Friday, January 20, 2006

Google Power

Google is resisting attempts by the US Justice Department to access information about searches and website indexing. The information has apparently been requested in order to collect infomation about the effectiveness of US online pornography laws. The information would not provide direct information on individuals using Google services.

Privacy groups say any sample could reveal the identities of Google users indirectly. And they say the demand is a worrying precedent, because the government also wants to make more use of internet data for fighting crime and terrorism.
It's that thorny issue of the balance between protection from potential terrorists and protection from unwarranted and potentially dangerous uses and abuses of state power. As Blair says "the question is: where does the balance fall, and that is a matter of judgment." Given his current occupation, and given the fact that he genuinely appears to believe that his government can do no wrong, that the very idea is an absurdity, you've got to wonder whether he's in the best position to make that judgement.

Anyway, Can you imagine if the US Justice Department got their hands on the data about my google searches?
Terror, terrorist, terrorism, bin Laden, al Qaida, President Bush, Tony Blair, Whitehouse, Downing Street, Zarqawi, Iraq, Insurgents, Home Office, Pentagon, suicide bombing, London Bombing, Iran, Israel, nuclear weapons, Hamas...
To name but a few recent examples.

If the US had this information, would I be taken off a bus and disappeared for five months? I wouldn't be too happy with that, to be honest.

In reality, of course, it's very unlikely to happen to me; I've got an English sounding name and white skin. Anyone interested in these issues who does not have similar "protection" might want to reconsider the way's they use their search engines though. Microsoft and Yahoo are both cooperating with the US administration. For now, Google remains defiant. More power to them.

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