.

That's right, I'm not posting anon...but I know the cowards will come out to respond.

Re:So what? (0, Flamebait)

Glanz (306204) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601500)

Red-Neck asshole cowards like you who are willing to sell off their rights and the rights of those around them with their uneducated indifference makes me very happy that I am not an American.

Just like echelon (3, Interesting)

Restil (31903) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601461)

If they want to monitor, lets give them something to monitor. Find out what books would trigger the watchful eyes, and go check out ALL of them, frequently. Have everyone else do the same. Overwhelm them with useless information. When everyone is on the list, there's no point in having a list.


FBI game (1)

Not One Of Us (583660) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601476)

I think I'll go check out a bunch of books on explosives and nuclear weapons for a month just to fuck with them.

I am waiting... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4601478)

for Bush to start the CIA or Republican Kidz groups. Hand out some nice guns^h^h^h^hletter openers and uniforms.

I know this sounds harsh... (2)

cr@ckwhore (165454) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601494)

Simple solution... don't use public libraries. Don't forget to send a big thank-you note to your congressman.

Congratulations (1)

Karamchand (607798) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601498)

Congratulations to the United States of America, the cradle of world's freedom and civil rights!
It was nice, it got boring, it gets annoying.

Slashdot readers = Librarians (2, Funny)

mattyohe (517995) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601505)

With the influx of the library/patriot act stories on slashdot lately, im begining to think most of the readers are old, cranky, librarians.

Irony (2, Interesting)

caseyc (559060) | more than 11 years ago | (#4601523)

The funny thing about this is that there is currently a public service announcement being aired now (I'm not sure which networks are carrying it. I do know, however, that the television station here at my school has been airing it every now and then) produced by a group that has some involvement with our government, that shows just this sort of thing happening, implied by context that it's "fictional". A sort of what-if scenario, reminding us of our supposed freedom.

What it involves is a kid asking a librarian for help finding some books. She explains that they don't have those books anymore, then guys in suits appear and presumably bust his inquisitive ass.

What's my point? I don't know. I just think it's a little bit creepy, with them saying that we should be glad to be American because shit like that doesn't happen, when in fact it clearly can and most likely does happen! The content of the ad does seem absurd: a kid getting hassled for just trying to read some books. But, it also seems like it's happening, so the fact that this ad lies to us about that is probably more absurd.

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