July 05, 2006

INCOHERENCE ON PRIVACY: Dave Weigel thinks that the New York Times did nothing wrong in publishing the GPS coordinates of Cheney and Rumsfeld's vacation homes, because anybody can find that stuff in this Internet age. But in the same post he writes:

As so often happens with these things, angry bloggers have struck back and posted the addresses and phone numbers of the Times' photogs. (No link.)

No link? Why not? By Weigel's standards, a link wouldn't contribute to invasion of privacy. Anybody can find that stuff, right?

And if anybody can find that stuff, why's he so upset about publishing office phone numbers of public officials?

More coherent thoughts on the subject can be found here.

UPDATE: As usual, Glenn Greenwald is clueless, accusing me of being a major promoter of when in fact I was the target of a targeted mass-delinking at their behest. Glenn -- read the Online Integrity principles linked above if you want to know what I think about privacy. Jeez.

And why is your publishing of my email different, exactly, from the "thuggish" tactics you condemn? Grow up.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Patrick Kelly emails:

In order to avoid work, I looked at Greenwald’s post on your “promoting” “Stop the ACLU.” I even clicked through the links. Greenwald’s links don’t come close to his descriptions. Your post “approvingly citing” the STACLU is a link to a Sacramento Bee story noting a guilty verdict in the Hayat (Lodi) terror case (via STACLU, hardly approving of its mission). The “often” link references the Solomon act decision, and says “John Stephenson is gloating.” Hmmm, that’ a clear endorsement if I ever saw one. The “promoting” link refers to a link that goes to a blogger asking for financial help (again, via John Stephenson, and again, hardly support for his contention).

But the bottom line is, how can anyone read your site and conclude that you are firmly opposed to the ACLU? You are either with the Left in all things, or they don’t want you for anything. Take that Joe Lieberman.

Greenwald's readers, as previously discussed, don't seem to follow the links. His descriptions often diverge rather sharply from the linked items. And I link lots of people I don't "approve of" -- like Greenwald!

But reading blogs to avoid work? Say it ain't so!

MORE: Reader Jeff Kimmel emails:

If posting someone's email address is just as thuggish as posting that person's home address, why do you post your email address on your site and not your home address?

I don't think it is thuggish. But Greenwald seems to think that posting a public official's office phone number is thuggish, and those two things don't seem very different. When Greenwald posts my email, though, he doesn't even bother to spamproof it, as I do on my site, meaning that not only do I get lots of abusive and illiterate emails from readers of his site who don't even bother to follow the link and read what I actually wrote, I also get emails offering to refinance my mortgage and introduce me to sexy Russian women. Which, it's true, are often politer and better-written than the ones from Greenwald's readers, but which are nonetheless undesirable. That's not thuggish, just thoughtless.

Anyway, I think that the privacy guidelines at the Integrity site are pretty good ones, and the blogosphere would do well to follow them.

MORE: And, yes, I do have my email address on the site -- but it's got some sort of nifty javascript antispam that Stacy Tabb put on it. It's generally good manners to post emails in the form "pundit -at-" or some such so that spam harvesters don't catch them. That's what I usually do. My other problem with Greenwald is that his readers seem to email based on his, often inaccurate, descriptions rather than following the link and reading things for themselves.

MORE STILL: People unclear on the concept. . . Reader D.G. Fisher writes:

I agree with you that publishing your email address and publishing your home address are EXACTLY the same thing.

So please, let's have at it and publish your home address on your weblog so we can now see where you live and I can drop by and knock on your door and hand-deliver my messages to you personally instead of having to do this impersonal arms-length email thing.

C'mon Glenn, you owe us that much. Email addy/ home address -- there's no difference, nuh-uh, not as far as any sensible person can see. Get to it already and publish your home address. Your home phone number would be pretty cool too.

Funny, but I don't think I said that. In fact -- remember how we started out? -- it was Dave Weigel, way at the beginning of this post, who seemed to say that publishing not just the address, but the GPS coordinates of Rumsfeld and Cheney's houses is okay, because people can find it anyway, but that publishing the office phone number of a university chancellor was something awful. And I was the one who suggested that this didn't make much sense.

As I noted above, I think the Online Integrity principles make more sense. And I guess, once the sarcasm is gone, that D.G. Fisher thinks the same thing.

So where does he get the idea that I feel otherwise? Where else than from Glenn Greenwald, who once again misrepresents my position in order to make his point: "Listing someone's email address and their home address are, argues Reynolds, indistinguishable and equally 'thuggish.'"

Except that I don't argue that. Greenwald is arguing with himself. I think he's got his Glenns confused. And for those who don't follow links, here are the Online Integrity principles on this stuff:

Private persons are entitled to respect for their privacy regardless of their activities online. This includes respect for the non-public nature of their personal contact information, the inviolability of their homes, and the safety of their families. No information which might lead others to invade these spaces should be posted. The separateness of private persons’ professional lives should also be respected as much as is reasonable.

Public figures are entitled to respect for the non-public nature of their personal, non-professional contact information, and their privacy with regard to their homes and families. No information which might lead others to invade these spaces should be posted.

Clear? I think so.