Earlier this month, someone e-mailed a bomb threat to Bradeis University, a rather liberal liberal-arts college (with a strong Jewish tradition) outside Boston. In response, officials evacuated several buildings and an elementary school, but no bombs were found.
The e-mailed threat was traced back to Newton, Massachusetts. More specifically, publicly-accessible computers at Newton’s library. The FBI, interested in having a chat with the person who sent the threat, went to the library to see if there was anything incriminating on the computer in question.
Where they were blocked by a librarian, who would not let them touch the computers in question without a warrant.
Nine hours later, the warrant arrived and the computers were hauled off.
Now, I’m no jack-booted fascist, but it occurs to me that if one is using a public computer, one pretty much forfeits any expectation of privacy. In fact, every public computer I’ve ever used has disclaimers and warnings plastered all over it saying words to the effect that you have about much right to privacy using this computer as you do when you sign on to be on “Big Brother.”
But I feel so much safer. If I ever feel like violating some laws or something via computer, I’ll be sure to go to the library. Especially the one in Newton, Massachusetts.