Friday, January 20, 2006

Google stiffarms DoJ data fishing

Props to Google for refusing to roll over and comply with a creepy Department of Justice subpoena demanding a sample of their search logs and a sample of their index of web pages.

In contrast, add MSN, Yahoo, and AOL to the ranks of the expeditiously obedient.

DoJ is seeking to defend the patently unconstitutional Child Online Protection Act. Search engines are convenient sources of massive amounts of data about online use patterns, so they went for the big targets. Read about it at CNet.

Should you, the average internet user, be worried? Here's CNet's answer:
Q: I used those search engines in June and July. Should I be worried about my privacy?
It depends. If you typed in search terms that you consider to be private or confidential, you should be concerned. Such terms might include personal information about you, such as your name or street address.

But what's important to note is that the Justice Department has not been asking for any information that would link those search terms to your identity. It hasn't requested Internet Protocol addresses.

So if you typed in search terms indicating that you, say, have a healthy interest in marijuana cultivation, the data turned over won't implicate you.
I'm strongly inclined to believe Google's associate general counsel, Nicole Wong. Google "is not a party to this lawsuit and (the government's) demand for information overreaches." Amen.

One more time: let's hear it for Alberto Gonzales' deep and abiding respect for the Constitution. (On a side note, that American Progress site is Google's first hit about AG the AG. This is a more valuable example of Googlebombing, made famous by the search for miserable failure.)


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