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Old 01-19-2006   #1
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U.S. Government Wants Google Search Records

According to the San Jose Mercury News, The Bush administration wants access to Google's huge database of search queries submitted by users to track how often pornography is returned in results. This information would be used for Bush's appeal of the 2004 COPA law, targeted to prevent access to pornography by children. The law was struck down because it would have restricted adults access to legal pornography. Google is promising to fight the release of this information.

Other search engines (probably Yahoo and MSN) have already handed over your search logs to the government.
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Old 01-19-2006   #2
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Re: U.S. Government Wants Google Search Records

ummm so they got just U.S records....right? hahahaha
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Old 01-19-2006   #3
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Re: U.S. Government Wants Google Search Records

Though i still feel it's the parents main responsibility to educate & keep tabs on their childern & what they are doing online, i also feel that the major search engines like AOL, google, yahoo, etc should have more accountablity for these chat rooms where predatory intentions & actions occur.
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Old 01-19-2006   #4
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Re: U.S. Government Wants Google Search Records

How is gaining access to Google search records going to prevent minors from getting at porn? The non-logic of that baffles me. The two things aren't even remotely related. There's no way to pinpoint who in the house is searching for porn. There's also the tiny issue of the invasion of privacy, and all that.


Quote:
Originally Said by funksonic7
Though i still feel it's the parents main responsibility to educate & keep tabs on their childern & what they are doing online, i also feel that the major search engines like AOL, google, yahoo, etc should have more accountablity for these chat rooms where predatory intentions & actions occur.
Although I agree that it is a parent's responsibility to monitor their children's activities online, search engines cannot possibly track every user's activities, nor all chat rooms' content. It's not just one specific type of chat room that attracts predators, nor are all the perps from America. It would be like trying to watch every television channel in the world at one time.
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Old 01-21-2006   #5
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Re: U.S. Government Wants Google Search Records

Quote:
Originally Said by moonlight_serenade
How is gaining access to Google search records going to prevent minors from getting at porn? The non-logic of that baffles me. The two things aren't even remotely related. There's no way to pinpoint who in the house is searching for porn. There's also the tiny issue of the invasion of privacy, and all that.




Although I agree that it is a parent's responsibility to monitor their children's activities online, search engines cannot possibly track every user's activities, nor all chat rooms' content. It's not just one specific type of chat room that attracts predators, nor are all the perps from America. It would be like trying to watch every television channel in the world at one time.
Yeah i hear you. I don't know how the major search engines would go about doing it, but it seems like they would be able to figure something out to help minimize the occurrences, because it's happening on their forums. Especially AOL, according to all those news stories that have been on tv as of late.
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Old 01-22-2006   #6
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Re: U.S. Government Wants Google Search Records

There are some new developments on this situation:

Feds Wrestle Google for Search Records

Juan Carlos Perez, IDG News Service
Thu Jan 19, 5:00 PM ET

The U.S. government has asked a California court to force Google to turn over information about usage of the company's search engine for finding pornography on the Internet.


The government says it needs those Google usage records to prepare its defense in a lawsuit brought against it by the American Civil Liberties Union. But Google is resisting.


U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales this week filed a motion in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California to compel Google to comply with the government's subpoena.

Background

The ACLU lawsuit, filed in 1998, challenges the Child Online Protection Act, which aims to protect minors from the effects of exposure to sexually explicit material on the Internet.


Nicole Wong, Google's associate general counsel, said in a prepared statement e-mailed to IDG News Service: "Google is not a party to this lawsuit and their demand for information overreaches. We had lengthy discussions with them to try to resolve this, but were not able to, and we intend to resist their motion vigorously."


The ACLU's challenge to COPA--arguing that it violates the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution--has been successful so far. The Pennsylvania district court in which the lawsuit was filed granted the ACLU's motion for preliminary injunction, and an appeals court affirmed it in 2000.


The case went to the U.S. Supreme Court, which vacated the judgment of the appeals court and sent it back to that court, which in turn again affirmed the preliminary injunction. The Supreme Court then reviewed the case once more, but that time it affirmed the preliminary injunction and sent the case back for trial.


Now the government is preparing its defense of COPA's constitutionality, and is specifically trying to buttress its contention that the law is more effective than filtering software in protecting minors from pornographic material on the Internet, according to the motion.

Google's Involvement

As a result, the government has issued subpoenas to Google and other search engines requesting information to make its case. But Google has refused to comply with the two requests. One request is that Google provide the government with a "random sample" of 1 million Web site addresses found in Google's search engine index. The other is for Google to provide the government with the text of all queries filed on the search engine during a specific week.


"The production of those materials would be of significant assistance to the Government's preparation of its defense of the constitutionality of this important statute," the motion filed reads. This information would help the government understand how often Web users encounter material considered "harmful to minors" as a result of using a search engine, and to determine how effective filtering software is, according to the motion.


The motion doesn't name the other search engine operators whose records were subpoenaed, but it does indicate that they complied with the request.


Privacy experts condemn subpoena of Google
By Alan Elsner
Fri Jan 20, 1:45 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Right-to-privacy groups said on Friday an attempt by the Bush administration to force Google Inc. to turn over a broad range of materials from its databases set a dangerous precedent that should worry all Americans.


"This is the camel's nose under the tent for using search engines and all kinds of data aggregators as surveillance tools," said Jim Harper of the libertarian Cato Institute who also runs Privacilla.org, an Internet privacy database.

The Bush administration is already under fire from a number of rights groups over security measures it has taken since the September 11, 2001 attacks on America, including pursuing checks on library records and eavesdropping on some telephone calls.

In court papers filed on Wednesday in U.S. District Court in San Jose, the Justice Department stated that Google had refused to comply with a subpoena issued last year for one million random Web addresses from Google's databases as well as records of all searches entered on Google during any one-week period.

The government said it needed the information to prepare its case to revive the 1998 Child Online Protection Act, which the Supreme Court blocked from taking effect two years ago.

The law prohibited Internet companies from knowingly making available obscene or pornographic material to minors. The Supreme Court said there were potential constitutional problems with the law and sent the case back to a lower court for consideration. It is expected to be heard later this year.

The Justice Department said on Friday that America Online, Yahoo and Microsoft had all complied with similar requests.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales rejected concerns that the subpoena might violate individual privacy rights.

"We're not asking for the identity of Americans. We simply want to have some subject matter information with respect to these communications. This is important for the Department of Justice and we will pursue this matter," he told reporters.

A Google spokesperson said the company objected to the breadth of the government's request but did not consider it to be a privacy issue since the search terms would not include personally identifiable details.

BILL TO BE INTRODUCED

But others were not reassured. Massachusetts Rep. Edward Markey (news, bio, voting record), the ranking Democrat on the telecommunications subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said he would introduce a bill to strengthen consumers' Internet privacy by prohibiting the storage of personally identifiable information Internet searches beyond a reasonable time.

"Internet search engines provide an extraordinary service, but the preservation of that service does not rely on a bottomless, timeless database that can do great damage despite good intentions," Markey said.

Chris Jay Hoofnagle of the Electronic Privacy Information Center worried that the government could follow up its initial request with a demand for more information.

"If Google hands over the search logs and the Justice Department finds search strings like 'child porn' or 'naked children,' could they not then go back and ask Google for the user's Internet address?" he said.

Ari Schwartz of the Center for Democracy and Technology said he was glad Google was fighting the case but the company needed to make privacy a more fundamental part of its products. He said the case was a wake-up call to all Internet users that information was being collected on them all the time and was stored indefinitely.

Danny Sullivan, an Internet consultant who created Search Engine Watch, said in a posting on his site: "Such a move absolutely should breed some paranoia. They didn't ask for data this time, but next time, they might."

On the other side, the Cincinnati-based National Coalition for Protection of Children and Families, a Christian fundamentalist group, said search companies should be willing to help the government defend children from pornography.

"I'm disappointed Google did not want to exercise its good corporate branding to secure the protection of youth," said Jack Samad, the group's senior vice president.


**In the original article, they hinted at but didnt say outright that AOL and Yahoo! had turned over files...maybe if both these other search engines had not rolled over like meek mice, the case could be stronger! In the second article I posted, you'll note that AOL, Yahoo! and Microsoft did spew private information to the ever-more-invasive government.**
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Old 01-23-2006   #7
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Re: U.S. Government Wants Google Search Records

I heard about that, it's total bull. Fucking big brother, George Orwell was right.. except for the time. The other search engines provided SOME information, but it was insufficient, or something. That's what it said in my local paper the other day.
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