Double-sized IFAction Round-Up, August 13-26


OIF sponsors IFAction, an email list for those who would like updated information on news affecting intellectual freedom, censorship, privacy, access to information, and more. To subscribe to this list, visit an archive of all postings to the list since 1996, visit Below is a sample of articles from August 13 — 26, 2012.


Secret E-Scores Chart Consumers’ Buying Power 

Police chiefs offer guidelines for drones

Text Message Donations Good for Democracy, Risky for Privacy

FBI Gives Police Free Tool to Convert Photos for Facial Recognition 

Stepped-up computer monitoring of federal workers worries privacy advocates

‘Friends’ can share your Facebook profile with the government, court rules

Trust: Ill-Advised in a Digital Age 

Appeals court OKs warrantless tracking

Hulu Loses Bid To Dismiss Privacy Lawsuit

Buying coffee, and giving up some privacy

What Happens When Our Cellphones Can Predict Our Every Move?

Online Privacy: Americans Want It, and They Want It Now. So Why Can’t They Get It?

Custom Ads Consult Your Facebook Likes

Are the Feds Stalking You on Facebook?

Landmark California Location-Privacy Bill Nears Governor’s Desk

When Wireless Sensors Meet Big Data

GPS technology finding its way into court

California Senate Passes Social Privacy Bill

Want Security and Privacy? Turn Off Your Mobile Devices’ GPS

Google building privacy ‘red team’ after FTC settlement

Web Sites Accused of Collecting Data on Children

Related: FTC Asked to Stop Viral Advertising Promotions Aimed at Kids

License plates scanned at border, data shared with car insurance group

Giving In to the Surveillance State 
NYPD official: Muslim spying by secret Demographics Unit generated no leads, terrorism cases

Related: Taking Note: Surveillance, Civil Liberties and Inefficiency 

In a Blow to Hulu, Judge Rules Video Privacy Law Applies Online



Google follows SOPA down the slippery slope of corporate censorship

Republicans and Democrats mull positions on Internet freedom in party platforms

ITU Opens Public Consultation on the Future of Internet Regulation

Naperville Public Library changes Internet policy



Pa. ‘Boobies’ Bracelets Appeal Continues

House Dems urge DNC to state Internet freedom position in party platform

Linda Greenhouse: The Free Speech Puzzle 



Frederick school board upholds decision to keep controversial textbook


One thought on “Double-sized IFAction Round-Up, August 13-26

  • I am glad to see that someone in the library community is concerned and aware of social networking privacy issues.

    When Web 2.0 first came out with ways to use social media to reach library users where they are, everyone jumped on board. As a library science student, we did numerous projects using social media. That was before things took a rather ugly turn of late regarding privacy issues on Facebook and other social media platforms.

    Many of the policies and practices, related to privacy and information sharing, especially on Facebook, are not straightforward. Some of the apps, like photo tagging, are not allowed in some European countries, where it has been determined that the practice violates citizens right to anonymity ( The interface itself is full of deceptive links, trojans, and malware disguised as content, and private citizens’ facebook content is fair game for insurance companies and federal agencies to track and monitor activity.

    Twitter is not really better as far as privacy goes and their records are also subject to seizure by the courts ( This is the same reason many libraries do not keep a permanent record of their patrons’ transactions in their library databases (

    Some people say they are not concerned about privacy because they have nothing to hide, but that is not the point. I read recently, a society where everyone is tracked is not really free,” and I strongly agree. An urgent wake-up call is needed.
    “Why should we care about perfect tracking? EFF believes that perfect tracking is inimical to a free society. A society in which everyone’s actions are tracked is not, in principle, free. It may be a livable society, but would not be our society.
    EFF believes that perfect surveillance, even without any deliberate abuse, would have an extraordinary chilling effect on artistic and scientific inventiveness and on political expression. This concern underlies constitutional protection for anonymity, both as an aspect of First Amendment freedoms of speech and association, and as an aspect of Fourth Amendment privacy.” (

    My question is, as it relates to libraries, shouldn’t we be sure we are steering library users in the right direction? Shouldn’t we be teaching them to protect themselves rather than deliver services without caveat, via social media platforms? Platforms that violate patrons’ civil rights and freedom of information? I include freedom of information because Facebook severely censors posts that interfere with their agenda. They will not allow users to post certain links to applications that filter and block ads (FBpurity), and they delete pages that contain information that help users protect themselves against Facebook’s appalling security, or lack of security policies.

    In a world where rapid change is the norm, I think it’s time to rethink social networking and consider whether the path we are following is really the right path or not. We have a lot more and better options available to us for hosting our own platforms, sharing, and connecting. For a small fee, you can host your own web presence, complete with blog, wiki, forum, email, and applications for chat and more options. Cloud based options are relatively inexpensive, and you and your patrons’ information will be protected instead of misused by private, third party organizations with a questionable sense of responsibility to their customers.

    We don’t need free social networking anymore, to provide interactive services to our library patrons. In my opinion, it will be far better, more professional, and safer, to subscribe to or host our own interfaces on our own computers or on the servers of a reputable service provider. I think we have the responsibility as librarians, to observe the path ahead and lead our users in the right direction by endorsing products that are in fact worth endorsing. As an example, Wikipedia is still not considered a reliable resource and in general, students are discouraged from citing that source in their academic work. Some librarians have traditionally taken a “use are your own risk” approach to Wikipedia. Facebook and other “free” social media platforms are far less reliable, reputable, or informative, and involve far greater risks to the user, and we use them without providing any guidelines for their use.

    Relying on the government to protect your privacy is like asking a peeping tom to install your window blinds. – John Perry Barlow

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