FBI to monitor libraries

Robert Sullivan scp_sulli at sals.edu
Mon Jun 3 14:49:39 EDT 2002

>People also worry that somehow "the government" is going to read all
>of everybody's email and do all sorts of nasty things to them.  Even
>"the government" can't possibly read all of everybody's email.  That

I'm sure there are people on this list who can comment technically, but is this
necessarily true?

>is like worrying that "the police" are going to stake out your house
>and keep track of what you do on the off chance you're engaging in
>some nefarious activity.  If they get solid tips you're a drug dealer,
>even if you're not, then they may check you out.

If I am not mistaken, the Echelon system does (or tries to) monitor a
significant amount of communications.  "They" aren't listening, but "their"
computers are - for key words - and a combination of that or similar technology
and lifting of "bureaucratic restrictions" in place due to previous abuses
makes some people nervous.

I think most library users have some expectation of privacy in their use of
library computer services, whether it's standing at one of our public PCs or
connecting in from home.  Even patrons who are familiar with the concept of an
employer monitoring usage by employees might have some problems with the
notion that their research might trigger a search order and an entry with their
name on it in someone's file.

Bob Sullivan                               scp_sulli at sals.edu
Schenectady County Public Library (NY)     http://www.scpl.org

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