Recent US legislation (which shall here remain nameless since the principle applies far more widely) on occasion requires Internet service providers, banks, libraries, and so forth to provide law enforcement access to records of customer activity. A feature which has provoked much controversy and angst is a provision in the law that forbids the ISP/bank/library/etc. from even telling the customer that s/he is the target of a secret warrant.

A modest proposal: why don't ISPs (banks/libraries/...) simply send form letters every month to their users who haven't been the subject of investigations, reminding them of that simple fact? It can scarcely be wrong for anyone to say, truthfully, "I have not yet been compelled to turn over your records." (That's free speech!)

When a warrant comes in on a given customer, s/he is simply dropped from the negative-notification list. (Telling a baldfaced lie is still wrong, isn't it? Even senior government officials not under oath try to avoid lying!)

Alternatively, customers could ask their ISPs (etc.) every so often, "Have you been forced to provide my information to anyone?" — and when the answer changes from "No" to "No comment", make the appropriate deduction ...

TopicSociety - TopicOrganizations - TopicJustice - TopicHumor - 2005-12-23

(correlates: MetaJoke2, CommentYourCode, HerodotusOnFreedom, ...)