Molt Be Blog

Friday, January 20, 2006

Feds after Google data

Feds after Google data
Poor me. Always the last to find out. I can't stand when I first hear about a story on Fox News and it's summed up in the most trite and sappy manner.
I saw the story again in slashdot this morning.
Honestly, I don't really care if Google gives the government statistics on how many people are searching for porn everyday. Apparently, Yahoo and others have already complied

America Online, Microsoft and Yahoo said they had responded to the requests but stressed that they did not provide all the requested information.
"We complied on a limited basis and did not provide any personally identifiable information," Yahoo spokeswoman Mary M. Osako said. "In our opinion, this is not a privacy issue."

There are two things that I'd like to agree with the Post and others on:
(1) This does set a terrible precedent.
(2) Going after the content rather than the parents is a mistake. We're already up tight about sex as it is in this country. I'd suggest better education for children and parents on the subject of pornography.
The government argued that the Google data would, among other things, help it to understand what Web sites people can find using a search engine, to estimate how much "harmful-to-minors" content may be on those sites and to gauge the effectiveness of software in screening out such material.

Those quotes around "harmful-to-minors" are very appropriate. Go Washington Post.


Anonymous said...

Honestly, I don't really care if Google gives the government statistics on how many people are searching for porn everyday

You probably should have at least read the article you are blogging about.

The overreaching demand is not about porn searches.

The government asked Mountain View, Calif.-based Google, which operates the world's most popular search engine, to turn over every query typed into its search engine over the course of one week without providing identifying information about the people who conducted the searches.

It also asked for a random sample of 1 million Web pages that can be searched in the vast databases maintained by Google, whose stated corporate mission is to "organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful."

They are asking for data on all searches.

Greg said...

I actually did read that part of the article and think I mistated my point in a hasty work-blog. I know that they are asking for data on all searches. I was merely pointing out the level detail of data that I would be comfortable with Google giving the government.
I don't like the idea of the government getting all of this data from anyone, but am torn in that people are using a service and could choose not to use that service if they didn't want their searches to be discoverable.
This definitely raises some important Right to Privacy issues and deserves the coverage it's getting.
Maybe I'll go back and change my comment to "Honestly, I wouldn't really care if Google just gave the government statistics on how many people are searching for porn everyday" as that was my orignial intention. Thanks for the note!