Friday, November 2, 2007

...and then where should we be?

"Do not imagine, comrades, that leadership is a pleasure. On the contrary, it is a deep and heavy responsibility. No one believes more firmly than Comrade Napoleon that all animals are equal. He would be only too happy to let you make your decisions for yourselves. But sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then where should we be?"George Orwell, Animal Farm

Item #1
Pulitzer Award-winning columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. recently voiced his outrage over FEMA's "information management". Seems that the Agency called a news conference on very short notice, then planted FEMA staffers in the audience to act as "reporters" and ask mildly phrased questions about government response to the California wildfires.

Pitts cites this as just another example of the Bush
administration "manipulating news and information."

Item #2
The Child Internet Safety Act (CIPA) requires that:
  • Schools and libraries subject to CIPA may not receive the discounts offered by the E-Rate program unless they certify that they have an Internet safety policy and technology protection measures in place. An Internet safety policy must include technology protection measures to block or filter Internet access to pictures that: (a) are obscene, (b) are child pornography, or (c) are harmful to minors, for computers that are accessed by minors.

  • Schools subject to CIPA are required to adopt and enforce a policy to monitor online activities of minors; and

  • Schools and libraries subject to CIPA are required to adopt and implement a policy addressing: (a) access by minors to inappropriate matter on the Internet; (b) the safety and security of minors when using electronic mail, chat rooms, and other forms of direct electronic communications; (c) unauthorized access, including so-called “hacking,” and other unlawful activities by minors online; (d) unauthorized disclosure, use, and dissemination of personal information regarding minors; and (e) restricting minors’ access to materials harmful to them.

In everyday language, this means that schools must filter internet access for all users. If valuable learning resources are blocked (try researching AIDS or even Civil War battles), and no administrator is willing or able to unblock them, at least we can all feel comfortable knowing that our children are "safe". On school computers. When closely supervised. Usually.

Item #3
USA Today reports that the Nashville school system "plans to become the first in the nation to use security cameras that spot intruders with controversial face-recognition technology." Digital photos of all students and staff members will be stored in a database. When the camera spots a face that doesn't match a stored photo, it will automatically alert security team members.

The ACLU denounced the technology as intruding on personal freedom of movement. Some police departments that tried the system have discarded it as unreliable.

No mention was made of how the procedure will prevent Columbine-like situations involving legally registered students with no prior record of violence or misbehavior.

"Big Brother is watching you.” -George Orwell, 1984

"Big Brother is watching you" by Maurosk1

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