[WEB4LIB] RE: FBI to monitor libraries

Daniel Messer dmesser at yvrls.lib.wa.us
Mon Jun 3 15:59:43 EDT 2002

Dan Lester <dan at riverofdata.com> said:

> That's fine if you don't want it, but you're dreaming if you expect
> it. We all have to remember that we have no constitutional right of
> privacy (contrary to the opinion of many).  And I'm as sure as
> anything that we'll never have one.

I find it extremely disturbing that people would not be upset by the 
government or by a corporation looking at their online habits, possibly 
reading their e-mail, etc. And we may not have an exact constitutional right 
of privacy, but I would like to point out the Fourth Amendment:

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and 
effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, 
and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or 
affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the 
persons or things to be seized."

I would hope that at least some people would agree that the government using 
something like Carnivore and Magic Lantern without a search warrant, without 
due process, and under the disguise of "Top Secret National Security 
Interests" would be an unreasonable search and thus a violation of the 
Fourth. Granted nothing about e-mail, browser logs, or what have you is 
mentioned in the Fourth Amendment. But I think a skilled constitutional 
lawyer could make a case that e-mail and the like falls under the same 
umbrella as "papers and effects."

If it is against the policy of the ALA and libraries to reveal what their 
patrons check out of a public institution, then why should it not be so of a 
patron's Internet usage? Why is one form and source of information supposed 
to be held different from another. And finally, Judge Betty Fletcher of the 
US Court of Appeals offers this. If we don't have a constitutional right to 
privacy, someone hasn't yet told her.

"Never has our ability to shield our affairs from prying eyes been at such a 
low ebb. The availability and use of secure encryption may offer an 
opportunity to reclaim some portion of the privacy we have lost. Government 
efforts to control encryption thus may well implicate not only the First 
Amendment rights of cryptographers intent on pushing the boundaries of their 
science, but also the constitutional rights of each of us as potential 
recipients of encryption's bounty." 


Mondai wa
The subject in question...
Daniel Messer
Assistant Circulation Manager
Yakima Valley Regional Library
dmesser at yvrl.org
509-452-8541 ext 761
102 N 3rd St  Yakima, WA  98901
When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.
                                         -Hunter S. Thompson
Just because nobody complains doesn't mean all parachutes are perfect.
                                         -Benny Hill

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