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A Collection of Random Thoughts
Friday, January 20, 2006
In recent news...Google promotes children's access to pornography
I know - inflammatory title. My apologies for that.

Of the 4 major Internet companies that were subpoenaed to provide data by the Justice Department, only Google has been unwilling to provide the data requested in any fashion.

At stake? The Government is attempting to defend the Child Online Protection act, aimed at shielding children from pornography online. The Child Online Protection Act was passed in 1998 and attempts to protect children from harmful sexual content on the Internet, though the law has never taken effect as it was blocked by courts. The Supreme Court recently upheld rulings of the lower courts that the law is unconstitutional as defined. The government is now scrambling to save this law and defend its assertion that it is constitutionally sound, hence the subpoenas.

Why is Google resisting this request? The other 3 Internet companies, which were MSN, Yahoo and AOL, have all apparently supplied at least some information to the DOJ. The request, in and of itself, doesn't appear at first glance to violate any privacy, as the DOJ has not requested any personal information, just search queries, so why the fight?

Google, do you not want to protect children from pornography? Look, I'll be the first to admit that I'm not sure a law like this would do a lot, but then again, you never know. We ought to be doing everything we can to protect children from online smut like pornography. YES, parents ought to be more involved in the activities of children online. The sad truth is that there are WAY too many parents who aren't involved. IF parents would be involved, then no laws like this would be required.

See, I'm lucky. I use and understand technology every day as it relates to computers. For a lot of parents, that isn't the case. Their kids know more about computers and the Internet than they do! I know that I can protect my kids. DAMN straight I am going to do everything in my power to protect them. What I can't figure out is why Google won't. Their excuse? It would potentially divulge trade secrets. Gimme a freaking break. Thanks, Google, for all your work to protect our children. I'll switch my search engine back to MSN now.
You have to understand that if Google gives in to this request, its not certain what the Bush government's next request will be. It's a bad precedent to set. Also assume that Google did give the data and the FBI came back and said they found some queries on Iraq etc. and need the IP address of the searcher. So definitely one thing can snowball into another.
Sorry - I don't buy that. Google even said that there were not privacy concerns involved with their decision not to comply. I think it's a copout to say that they shouldn't grant the request because it sets a precedent. What precedent is there for anonymous information? I'm sure that the government could indeed gather this information by themselves, but it would take far longer to do, and who knows what "extra" data they would be able to gather. I cannot believe that MSN, Yahoo and AOL ALL would honor this request if they thought for one minute that it could result in some sort of legal precedent. All this does for me is present Google as the bad guy.
One only has to look at the abuse of power which has run rampant in the Bush Administration to be skeptical of their motives for anything.

I am an IT professional and respect your knowledge and share your joy of involvement in same. You and I should not talk politics, though.

I am a parent and, I do believe, it is MY responsibility to protect my kids and I don't need the DOJ data mining on my behalf - thanks, but, no thanks.
Thanks for your comment, Allan. I respect your opinion, and I do agree that protecting kids is a parent's responsibility. I just wish more parents would *be* responsible so that our government wouldn't feel that measures like this were necessary.
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