Fighting for Privacy

Columbia Free Times | January 25, 2006
Media Madness

By Dan Cook

Just weeks after it was revealed that the Bush administration authorized and continues to conduct limited domestic spying without warrants or other normal legal safeguards, now the Internet community is abuzz about reports that Google and other Internet service providers have been asked by the U.S. Justice Department to give search records to the government. The Mercury News reported Jan. 19 that the federal government asked a U.S. District Court judge in San Jose, Calif., to force Google to turn over the records that include “all Google searches from any one-week period.” The government — which is seeking the information as part of an anti-pornography effort — issued a subpoena for the records last year, but Google refused to comply, citing the privacy of its users. “This is exactly the kind of case that privacy advocates have long feared,’’ privacy consultant Ray Everett-Church told the Mercury News. “The government can’t even claim that it’s for national security. They’re just using it to get the search engines to do their research for them in a way that compromises the civil liberties of other people.’’

Are these people watching the same TV show? Critics are all over the place in their assessment of Love Monkey, a new Tuesday night CBS series starring Tom Cavanagh of Ed as a single, 30-something New York record executive. If you just go by the numbers, the show looks to be slightly above average: Metacritic’s critics pool rates the show at 64 out of 100, while users give it 6.3 out of 10. But the range of opinion is extremely wide, with the Village Voice (10 out of 100) calling it “another failed attempt to use rock as the backdrop for an insipid sitcom” while the Chicago Tribune (100 out of 100) says the show “may well be the smartest and most innovative network comedy-drama in many a year.” Meanwhile, for the Boston Globe (60 out of 100), it all comes down to the music: “Without its classic, punk, and alternative allusions, the New York romantic comedy would be just another Sex and the City with dudes, another Jake in Progress or Four Kings. But with its musical knowing, Love Monkey comes off more like a small-screen High Fidelity.”

Speaking of music, aims to launch a musical revolution by giving independent artists access to selling their music on iTunes and other music websites without giving up any ownership rights or paying a percentage of the sale. Founded by Jeff Price, co-founder of indie label SpinART Records, TuneCore will charge a one-time upload fee of 99 cents per song and a yearly maintenance fee of $7.98 per album. “This is a price anyone can afford and nothing is hidden,” Price says. The first major artist to commit to the service is Frank Black and the Catholics.

Putting a book out in November or December is a risky proposition: It could get a boost from all the seasonal retail traffic, or it could get passed over as everyone rushes madly to buy something else. The novel Beasts of No Nation seems headed toward the latter fate, as it ranked 5,468th on Amazon as Free Times went to press. All the same, the few readers and critics who have read it are uniformly impressed by this debut novel by 23-year-old Uzodinma Iweala, which tells the story of a young African boy drafted into a guerilla army. “Readers will come away feeling shattered by this haunting, original story,” writes Gillian Engberg in Booklist. Metacritic’s critics (90 out of 100) and users (9 out of 10) are united in their praise, and Amazon users chime in with 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Columbia Free Times

Free Times serves South Carolina's capital city of Columbia as a fresh and independent voice covering news, politics, arts and entertainment. One of the two largest non-daily newspapers in South Carolina, Free Times enjoys a large and loyal following from...
More »
Contact for Reprint Rights
  • Market Served: Metropolitan Area
  • Address: 1534 Main Street, Columbia, SC 29201
  • Phone: (803) 765-0707