If digital government information is only available to the public through government-controlled web servers, will the government examine what people are reading? A recent study by the American Library Association may have some bearing on this question. As reported by the NY Times, law enforcement officials “made at least 200 formal and informal inquiries to libraries for information on reading material and other internal matters since October 2001.” This raises the question: If the government is willing to examine what people read when it is difficult for them to do so, what will constrain them doing so when it is much easier to examine their own logs of web usage?
Libraries Say Yes, Officials Do Quiz Them About Users. By Eric Lichtblau, New York Times June 20, 2005 Monday Late Edition – Final, Section A; Column 5; National Desk; Pg. 11.
Also available here: U.S. libraries say agents are prying. By Eric Lichtblau, The New York Times International Herald Tribune, Tuesday, JUNE 21, 2005.
One way of helping ensure the privacy of users of government information is to distribute digital government information to FDLP libraries so that those documents are available to users from library web servers, not just government web servers.
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