January 20, 2006
If Google Caves, I'm Going Up the River
Posted by Christine Hurt

Jail_1 This week, the privacy wonks are talking about the DOJ subpoenaing Google for information on searchers and searches in an effort to enforce the Child Online Protection Act.  (Dan Solove here, and keep scrolling downward; I've only been paying half attention because (1) it's not my area of expertise and (2) I'm not a child pornographer.  But this morning I realized that if Google coughs up the info, then I may be on that list!

According to the language of the subpoena (that Dan links to, so I won't re-link here), the DOJ wants a random sample of one million searches from one week between June 1 and July 31 of last year.  Gulp.  As readers may recall, I was doing a fair amount of research on illegal internet gambling at that time.  I found many sites using the Google search engine.  Wait.  It gets worse.  To combat an argument that having gambling via internet in the home is harmful to children, I needed to do a fair bit of research on pornographic sites -- what could a child find online before having to use a credit card or other payment mechanism.  Let me tell you, you can see anything you want.  I also wanted to see what legal pornography is available, so I went to sites I assume are legal, such as Playboy, etc.  In the name of research.  Research, people!

And you don't even want to know what I checked out from the Whitefish Bay Public Library.  But I guess the DOJ will.  It's just a matter of time now.

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