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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Intimformation: Using Public Information to Bully and Intimidate

Map of "Prop 8" supporters in California
There's a new weapon against your freedom: information that the state holds about you.

Left is a map of California "Prop 8" supporters - those supporting the gay marriage ban in California (taken from this web site).

The purpose, of course, is not to support "informed voting" but rather to expose and intimidate those who's thoughts and feelings run contrary to those who wish Prop 8 to fail.

This is not the only example of this type of information.

Recently in New York the following maps were published showing all the "concealed carry" permit holders in the Lower Hudson valley (taken from this site):

Map of concealed carry permit holders in NY state

Note that this includes a variety of people such as women with PFA (Protection From Abuse) orders against former boy friends and/or husbands, retired police, FBI, prison and other law enforcement, current prison, police, FBI, etc., as well as just average "joes" with concealed carry permits.

(Note that in many states "concealed permits" are required simply to transport weapons to target practice ranges, to hunting, and so on - so many permit holders may simply be hunters or shooting enthusiasts.)

There is a lot of controversy over the above map because it endangers a number of people: women, prison guards (inmates can use this information to have friends outside target guards and their families), and so on.

Concealed carry permits in NY state are public information and the newspaper publishing this data accessed via a "freedom of information request."

My guess is that there is a lot more "freedom of information" requests like these for address of

- Teachers, administrators, professors, and so on (all state employees so no doubt subject to some sort of clever information requests - and this information varies by state).

- Congressional, Senate, state and local and other government employees, office holders, etc.

- Boat owners, airplane owners, drivers even, etc. that are required to get state licenses.

- Marriage licensees (gay and straight).

- Court and arrest records (most places have detailed on-line records of those convicted of sex crimes).

- Anything else the "state" might keep on residents, employees and citizens.

- Virtually anything else where you filled out some governmental form for something.

Most laws associated with disclosing information like this were formulated long before people had the ability to use tools like Google to create interactive maps.

But today these laws server wacko's, creeps, thugs, intimidaters, and those that don't like what you stand for, what you did, or what you might do to not only find you personally but also to allow their friends and associates to know where you live as well.

How nice.

Of course, voting, which is still "private" is private to prevent these sorts of problems.

As lawyers and the internet expand there will only be more of this information.

Ancestry is currently available on line back centuries.  No doubt arrest records, convictions, and so forth will follow. 

The problem here is that this type of "display" is used to intimidate people.

Intimidate people into doing what those doing the intimidating want, i.e., not support Prop 8, don't buy a gun.

Thuggery at its finest.

Isn't this like "bullying" on Facebook?

How is it different exactly?

Well, of course, since much of this information if required to be public you have no choice but to be bullied.

I see this as literally a conflict of law - required public disclosure of gun permits or political contributions against "bullying" by using that very information against those that have legal acted to do something like make a political donation or legally purchase a gun.

How would you feel as a prison guard knowing that local criminals knew where your wife and children resided while you were away at work - local criminals directed by an inmate which had given you problems in the past?

Information, particularly "government information" is simply out of control.

Conflicting law that jeopardizes your safety while requiring you to disclose personal information.

But, as usual, lawmakers, thugs, criminals and intimidaters are free and clear of any responsibility for using information like this.

How interesting.

Say you are a responsible gun owner.

In NY, at least, there is no responsibility for the state to be as responsible as you with your information.

Isn't "government responsibility" a wonderful thing.

Too bad the rest of us are held to a higher standard...

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