Library of Congress vs Wikileaks … and some silliness, too

I’m sure most of you know about Wikileaks – interesting stuff, for sure. For the most part, I’m not getting into that – I’ll leave all that legality stuff for others to discuss.

However, I WILL mention the Library of Congress and their decision to block access to Wikileaks. And the Federal Government’s memos going out “reminding” government employees who don’t have access to classified documents that they aren’t allowed to view them, even when not at work.

I like what this article called it – “a classic case of shutting the barn door after the horse has left.”

In my mind, anyway, the Library of Congress and the federal government are being sorta silly:

  • Yes, many government employees don’t have access to classified documents
  • whether you like it or not, Wikileaks just published them
  • so whether you like it or not, those published documents are really no longer classified – they’re now freely available on the web
  • unless, of course, the government is being silly and is telling people “please turn your heads the other way and don’t look.”

This is pretty different from, say, before the web. Way back then, if a classified document was swiped and shared, you could potentially track it down and stop the leak.

But now, there’s no getting those documents back. Sure, you can block access. Sure, you can arrest people (if they broke laws). But get the documents back? Good luck with that. They’re now freely available on the web, being copied on millions of servers, and parts of those documents are being quoted by multiple news outlets.

Is that still classified? Well yes – legally, it is. But no – in reality, anyone can now see it, which sort of defeats the purpose of calling them “classified.”

And Library of Congress – since you are blocking access to those documents … are you also blocking access to all the news organizations that are currently publishing bits from those classified documents? Because they’re all quoting from them.

Here are two good articles I saw over the weekend with some good thoughts this whole fiasco:

What do you think?

ALA2008: Privacy: Is it time for a revolution?

Comments for 10 minutes, then a series of questions – first from the moderator, then from the bloggers, then attendees.

@privacyala – taking twitter questions

Dan Roth, Wired senior writer

Little incentive for companies to care about privacy.

Yahoo toolbar – ask Google what they’re doing with the data they collect? No one knows what they’re doing with it

We should find out what those companies are doing with all that data was his general gist

Cory Doctorow

We can influence policy and licenses

architecture is politics – when we build social networks, we in effect build policies – and those affect people and future society

People who use social networks choose to divulge this info

There’s a difference between private, personal and secret – ex – we all do stuff that’s private but not a secret (go to the bathroom)

RFID – not a way to create policies and capacities for individuals to choose what gets shared via RFID and what’s not.

Beth Givens, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse

aside – both Dan and Beth are commenting about privacy – while being photographed and videotaped (and most likely those are going on the web). Ironic?

Beth is talking about credit reports, medical records, etc – how those are online, how you can sue if this info is misused, etc.

Access, consent, accuracy, enforcement, usage limitation, etc…

“You should opt out” – how do you opt out? Her website has some ideas

Moderator questions:

Dan said “as we move away from a society with one mass culture…” – I don’t think we really ever had that! Colonial times – puritans, politics, farmers, city folk, etc… go through other times in US history and you’ll see the same. Just sayin…