Sunday, January 22, 2006

Google vs. the US Government

You may have heard about the refusal of Google to turn over search statistics to the US Government, which is demanding the information supposedly as part of an investigation into internet pornography. Already, Yahoo and Microsoft have turned over their stats. The government claims it is only searching out stats to help argue their case for further protections for children on the internet, but I believe this is simply a smokescreen.

Since 9-11, the government has violated privacy laws extensively in the name of National Security. Holding people without charge, searching library records for unusual borrowing habits, tapping phone calls and even questioning what we search for on the internet is increasingly seen as acceptable. This isn't about internet pornography and children - which most everyone would agreee is a serious concern - this is about using fear against the American people.

Uncontrolled access to even more private information of every American citizen is dangerous. In times of crisis, this government has violated the privacy of individuals dissenting from the norm. For forty years, J. Edgar Hoover of the FBI had his agents spy on those in power, from FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt, to Martin Luther King, JFK, and any of the major players in the protest movements of the 1960's. They were all seen as threats for their independent perspectives, or manipulated lest Hoover reveal their personal lives to the public. With today's technology, it is possible to put tens of thousands or even more on a "watch list" simply for political views contrary to those in power. The definition of a "threat" to national security can be changed at will. In fact, both Republicans and Democrats have in the past accused their opponents as being threats to national security.

I applaud Google for recognizing that this is not simply about creating stats about pornography. Would the government then subpeona further information on those searches it deems suspicious in relation to national security?

This is about preventing the creation of an unrestrained, secretive government that will keep us "safe" by creating an atmosphere of fear. If that occurs, freedom of expression disappears.

8 comments:

Stephen said...

I remember the good old days, when you could order "The Anarchist's Cookbook" by mail without any worries. Not long ago I was able to find information about nuclear bombs on the net. My freedoms are being eroded. I trust myself with this information. Why shouldn't I have it?

Rich Samuels said...

If you had read my blog carefully, you would have noted that I am concerned about the political misuse of such searches. Strangely enough, I don't trust the government to do what's right without public oversight. Call me crazy.

Stephen said...

I read through the prism of my own experience and respond accordingly. You got a problem with that?

Jones said...

I think I should run for president.

Jones said...

Oh yeah, you should check out the classic piece of film that I discovered hidden in my archives 50 feet below the ground...

http://blog.myspace.com/onejonestorulethemall

Rich Samuels said...

(Ignoring the off-topic comments)...hmmm it seems to me that looking through a prism would cause distortion....

Stephen said...

I am thoroughly distorted.

Rich Samuels said...

But in a good way.