The wonderful ''First Amendment'' has caused this.....
Firstly, I am curious to know why the hyperlink to Zabasearch in the article by Elsa Wenzel doesn't just simply link to ''http://zabasearch.com/'', which is the full and proper url. Instead, the hyperlink's target url is deliberately created on that CNet page as:
Go first to http://zabasearch.com/#first, and read the intro.
Now click the link ''Why ZabaSearch is Legal'' (http://zabasearch.com/fl_re.php), and you will see that Anita Ramasastry (an associate professor of law and a director of the Shidler Center for Law, Commerce, & Technology at the University of Washington School of Law in Seattle, Washington) discusses in detail whether Zabasearch is acting unlawfully.
In particular, note her quote from the ''Intro'' I mentioned above:
''ZabaSearch does not gather or generate information. ZabaSearch quickly accesses public information and displays what is available in the public domain''.
She then poses the question: ''Where does the government keep our data?'', which brings me to my point.
Citizens of the wonderful USA are very proud of their ''Right to bear arms'', and then wonder why there are so many gun murders in their country. When you can walk into a store like WalMart and buy a gun, then I would say that the American public only have themselves to blame for the gun culture they created.
In the UK, you have to be a really hard criminal to even get your hands on a "piece"
In demanding ''Freedom of Speech and Information'' for all United States citizens, don't they realise that the Internet is fast becoming a way, for those finding it necessary to make that information available, to publish it?
Here in the UK we have what is known as the ''Data Protection Act'' which enforces any group, company, or individual storing personal data to comply with some very simple provisions:
1. The data is CURRENT
2. It is ACCURATE
3. It is stored for a justifiable and legitimate purpose
4. It is not stored for longer than is necessary for the purpose at 3 (much the same as "current")
5. All reasonable steps are taken to ensure the safekeeping of the data.
Any person or company can contact the ''Data Protection Registrar'' to:
1. Ask for details of specific data held about them
2. Demand that it is removed from the respective records or ammended.
This is on payment of a fee, and an individual can only ask for their own records. The scope is narrow, and the individual has to specify where they think that personal data is stored, or who is storing it.
The ''Registrar'' has great powers, and non-compliance with the provisions for data storage are treated at a very high legal level.
Government agencies are not exempt, and all have to show a very good reason for allowing peoples' personal details to become accessible outwith a secured Intranet, and so end up being indexed by a Search Engine.
In America, I can do a reverse lookup on a telephone number to ascertain who it is registered to. That's disgraceful, and wide open to criminal use, but is something clearly brought on by all these statutory ''rights'' that have been given to US citizens. No sorry, they weren't "given", they were fought for. In the UK, you have to first know someone's Name, Street of residence, and Number on that street to obtain a telephone number through directory enquiries.
The ''Voter's Roll'' is now freely available to individuals in public Libraries, whereas it previously was only made available on payment of a fee and by signing a register. It is now distributed as a retail CD to companies compiling mailing lists and, although it is arranged by Town, Street, and Number rather than by peoples' names, it is searcheable and I think this is a step backwards where the UK is in danger of becoming too free with individuals' personal data.
I don't know if wearing of seatbelts in cars is now mandatory in the USA, but the whole attitude of ''Nobody can force me to wear it - it's my constitutional right not to wear it'' came to the fore when vehicle manufacturers began designing Air Bags to make travel safer. Because so many American drivers took the attitude that they wouldn't be forced to wear seatbelts, the designers had a very difficult job getting the design correct. They had to make them more powerful to protect the pig-headed non-seatbelt-wearers, but not so powerful that the explosion blew their heads off or propelled pieces of plastic half way into their stubborn skulls.
So, in summation, my personal opinion is that Americans' insistance on observing their ''constitutional rights'' (no matter how silly the decision) has supplied the source for an enterprise such as Zabasearch to work.
Anita Ramasastry (the highly qualified professor of law mentioned earlier) fully agrees with me when she states:
''...the First Amendment protects a person's right to speak and publish information..... So while privacy rights don't help those who find themselves the subject of digital dossiers, free speech rights do help the dossier-makers''.
Go back to http://writ.news.findlaw.com/ramasastry/20050512.html and read downwards from the section header ''The First Amendment Allows Publication Even of Some Dangerous Information''.
That's MY two-cents worth, and I hope I haven't offended anyone
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