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The Google Search Subpoena in Perspective  (View post)

Jason Golod [PersonRank 1]

Thursday, January 26, 2006
16 years ago

Some great points. I think a lot of us "geeks" forget that most people out there don't know a telephone from a modem. To be honest, it scares the heck out of me to read that people in Washington are making gross errors and mistatements when it comes to technology like search...and then seeking to gain access to log information from Google and others. Sad thing is that most people don't understand and as such don't really care. Sad and scary.

Dan Harple [PersonRank 1]

16 years ago #

A very well put essay Seth. Just maybe....this isn't about privacy at all, it's just marketing. Read on-

Perhaps we assume too much on Google's stance on libertarian principles. This article from the NY Times posits that the real reason Google won't cooperate is to protect their own intellectual property and trade secrets.

A key credo of the Google marketing machine is too always position as the uber-tech company. The move to couple the govt. request with the protection of trade secrets is a savvy marketing move, further reinforcing the perceived superiority of the Google search algorithms, albeit having nothing really to do with privacy rights.....maybe.... The meta marketing message is, "Microsoft and Yahoo provided their records, ergo, they really don't have any unique technology differentiation, a la Google..." Touche!

Click here-
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/26/technology/26privacy.htm

Peter [PersonRank 0]

16 years ago #

I don't get it. Is one of your points that porn is not widely available on the internet? Regardless of the number of search results for the specific terms "free" and "porn", I would argue that porn is widely available.

Not that I agree with the Justice Dept, or Gonzales' principles, or that I support Bush in basically any way. I just don't get your argument.

The other thing I didn't get about this whole issue is this: how does Google giving away records on what people searched for at all reveal how their technology works? All that reveals is what people are interested in. Does anyone know what exactly the Justice Dept asked for?

Matt Engel [PersonRank 0]

16 years ago #

Exactly! Nowhere on the web can I find out what information the Justice Department has specifically requested of Google. Therefore, I am assuming the requested access or copies of ALL records of all the searches over a certain time period. This is the information that Google is attempting to protect and I think they are being ADMIRABLE standing up to the US government by proctecting our rights to privacy! Doesn't anyone see this? Imagine, if the government had access to all of the searches every citizen had made – today I searched for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran which led me to may interesting profiles about his past and current beliefs on mid east policy including many sites in arabic. Its too bad i Don't understand arabic because searches for al-quaeda and other key figures in the Islamic Jihad movement yield many interesting results in arabic, including information on 9-11. Now if the government had access to my search records, who knows what they may think of me – yet I am a law abiding citizen simply interested in knowing the truth about events that are occuring around the world. This issue is about much more than pornography...But its a beautiful cover foe the DOJ to get our provate information. Besides, how would this help them nail pervs? Just seeing how many people typed child porn wont help them identify the offenders.

Seth Finkelstein [PersonRank 10]

16 years ago #

Jason, Dan: Thank you for the nice responses.

Matt: The links are in my article above – again, my point is that it's simply mistaken to read this as a fishing expedition, and it comes out of a statistics study in service of arguments for the COPA law.

Peter: It's more that the government is hyping up the issue of the availability of porn and the Internet (which is to be expected, that's what the prosecution lawyers do). And then this subpoena came out of that issue, and the way in which the government first made the argument left them open to be discredited (remember, this is a legal trial – a dramatic misstep can be very bad – "If The Stat Don't Fit, You Must Acquit"). Just as conjecture, I suspect Google doesn't want to be pinned down under oath regarding some items that a statistics study might involve, such as exactly how many URLs they have in their database, how many searches are done in a day, etc.

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