Monday, November 13, 2006

Don't Trust Your Local Government Websites

Email Privacy Revisited

In what could prove to be a major legal issue for the Mayor of Pleasanton in which she used her City Email accounts to request donations for her re-election campaign, new information is coming out in regards to emails sent to and from city officials. See article: City Officials Take Email Warning

The San Ramon City website has a disclaimer in regards to privacy and other issues concerning their website. This is not a privacy statement but a statement concerning any communications with the city to begin with. Under California law, all records of city officials are "public records," and as such could be released under the California Public Records Act, which like the federal Freedom of Information Act, allows anyone to make requests for public records. All communications on government run systems, including written and email communications are open to public inspection.

Here is the actual quote from the City of San Ramon Website.

City of San Ramon Web Site Disclaimer

The City of San Ramon provides information on this web site as a public service. Though the City tries to ensure the accuracy of the information provided, the City does not promise, claim, warrant, or guarantee that information provided on this web site is complete, accurate, valid, timely, or adequate. This web site is not secure and communications provided to the City through this web site, via e-mail or online forms, shall not be considered legal notice to the City, its officers, agents, employees, or representatives for any purpose. The user assumes all risk of harm or loss from the use of this web site.

Information, comments, questions, requests, and other communications provided to the City through this web site are public records subject to disclosure under the California Public Records Act or the federal Freedom of Information Act. No person is required to provide any information through this web site. For alternative ways of contacting City officials or staff, please click on the "Contact Us" link at the top of this page.


Privacy is a chief concern with most people today. Be careful with your email account with the city officials, because it becomes a matter of public record whenever you send something to the city.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

More On Privacy In San Ramon

More On Privacy In San Ramon and the Boston Tea Party

It is interesting and rather distributing to find that some of our San Ramon elected officials and former elected officials give very little credence to the Privacy issues on the Internet. Maybe that is because some of them have been in the public spotlight for so long and having their names plastered on the Internet to such a degree, that in their mind, privacy has very little meaning. Elected officials actually to a large degree end up surrendering their privacy. That is one of the negative aspects of political life.

However, for those San Ramon citizens who work for employers or have other high profile jobs, not having their names online can be a wise decision. There have been well documented articles about new employers using Google Search to check up on new employees. They actually have been known to do background checks using the search engines. Now, some of you may think that having something online in your name is not a big deal, but to some it can be a huge impact on privacy. Every time your name is used online, an eternal Internet record is created in the Search Engines and other Web sites. This Internet record can never be expunged. For example, if you say something about any subject and then someone else comments on it at another website in a negative manor with quoting your name, now your name is forever linked on the other website. Other websites will also pick that same information up and republish it.

Take for example: Bob Patrino a planning commissioner for San Ramon. He apparently thinks the Internet privacy issue is a "bunch of hooey." He says on another website, "I don't take these "nameless" submittals very seriously." See Google Search for Bob Patrino

That is quite interesting from the standpoint that if that were really the case, then he would not have taken the time to write well thought out responses in a number of the postings at sanramontalk.blogspot.com.

Another example is Former Mayor, Mary Lou Oliver. She gives "no credibility to any comments that have no author." She said she could "find no one taking credit or responsibility for what was posted on the site." See Google Search for Mary Lou Oliver

She supposedly checked sanramontalk.blogspot.com "to see what issues were of interest to the community." However, she was more interested in the Who instead of the San Ramon Issues facing the community.

First off, the San Ramon Talk Blog is about the San Ramon issues, and not the WHO.

Second, privacy should be a concern for all. For our elected officials and former elected officials to put down privacy so lightly is showing a lack of responsibility to the privacy of their constituency and is also displaying a lack of understanding of how today's online technology can have a major impact on the privacy of individuals on the Internet.

Other examples of online discovery:
Mayor H. Abram Wilson
Carol J. Rowley
David E. Hudson
Jim Livingstone
Scott Perkins
These are all public figures above.

San Ramon Talk website has shown that the issues can be talked about in an open format while still maintaining privacy. No matter what the elected officials say, anyone can post an anonymous comment and truly be anonymous. If the comment is a well thought out stated opinion, then the comment will speak for itself. There have been excellent comments from both sides of the issues.

Other websites, including one in San Ramon have shown somewhat of a lack of understanding in the online privacy issue and the implications of posting information online. Maybe, that is why some San Ramon websites that have tried to run blogs in the past were not successful because the people did not feel that it was truly an open format for posting comments.

At the San Ramon Tribune, San Ramon Talk, San Ramon Talks Blog, and even this San Ramon Privacy blog you the reader have the power to voice your opinions. You are assured of the right to full privacy if that is your desire.

You may place Comments here and on the articles at SanRamonTalk.blogspot.com, SanRamontalks.blogspot.com, and also at the San Ramon Tribune online newspaper.

Sincerely,
San Ramon Talk

Descendants of The Boston Tea Party

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Privacy On The Internet

San Ramon Readers, Proponents and Opponents, and Extended San Ramon Website Visitors,

We have elected to set some of these blogs up to allow three types of Public Commentary Postings.

  • One, you can set up your own account with www.blogger.com.
  • Two, you can leave anonymous comments.
  • Three, the option for "Other" in which you can leave your real or ghost writer name.

We have done this to provide anyone that would like to make an intelligent comment to feel free, from a privacy standpoint, to do it any way the person wants.

Privacy on the Internet

It is important to understand that this is a public blog. Google, Yahoo, and MSN Search engines will pick up the information from within all the writings, including the commentaries.

Some have alluded to by name calling, on other San Ramon websites, to the fact that posting anonymously online is somewhat less than a real person. This quote from another San Ramon website says, ".. people will start discussing real problems and issues under their real names."

That type of communications attitude is not taking into the account the online privacy issues on the Internet. We, at San Ramon News, Privacy Blog, SanRamonTalk.blogspot.com, and our other site at SanRamonTalks.blogspot.com understand the online privacy issues and we respect those people that choose to remain private with their real names.

So far, the majority of the conversation on the San Ramon Talk site has shown this Blog to be an excellent forum area for voicing opinions and concerns. We have also had other people from other cities leave intelligent comments that have added insight and additional information into both the Golf Course Rezoning and Eminent Domain. They have shared numerous website URLs with excellent California and National information. We continue to appreciate these outside the city of San Ramon sources and extend a big thank you.

So, Please feel free to comment on any of the postings that allow commentary from the public. We believe that the sharing of public information is both useful and good for the San Ramon Community and other cities will surely find the information useful themselves.

Note: These websites are not meant to take away anything from anyone else. If you don't like the information found here, or if you think the information is out of date; then simply leave. However, the information on these sites are giving the San Ramon community a place to talk about the issues without fear that their name is going to be plastered all over the Internet.

We respect your privacy. You may place your comments on the articles at SanRamonTalk.blogspot.com, SanRamonTalks.blogspot.com, SanRamonPrivacy.blogspot.com, and the San Ramon Tribune.

Sincerely,

San Ramon Community, srcommunity@gmail.com