"To seek out that which was lost..."
NorthStar is a guiding light to help you focus on the
issues which threaten our Internet Freedom. We sincerely
invite your participation at any level, from discussion to
action. Rethink what Activism means - Isn't it just
NorthStar #16 Sunday 4/28/96
Update: Internet Users Consortium
VISIT the NEW Internet Users Consortium mirror site:
Thanks to your growing support, the number of people accessing
the IUC website increased to our servers stretching point. So
we've set up a mirror site on another server. This new site
specializes in our ever-growing IUC position, proposals and
objectives. Visit the site and ensure that it represents you- the
Internet User! Show your dedicated support to the Future Freedom
of the Internet. If you have any points of contention, additional
ideas to establish the position of Internet Freedom, ideas for
improving the website or just want to give us continued support,
please drop by.
NEVER SAY NEVER . . . but . . .
We at NorthStar believe so strongly in these principles that we make
the following pledge to you, our reader and fellow Internet Activist:
NorthStar will NEVER sell/rent/trade/share our mailing list
NorthStar will NEVER use Government mandated encryption
NorthStar will NEVER represent any commercial interest
NorthStar will NEVER cooperate with any Government intrusion
Sheeeesh!!! Enough Already!!! I'm still steaming about my newfound lack of Privacy on the Internet. If any of you think that you still have the slightest bit of Privacy left on the Internet, well... then I've got some Oceanfront Property here in Arizona that you just might be interested in.
You could say that I'm a pretty experienced Internet user and I take good care not to post any of my personal information anywhere on the net. I don't fill out local surveys, when it says name and address optional I leave them blank, and I'm definitely not interested in being a future captive of thousands of mailing lists by registering for 'FREE' membership and services at all the websites that promise to charge for the same 'membership' in the impending future, etc. But since *DejaNews*[tm] and AltaVista*[tm] showed up on the scene, my name is schmeared from one end of the freeking Internet to the other! Here I thought I was a savvy Netter, but as far as certain companies are concerned, I'm just another bit of data to be bought and sold.
DejaNews and AltaVista both are powerful search engines that locate posts to Usenet searching by email, name or keyword. Just searching DejaNews for "email@example.com" I found over 200 posts I made in the last couple of months - most of them NorthStar issues to Usenet. Upon doing an "old" usenet search, I found over 200 posts I made which included inquiries into Viking heritage, a system problem I needed help on and a post citing some differences between DNA and RNA. Nothing that will stop my world from spinning, but I'm sure glad that DejaNews wasn't around when I made multiple posts supporting Medicinal Use of Marijuana. Imagine the conclusions a potential employer would jump to after doing a hasty search of all my old posts. "Aha! He's some kind of freak or something. I'm not hiring him!" Some of these posts dated back as far as 6/21/95. Thats 10 months ago!!! This data is accumulated from everyone, and every newsgroup stored in one large database. Now you need to watch what you say since in a moment of haste you may ruin your career.
*DejaNews*[tm] and AltaVista*[tm] should behave in a responsible fashion and honor requests to remove personal information. Public information has one set of guidelines, but even the phone company will allow you take your name out of the phonebook. An unlisted number is an offshoot of our right to something resembling privacy.
I guess my Fear and Loathing can be traced back to the day I was innocently browsing *Yahoo*[tm] and found that under the *People* category, that *anyone* can track *anyone* with *any* shred of information they might have about that person. [Hint: *that person* could be *YOU*] I was freaked to find my name, my address and my phone number sitting right there free for the public taking. What is even worse, I cannot locate an address for the company, *Database America, Inc.* to write them and demand that they remove my information from their database. I have utilized [six times] the email addresses provided on *Yahoo*[tm], and they have chosen to ignore [six times] my requests for a contact at *Database America*.
Yahoo, continuing to be your one stop search shop, has connected with another database so that your email address can be tracked down. They have linked with Four11 so that if you have a name and domain, you can track down a person's email address as well as the rest of their personal information, ie home address, phone number, etc. If you are serious about locating an individual, this is another place to spend your time. The cost of using their service, beyond the cursory search which teases you into wanting to see all the information they have, is just letting them add your name, home address, phone number and email address . to their database. All this just to make it easier to find that "old friend or family member" that you may have lost contact with.
Yahoo was founded by 2 computer geeks from Stanford. They started it as a project in school and are now the latest Internet multi-millionaires. When released publicly a few weeks back, the stock was greedily fought for by everyone trying to get a piece of technology. The latest in a bloated technology stock. In conjunction, Database America, as the name implies, stores all the info that we do searches on. It updates regularly to keep up on the new sites, although, it doesn't delete regularly to get rid of sites that no longer exist.
Many of us still believe that Privacy is one of our *inalienable* rights and that we should [at least] have a say in who has access to our information. Now here goes this publicly traded company named *Yahoo*[tm] actively providing a database that robs us of the decision whether or not to display our Private information. Is this right? No! Should it be allowed to continue? No!
Seriously now, do any of you have any ideas of how to convince *Yahoo*[tm] to act as a responsible corporate Netizen and allow Internet users the opportunity to contact *Database America* and insist that they remove our personal information if requested? I am awaiting your ideas, because *Yahoo*[tm] refuses to respond to my repeated emails on the subject.
In the meantime, go to *Yahoo*[tm], check out your information and see how you like what you find there about yourself. Then help me with some ideas of what to do about this abuse of our privacy.
***FEAR AND LOATHING ON THE INFO SNOOPER HIGHWAY***
Database America - Doesnt seem to exist???
As more of us travel the information highway, our activities are recorded in computer databases spread across the country. Sending e-mail to a friend? There is a record of the message. Reading a magazine on-line? That, too, is recorded. Visiting a web site? Your clicks are easily recorded.
As I recently attempted to purchase a corporate site to provide better access to the Internet Users Consortium website, I was sold on the idea that the company said they could monitor who was visiting my website. He claimed that in the event I wanted to do group mailings or demographics on who visits my site, I would have that raw data ready for analysis. That's fine for most websites, but what if I visit the Michigan Militia website for a school project, then hop to the Patriot page, then go into several anarchist and anti-government websites? Harmless enough - its simply research. But do I trust the same paranoid government that 40 years ago thought EVERYONE was a "commie", with the information that I merely visited these websites? How soon before this information is disclosed?
As the information highway unfolds, more and more of our personal data will be accessible. Medical records and employment records will go on-line. Financial records will sit in computer databases. Already the police use subpoenas to get information about subscribers to America On-Line, Prodigy and other information services.
These digital dragnets give police mountains of electronic information to peruse for evidence of criminal activity. All of this is without the warrant that the Fourth Amendment requires
It is time to reaffirm the central purpose of the Fourth Amendment. If the government requires personal information as part of a criminal investigation, it should make its case to a judge. If the judge says yes, then the search goes forward. If not, no search. It's a principle critical to the exercise of First Amendment freedoms and the publication of new and controversial ideas in the years ahead. That's the way it was supposed to be.
Justice Brandeis, one of the great Supreme Court justices, once said that privacy is "the most comprehensive of all rights and the right most cherished by a free people." Those words were as true in the eighteenth century as they will be in the twenty-first.
(Marc Rotenberg is Director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington, D.C. --- firstname.lastname@example.org --- and an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center.)
***FEAR AND LOATHING ON THE INFO SNOOPER HIGHWAY***
Fourth Amendment..........(just a reminder)
Internet Users Consortium Archives
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NorthStar is an Internet Newsletter
provided by the Internet Users Consortium,
a fiercely independent Grass Roots organization founded by Martin Thompson and Kenneth Koldys, Jr, to inform and coordinate Internet Users concerning political and government actions against the complete self-actualization of the Internet and our Constitutional Rights in Cyberspace.
Past issues of NorthStar are archived at the NorthStar Archive
on the Internet Users Consortium WWW site
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