In the mix

March 22nd, 2010 by Grace Meng

1) EFF is posting documents as it gets them indicating how the government uses social networks in law enforcement investigations. The Fourth Amendment is what requires the police to have a search warrant when they come to search your house.  The cases interpreting the Fourth Amendment that led to such requirements were based on expectations of privacy that are rooted in physical spaces.  But as we start to live more of our lives in an online space our founding fathers could never have imagined, how should we change the laws protecting our rights?

2) An overview of the history of people challenging the constitutionality of the U.S. Census. Personally, I love filling out the census form.  I wish I’d gotten the American Community Survey.

3) The Transaction Records Access Clearinghouse, a data research organization at Syracuse University studying federal spending, enforcement, and staffing recently got a $100,000+ bill for a FOIA request. The bill was based on the calculation that 861 man hours were required to create a description of what is in the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service’s database of claims for U.S. citizenship.  As an immigration lawyer, I used to deal with USCIS all the time, and even I am surprised that the agency would need that much time just to figure out what’s in the database.  You almost hope that the bill was calculated just to rebuff TRAC’s FOIA request, because the alternative, that the database is that screwed up, is pretty awful.

4) danah boyd at Microsoft Research gave the keynote at SXSW on “Privacy and Publicity” last week, challenging the idea that personal information is on a binary spectrum of public and private.  It’s great to hear more and more people making this point, which is at the heart of CDP’s mission.

5) Google now has a service that lets you place your own ad on TV.  Really shockingly simple and easy, and fascinating in light of the growing fear that evil advertisers are taking over our lives.  Would it make a difference if we could all become advertisers, too?

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