Linux, politics, and other interesting things
Bruce Schneier has written about the foolish actions of Justice Antonin Scalia . Antonin made some comments opposing the need for greater privacy protection, most people could get away with doing that, but when a Supreme Court Justice does so it gets some attention. In response to this Fordham University law professor Joel Reidenberg assigned his class a project to discover private information on Antonin using public sources. The class produced a dossier of such information which was then offered to Antonin , but which was not published.
Now anyone who knows anything about how the world works would just accept this. Among other things Antonin now knows what is publicly available and can take steps to remove some public data according to his own desires. But being apparently unaware of the Streisand effect  Antonin went on to say the following:
It is not a rare phenomenon that what is legal may also be quite irresponsible. That appears in the First Amendment context all the time. What can be said often should not be said. Prof. Reidenberg’s exercise is an example of perfectly legal, abominably poor judgment. Since he was not teaching a course in judgment, I presume he felt no responsibility to display any.
This is of course essentially issuing a challenge to the entire Internet to discover the information that the Fordham students discovered. Of course doing so would not be fun unless it was published. The meme of 2009 has yet to be defined, it might be discovering and widely publishing personal information about Antonin.
Already one of the comments in Bruce Schneier’s blog suggests that activists should do such research on all senior figures in the US government to encourage them to take privacy more seriously. I expect that the first reaction of the legislative branch to such practices would be to enact special laws to protect their own privacy while still allowing large corporations (the organisations that pay for the election campaigns) to do whatever they want to ordinary people.
It’s an interesting situation, I predict that Antonin will regard this as one of the biggest mistakes he’s ever made. I’m sure that there are many more LULZ to come from this.