I recently noticed that one of the channels I had been chatting on was being logged, and made publicly available for search engines to index. There's nothing new about public logging of IRC - in past I've run into channels that announce public logging in the topic, and sometimes chosen to refrain from contributing to the discussion. However, the way I discovered the logging this time was a much less comfortable - I ran into the logs when googling for something...
Would you like something you come up in five seconds to become enshrined in perpetuity? [*]
Public IRC logging is certainly not a new thing. Freenode users remember the IRseeK fiasco from less than a year ago, when the company started logging channels in many IRC networks while trying to conceal the fact by making the bots use tor and so forth. Due to public outbreak and Freenode taking active steps in banning the logger bots, [they were forced to reverse this practice] (although you'll notice they picked a bit different wording to present their view of the deal). [] []
Common arguments for logging
Proponents of public IRC logging often present the following arguments:
IRC is a public channel anyway, and all users should be well aware of the fact that everything they post on the internet is public.
And for this I quote [Michael Sparks]:
Just because a conversation is in a public place doesn’t give you the automatic moral right to record everything, republish, index, and make searchable everyone’s conversations… Just because you can do a thing doesn’t mean to say you should do that thing.
Now, the interesting question that I haven't seen anyone answer in detail yet is whether or not there are legal issues with publishing IRC logs. I guess it partly depends on whether the text produced by the users is covered by copyright, and what implied rights they give to the intended recipients.
Defining "intended recipients" is another interesting point. If the users are not aware of the public logging, then no doubt they intend their messages only for the other persons on the channel. Most european countries probably consider it illegal to eavesdrop on communications you do not take part in.
The benefits of public IRC logging way outweight any potential privacy issues.
This is an opinion, and one that everyone does not share, so please do not try to force it on others.
If you don't want to get logged, don't speak.
This is really just dodging the issue altogether. Basically you are telling the users to scram if they don't want to accept being logged. Some will most likely do, but others are forced to ignore the logging to participate on the channel. If we combine this with the fact that public logging is mostly used on helpdesk channels, it might seem like extortion of the users who are looking for help. Not everyone wants their cluelessness publicly logged for eternity.
> ***We will anonymize the logs by removing/changing nicknames. Problem > solved, and everyone is happy.*** Unfortunately, anonymizing logs does not work very well in practice. You need to catch all references to users in messages, and that still leaves you with all the messages that may still contain personally identifiable details. On the other hand, people have the moral (and often legal) right to be recognized as the author of their texts - so anonymizing the logs may in practice be just like ripping off the credits, putting the work of others on your website, and cashing in on the ads. In my opinion, logging bots should: - Never join channels unless explicitly requested by the channel owner(s). In other words, **channels should be logged on opt-in basis**. - Show prominent notices/msgs on join or in the channel topic to **alert users to the fact that the channel is being publicly logged, and show URL where the logs are published**. - Provide way for users to opt out permanently. Preferably also provide a way for users to exclude lines (or remove them afterwards). In other words, **users must be able to opt-out regardless of whether the channel is logged**. - Not log or show IPs, hostnames, or anything besides the nick. More commentary for and against public IRC logging can be read from: - [http://www.irseek.com/blog/?p=3] - [http://php-gtk.eu/en/irc-log-publication-poll] - [http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/IRC\_guidelines/Public\_logging] - [Anthony's blog - Another so called IRC Logging "Service" springs up and is set down] In conclusion, public IRC logging can be a valuable and useful thing. But don't expect everyone else to share your views, and force them on the channel users. Provide a way for users to opt out permanently, should they wish to choose so. [\*]: http://freenode.net/channel_guidelines.shtml [they were forced to reverse this practice]: http://www.irseek.com/blog/?p=3 : http://blog.freenode.net/?p=62 : http://blog.freenode.net/?p=68 [Michael Sparks]: http://www.irseek.com/blog/?p=3#comment-48 [http://www.irseek.com/blog/?p=3]: http://www.irseek.com/blog/?p=3%20 [http://php-gtk.eu/en/irc-log-publication-poll]: http://php-gtk.eu/en/irc-log-publication-poll [http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/IRC\_guidelines/Public\_logging]: http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/IRC_guidelines/Public_logging [Anthony's blog - Another so called IRC Logging "Service" springs up and is set down]: http://anthony.blogs.ablenet.org/106/another_so_called_irc_logging_service_springs_up_and_is_set_down