T H E N E T W O R K O B S E R V E R
VOLUME 2, NUMBER 4 APRIL 1995
This month: Privacy in Intelligent Transportation Systems
Readings on the institutions of public debate
Using the net to teach students to write
Lots and lots of useful Internet pointers
Welcome to TNO 2(4).
This issue is somewhat shorter than usual since I'm freaking out
about a variety of deadlines. Its primary focus is the pressing
matter of privacy issues in Intelligent Transportation Systems
(ITS). ITS has the potential to provide a wide range of useful
transportation related services, but it also has the potential
to enable some very serious invasions of privacy. For example,
automatic toll collection systems are springing up all over the
industrialized world. Several of them in the United States cause
statements to be created which list a driver's name, address, and
the precise dates and times and places where tolls were charged.
Such records can be abused in numerous ways, and the dangers will
only multiply as the number of toll roads one traverses in the
average day increases. The time for constructive action on this
issue is now, before privacy-invasive technical standards become
entrenched and large institutional interests develop around
the routine diversion of ITS-related personal information for
secondary uses such as marketing. This issue of TNO includes
some remarks on this topic that I contributed to CFP'95. This
month's "Company of the Month" is developing prototype anonymous
toll collection systems based on digital cash. And this month's
recommendations include an issue of the Santa Clara Computer and
High Technology Law Journal on the topic.
Also in this issue is a bibliography on the issues surrounding
the industrial organization of public debate, a theme that I
introduced in TNO 2(2) and will return to as soon as I can catch
my breath. This month's "wish list" describes a hypothetical
system for moving certain elements of the jobs of college writing
instructors offshore. This worrisome idea provides an occasion
to think through a whole variety of issues. I hope that college
teachers will take the possibilities of automation in their jobs
seriously before it's too late to shape either the technologies
or the institutions of teaching in ways that benefit everyone.
Finally, a footnote on filthy e-mail. I saw a report on the net
that Vietnam's online services are having trouble getting their
keyword-based smut detectors working because they can't represent
Vietnamese diacritics accurately. Perhaps the Communications
Decency Act will bring such mechanisms to my own country as well.
This would not be a happy result on the whole, but it would have
certain virtues. For example, Usenet pornographers would be
required to write their stories without any of the hundred most
obvious words for sexual acts, parts, feelings, and intentions.
In general, I think it is healthy when writers learn not to rely
on the condensed rhetorical force of individual keywords.
Thinking about privacy in Intelligent Transportation Systems.
[This is an edited transcript of remarks I contributed to a panel
discussion at the Fifth Conference on Computers, Freedom, and
Privacy in Burlingame, California in March 1995.]
When we debate new technologies, we are necessarily arguing
about the future. Lacking direct knowledge of what the
future will bring, we must tell stories -- stories about the
complicated interactions between technologies and institutions.
These stories have all sorts of origins, from science fiction to
religion to sociological theory, and it is important for us to
be aware of the nature of our stories and the habits of thought
that they encode. Some would say that it's useless to tell these
stories, or by extension to worry about the social aspects of
technology at all, given that we can't really predict the future.
But to speak of "prediction" makes it sound like we have no
choice in the matter -- like all we can do is wait around and see
what happens. But we *do* have choices, and indeed we inevitably
*make* choices, and the choices we make set things in motion that
we can in fact reason about to some significant degree.
As Rob Kling has pointed out, the most common stories we tell
about technology are utopian and dystopian. Utopian stories may
admit the potential for harm but are confident that appropriate
safeguards will permit the new technologies to unleash enormous
and almost unimaginable benefits -- a societal revolution whose
outlines can be read off from the workings of the machinery.
Dystopian stories about technology generally draw on images of
authoritarian hell on earth in which technologies are employed
solely for surveillance and control with few possibilities for
liberation or redemption.
In getting beyond these simple stories, the point is not to split
the difference between them but to collect useful, substantive,
medium-sized concepts that let us make theories about the
interactions between technologies and institutions, where these
theories depend in some detail on how the technologies and the
institutions actually work.
This kind of reasoning, I want to suggest, is urgently needed
in the case of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS). ITS
architecture development to date has been driven by a large and
subtle process of coalition-building among the companies and
agencies that already manage transportation systems or that wish
to develop new markets for existing technologies and systems
integration skills. Social issues have not been ignored by
any means, but it is hard to find much evidence that privacy
considerations, to take the topic at hand here today, have had
any fundamental influence on architectural thinking, or indeed
that they have been regarded as anything but, as one report
recently put it, nontechnical constraints and barriers to ITS
implementation. And although I do not believe in dystopian
stories about technology, at least in their pure, refined
form, nonetheless I do believe that the ITS design process, if
it continues on its current course, will lead to serious and
systemic invasions of privacy.
The raw material for dystopian visions of ITS is not hard
to find. Consider, for example, a 1992 report on ITS field
trials by an OECD scientific expert group, which describes the
"monitoring, teaching, and policing" functions of ITS as follows:
"These functions are grouped together, although they are quite
different, since they use the same technical basis. Speeds
and distances in relation to rules, road condition and other
road users are monitored in connection with other functions.
This information can be processed to provide the individual
driver with immediate feedback on his behavior. Such immediate
reward and correction are known to be effective in teaching
procedures. It could serve to gradually improve driver
behaviour and teaching performance. In case a driver neglects
these efforts to correct his misbehaviour, the same information
could be used to enforce correct behaviour by various means,
such as fines, license or speed limitation (policing)."
Or consider this (considerably milder) passage from the DOT's
1992 IVHS Strategic Plan Report to Congress:
"The types of innovations [envisioned as part of ITS] include:
* A variety of innovations within and outside of the motor
vehicle to supplement the driver's efforts at vigilance
and control, including new products which ensure the
driver's own state of fitness, provide onboard road
signing and visual enhancements, augment driver perception
on a continuous basis, give warning of impending danger,
intervene with emergency control if a crash is imminent,
and over time, automate the driving process on specialized
(My thanks to Frank Durand <email@example.com> for pointing these
passages out to me.) Clearly these scenarios, which it should
be emphasized are just two among dozens, provoke some serious
Further ambivalence derives from one major application of ITS,
namely automatic toll collection. On one hand, automatic toll
collection should increase efficiency and convenience. On the
other hand, it threatens to create records of where you have
been driving. Although participation in such programs is usually
described as voluntary, it will more likely become involuntary in
practice as toll roads multiply, a concept called road pricing.
Although rhetorically motivated by market allocation arguments,
road pricing is better understood as a tax being sought by
revenue-starved governments, for the simple reason that in most
cases it is virtually impossible to create genuine markets for
roadway services, in which prices could be set by competition
rather than by the politics of taxation. These privacy and
taxation concerns led the citizens of Hong Kong to reject a road
pricing scheme several years ago, and such resistance is a real
possibility in other countries as well.
With regard to the privacy issues in ITS, I think that the
crucial issue is the capture of individually identifiable
information about drivers and other transportation users. ITS
has the potential to generate enormous databases of individual
travel information, and this information raises much more serious
possibilities for abuse than the transactional information
generated in supermarkets and other such consumer contexts.
Although the paradigm here is the private citizen driving a
privately owned car for noncommercial purposes, let me remark
in passing that consumers have ITS privacy interests in a
wide variety of contexts. At least one rental car company,
for example, is experimenting with GPS tracking of its cars,
ostensibly to assist drivers with directions but more importantly
to keep track of their property. The information generated
through this process will likely have a whole range of largely
unforeseen secondary uses, both inside and outside the rental
car company. Insurance companies may take an interest in ITS
information as well, perhaps to continue segmenting their markets
based on the actuarial implications of individuals' travel
The "fair information and privacy principles" being circulated
by ITS America address these issues after a fashion. They
explicitly envision the creation of individually identifiable
records and their secondary use. Drivers will be permitted to
opt out of these secondary uses. Governments are explicitly
envisioned as potentially providing law enforcement with the
authority to use ITS information as a surveillance means for
enforcing traffic laws. The full details are available on WWW
I think that technical professionals and other concerned citizens
should ask a fairly long list of questions about these draft
* What does "individually identifiable information" mean in
an ITS context? What about information that is indexed by a
vehicle identification or debit account number, which number
is associated with your name in some other database? What about
the potential for reconstructing or narrowing down an individual
driver's likely identity using ITS information together with
information from other databases?
* Why should drivers have to take action to opt out of
the dissemination of such potentially dangerous information?
Few deny the potential economic benefits of secondary uses of
such information, but surely the technology exists to provide
a user-friendly way for consumers to opt in to such uses by
explicitly requesting certain kinds of offers, perhaps using
pseudonyms to do so.
* Should ITS privacy guidelines have the force of law?
* Who should be liable when ITS information is employed to
violate an individual's privacy? ITS developers? States?
Both of them? What statutory framework is required to ensure
that violated individuals can pursue adequate legal remedies?
* How will the adequacy of ITS privacy safeguards be determined?
Who will make this determination? Will there be an ongoing
* Is it reasonable that these guidelines are being formulated by
a private organization, albeit one serving as an advisory board
to DOT, rather than by the government itself?
(My thanks to Marc Rotenberg for his help with these questions.)
I regard these questions as fairly serious and urgent, and I
think we should ask whether ITS development should proceed until
they have been answered. But more fundamentally, I think we
should reconsider the whole premise of the "Fair Information
and Privacy Principles", which is that privacy can be protected
through a set of policy guidelines developed independently of the
system architecture. History shows clearly that when databases
of information begin to accumulate, imaginations start working
overtime to think up new uses for them. In the case of ITS
information, this is an accident waiting to happen. And it
is a wholly unnecessary accident as well. The fact is that
new technologies have arisen that should make the collection of
individually identifiable information in ITS wholly unnecessary.
Perhaps the prototype for these technologies is digital cash, a
mathematical scheme based on public key cryptography that allows
a buyer and seller in electronic commerce to transact business
without necessarily identifying themselves to one another. In
particular, digital cash should make it possible for drivers to
pay for transportation services such as the use of toll roads
anonymously. Digital cash is an improvement over other "smart
card" systems because it is not based on an account that can be
used to connect different uses of an ITS system together, and
potentially to connect those uses back to the individual driver
through the account's connection to the credit card or bank
account that might periodically be used to transfer credit to it.
(See this month's "Company of the Month" below.) It's best to
think of digital cash not as a single technology, but rather as
one amidst a whole world of technologies that can be assembled
from the building blocks of public key cryptography and
How will we ensure that ITS employs these 21st century
privacy technologies? The bad news is that the main tradition
of computer system design requires human activities to be
progressively reorganized so that distributed computer systems
can "capture" them in real time. This is what will happen
with ITS unless privacy protection is redefined as a central
functionality of those systems.
The good news is that the business and government entities that
have been central to the ITS initiative do not plan on making
their money, at least most of it, through secondary uses of
personal information but by providing useful transportation
related services. These people realize that privacy issues are
a potential show-stopper through the resistance they can provoke
from an informed public, and they are likely to be open to
constructive proposals that provide genuine privacy protection
while permitting everyone to enjoy the benefits of ITS.
Technically informed professionals will play a crucial role in
this process. I would suggest that we need an Internet-based
ITS Watch, with volunteer citizen-activists using on-line forums
like the Privacy Digest to pool reports on the privacy aspects
of the hundreds of national, state, and local initiatives,
while also raising awareness within the architecture development
and standards-setting processes both of the new technologies of
privacy protection and the risks of public resistance that may
attend the failure to use them. Will these things happen? It's
our choice, right now.
Bibliography on industrialized public debate.
I hope that my TNO articles about industrialized public debate
will inspire others to inform themselves and join the crusade
to restore the health of democracy. Although these articles
are informal and not part of the scholarly literature, they are
influenced in various ways by others' work. Here are some books
that you might find useful. They are an extremely mixed bag,
including both journalism, advocacy, and scholarship from a wide
variety of political perspectives. I find them all valuable, but
in different ways -- some as sociological specimens and others as
serious accounts of our current dilemma. I'll let you decide for
yourself which ones are which.
Eric Alterman, Sound and Fury: The Washington Punditocracy and
the Collapse of American Politics, New York: HarperCollins, 1992.
Jeffrey H. Birnbaum, The Lobbyists: How Influence Peddlers Get
Their Way in Washington, New York: Times Books, 1992.
Craig Calhoun, ed, Habermas and the Public Sphere, Cambridge: MIT
Bill Cantor, ed, Experts in Action: Inside Public Relations, New
York: Longman, 1984.
Charles T. Clotfelder and Michael Rothschild, Studies of Supply
and Demand in Higher Education, Chicago: University of Chicago
Cynthia Crosson, Tainted Truth: The Manipulation of Fact in
America, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1994.
Edwin J. Feulner, Jr., Waging and Winning the War of Ideas,
Washington: Heritage Foundation, 1986.
Oscar H. Gandy, Jr., Beyond Agenda Setting: Information Subsidies
and Public Policy, Norwood, NJ: Ablex, 1982.
William Greider, Who Will Tell the People: The Betrayal of
American Democracy, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1992.
Joseph R. Gusfield, The Culture of Public Problems: Drinking-
Driving and the Symbolic Order, Chicago: University of Chicago
Jurgen Habermas, The Structural Transformation of the Public
Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society,
translated by Thomas Burger, Cambridge: MIT Press, 1989.
Robert L. Heath, ed, Strategic Issues Management: How
Organizations Influence and Respond to Public Interests and
Policies, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1988.
Robert Jackall, ed, Propaganda, New York: New York University
Barry Mitnick, ed, Corporate Political Agency: The Construction
of Competition in Public Affairs, Newbury Park, CA: Sage, 1993.
Vincent Mosco and Janet Wasko, eds, The Political Economy of
Information, Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1988.
David M. Ricci, The Transformation of American Politics: The
New Washington and the Rise of Think Tanks, New Haven: Yale
University Press, 1993.
James Allen Smith, The Idea Brokers: Think Tanks and the Rise of
the New Policy Elite, New York: Free Press, 1991.
Elizabeth L. Toth and Robert L. Heath, eds, Rhetorical and
Critical Approaches to Public Relations, Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum,
Bruce C. Wolpe, Lobbying Congress: How the System Works,
Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly Press, 1990.
Slavoj Zizek, ed, Mapping Ideology, London: Verso, 1994.
Why don't students learn to write better? All sorts of reasons,
I suppose, but one of them is that teaching people to write well
is labor-intensive. You can teach introductory chemistry in big
lectures and graduate-student-led problem sections, but nobody
learns to write unless someone copy-edits their writing with a
red pen. You don't learn to write by writing but by revising
something you've written, and revisions start with someone else's
well-informed comments and tailored advice about the problem
areas to work on right now. Students who come to my classes from
the community college system are often particularly ill-served in
this regard, given that savage budget cuts most often mean very
large community college classes.
In my own preferred world, we would decide as a democracy
that it is important for students to learn how to write well,
and we would train and hire enough writing instructors for
them. Some writing instructors would be career professionals and
others would be students commenting on the work of less advanced
students. Although writing instructors as a profession generally
do not get the respect they deserve, this is more or less the
system we already have. We just don't have enough of it, and
maybe we're not going to get any more.
There is an alternative. Perhaps our students can write
their essays on WorldWide Web pages, and the copy-editing and
advice-giving can be done in India. India has a good higher
educational system and more educated people than jobs. We would
effectively be moving certain components of writing instruction
offshore, just as an increasing amount of software development
is moving offshore. The difference here is that the work would
be less project-oriented and more job-oriented, so that any given
worker would sit at a terminal marking up papers and writing
comments on them without having any very complicated contact with
the student whose work is being marked up. The web provides a
nice, convenient interface for this process, though it would need
to be augmented with a good interface for the mark-up notations.
(Isn't that what a mark-up language is supposed to be for? I
guess the phrase "mark-up" has different meanings.)
I expect that many people reading this suggestion are upset by
it. Moving people's jobs offshore to low-wage parts of the world
usually does not make them happy. Perhaps they would emphasize
the intricacy of the relationship between writing instructor
and student, the importance of face to face interaction in
talking about an essay, and so forth. It's an empirical question,
certainly, how the costs and benefits of the different approaches
compare. And if people in India are willing to do the work
then why deprive them of it? One issue would be the contrast in
cultural backgrounds; if you've grown up in a culture whose stock
of cultural references is rooted in the Mahabharata then perhaps
it's hard to mark up a manuscript written by someone whose stock
of cultural references is rooted in Shakespeare and the Bible.
We shall see.
My point is not to present this speculation as a Good Thing, or
even as a Prediction. It's a fantasy, like all of the fantasies
in this department of TNO, offered as an occasion to reflect on
the nature of technological fantasies. This one, like most, is
no doubt way too simple. We can be sure, I think, that computer
network based work reorganization is coming to academia, and not
just to writing instruction: introductory chemistry seems like
an obvious place to look as well. Once professors are obliged
to think about their courses as "courseware" (ugh), the world is
going to change. But not in obvious ways, simply by replacing
a person doing job X by a machine that does the same job. More
likely job categories will get shuffled and rearranged. Most
of this will get presented as lightening the load, leaving the
skilled employees to do the more highly skilled parts of their
jobs, expanding the job definitions of employees in lower job
categories, and so forth. It will take much trial and error
to figure out precisely which part of writing instruction, for
example, really can be moved offshore to India, and which part
must be left to the (presumably fewer) professionals and trained
student workers back on the university campus.
In my experience, academic workers are generally oblivious to the
ongoing projects aimed at reorganizing university institutions
and teaching activities through the application of technology.
For professors in particular, tenure is a narcotic. And even
more narcotic is the idea that each individual professor succeeds
or fails on his or her own individual merits and networking and
publication and general hustle. But times of radical change tend
to make explicit the unarticulated assumptions that underlie the
previous order of things. Once this happens at the university,
it will probably be too late.
The issues are enormous. As conservative rhetor Thomas Sowell
points out, once most university classes are taught through
video, it will be possible to document the political views that
are being taught in class and expose the unpopular views to
criticism. (He thinks that this is a good thing.) On the other
hand, it would be excellent if a professor who wishes to offer a
course on meter in Chaucer can assemble a large enough class of
students by assembling the geographically scattered enthusiasts
of that specialized topic into a networked virtual classroom.
Let's get it into our heads that university teaching work, at
all levels, is work, and that like any other kind of work it
can change radically for better or worse. It is not a matter of
"predicting" these changes, since the whole idea of prediction
presupposes that we can only wait passively and see what happens.
Instead, I think it is important for university workers to learn
the emerging technology and get busy organizing themselves to
shape both the technology and the institutions of education in
accord with the values that are important to them.
This month's recommendations.
Computer Supported Cooperative Work, Kluwer (ISSN 0925-9724).
This is an academic journal about people working together using
computers. It is rare among journals in focusing with equal
seriousness on both the technical and social aspects of computer
work, balancing a sophisticated critical consciousness with a
commitment to building real, useful things. (Look for my own
article about the business discourse of "empowerment" sometime
later this year.) Library budgets for journals are in crisis
these days, but even so I really recommend that you tell your
local academic or corporate library about CSCW. As more and
more activities come to be mediated by long-distance computing
and communications, the work being reported in this journal is
precisely what we're going to need to help build tools in way
that's informed by real ideas about people's lives.
Santa Clara Computer and High Technology Law Journal, special
issue on privacy issues in Intelligent Transportation Systems
(volume 11, number 1, March 1995). It derives from a symposium
on this topic that Dorothy Glancy organized at Santa Clara
University in July, 1994. Contributions include: Hon. Norman
Y. Mineta, "Transportation, technology, and privacy"; Jeffrey
H. Reiman, "Driving to the Panopticon"; Sheldon W. Halpern, "The
traffic in souls"; Robert Weisberg, "IVHS, legal privacy, and the
legacy of Dr. Faustus"; Sheri A. Alpert, "Privacy and intelligent
highways"; Ronald D. Rotunda, "Computerized highways and the
search for privacy in the case law"; Philip E. Agre, "Reasoning
about the future"; and Dorothy Glancy, "Privacy and intelligent
transportation technology". According to the order form in
the journal, single issues may be purchased for US$20 (or US$25
for foreign addresses) from: Computer and High Technology Law
Journal; School of Law; Santa Clara University; Santa Clara,
California 95053; (408) 554-4197; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Second Annual Report of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, Center
for Public Interest Law, University of San Diego, January 1995.
The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (PRC) is a consumer education
project on privacy issues that operates a toll-free phone number
that California residents can call with questions and concerns
about privacy issues. They also produce a large number of highly
regarded fact sheets about specific privacy related topics --
a remarkable feat given the murky state of most of the relevant
law. Their Second Annual Report features 47 excellent real-life
horror stories drawn from the thousands of phone calls they have
answered. The PRC is on the web at http://www.acusd.edu/ and on
gopher at gopher.acusd.edu (under "USD Campuswide Info. Svcs.").
Their e-mail address is email@example.com. Their hotline number is
(800) 773-7748 (in California only) or +1 (619) 298-3396.
Company of the month.
This month's company is:
Amtech Systems Corporation
17304 Preston Road, Building E-100
Dallas, Texas 75252
phone: +1 (214) 733-6600
fax: +1 (214) 733-6699
Elsewhere in this issue of TNO you've read about the potential
for serious privacy violations in Intelligent Transportation
Systems. No doubt someone will tell you, "hey, that's just the
price of progress" or "those privacy paranoids just don't like
technology". The truth is that the privacy invaders are the
ones who are against technology -- the powerful technologies of
privacy protection that are rapidly becoming available. Amtech,
one of the major providers of equipment for automatic vehicle
identification (AVI) for highway toll collection, has developed a
prototype of an AVI system based on the "digital cash" methods of
David Chaum's company Digicash. This system will permit people
to pay for tolls automatically and with complete privacy through
the use of cryptography. Amtech is planning to market the system
in Europe and Japan, but at present they have no plans to market
it in the United States for the simple reason that the highway
authorities who are implementing ITS systems are not terribly
unconcerned about privacy. That's not necessarily because they
are evil; often it is because they are simply not aware of the
magnitude of the dangers and the availability of technological
solutions. I encourage you to do research on the ITS systems
that are coming to a highway near you (and I promise that ITS
is definitely coming to a highway near you), contact the local
highway authority administrators (they usually answer their
own phones), politely ask them whether they plan to employ
technologies based on digital cash for their toll collection,
and when they say "huh?, what's that mean?", politely tell them
about the virtues of digital cash, its wide acceptance in Europe,
and the progress of Amtech's digital cash AVI technology.
I am sure that Amtech would be happy to send you information
about their technology. Please, though, don't ask for it unless
you have a serious reason to want it. Doing research on the
privacy aspects of ITS systems in your area is a serious reason.
My notes on the industrial organization of public debate provoked
some correspondence. Bill Dickens <firstname.lastname@example.org> at the
Brookings Institution did not like my general orientation toward
the pursuit of self-interest in the funding of think tanks and
the like. And he was certainly right that I went over the top
with one parenthetical comment about think tanks, namely:
(It's an awful phrase -- a common euphemism is "research
institutes", though that latter phrase includes some scientific
and technical institutions that do more than produce ammo for
This comment is bogus enough that I've actually removed it from
the archival versions of TNO 2(2). Many difficult issues arise
here, not least when we are faced with people working in think
tanks who are sincerely trying to do the right thing. I wouldn't
want to impugn those people's motives or enter into any sort
of straightforward reductionism about the people who contribute
money to think tanks. Further analysis, though, will have to
wait until I get some time to think clearly again.
I was a little unclear in TNO 2(3)'s mention of Ellen Spertus'
WWW list of non-profit organizations. The list is at MIT and
Spertus herself *used* to be at MIT, but now she's at Microsoft.
In TNO 2(3) I mentioned my "wish list" idea for a web-based
system for letting booksellers know about author's publicity
schedules. Frank Kroger <email@example.com> kindly pointed
me at an embryonic version of something similar called BookWire:
The journal Information Technology and People has recently
published a special issue, edited by Roger Clarke, entitled
"Identification Technologies and Their Implications for People".
Christine Harbs and I have an article in this issue entitled
"Social Choice About Privacy: Intelligent Vehicle-Highway Systems
in the United States". You can see the full set of abstracts on
WWW at http://dlis.gseis.ucla.edu/people/pagre/identification.html
Also, I have coedited (with Stan Rosenschein) a special double
volume of Artificial Intelligence on "Computational Theories of
Interaction and Agency". The first volume has appeared, and the
abstracts for the articles in both volumes, along with contact
information for all of the authors, are available on the web.
The URL is http://dlis.gseis.ucla.edu/people/pagre/aij-abstracts.html
The Australian Privacy Charter Council has released a very
interesting list of privacy principles that improves considerably
on the principles that have been suggested in the United States
and many other countries. It will be a valuable reference for
anyone trying to articulate the conceptual basis for privacy
protection in specific contexts such as transportation, banking,
and medical records. The URL, which I've split over two lines,
Jerry Werner is editing an on-line newsletter on Intelligent
Transportation Systems. It will be valuable for people who
are concerned about the privacy implications of this enormous,
potentially worrisome project. The URL is http://io.com/~itsol/
Check out the interview on ITS with Newt Gingrich.
Voters' Telecom Watch is at http://anansi.panix.com:80/vtw/
They're leading the charge against the Communications Decency
Act (the Exon bill, recently incorporated by the Senate into the
telecom deregulation bill).
In case you haven't seen it, the very funny "Useless WWW Pages"
site is at http://www.primus.com/staff/paulp/useless.html
The US government has declassified a batch of Cold War era
satellite intelligence photographs of the Soviet Union. The
photographs are of fairly low resolution and seem part of an
advertising campaign aimed at finding civilian uses for military
spy satellite technologies, but they are certainly interesting
documents. They've put a few of them on the web, and they
claim they'll make the whole batch available on-line eventually.
The URL is http://edcwww.cr.usgs.gov/dclass/dclass.html
An Irish friend passed along to me and twenty other acquaintances
the URL for the "framework document" released by the British and
Irish governments for negotiations over Northern Ireland. He
says that the document was hard to get in paper form, and the web
site provides a fine example of the power of the net in getting
information out and opening political processes to the public.
The URL is http://netman.ul.ie/ITD/framework.html
Lew Rose has a good web site of materials on advertising law.
The URL is http://www.webcom.com/~lewrose/home.html
The Senate Democrats have a skeletal but decently maintained web
site at ftp://ftp.senate.gov/committee/Dem-Policy/general/dpc.html
The hotel industry has set up some web pages that are more
interesting than most non-computer industry pages. They're
called TravelWeb and the URL is http://www.travelweb.com/
Gleason Sackman's exhaustive net-happenings mailing list of net
resources on education now has a searchable index on the web.
The URL is http://www.mid.net:80/NET/
There's a pretty impressive collection of educational resources
Another web index of conservative stuff is under construction at
A good guide to newspapers that have web pages can be found at
A site of resources for WWW developers, including a page of
advice on how to publicize your web pages, is located on WWW
A very interesting set of web resources in Spanish is located
And a flamboyant guide to web stuff in French is located at
Here are the pointers to web sites on the Oklahoma City bombing
that the LA Times reported on April 21st:
Phil Agre, editor firstname.lastname@example.org
Department of Information Studies
University of California, Los Angeles +1 (310) 825-7154
Los Angeles, California 90095-1520 FAX 206-4460
Copyright 1995 by the editor. You may forward this issue of The
Network Observer electronically to anyone for any non-commercial
purpose. Comments and suggestions are always appreciated.
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