Some recent personal tragedies have prevented me from keeping some promises I made about topics I’d planned to post a whole lot sooner; I’ve always written during difficult times but I simply couldn’t get riled up about the issues that affect the civil rights of humanity. So I wrote and healed in my private journals and am feeling like it’s time to take up the mantle again.
So I accept that I might have lost all 2 or 3 of my followers, but the good bad news is that there’s plenty of information for a quick recap to get us (or me, anyway) back in the mood to rant. So many juicy topics, too: privacy policies, tracking cell phone data, a bunch of ridiculous hoopla about library after library caving to the banning Fifty Shades of Grey, (though to be fair, it’s usually against their wishes and is dictated by clueless school board officials) which only–what have we learned, people?–gives it far more publicity and a larger readership! Keep on being stupid, those of you determined to tell the rest of us what we can or can’t read. The authors (and publishers) thank you.
Props to The Occupy Wall Street movement and OWS librarians, who have sued New York City in federal court over the destruction of the Occupy Wall Street Library during a late-night raid. According to the lawsuit, the city confiscated 3,600 books on November 15, 2011, but the city only returned 1,003 of the books. Part of the lawsuit states: ”We are demanding compensatory damages for the lost/destroyed books and equipment, which we have estimated at at least $47,000. In addition, because we believe the seizure and destruction of the books went beyond negligence to constitute a reckless and callous indifference to our constitutional rights, we are demanding punitive damages of at least $1,000.”
What else–oh, Microsoft announced that IE 10 will be released with its controversial Do Not Track feature set as a default–you have to opt OUT–which could create a potential threat to online advertising giants, Google in particular. Do Not Track sends a message to every website you visit saying you prefer not to be tracked. That flag is currently optional for sites and web advertising firms to obey, but it’s gaining momentum with Twitter embracing it last week.
In other Google news, it has launched a new anti-censorship feature for its Chinese language site which informs mainland users when they enter search keywords that are likely to be blocked by censors and recommends using alternative terms. This feature was implemented following a government crackdown on information about a major political scandal. If you recall, Google left China in 2010 after a showdown with the government over Internet controls and currently redirects Chinese language users from the mainland to a search site run from its Hong Kong-based servers. I don’t see an end to the battle over censorship in China for a long time.
Facebook, whose IPO couldn’t have interested me less–who didn’tthink it was going to skyrocket and then come back down?–a site that I think has gotten sneakier about its ”privacy” implementations (that requires an expert engineer just to locate the damn settings), is actually letting users have a say on the “data usage” policies on their very own accounts! That’s right–you get a vote on whether to accept Facebook’s revised policies, thanks to the efforts of a European activist. Max Schrems, an Austrian law student, managed to trigger a vote, capitalizing on Facebook’s own stated policy by drumming up comments on the policy.
The policy says that it will allow its users SEVEN WHOLE DAYS to make comments about the changes. If they receive 7,000 or more comments, they’ll put the changes up for a vote. The European, however, stated on the website Europe versus Facebook (a very interesting site; check it out) that they received more than 40,000, forcing Facebook to honor its policy. Facebook, acting like a toddler throwing a tantrum for not getting its way, begrudingly is allowing voters a week to make their comments. So you’ve got a week to register your vote. To vote, you click here. Quickly, though. Because I’ve been negligent in posting, you got like a day left.
I think it’s lip service, because naturally there’s a catch. The Los Angeles Times article tells the best story, and ends with what I’m sure will be the case: this will be the last chance users get to have a say in their own privacy, if you read between the lines.