Sunday, June 19, 2005

Spokane Mayor Debates Privacy Online

The Mayor of Spokane, WA has found out the hard way that there is virtually no anonymity online. Apparently, he is accused of offering city jobs in a gay chat room, among other things: Spokane Mayor Debates Privacy Online:

"SPOKANE, Wash. -- After what Mayor James West called his 'brutal outing' by a newspaper that published transcripts of his conversations from a gay chat room, he complained in an e-mail to the city's commission on race relations. West asked: 'Should we all fear that our private conversations will be splashed publicly and out of context for all in our sphere to see?' The answer, Internet privacy advocates say, is 'yes.'

'Online anonymity is kind of hard to come by,' said Beth Givens of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, a consumer information privacy group in San Diego.

'You cannot count on anonymity in virtually any online communication, unless you are an expert at using encryption and do a lot of research on the service you are using,' Givens said.

After receiving a tip the mayor was offering city jobs to young men he met in a chat room, The Spokesman-Review found a way to corroborate the information without having to subpoena records from the chat room's sponsor.

It hired a computer expert to track the identity of the person behind the screen names 'Cobra82,' 'RightBiGuy' and 'JMSElton' that it suspected was the mayor...."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The mayors problems are one thing, but the thing we should all be concerned about is who will be next on the list for the newspaper to entrap, in order to have a big story. If this was all illegal,t hen it should be turned over to the authorities, but in this case, the Spokesman Review is calling all the shots, have the mayor convicted of everything in the book, without a charge of anything to date. How can this happen.