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Librarians Versus the NSA

The American Library Association listed privacy as one of its core values starting in 1939. Occasionally, that value gets tested, as in the case of a librarian who went to jail in 1972 rather than testify against anti-Vietnam War activists. But the war between government sleuths and privacy advocates at your library has ramped up exponentially in the 21st century.

Under the Patriot Act, the government can demand library records via a secret court order and without probable cause that the information is related to a suspected terrorist plot. It can also block the librarian from revealing that request to anyone. Nor does the term “records” cover only the books you check out; it also includes search histories and hard drives from library computers. The Muslim-American who uses a library computer to correspond with family abroad, or the activist planning a demonstration against police brutality—those digital trails are vulnerable to surveillance, along with everyone else’s.

That part about not revealing the request tells us that more has been going on in the privacy wars than we know, but there have been several high-profile cases in which librarians refused to comply with orders. And librarians are at the forefront of implementing privacy technology on behalf of all their patrons. Read about the struggle between government surveillance and the privacy of your use of the public library at The Nation. -via Metafilter

(Image credit: Jessamyn West - CC)


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You inspired me to look into it, maybe just so I could respond to the comment, lol.
I don't know much about internet communication, but I can run online tests to see that I have a DNS leak; my ISP has a transparent DNS proxy watching my every move. And that allows them to.... idk block all data when I send a request they don't like?
Of course, after I connect to my VPN I can flush my settings, but I think the ISP catches on and resets my IP. I suppose a really good VPN would send fake traffic data to the transparent DNS proxy instead of shutting it out entirely!
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Nobody can "see through" an IPSec VPN, unless you've got a terribly poor pass-phrase. Of course China has its own certificate authority, so they could be masquerading as your end-point (if you aren't watching the details closely) and doing man-in-the-middle. Of course you can revoke certain CAs or use only self-signed certs to protect against that.

But yes, the site still works for me, here in the US.
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It's probably just China blocking the link (I'm in China), but if not then it's funny that this link is broken:
The requested URL /article/206561/librarians-versus-nsa was not found on this server.

China has gotten really good at blocking stuff even though I have a 2-layer encrypted VPN turned on. They see through it with no problem.
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Note to self: If I ever decide to use my powers for evil and become a terrorist, don't check out books from the library. Just read them IN the library. Or steal them, as evil terrorists ought to.
I hated how they caught that guy in Se7en, based on his library check-outs.
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