I've updated the Patriot Act presentation to clarify one point, add Mary Minow's CLA article on the Patriot Act to the publication timeline, and provide a presentation-friendly background. The talk (held at UCSD) was a lot of fun--shared the podium with Judith Krug and an ACLU rep.
What's this I hear about Tony Randall dying? What a gent.
(Note: updated with slightly modified version.) I'm giving a talk about the Patriot Act, and I'm uploading this Powerpoint so I have a place for it in case my flash drive falls out of my pocket on the way to San Diego. This is California-oriented, but if you find it useful, just drop me a note and you can adapt it for local use.
My eight years in the military was (among many other things) a consciousness-raising experience. Persons of color, and people from poor and rural communities, are disproportionately represented in our armed forces.
For many of the people with whom I worked, socialized, and lived among, the U.S. military didn't merely represent one of many choices for improving their lives; it was, at least to them, one of the very few options they knew of. The general trade-off was a life of fairly modest means, hard work, and frequent change, and the ultimate trade-off was to give your life or at least your health, but many people (including me) served proudly on exactly those terms every day until they resigned or retired.
As a veteran, it saddens me to think that anyone I worked with, any of the people I knew who had made that bargain with the government, came home in a box or, at best, on a hospital stretcher. But it angers me that the same country that has an agreement that the poor will fight its wars, under the leadership of government officials who exploited that agreement for their own benefit, tries to censor the inevitable outcome of that agreement.
As Dylan Thomas wrote, "bury the dead, for fear that they walk to the grave in labor." Let the public close the circle on these lives, with one last glimpse of these soldiers as they complete their final tours of duty.
I was quoted today in "Google's chastity belt too tight," a news.com article about Google's Safesearch by Declan McCullagh:
As a filtering expert emeritus, it's fun to come out of my lair once in a while and growl at the moon.
Here's what happens when the truth gets told:
"A military contractor has fired Tami Silicio, a Kuwait-based cargo worker whose photograph of flag-draped coffins of fallen U.S. soldiers was published in Sunday's edition of The Seattle Times. ... Since 1991, the Pentagon has banned the media from taking pictures of caskets being returned to the United States."
"HATTIESBURG, Mississippi (AP) -- Two reporters were ordered Wednesday to erase their tape recordings of a speech by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia at a Mississippi high school. ... [Scalia] said he spends most of his time thinking about the Constitution, calling it 'a brilliant piece of work."
"All this handringing by librarians and others is ridiculous. Google is a commercial service and business. They clearly state what they will be doing. If you don't like it go someplace else. Also, remember the old internet adage: 'Do not send stuff in an e-mail that you would not want on the front page of the New York Times.'" -- Bill Drew, post to Web4Lib, 4/8/04
(Or on the front page of Free Range Librarian?)
Here's my reply.
When Google offers a service, they should first of all be up front about how they plan to (ab)use personal information. As an 800-lb gorilla, they have a particularly strong responsibility to behave appropriately on the Internet. If they can't, and I suspect that is true, then they should be regulated by the government to force them to behave responsibly, and if they don't like that, boo-hoo: they got a chance to get it right the first time. Being piggy gives commerce a bad name.
I hope other search engines are rushing forward to offer private, non-abusive e-mail services, big mailboxes or not. (There had to be a reason they were offering so much space. Of course they want you to keep all of your mail on their servers!)
Second, there is no strong connection between your "adage" and this situation. That adage, while apt, applies primarily to friends and colleagues forwarding/sending mail to others. It does not refer to the WalMart of Internet appliances skulking through our mail, automatically or otherwise, and bombarding us with advertisements based on our personal information, or about hovering up our email addresses to trawl for their own purposes.
Good on the Times (and other media who have caught this) to report on it.
The world beyond us should understand these privacy encroachments much better.
And one again (waving trifocals in air, thumping sensible shoes on floor) we digital librarians need to be not only having "hackfests," to reimagine librarianship, but also "ethicsfests," to port our values to a new platform, as it were. If there is one thing we can bring forward from the quaint old days of bound books and Gaylord charge machines, it is our historically fervent commitment to free speech, the right to read, and privacy. "Let them eat cake" is not in my vocabulary.
As Jenny Levine points out, Walt Crawford has an excellent 20-page special issue of Cites and Insights devoted to the "broadcast flag," a digital-rights technology which if the FCC has its way will be built into all digital TVs manufactured after June, 2005.
If, like me, you felt on reading Walt's discussion that you had walked in to class halfway through the semester, read the CDT's excellent summary, at http://www.cdt.org/copyright/broadcastflag/. CDT notes, "As the result of a Federal Communication Commission decision issued in November 2003, starting in July 2005 it will be illegal to manufacture or sell devices that receive over-the-air digital television broadcasts unless those devices include certain copy protection technologies."
My partner and I stood on line for over three hours tonight, but after that long haul were able to make an appointment to get married at noon on Friday, March 5, 2004, at San Francisco City Hall. Thanks to Mayor Newsom and all the supportive people in SF's government for making this possible. We are thrilled beyond belief to receive full recognition for our relationship in this society.
Former ALA president Nancy Kranich explains that "forcing libraries to choose between funding, equitable access, and censorship means millions of library users will lose, particularly those Americans who reside in the most poverty-stricken areas of the country."
I wish this article gave more thought to the elephant in ALA's living room: the problem of our policy of age-neutral access. I disagree with this policy both strategically and philosophically, and I believe it is this issue that truly divides the ALA governing bodies from the ALA membership and the public at large. Kranich gamely tries a diversionary tactic, pointing out that "too often, filters are set to apply for the youngest users at the expense of all others," but in doing so, leaves an opening for the reader to begin to ask, when is it acceptable to make decisions on behalf of a child? To use her analogy, when do we teach children to swim--and when do we simply prevent them from using the pool?
The net result of our age-neutral approach is implicit in Kranich's article. She points out that many libraries are offered the chance to select whether or not children will have Internet access. An age-sensitive approach to filtering would result in more children having access to the Internet in libraries, even though filtered, and would stand the best chance of ensuring open access as a choice for every adult.
Still and all, when Kranich isn't attempting to argue for ALA's age-neutral policy, she does an excellent job of underscoring something I have said since 1996: filters don't work. Most adults don't need them; no one, hearing how filters actually function, really wants to be filtered. (Some people want others to be filtered, but that's a natural human tendency.) Most adults behave responsibly in libraries, and those that don't should be dealt with through policy and procedure.
Now how do we get off this petard we hoisted ourselves on?
First Monday--one of the best journals on the Web--has an outstanding, must-read article about CIPA: "Potential legal challenges to the application of the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) in public libraries: Strategies and issues," by Paul T. Jaeger and Charles R. McClure.
These gentlemen speak truth to justice, outlining not only short-term implementation problems but issues that touch the heart of our profession, pointing out that librarians "need to be aware of the true nature of the dilemmas that CIPA creates in libraries"--such as forcing librarians to be "speech gatekeeper[s]"--and stressing the many limitations of filters.
With librarians rolling over on the filtering issue as a done deal, it's good to read a critique of CIPA that doesn't rush to conclude that filtering is palatable or inevitable, and that focuses not only on the potential damage to the First Amendment CIPA presents, but on the many possible challenges to this new law.
Like most items published by First Monday, "Potential Legal Challenges" is a fairly chewy read. Set aside the lightweight blogs today, and make time to absorb, think about, and discuss McClure and Jaeger's excellent article. The First Amendment you save could be your own.
2003 was a rough year for press freedom. Read about it here:
And it happened right here in the Golden State: "In Los Angeles, the judge, Audrey B. Collins of Federal District Court, said in a decision made public on Monday that a provision in the law banning certain types of support for terrorist groups was so vague that it risked running afoul of the First Amendment."
Registration required--but you should be reading the NY Times anyway. I now get it through my RSS reader.
Disagreeing with Jessamyn that this isn't a "library" part of the Patriot Act; it is part of the Act designed to produce a chilling effect, and that affects the search for information, and that's about us.
Good for him! He made reference to being a "good patriot," wink wink, nudge nudge. Catch his comments online, once the program is archived, at http://www.prairiehome.org/.
Jessamyn on librarian.net rightly called this a "can of whup-ass." Quickly donning my hat as state IFC chair, I'll add that it has been a blast working with the ACLU on this issue. Like her, I can't resist putting the graphic in my blog. I've written ACLU to ask if we can get a version for Web sites. (I think this ad is going to be the "blue ribbon campaign" for this year, if not several years hence.)
Just one week after Wired broke news of greatly intensified crackdowns on Internet access in Cuba, IFLA took action in a strongly-worded press release.
Here's the schedule for Council. Btw, if people are interested, I can transcribe relevant debate on the fly and blog it in near-real-time, at least salient comments.
It's not clear when the Cuba resolution will be on the agenda; I would imagine Council II or III. Not to be facetious, but the best I can tell you folks who've asked is that Council meets in the Council chambers... usually a ballroom in the convention center.
ALA Council I: Monday, 1/12, 10:00 - 11:15
ALA Council II: Tuesday, 1/13, 9:45 - 12:15
ALA Council III: Wednesday, 1/14, 8:00 - 12:00
Note: at Council III, Intellectual Freedom Committee and the International Relations Committee each report for 10 minutes. (ALA CD #18) This is subject to change.
I needed to get this done by today as this was the deadline for electronic transmissions prior to the conference. Ergo, it's a draft, and a rough one, rattled out as fast as my little fingers could type it. I have a second, who should not be construed as endorsing everything in here, but in supporting the general resolution process.
Thanks to folks who have provided constructive input to date, and I welcome further input. -- kgs
DRAFT … RESOLUTION ON HUMAN RIGHTS IN CUBA …. DRAFT
WHEREAS, the American Library Association is a courageous champion of free speech in an open society; and
WHEREAS, the American Library Association has worked hard to develop strong working relationships worldwide with librarians, writers, publishers, journalists, and all those who champion the privacy, free speech, and the right to read; and
WHEREAS, in March, 2003, the Cuban government imprisoned 75 writers, journalists, and maintainers of independent book collections, and seized and destroyed private book collections; and
WHEREAS, these 75 prisoners have been charged with activities such as owning personal book collections and writing articles critical of the Cuban government; and
WHEREAS, the imprisonment of these 75 dissidents has been condemned by Amnesty International, which called this action an “unprecedented crackdown,” and Human Rights Watch, which said the March 2003 actions were “an all-out offensive against nonviolent dissidents, independent journalists, human rights defenders, independent librarians, and others brave enough to challenge the government's monopoly on truth”; and
WHEREAS, the Cuban government continues to hold these 75 dissidents in jail, and has destroyed the private book collections, which have been determined to include holdings such as copies of “the International Declaration of Human Rights” and the United States Constitution; and
WHEREAS, the activities these prisoners were charged with are the rights the American Library Association has long fought to preserve in our own country, and has fought for even harder as the twin shadows of surveillance and censorship threaten to fall over our own civil liberties; and
WHEREAS, Policy 53.4 of the American Library Association, “Governmental Intimidation,” states, “The American Library Association opposes any use of government prerogatives which leads to the intimidation of the individual or the citizenry from the exercise of free expression. ALA encourages resistance to such abuse of government power, and supports those against whom such governmental power has been employed”; and
WHEREAS, in October, 2003, former President Jimmy Carter condemned the imprisonment of these 75 Cuban citizens “peaceably seeking to change their country's legislation and promote freedoms of expression and assembly,” and
WHEREAS, IFLA, the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, joined the international critique of these arrests and crackdowns by urging “the Cuban Government to respect, defend and promote the basic human rights defined in Article 19 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights”; and
WHEREAS, the United States and Cuba can both benefit by trade and travel agreements that encourage the mutual exchange of ideas and can help build trust among colleagues in these nations; and
WHEREAS, increasingly harsh U.S. trade and travel restrictions undermine the ability of the American Library Association and the Associacion Cubana de Bibliotecarios (ASCUBI) to continue to build a cordial and mutually beneficial relationship that had been strengthened by an ALA delegate visit to Cuba in 2001 and by visits from Cuban librarians to the ALA Annual Conference in Toronto, 2003; and
WHEREAS, IFLA has formally criticized the impact of the U.S. embargo for creating “inhibitions to professional interaction and exchange caused by the restrictions on travel to the US by Cuban nationals and to Cuba by US nationals”;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Council of the American Library Association asks the President of the Association to call for the immediate release of the 75 Cubans identified by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch as imprisoned in March 2003 for promoting free speech and the right to read; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Council of the American Library Association encourages continued good relationships between the American Library Association the Associacion Cubana de Bibliotecarios (ASCUBI); and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Council of the American Library Association encourages the United States to pave the way to free travel and exchange between the U.S. and Cuba.
Moved: Karen G. Schneider, Councilor at Large
Seconded: Tom Wilding, Councilor
Karen G. Schneider
In his January 5, 2004 column in the Village Voice, Nat Hentoff once again takes on the issue of ALA and Cuba, replying to a letter to the editor by librarian Ann Sparanese who among other comments insists that Victor Arroyo, the man jailed for maintaining a collection of over 6,000 books, is not a librarian and is an agent of the state.
In the couple of weeks since I first wrote about this issue, I have had a number of librarians try to "educate" me about Cuba-U.S. relations, librarianship, free speech, and the professional credentials of Victor Arroyo. The (somewhat arrogant) assumption is that anyone questioning Cuba's actions, let alone suggesting human rights is a growing edge for Castro, is a dupe of the far right--even though the issues swirling around Cuba are those over which, as Nat Hentoff notes, the U.S. left appears to be divided; he observes, "there remains a division among the American left regarding Castro's recent crackdown that needs answering."
I have witnessed shameful, if unintentional, hypocrisy among my peers on the issue of Arroyo's status as a librarian, an issue which has also served as a convenient red herring for librarians clearly suffering from cognitive dissonance on the issue of free speech, as they swing like a screen door in the wind between their righteously clarion calls for free speech and privacy rights in this country, and their silence and ennui, amounting to a collective shrug, if not a wink, when the issue is free speech and human rights in Cuba.
Cuban-U.S. relations are horrendously complicated, and no side of this issue is free of shadows or impurities. (I am writing a much longer piece about our complex dance on the Cuba issue, and that has somewhat inhibited my blog postings, since this would amount to pre-publishing, but close your eyes and think "folie a deux.")
However, I am not without plenty of thoughts and conclusions, and, finally, a desire for action. I spent the last week, while on vacation, reading and thinking about Cuba and our library association, and I am ready to move into a second phase of activity. I will be bringing a resolution to ALA Council. I will be working on the wording of the resolution Tuesday, and it should be on the ALA calendar fairly early in the schedule, as so far there is only one other resolution on the docket.
I believe this resolution can at least survive a discussion on the floor of Council. And which side are you on? Do you realize how free you are to express your point of view?
I told you they were after us. On December 31, news organizations trumpeted a national warning from the FBI "to be alert for people carrying almanacs, cautioning that the popular reference books covering everything from abbreviations to weather trends could be used for terrorist planning."
Alert the press: the national security forces have learned freshman library skills. "The FBI said information typically found in almanacs that could be useful for terrorists includes profiles of cities and states and information about waterways, bridges, dams, reservoirs, tunnels, buildings and landmarks. It said this information is often accompanied by photographs and maps."
I get it! Be afraid of anyone who looks up a) a geographical location and b) a place of interest--in other words, any information enquiry any reasonable person might ask.
Thank goodness for the many members of the press who not only questioned but mocked this latest attempt to to legitimize invading our privacy and limiting what we read.
Dan Robinson recounts his family's history with FBI investigations, in a lively thread about whether "it can happen here" ("it" meaning aggressive enquiries into personal reading behavior).
In "A Missed Opportunity" (Cato Supreme Court Review, Sept 2003), Bob Corn-Revere offered a fresh (and highly readable) take on CIPA. Not only is his reasoning lucid and original, but for the first time since July, I felt a spark of hope on this issue. "The public forum doctrine, which originated as a way to preserve a 'First Amendment easement' for private speakers on public streets and sidewalks, is not well-suited to the task of analyzing restrictions imposed on public institutions that are designed for the purpose of disseminating information."
The current ALA pres came up and swinging with a powerful statement submitted to a Judicial Committee Hearing, "America After 9/11: Freedom Preserved or Freedom Lost?" Yet another reason why I want Santa to bring me a Carla Hayden Action Figure.
This is to alert FRL's readership that the members of the Intellectual Freedom Committee of the California Library Association have established their own informal, unofficial blog, Cal Freedom. Find it at:
CIPA compliance needs much better TCO (Total Cost Of Ownership) analysis than we've seen to date. Some libraries have determined that compliance with CIPA--including convoluted responses to adult permissions issues--isn't worth it, financially. It would be great for libraries to speak up (anonymously, if it suits their needs) and talk to others about what their own TCO analyses yielded and how that affected their decisions.
Libraries, feel free to comment. (Actually, that should be "librarians," as buildings rarely speak for themselves.)
I've been working on a top-ten list about CIPA and filtering, trying to boil down the ten points I'd like to get across to librarians and stakeholders regardless of their status with respect to this issue. This is a bloggish draft; I welcome input and thoughts.
1. Filters block Constitutionally-protected speech. This is a fact not disputed in the CIPA decision. (The Court reasoned that disabling filters on request was an adequate remediation for this problem.)
2. CIPA only applies to E-Rate (and in some cases LSTA), and only applies for Internet connection costs. CIPA has no impact on libraries not accepting E-Rate or LSTA, or only accepting E-Rate or LSTA money for costs unrelated to Internet connections.
3. CIPA, as described in the law and unchallenged by the FCC, requires libraries to filter all computers, for staff as well as the public.
4. The Supreme Court believes it is easy for librarians to disable filters on a case-by-case basis.
5. The CIPA decision and subsequent FCC and IMLS interpretations did not clarify whether adults are legally entitled to unfiltered access on request.
6. Filters hide blocked sites in encrypted lists, eliminating accountability on their end and sunshine on our end. This was not discussed in the CIPA decision and is probably irrelevant as far as future court cases are concerned (which does not make this point unimportant).
7. At least one Supreme Court justice reasoned that litigation at the local level is an appropriate mechanism for sorting out the fuzzier areas of CIPA compliance, which raises the spectre of at least one “Son of Loudoun.”
8. CIPA did nothing to clarify First Amendment law with respect to public libraries and similar institutions, and in fact may have significantly muddied the law through its emphasis on “public forums” at the expense of exploring the less trafficked territories of "restrictions imposed on public institutions that are designed for the purpose of disseminating information," as discussed in "A Missed Opportunity," Bob Corn-Revere's article in the September issue of the Cato Supreme Court Review.
9. Because E-Rate is an after-service reimbursement, creative solutions to CIPA filtering requirements are somewhat of a crapshoot. The technical aspects of “disabling” Internet filters were not addressed in CIPA, and the FCC did not clarify. This means it is unknown, to use two commonly-discussed examples, if it is CIPA-compliant to allow adult users to disable filters through a signed form or through self-selection on a Web screen.
10. It may seem that every library in the world is filtering, but that's not the case at all. Many libraries have chosen not to filter (and remember, CIPA doesn't give libraries much latitude for filtering--it's all or nothing). We don't hear about these libraries because staying low-profile is a strategy, but nonetheless, if you aren't filtering all or most of the computers in your library, you are not alone.
I am pleased to announce that following unanimous vote by the California Library Association Executive Committee, CLA has a new award. The Zoia Horn Intellectual Freedom Award honors Zoia Horn, "who in 1973 chose to serve time in jail rather than betray confidential patron information."
The award statement continues, "Ms. Horn's experience sets an example of integrity over personal comfort, and has been a model discussed in library literature and shared with generations of library students everywhere. A key goal of the Zoia Horn Intellectual Freedom Award is to celebrate and honor other selfless examples of commitment to intellectual freedom that help preserve free speech in an open society."
Californian individuals, groups, and organizations are eligible for this award; the award seeks to recognize "significant contributions to intellectual freedom in California," but the scope of impact may be broader. This award may be awarded annually (but there is no requirement to do so in years when no outstanding candidate is available). Nominations are made by the state IFC by November 1, and the award will be announced at the annual conference.
This award--the product of a year of effort by the state IFC--is another way we in our profession can thank the risk-takers and leaders who help fight for the right to read.
Since CIPA was upheld, I've been asked to write and present about filtering, to help libraries make choices. Finally, after a lot of thought, I've turned down all these requests, and it's because I have to be true to myself, and continue speaking the truth as I know it. My best advice hasn't changed in seven years. Filters are bad news.
I've had a fairly consistent message (or so I thought) about the weaknesses and limitations of filtering software. I sympathize with managers forced between a rock and a hard spot, and in the past I have provided as much advice as possible to help people who needed to evaluate filtering software.
But what I'm not going to do is put myself in the position--even implied--of endorsing the concept that filtering is a good thing. It's not. I grappled hands-on with the software for years in order to be able to develop this mile-high view, and nothing has budged me from this conclusion, because it's so fundamental to how filters work. Internet content filters block access to Constitutionally protected speech, and do so in a way that removes accountability from the vendor and control from the buyer. This is a Bad Thing.
I'm not a knee-jerk absolutist on access issues (and as I stated in American Libraries not too long ago, absolutism killed us in the courts). If you're four years old, I don't care if your speech is blocked (and if your parents don't want to make that decision, I'll be only to happy to make it for them in a manner that is friendliest to adult library access). If you're forty, I care a lot. If you're fourteen, I care, but I understand that adolescence is a legal and cultural battleground.
But I'm also not Dr. Strangelove. I'm never going to love the bomb. You go ahead, if you need to. Bring in the "experts" to tell you how to "select" filters, prop a couple of vendors on the dais, and make your decisions. It's a tough world, and money is useful. I have said from Day 1 that managers should always be given enough rope to hang themselves with.
I'll keep on with my message, and I won't dilute it or confuse it by appearing to help anyone "choose" a filter. Internet content filters block access to Constitutionally protected speech. Filters are bad news. That's why we fought CIPA and COPA. We lost, but we were still right.
Decades from now, we'll look back at our primitive, panicked decisions, and wonder what all the fuss was about. But if you are waiting for me to love the bomb, pack a lunch and bring a blanket, because you're going to have to wait until Hell freezes over.
From Politech: this past Sunday, the Chicago Sun Times reported that "Wal-Mart and Procter & Gamble conducted a secret RFID trial involving Oklahoma consumers earlier this year. ... Customers who purchased P&G's Lipfinity brand lipstick at the Broken Arrow Wal-Mart store between late March and mid-July unknowingly left the store with live RFID tracking devices embedded in the packaging. Wal-Mart had previously denied any consumer-level RFID testing in the United States."
But wait, there's more! Politech added, "early this year, CASPIAN [an anti-RFID advocacy group] called for a worldwide boycott of Italian clothing manufacturer Benetton when the company announced plans to equip women's undergarments with live RFID tracking tags (see http://www.boycottbenetton.org)."
This is where it all ties into librarianship: I'm convinced the Librarian Action Figure's long blue dress is actually a foil-lined anti-RFID protection garment. Scorned by so many jeune fille librarians (not to mention those who are no longer so jeune and really should start revisiting their wardrobe options--you know who I mean!) , the LAF's on us--because all along our demure blue doll has been modeling 21st-century privacy survival methods.
For that matter, we should listen to LAF, because ultimately, what's going on with RFID is not that funny. As a profession, we're walking into RFID without having first done our homework: establishing best practices, nailing down vendors about our needs, and writing the specs we can live with--or deciding to delay RFID implementations until we have done more to ensure our patrons' long-term privacy needs are met. We're stumbling into RFID with about the same level of naivete we had about filtering.
This is not a simple "RFID Bad" rant. It's more of a riff on how we wander into these new technologies first, and ask questions later. And sometimes, late might as well be never.
Re-read that Politech post. And remember Deep Throat's advice: "follow the money."