Wednesday, January 16, 2008


The other day while waiting for my appointment, the conversation went something like this: “It was great; you should have been there,” she said. “I didn’t know about it,” her friend replied. “I sent you an email,” the answer came back. Friend came back with “I get too much mail so I probably ignored it! You should have called me.” “Well,” her friend retorted, “I hate talking to your machine since you always let your phone calls go to the answer machine.”

And so it goes. Are we ailing from too much information being made available to us? I think a good question is how do we learn about things that are happening that we care about?

The problem is that between emails, radio, TV, blogs, newspapers, information and video feeds on the Internet, discussion groups, poster signs, telephone calls, and word of mouth, I think it’s reasonable to think one can suffer from information overload. Yet and still, there are always people who don’t get the word. Remember the old line: some don’t know, some don’t care, and a small number both know and care!

Since each of us “manage” information differently, a lot of us probably manage to miss stuff that we care about because our process "blocks" stuff that we would really want to know. Fewer people read newspapers. Fewer people watch TV news. More people turn to the Internet, but how do they know what they might have missed until it’s too late?

I wonder how others are dealing with this and what recommendations they have for how to help busy people stay informed. What really ails us, apathy, ignorance, overload or a combination?

Sunday, January 6, 2008


Last year I wrote a column entitled "Private vs. Public, Where's The Line?" I concluded it by saying, "Let’s hope that our representatives do what’s necessary to ensure that we don’t become victims of technology or the valid need for public documents. Being a victim is not a good thing."

They did! Effective December 1, 2007 our General Assembly passed Session Law 2007-534 (House Bill 454):

AN ACT to protect the identity of individuals by authorizing the taking of a photograph of a person who is cited for a motor vehicle moving violation, who does not produce a valid drivers license upon the request of a law enforcement officer, and where the law enforcement officer has a reasonable suspicion regarding the true identity of the person, and to provide a cause of action for a person whose identifying information is published over objection.

This law adds to North Carolina's existing identity theft protection act by making it a violation of the act for any person to "knowingly broadcast or publish to the public on radio, television, cable television, in a writing of any kind, or on the Internet, the personal information of another with actual knowledge that the person whose personal information is disclosed has previously objected to any such disclosure."

Other details can be seen in the actual law. In my mind, it's very important for us that this law explicitly states that it can be enforced by individuals, rather than limiting the right to bring suit under the law to the state attorney general. Also, the North Carolina law includes a statutory damages provision, which addresses difficulties that individuals seem to experience when trying to show actual damages in cases in the past.

We can thank an individual named Glenn Hagele who lobbied for this specific law to help deal with the situation where an individual's personal information was made available on the Internet as a reprisal for some public statements amde by an individual. Without Glenn's work on the law, there is simply no reason to think it would exist. Also, there is growing organized pressure on to act to solve this problem.

Kudos to the members of the GA who voted for this and helped the law catch up with our technology!