18 July 2005

Flickr Folks Investigated by the Secret Service

The other day I was telling someone that we have yet to really scratch the surface concerning the effects Flickr (my account there) will have on society. I see its photos used as evidence in court, for instance. Divorce? "Where were you this weekend? You told me you were working late!!! But who's she?" Child custody. And on and on. How long will it be before someone's Flickr account becomes infamous-- did Scott Peterson, for instance, have a Flickr account? What about BTK?

Let's also not forget to mention the eventual historical interests in Flickr. With a photographic record now unfolding, perpetually, in 50 years, what will it show?

Naturally, there's also a dark side to the Flickr phenomenon. Apparently, something I was predicting the other day (that Flickr and perhaps its occupants will eventually be "harassed" by the government) has already happened-- the FBI and other government agencies are becoming threatened by and are investigating anti-Bush/anti-Government content on Flickr.

Because of their actions, the man in question, Jeremy Lassen, has been placed on what the University of California, SF (where Jeremy works) is calling "Investigative Leave," apparently because he "misused university resources" in participating in two Flickr photo groups, "Bush Bash, and the Anti-Bush League.

SPEAK OUT and SUPPORT Jeremy! I'd say email his boss and maybe Deborah Brennan, the Executive Vice Chancellor at the University there. I am doing so now.


Blogger Lee H. said...

Unfortunately, the Secret Service has been harrassing dissenters for several years now; this is just a continuation of that trend. But wow, is that letter you linked Kafka-esque or WHAT?

6:21 PM, July 18, 2005  
Blogger Inappropriate said...

Creepy. Very, very creepy. Who says Big Brother isn't watching?

10:54 PM, July 19, 2005  
Blogger CatsFive said...

Dear Mr. Hudson, Ms. Brennan,

My name is Monty Nicol, and I am writing from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. It is an honour to respectfully write to you both about a matter which concerns me and may people I know greatly.

Today I heard through some very concerned, prominent photographer friends in New York that Mr. Jeremy Lassen, a current employee at the University of California, San Francisco, is currently on Investigative Leave from your university, ostensibly for his participation in two anti-Bush photographic groups on the photo-sharing site Flickr. I would like to say that I have never contacted nor been contacted in any way, either directly or indirectly, by Mr. Lassen or any third-party related to Mr. Lassen. I simply heard about his current situation with the university and became gravely concerned about his case.

I have posted a synopsis of his predicament on my blog:


I do understand that the university is concerned about situations like this. Universities have policies on the books to prevent misuse of university resources for good reason. These policies should be vigorously enforced when misuse of university resources are used for secondary monetary gain, endanger the lives of citizens in the community, or when university employees and associates seriously misuse of university resources by participating in or propagating child pornography, fraud, or other illegal activities. These policies should not, however, be used, either directly or indirectly, to censure or in any way restrict any form of political expression of or by its faculty members or associates, especially participation in such an innocuous activity as posting images or opinions on Flickr. I feel strongly that Mr. Lassen’s participation in the anti-Bush Flickr photo group was reasonable in every way. If he were, for instance, had been a member of a “Support our Troops” photo group, which in a way is the other side of the coin of the anti-Bush photo group, would he be on investigative leave today? Would he have been visited by the CIA? No. The simple fact is that it is the CIA’s visit to the campus which has caused Mr. Lassen’s current status with the university. And I am writing to let you know that I and many other photographers and other people who are concerned about the civil-rights and liberties of those who use the Internet and its resources are and will be watching the status of the investigation into the so-called misuse of university resources on Mr. Lassen’s part.

Freedom of the press and freedom of expression is an important issue to me and many others like me. I am a former employee of CNN, Atlanta, and I am also heavily involved with the photographic community in New York City, where I used to live. I am BCC’ing this email to my contacts at CNN and in New York. The outcome of Mr. Lassen’s case is one which we are watching very closely.

I encourage you to make the right decision in this case and to re-instate Mr. Lassen as soon as possible.

Yours Sincerely,
Monty Nicol

2:55 AM, July 20, 2005  
Blogger Lee H. said...

did Scott Peterson, for instance, have a Flickr account? What about BTK?

BTW, this would be a GREAT pitch for a movie! :)

3:55 PM, July 21, 2005  

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