Your Privacy on Peter's List

Peter's list provides a wonderful distribution system for information about everything Lasqueti.  Because we tend to think of these messages as being only relevant to Lasquetians, we may forget that any online communication is made in a relatively public domain, and thus raises issues about online privacy.

Furthermore, the list is made more public by posting it on the website.  This improves its purpose as a communication tool by opening it to a wider audience than just those who subscribe to the list, and allows people to check the list when away from their own computers.  The key point here is to always remember that Peter's List is a public forum, and thus your communications posted there are not private - seems obvious, but it's an important reminder.

Current Policy to Posting Peter's List

  • your e-mail message to Peter should be in plain text - cutting and copying text from Word, for example, can make it challenging to assemble the list.  Please convert your message to plain text, or simply write it using your e-mail tool (which uses plain text);
  • Peter currently uses your full name to identify you to recipients on the list.  Would your rather he started using first-name-and-initial only?
  • posts older than 2 weeks are removed from the website to eliminate concerns about data mining;
  • the discussion forums area on the website will no longer be indexed by Google and other search engines so this content does not appear in search results;

Some Notes about e-mail privacy

Although many people think of e-mail as being a fairly private form of communication, it is not (see ).  All those back-issues of Peter's List are stored in 200+ people's mailboxes on servers all over the place.  Many people use free public mail services, like hotmail, yahoo, gmail, for which the user grants some permission to the company to breech their privacy.  Most people have no idea, because they don't read the fine print they are agreeing too.
I don't think it's a huge issue, and nothing to be worried about, but there is certainly a potential that messages from Peter's List can be "mined" from many sources.  For that reason, people should choose their own level of privacy / identification on the list, regardless of how it is distributed.   Online is online.

Although a little counter-intuitive, I actually think having people post to the website for distribution on Peter's list improves privacy:

  • people choose their own online identity
  • it is more explicit that the item is posted in a very public place
  • users have more control to edit and delete their posts after publication

Joseph will work out a system, which we can test without unleashing it on others to see how it works.

Function Creep

Personally I have always viewed the email list as 'internal' communication among Lasquetians, and the website as the 'open to public'.

And so I think part of the problem here is that the email list used to be for Lasquetians to discuss whatever among themselves, but when went live, all those previously semi-private emails started getting re-posted here, without anyone asking those on the list if this was cool (though maybe someone asked and I just don't remember).

Overall, I would encourage people to migrate over to the website. It is so much easier to find previously posted information as it is all neatly organized into seperate categories versus being all mashed together in one long list.


Jess's picture


Thank you so much, Joseph and Peter for your efforts to both help us communicate and strengthen our privacy protections. Much, much appreciated. JSS