Thursday, January 19, 2006

feds demand google info

Google is refusing to comply with a friendly request from the de facto Bush Administration to provide scads of data on web sites and search queries. So Advocate for Torturers Alberto Gonzales has asked a federal judge for an order to force Google to hand over what the feds want to see.

The feds aren't asking for much. They merely want Google to cough up a list of all search requests made in a week (any week, apparently, the feds aren't too picky); that would be millions of queries. And they want one million (such a nice round number) randomly-selected websites from Google's databases.

The reason? The feds say they need this information to build a case for getting reinstated a law struck down by the Supreme Court, a law that was supposed to protect children on-line. In a separate case in Pennsylvania, the feds are trying to prove that internet filters don't adequately protect our children from seeing porn and other "objectionable material" (not further defined, probably includes democrats.org or aclu.org).

Wow, this is such a nifty idea on so many levels. First is the specter of censorship. That is clearly one aim of the Bushies. Hey, I agree completely that there are sites that children shouldn't go to. But it's ironic that a White House which bullshits us about keeping the government out of our lives, trusting the free markets, and espousing personal responsibility will when the mood strikes them, instantly strike a nanny-state pose to protect us (and our kids) from things because we simply don't know well enough to protect ourselves. You know, the way the de facto Administration is trying to protect terminally ill, pain-wracked, mentally competent adults in Oregon from getting drugs to end their lives of suffering a little bit earlier.

Butt out -- it is a PARENT'S responsibility to know what their kids are doing on-line, exactly as they should know where their kids are at 11:00, or who their kids hang out with on the weekend or after school. Or maybe the Administration would like to appoint personal nannies to every American child to make sure they aren't exposed to offensive materials in other parts of the life - you know, to make sure they don't watch Fox News or other obscene material.

It's an absurd fishing expedition. Google shouldn't have to help the Administration develop its case -- it's up to the Administration to prove its point about the allegedly unsafe internet environment for our poor little youngsters. This whole exercise is on one level clear pandering to the theocratic wing of the Republican Party, easily offended by sites like this and almost anything else that doesn't comport with their narrow worldview.

But on another level it is part and parcel of this regime's growing assertion of authoritarian powers. They are demanding this information -- and apparently Yahoo! and MSN have already handed over data to the feds. They say it is to protect kids, but once they have this mass of data in their hot and sweaty little hands, what is to stop them from looking for OTHER non-related things????

This is an Administration that has lied to us for over four years about its illegal, unwarranted domestic surveillance program. This is an Administration that refuses to admit it condones and encourages torture, while reserving the right to practice torture even as the Torturer-in-Chief signs the McCain Bill banning such practices. This is an Administration that was overtly setting up the Total Information Awareness project before publicity got too bad. This is an Administration that has already asserted essentially unlimited powers for its Commander-in-Chief based on the idea that we are at war, and during wartime anything the President says, goes.

With all this information available to them, do you think they will resist the temptation to heavily mine this data to see what else they can turn up? If you do, your naivety is touching.