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Dustin LindenSmith

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Should Search Engines Hand Over Data to the Feds?

I just read about this in a blog entry on PC World's Techlog, which is maintained by a technology journalist named Harry McCracken (originally I wondered if that was a pseudonym -- it sounds like a joke, like Phil McCracken). This Google News search shows articles pertaining to a request by the US Dept of Justice for aggregated search data (specifically, search terms requested and resultant URLs) from the major search engines. Google has denied their request, which I think in general is a good thing.

In his blog entry, McCracken raises a few questions about this DoJ request, most notably for me being whether or not this puts the government on a slippery slope whereby eventually they'll ask for identifiable data to link up certain of these search terms to private citizens. I think it's a valid question, particularly since the Executive Branch has been so awfully untrustworthy when it comes to the regular privacy of ordinary, unsuspecting (and unsuspected) citizens (read Bush eavesdropping).

Probably due to my being in the Atlantic Time Zone (i.e. 1 hour earlier than Eastern), I happened to sneak into the very first comment position on the blog entry. Once again, the link to the McCracken entry is here, and my comment is below:
Posted by Dustin on Friday, January 20, 2006, 04:48 AM (PST)

Re: "...the U.S. is a country where it's not a given that the government gets access to any information it wants, no questions asked."

You MUST be joking. If Bush already feels that he has the right to eavesdrop with impunity on private citizens who are not under any suspicion of terrorist activity, why on Earth wouldn't he feel entitled to gain access to whatever information he wants, no questions asked?