Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Apology to the community

This morning, this appeared here:

From Ron's Why Are We Back In Iraq?, Mark asks us to highlight this (which we will gladly):
Update: Instead of the petition we have a letter that is downloadable at our blog Detain This! So instead of sending us an e-mail please go to the blog and follow the directions written there...sorry for the last minute change but we thought this would be easier than getting petitions signed and it's of the utmost urgency since we need to get letters of support by 5 PM on Wednesday so we can get it to the lawyers by thursday morning.
In late March, two 16 year-old girls, A and T -- were taken into immigration custody and accused of "terrorism" by the FBI. They are now being held in a detention facility under secret evidence to which they have no access, are being questioned repeatedly and threatened, and will be subjected to closed hearings.
A new blog has been formed to help these girls called Detain This! and we urgently need people to collect signatures for a petition that will be presented at a bond hearing for T set for this Thursday.
This is important and requires prompt action so if you're able to, please participate.

A number of e-mails have arrived on this. It turns out that you had trouble with the e-mail downloadable at the site you were directed to. In addition, from there you were steered to another site where you could do an e-mail but many of you did not want to go because there was a site counter/tracker at that site.

While I will repeat that that section ends with "if you're able to, please participate," I do realize that a number of you felt that you were presented with an option of do something you really believe while sacrificing your privacy or do nothing.

And overwhelmingly, you decided to *abstain or excercise your power of no with regard to using the site with a counter.*

I'm sorry that you were placed in that position by a post I highlighted and linked to. I was not aware that you would be sent to another place from Detain This! or that the place you'd be sent would have a tracker.

The people involved were attempting to do something to effect positive change (that includes Mark who e-mailed about it).

Reading through your e-mails, I feel I owe the community an apology. I am very sorry that on an issue that matters to you, I put you in a position where you were faced with a difficult choice.

Rhonda: I have no problem signing a petition in person or online. I do have a problem turning over my ISP address or being followed around the web after I visit a site.

I understand that, Rhonda, and, again, I'm sorry.

This was my mistake and I take full responsibility for it. I screwed up and will attempt to make sure I don't make the same screw up again. (Rhonda said she could be quoted but the apology goes to the entire community.)

I spoke to friends today (including an old ethics professor) explaining that I was going to apologize because I was obviously in the wrong but asking if anyone had anything to pass on beyond my apology.

Ethically, my former professor wondered why an individual wants visitors but feels that it's okay to gather information on them?

(I'm condensing. I'm very tired this evening.)

A very good friend who had to act as a sounding board for half an hour on this stated that she has serious privacy concerns (for personal reasons) and that the whole issue of tracking bothers her. "If I make a call and I'm recorded, I'm advised about that, or they're supposed to advise me. I would wonder if my ISP address would lead to other things, spam mail, whatever."

A friend who works at a shelter for victims of domestic abuse wrote down her response:

No one has to justify their right to refuse to engage in tracking; however, there are people who have very serious reasons and go to great lengths to protect their privacy via court orders and unlisted phone numbers. There is no valid reason to gather information from someone visiting without informing them that you are gathering information, what information you are gathering,
what purpose it will be used for, and what will be done with the information after you are done with it. In this day and age when so much is already available online, people attempting to leave an abusive relationship and create a zone of safety do not need to have added to their worries the fact that someone may by tracking them either in terms of location or in terms of resources they utilize online after they have visited a site.

Anyone who wants to dismiss concerns over privacy on the part of this community picked the wrong day to do it (LexisNexis revealed today that data had been stolen on over 310,000 people).

I understand this community's committment to privacy. That's why I have put no counter on this site of any kind. (Google may have, I wouldn't be surprised if they did.) In addition, there's no counter on the mirror site. "Site feed" has been added and that just means that you can go to Feedster or somewhere else and read it. (I'm blog ignorant. Someone else could explain that in great detail. I did get three opinions on it before adding it to make sure it was not a tracking members when they came here.) We added "site counter" to Luke's wotisitgood4 because Luke e-mailed that he did have a site counter and wanted to be sure the community was aware it was there (it's something you can't see when you visit the page).

Your privacy is important to you and it's important to me. I screwed up by unintentionally placing you in a position where you had to make a choice that (had I know you would be steered somewhere else), I would never have asked you to make. I regret that, it was a huge error on my part and I will try to make sure I never screw up in that regard again. My apologies.

*Note: Per Shirley the section bordered by astericks on each side has been redone.

E-mail address for this site is