Thursday, January 19, 2006

Oh (Big) Brother

The Bush administration's war on everything continues apace. In an effort to revive an Internet child protection law, struck down two years ago by the U.S. Supreme Court as being unconstitutional, the White House asked a federal judge to order Google to turn over a broad range of material from its databases. They claim they need the information because they're too lazy to figure out "to determine how often pornography shows up in online searches."

Google, to its credit has refused to comply with the subpoena issued last year, "which include a request for 1 million random Web addresses and records of all Google searches from any one-week period." More troubling is this. "The government indicated that other, unspecified search engines have agreed to release the information, but not Google." What do you want to bet that those records conveniently belong to a million political dissenters and drug consumers?

As John Cole at Balloon Juice points out,
At some point, someone has to put their foot down. Every day it seems it is something else, there is some other bogeyman out there that requires us to cede more ground to the authorities. During the eighties and early nineties (if I remember correctly), it was crack and drugs in general, and this was used as the reason for rewriting how the government approaches searches and property seizures (see US v. Ross, Maryland v. Wilson, and Wyoming v. Houghton for representative examples- and this is just the tip of the iceberg and does not even begin to cover the full extent of the changes over the past few decades, to include the property seizures that go on every day).

Then came terrorism, which seems to have replaced the War on Drugs as the ultimate opportunity for power grabs by the government.
Keep in mind, they're not searching for people who are downloading child porn, just general porn search requests by adults for adult porn sites. Radley Balko perhaps sums it up best.
In other words, the government wants to snoop in on Americans' search habits in order to prove that the government can fight porn while still respecting our civil liberties.

Yes, I'm scratching my head, too.
Really and you have to love an administration that holds itself above the law but is willing to squander millions of tax dollars to harass the citizens by inventing new ones that legislate personal behavior.


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