"No matter how paranoid or conspiracy-minded you are, what the government is actually doing is worse than you imagine." - - - William Blum

March 14, 2006

John Paczkowski, writing for Good Morning Silicon Valley, sounds the alarm about the Bush-war Administration strong-arming Google for private records:

The gravest danger our nation faces lies at the crossroads of pornography and technology: weapons of mass distraction

Our right to privacy and the government's propensity for overbroad investigations were the subject of considerable debate earlier today when attorneys for Google and the Department of Justice clashed over the government`s demands for access to the company's search requests.... After a few hours argument the court said it intends to force Google to cough up some data, a victory that will no doubt whet the government's appetite for more of the same.

And that's a frightening thought. Because the administration's rationale for making such demands isn't exactly rock solid. It argues that the information it has requested, which includes 1 million random Web addresses and records of all Google searches from a one-week period, is essential to its upcoming defense of the constitutionality of the Child Online Protection Act, a federal law designed to keep children from sexually explicit content on the Internet.... Only by analyzing such data, argues the DOJ, can the government learn how often random searches turn up pornography.

But is it really statistically accurate to surmise minors' access to raunchy content by analyzing the aggregate behavior of adults who are exercising adult intentions and adult rights? Doesn't seem like it. And isn't the administration really demanding this information to further its own political agenda, trying to prop up legislation that has already been identified as faulty?

Remember, in June of 2004, the U.S. Supreme Court found that COPA likely violates the First Amendment right to free speech. Writing for the majority, which sent the law back to a lower court for review, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote, "There is a potential for extraordinary harm and a serious chill upon protected speech [if the law were to take effect.]" There's a lot more at stake here than just our privacy, folks. Let's hope we come up with a way to get some salt on this icy slope.

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