Friday, October 06, 2006
What I'm confused about is whether there were emails AND IMs, whether people knew about SOME of them before others, and whether that matters at all. I saw the headlines first about email, but then all I heard people talk about was IM. I agree with the not-holding-up-in-trial thing, on account of the text files being editable - actually, on NPR the other day (this story), they had this whole, like, "expose" on IMs, which I thought was kind of interesting, because it framed IMing as being a "new" thing. IM is getting so much press out of this whole thing.
Also I just saw on that NPR page that there's a transcript of an IM convo between a reporter and someone at the Electronic Frontier Foundation about IM privacy. Snippet:
Kramer: What are the privacy implications of using AIM as a medium?
Kramer: Like, who can be watching your conversation?
Eckersley: So, there are a few layers of likelihood.
Eckersley: It will very often be the case that the person you are speaking to is recording the conversation.
Kramer: Is there a way to tell that?
Eckersley: Even if the instant messaging software itself isn't logging the conversation,
Eckersley: the other party can copy and paste the text of the conversation to save a copy
Kramer: Can the instant messaging company save your messages too?
Eckersley: The instant messaging companies,
Eckersley: could save a copy of the conversation if they wished to
Eckersley: AOL claims that they do not do this routinely,
Eckersley: and that is believable
Eckersley: they would be recording an awful lot of uninteresting conversations
Eckersley: What is more likely is that they keep a record of who is talking to whom
This seems really strange, actually: the reason we know that Foley is (pardon my slang here, but I have to) a douchebag is because we have these written records of things he said or did, and someone was able to save them and did - in this case it was the teen being waaaay smarter than the (again) douchebag adult. But then they're using this as an opportunity to scare people about how little privacy they have when using IM, to *warn* them that their messages could be saved without their knowledge? Isn't this very function why we were able to CATCH this guy?
I'm not taking a position here on privacy rights, but you must admit these are some mixed messages. The interview talks about being "safer" online, but...do they want pedophiles to be safer? The "victims" in this case weren't the people whose IMs were being unknowingly saved...I'm confused.
One last thing about this: the piece ends with this explainer: "*For privacy reasons, both of our screen names have been replaced with our real names."
Since when were *real* names more private than screen names!
(certainly squires and i can't be the only geeks interested in this?)