Monday, January 23, 2006

Searching For Pornographers

The Bush Administration's recent subpoena of Google's search engine information (as well as the requests for data from Yahoo! and MSN) has sparked quite a debate on the internet. Debate may not be the right word, as I have found nothing supporting the Administration's position, maybe I could use the word furor here.

Below are some excerpts from articles and links I thought would be of interest, and use:

From ECT:

It is inevitable that the government will start to seek out data for other purposes if it succeeds with Google, Burke warned. “The implications of [Google's subpoena] are profound. People have got to come to realize that, eventually, everything they search for is information that may be shared with government,” he said.

In the future, a database of search terms could be combined with other databases the government maintains, Burke conjectured. “A person may find himself having to explain why he wanted to find such and such on the Web without the benefit of any context.”

Another serious potential problem could arise due to misfiling or mishandling data through error. Burke noted that he has represented children and other people who have erroneously wound up on the No-Fly list in a number of lawsuits against the government. Burke's own name appeared on it, he said.

“This is not a new phenomenon. It happens repeatedly in the private sector too,” he remarked.
Here is a good article from Google Blogoscoped, and here is a “how-to” on BoingBoing.

I am certainly reconsidering how I use the internet is light of this controversy. The problem is that it is frustratingly simple to let your personal data be shared on the internet, whether it is convenience, or lack of technical knowledge (i.e. what you don't know can hurt you).

The bottom line here is that big brother is watching you, whether it is your shopping, your searching, what you do with digital content–somone is able to follow your digital trail, and can learn an awful lot about you.

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