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 revenue source.

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.


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