I'm one of those that believes that agrees with Louis Brandice's dissenting
opinion about the constitutionality of wiretaps. That they violate the
privacy of those parties who call or are called by the party being wiretapped.
I have written on this in 2002/2003. There seem to be at least two legal
ways to both obey court orders and also allow the monitored parties a way
to learn of the activity.
1 - The basic notion is for the University/ISP/library to allow all its
premises to be bugged. Every room (except maybe the restroom) by its
clients (or their proxies). All communication could be monitored and the
ISP would have no control. My understanding of court orders is that they
must be served on the ISP at its business address. Once the order is
opened or discussed by the designated employee who receives the data all
its clients would know in short order. The employees and management will
not have been responsible because they have not taken any affirmative
actions to allow the information to escape their custody. They will have
protected the info with the same diligence they show their own data. ;-)
2 - Alternatively, the organization implements a policy of replying
positively to all inquiries if asked by a patron/student the when their
account is free of such court orders. If a request does come in then the
db admin can either: fail to respond (monitoring implied), tell them they
are being monitored (violating the law) or lie and say they are not even if
they are. They can charge a fee for this service and use it as a new
Looks like at least one library is trying a variation the method I suggested...
"The Patriot Act also prohibits libraries and others from notifying patrons
and others that an investigation is ongoing. At least one library has tried
a solution to "beat the system" by regularly informing the board of
directors that there are no investigations. If the director does not notify
the Board that there are no investigations, it can serve as a clue that
something may be happening. "
Can the Feds require a librarian to lie to a customer who inquires whether
their library usage is being monitored?
3 - For libraries another is available. Libraries routinely assess overdue
fines and thus most have a cash register at the checkout desk. If they
allow patrons to remove books without showing ID and charge them, as a
refundable deposit, the full replacement value in cash, then no records
need be created which can be turned over to law enforcement. A receipt
might be provided to the patron showing them the last day they may return
the book without forfeiting the deposit. They can charge a fee for this
service and use it as a new revenue source.