27 April 2001

Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Purveyor of Child Pornography?

Sheriff Joe and his posse webcasting a jail netcam showing female inmates use the toilet - assistant attorney general Thackeray asked Arpaio to shut the site ( down after getting complaints from activists who have condemned Jailcam as a violation of privacy rights of people who have not been charged with a crime. - Complaints about the site were collected by Donna Hamm, head of Middle Ground, an inmate rights group. Because some of the women in the holding cell could be juveniles, "I think he's potentially an international child pornographer," Hamm said. ... She has requested a federal civil rights investigation.

Wouldn't a citizen go to jail for doing this sort of thing? Wasn't it Chubby Checker or Fats Domino or Chuck Berry a few years back that put up a secret camera in the girls bathroom of an arcade or beach area? Then they got sent to the pokey so someone could watch them on camera in the little boys room. Or is that just part of the Sheriff Joe Arizona penal emporium?

This story was kind of a "back page" article on the AZ Republic. I think it warrants much more coverage. In fact, I think Sheriff Joe should tender his resignation immediately. What if it was your daughter or wife featured live via webcam, to the entire world population? Since it's Joe Arpaio, it's good because he has "good intentions". Bah, put him in a tent and make him eat green baloney and share a tent with another prisoner that may have a communicable disease ...

19 April 2001

No hockey arena? How about a tent city jail instead?

Sheriff Joe Arpaio is making the rounds on the local radio morning shows - Leibowitz yesterday, the John and Kim Arizona Sunrise show on KXAM, promoting his idea to turn the former Los Arcos mall site into a temporary "tent city" jail. Joe says that the location is ideal - right across the street from some nightclubs and pr0n shops - so the police won't have to travel very far to dump off drunk drivers and other miscreants after they've been arrested. Steve Ellman has offered to give the land to Arpaio.

Arpaio says that it is a great idea that would save taxpayers money and relieve jail overcrowding. Mary Manross, however, thinks it's a ridiculous plan and believes it just a vindictive move on the part of Ellman because of the failed negotiations over a new hockey arena for the Coyotes.

I didn't hear Sheriff Joe on Leibowitz yesterday, but I caught his interview with John Dayl and Kim Laurie this morning and I almost drove off the road when he said that he was responsible for pumping up tourism in the valley - and he discussed what a great tourist site the tent city jails make - past presidential candidates, foreign dignitaries, the national media all have descended down to Durango to see his marvel. Issues about looking at a bunch of tent jails on a busy street corner was brushed aside by Joe as he stated that the prisoners would erect and paint a big wooden wall to shield the public's view, and that only airplanes traveling overhead would be able to view the tents.

Only in Arizona ...

18 April 2001

Letter to Arizona Republic Editor on Cookies

Dear Arizona Republic Editors,

Your Wednesday April 18 editorial - "Federal computer prying must end" is a striking example on the pervasive ignorance on the field of computing and the internet. Terming cookies as "intrusive, offensive, privacy-invading assaults on the rights of a free people" does a disservice to your readers. The purpose of cookies, is not to spy, but to give web site patrons a convienent way of choosing options and preferences at web pages they choose to visit. Most web sites use cookies, including your and sponsored web enterprises. A cookie created by one domain, denoted by a specific web address like, cannot be accessed by another domain. For example, a cookie set by is not accessable to or - not unless arizonarepublic "opens up its database of registered visitors" to another party. A cookie does not "collect information about your browsing and online buying habits" from other sites. Additionally, the only information that can be "collected" from a web site automatically is your IP address (identifies your network node presently active on the world wide network that is the web), browser program label and maybe operating system. Anything else stored and kept, is voluntarily given by the web surfers themselves. Sure, protecting privacy from government "internet snooping" is critical, but you are addressing the wrong party for culpability. It is the responsiblility of the web site proprietor to respect the privacy of their patrons.

It makes me shudder to think of the inaccuracies, disinformation, myths and fables that are present in fields and disciplines you report on where I am not as knowledgable. When I read an editorial on the airline industry, utility industry, education, science, I must remain skeptical to the espoused "truth". So it must be a slow news Wednesday. Or is this editorial just a red herring to sidestep attention from other big technology/internet issues that should warrant the public's attention: free speech violations, corporate control and consolidation of a once open net, subversion of copyright law to protect powerful money interests instead of the public, and equal access for citizens of all economic levels? Oh, but I forgot that the Arizona Republic and its parent company are actually club members of the oligopolies that wish to control and pre-package cyber content. Reporting on these matters might make the leaders in your discipline squeamish. The subtle effect of highlighting these types of internet privacy is to corral web publishing into the domain of the well financed, as opposed to the hand of spirited individuals.