From my book, written a year or so ago:
As we move our data to the servers at Amazon.com, Hotmail.com,
Yahoo.com, and Gmail.com, we are making an implicit bargain, one
that the public at large is either entirely content with, or, more likely,
one that most have not taken much to heart.
That bargain is this: we trust you to not do evil things with our
information. We trust that you will keep it secure, free from unlaw-
ful government or private search and seizure, and under our control
at all times. We understand that you might use our data in aggregate
to provide us better and more useful services, but we trust that you
will not identify individuals personally through our data, nor use
our personal data in a manner that would violate our own sense of
privacy and freedom.
That’s a pretty large helping of trust we’re asking companies to
ladle onto their corporate plate. And I’m not sure either we or they
are entirely sure what to do with the implications of such a transfer.
Just thinking about these implications makes a reasonable person’s
From the Mercury News, today:
The Bush administration on Wednesday asked a federal judge to order Google Inc. to turn over a broad range of material from its closely guarded databases.
The move is part of a government effort to revive an Internet child protection law struck down two years ago by the U.S. Supreme Court. The law was meant to punish online pornography sites that make their content inaccessible to minors.
In court papers filed in U.S. District Court in San Jose, Justice Department lawyers revealed that Google has refused to comply with a subpoena issued last year for the records, which include a request for one million random Web addresses and records of all Google searches from any one-week period.
The Mountain View-based search engine opposes releasing the information on a variety of grounds, saying it would violate the privacy rights of its users and reveal company trade secrets, according to court documents.
Nicole Wong, an associate general counsel for Google, said the company will fight the government’s effort “vigorously.”
…The government indicated that other, unspecified search engines have agreed to release the information,but not Google (emphasis mine).
Of course the Bush administration started with the cover of “fighting child porn.” Do you think that’s all they’ve asked for?
Of course not.
Bravo, Google, for fighting this. Don’t give up the fight. It’s not just about this one request. This is a major, major moment. And shame on the other engines for not standing up and fighting.
(And while I’m tossing out kudos, bravo on the two tier Internet stance, as well.)
Update: Philipp has a hilarious send up here – “Patriot Search.”
Update Two: This is an awesome, up to the minute resource, over at SEW, on this story. Xeni at BB is also pursuing the story, and has news that the DOJ got info from MSFT, AOL, and Yahoo. Key detail: So far, no personally identifying info. That, I imagine, is buried in a Patriot Act request.