Want to know something cool?

One point of view, taking note of sundry "cool" things that affect-- or could affect-- the education business.


Tuesday, March 14, 2006

On The Other Hand ... Protected Speech is Protected, Right?

Now flip the coin. Sure, you're all awash in activist hormones about Bully (see earlier post here) but hold the phone.

Looks like a judge may allow the Justice Department's motion to force Google to turn over search information on a bajillion searches undertaken by everyone in a specified week's time. That's right ... the Justice Department is going to know whether your granny was searching for pr0n. (Or instructions to make home-made laughing gas, which were circulating last week and which actually work if you don't heat the ... oh, never mind.)

This is all in furtherance of the DOJ's case against pornography, believe it or not. Seems that DOJ thinks that if they can get all the search data returned in a given week, they can somehow extrapolate that into a statistically-relevant predictor of how many poor, innocent chilluns get hits on adult content when they do innocuous searches. (This assumes the little lambs were not searching for porn in the first place!)
(Click the link to read the rest of this post ... )

Troubling, considering that DOJ isn't looking for any single individual by means of a subpoena or a warrant ... they just want ALL THE SEARCHES AND RESULTS DONE in some randomly-chosen week. Which means that your searches could end up in Julio Gonzalez's files. Not because you did something wrong ... you didn't do anything wrong, though, did you? Because, hey, somebody may find out whether you did or not. Somebody is going to be looking at your search, from YOUR IP address, deciding whether or not it would be "appropriate" to return adult content in the search results. So a perfectly innocuous search on "Dick Cheney's Gun" would produce 6,510,000 hits (no pun intended there, and yes, that's an actual number-- see screen grab above) at least some of which will tie back to adult sites. And gun sites (again, no pun intended). And probably hate sites with gun ties, and probably a lot of other irrelevant stuff that wasn't intended. But do you want Karl Rove to see your name, your gmail account, your IP address, next to a hit for "blogslut.com?" (That's a real hit, too, though the underage intern at WTKSC didn't check it out.)

So on the one hand, you want Bully kept off the streets. And on the other, you don't want the government snooping your search records. The bird in the hand is a horse of a different feather, now, huh?


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