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04/05/2004 Archived Entry: ""

Today's cartoons: Boondocks hits a homerun with "Good News"; Jack Higgins' powerful cartoon/commentary "You Slay Me"; Stuart Carlson's wry "Willing, Able, and Eager"; Glenn McCoy's "Taxi"; and, Ted Rall's "Maybe They Hate Us".

I just received an advanced copy of the May issue of Penthouse in which I have the feature article! Alan Dershowitz has a piece as well but I've not forgiven him for coming out for the "right to torture prisoners"... don't think I will ever respect the man again. That's a shame because I used to point to him as an example of someone with whom I could disagree drastically on many points but for whom I had continuing regard. "The right to torture prisoners"... that position is the death of respect. But getting back to Penthouse...YooHoo!!

Update of news and commentary on privacy:
---Wired reports on Google's plans to offer free Web-based e-mail in an article entitled "Free E-Mail With a Steep Price?" The article addresses "worries among privacy advocates that the service could make it easier for law enforcement to conduct surveillance of its users." Although the search capacity being offered is amazing and attractive, Google intends to "use automated technology to scan the content of incoming e-mail for keywords and place related text ads inside the mail." In short, Google and those to whom Google gives access will be able to know every word going in and out of your e-box. BTW c/net has an excellent article by Donal Daly on privacy v. commerce and government. Equally good is Michael Springmann in CounterPunch who describes how client-attorney privilege was breached when AOL gave the Justice Department access to his email accounts.
---moving from the Internet's global impact to developments in the UK, The Register advises, "UK Prime Minister Tony Blair yesterday made it clear that the government now feels it has sufficient public support to accelerate the introduction of compulsory ID cards." According to Home Secretary David Blunkett "the only issues in the way are technical, logistical and practical." He may be correct. There does not seem to be much political will to oppose the measure but it is heartening to hear that opposition to biometric passports still exists.
---and, onto the EU in general, Wired informs, "The European Parliament on Wednesday said it was illegal for the United States to force European airlines to provide data on arriving passengers and threatened to go to court to block an agreement that calls for the information sharing. The vote came a day after European Union ministers overcame similar privacy concerns and agreed to give their own law enforcement authorities access to more limited passenger data."
---back in North America: in the US, the 9/11 Commission has called for the creation of "a domestic intelligence agency that would conduct surveillance of people in the United States." Gordon Pusch said is best when he wondered whether the agency would be called "The KGB," or "The Stasi." Meanwhile, spy cameras seem to be breeding. DC intends to double the number of photo-radar cameras to track traffic offenses "as part of a plan to raise non-tax revenue by nearly $47 million next year." Illinois is getting in on the money grab with "radar-activated cameras" that shoot photos of cars speeding through tollway work zones. The fines for the speeders would go "as high as $1,000." Toronto is calling for provincial permission to use photo radar, this time in the name of "safety." Even as governmental spying increases, there is a crack down on private spying. MSNBC reports "A Los Angeles-area man was indicted today for allegedly installing a tiny, almost imperceptible hardware device to spy on his boss's every keystroke, in a case that shines a spotlight on the ease with which spy technologies now can be purchased and used by consumers." I guess the government wants a monopoly on being a peeping Tom, complete with the use of satellite technology - that is, a global positioning system -- to track young offenders under house arrest in Delaware. Given how expensive and unwieldy the penal system has become, such tracking may well be adopted by other states.
---the Privacy Villain of Last Week was the Transportation Security Administration. The reason: "it will be initiating a pilot test program of its long-touted "trusted traveler,' now rechristened 'registered traveler' program. The program will be a 'voluntary' (at the outset, anyway) internal biometric passport system set up at airports around the country." Additionally, TSA "is examining the use of RFID-tagged airline boarding passes that could allow passenger tracking within airports, a proposal some privacy advocates called a potentially `outrageous' violation of civil liberties."

Best to all,

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