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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Misleading The Letter Of The Law

As is to be expected, Fox"News" and various conservative blogs, message boards, and "news" sites are pushing the story of the White House gathering your "data" or your "info". And while the Presidential Records Act requires that all correspondance with the White House be archived, the way the story is being framed is that your "personal information" - not just your name and your comments that were posted - is somehow in danger.

The White House is collecting and storing comments and videos placed on its social-networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube without notifying or asking the consent of the site users, a failure that appears to run counter to President Obama's promise of a transparent government and his pledge to protect privacy on the Internet.

Marc Rotenberg, president of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said the White House signaled that it would insist on open dealings with Internet users and, in fact, should feel obliged to disclose that it is collecting such information.

"The White House has not been adequately transparent, particularly on how it makes use of new social media techniques, such as this example," he said.

If one were to simply read the lead-in, you would come away with the impression that ALL of the social networking sites are being monitored even if there is no direct correspondance with the White House.

Even the Washington Times article explains this rather poorly. The average reader might not catch the word "its" in the opening paragraph which is the only signifier that it's not the entirity of Facebook or Twitter that is being archived, but the White House's personal sections. Trust me, your MySpace pic folder where you put your emo pics and videos of that drunk kid from the party last weekend, as well as your home address, phone and social security number, are safe.

And while the spectre of identity theft is real, it is these fears within people that conservatives are hoping to stoke to a boiling point. People should worry about their own use of personal information on social networking sites rather than respond to the fearmongering of conservatives.

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