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DoJ search requests: Yahoo, AOL, MSN said "Yes" 629

d2viant writes "Elaborating on a previous article on Slashdot, it appears that the search engines which complied for Department of Justice requests for logs were apparently AOL, MSN, and Yahoo. According to the article, Justice is not requesting this data in the course of a criminal investigation, but in order to defend its argument that the Child Online Protection Act is constitutionally sound."
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DoJ search requests: Yahoo, AOL, MSN said "Yes"

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  • Sore Thumb (Score:3, Interesting)

    by biocute ( 936687 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @09:32PM (#14515464) Homepage
    Does that make Google the sore thumb now?

    If DoJ is truly interested in porn, especially child porn, will Google surrender all releated searches?
    • Re:Sore Thumb (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Sinryc ( 834433 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @09:34PM (#14515474)
      I hope not. I hate child porn and all that, but that doesn't mean that big brother should be watching everything.
      • HornySpiderV1.0 (Score:4, Insightful)

        by BigBlockMopar ( 191202 ) on Friday January 20, 2006 @02:54AM (#14517172) Homepage

        I hope not. I hate child porn and all that, but that doesn't mean that big brother should be watching everything.

        Agreed.

        But if they're gonna be watching me (I personally like Yahoo for the combination of search and headlines), I can assure them that they're going to get a hell of a show. I'll go so far as to create a spider which hunts for kitty porn ("MmMMMmm... Next we have Fluffy the Persian. She's an 8-year-old who can lick her own ass and likes it when her 30-year-old master rubs her stomach.") and then pipes keywords and sentences from that directly into Yahoo and then uses the search results to find more sites to spider.

        Naturally, being my first real programming project since University, it will be released open-source in case the community happens to have suggestions on how I can improve its efficiency.

        • Re:HornySpiderV1.0 (Score:3, Informative)

          by coofercat ( 719737 )
          Remember that unlike Google (and MSN), Yahoo, AOL and others use 'redirect' links, rather than direct links to sites. As a result, Yahoo, AOL etc track far more than the words you type into a search box because they actually know where you went after that.

          Thus, any such spider should be 'clicking' those redirect links to inflate the stats somewhat ;-)

          Incidentally, if you want a starting point, have a look at http://www.coofercat.com/wiki/EuropeanElectronicSu rveillance [coofercat.com]
      • Re:Sore Thumb (Score:3, Interesting)

        by op12 ( 830015 )
        You should really use The Patriot Search [outer-court.com]. Read their mission for more information: "Instead of letting the government waste tax money by going through complicated procedures to get user and search data from Yahoo, MSN, Ask Jeeves or Google, users of Patriot Search make sure their queries end up right where they belong - in the databases of the government and its various agencies."
    • Re:Sore Thumb (Score:2, Interesting)

      by takeya ( 825259 )
      Hopefully not. Hopefully google will maintain that they are unbiased in their database, but those logs, their formatting, etc, contain valuable trade secrets AND private customer information. Hopefully they can fight it, either until Bush is out of office (which may come sooner than 3 years, it seems...), or until they give up.

      Why not search google for child porn and bust the sites you can find? I doubt that anywhere near 10% of all child porn is on websites, indexed by google. And of that 10% of it, 9% is
    • Re:Sore Thumb (Score:2, Insightful)

      by RedNovember ( 887384 )
      The issue is not about child porn. It is about kids watching porn, which frankly makes a nice excuse.
      • by da5idnetlimit.com ( 410908 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @10:11PM (#14515728) Journal
        "Following the incredible reversal in the "Google vs DoJ" case, the Supreme court confirmed that kids watching porn is all right as long as it is kids porn.

        Sesame Street is the first to react with the DVD (thought lost) title "Frogs'n Sow - Peggy Gets It !"

        On other news, the pope died of a heart attack while watching what he thought were Sesame Streets Re-run, and GW Bush commited seppuku with a preztel on seeing the show.

        Now the Dow-Jones, with the barrel @ 199$, the Emirates decided to buy the US of A..."

        Do I really need to put a "/laugh, it's funny" marker ? 8p
    • not only that (Score:5, Interesting)

      by JeanBaptiste ( 537955 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @09:39PM (#14515508)
      I accidentally found out one day that its possible for not-so-legal images to show up on a google image search. (i was searching for something unrelated which happened to be close to the name of a magazine which isn't so nice. a european publication.) I'd bet a dollar to a doughnut that you could find worse stuff through GIS (images.google.com)

      The thumbnails are stored at a google location.

      Does that mean that Google itself is hosting illegal files?

      • Re:not only that (Score:5, Interesting)

        by irc.goatse.cx troll ( 593289 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @10:18PM (#14515767) Journal
        "Does that mean that Google itself is hosting illegal files?"

        Yep, and so do you in your cache. Whats really fun is a 17 year old with a webcam that doesnt like you and knows you have {autoaccept | web based upload stuff | ftp | whatever}.

        Kiddieporn laws badly need reformed. Why is legal to jerk it to movies of 18 year olds that are late bloomers+made up to look even younger, being simulated-kidnap and raped.. Yet its illegal for your beach vacation pictures to have a 16 year old topless in the background?

        It makes about as much sense as chewbakka living on endor.
        • Re:not only that (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Jeremi ( 14640 ) on Friday January 20, 2006 @12:15AM (#14516514) Homepage
          Yep, and so do you in your cache. Whats really fun is a 17 year old with a webcam that doesnt like you and knows you have {autoaccept | web based upload stuff | ftp | whatever}.


          Hell, it's a lot easier than that. If you have an email account, anyone can make you a criminal by emailing you some kiddie porn and then calling the authorities to report its presence on your computer. Even if you delete it as soon as you realize what it is, you stilled viewed it, you still posessed it, and the incriminating evidence is still on your hard drive...

      • by Weaselmancer ( 533834 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @11:01PM (#14516081)

        A friend of mine is a chef and found out the hard way...do NOT google for a "loose meat sandwich"!!!

    • by skaet ( 841938 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @09:43PM (#14515545) Homepage
      Google has been sued [bloomberg.com] for not releasing the requested information.
    • Re:Sore Thumb (Score:4, Insightful)

      by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @11:01PM (#14516080) Journal
      • Iraq has WMD and we have proof (being that Iraq is trying to procur plutonium in nigeria but disproved by the NSA AND the CIA).
      • The patriot act will only be used against terrorist.
      • We would only operate within the confines of the patriot act.
      • We will balance the budget.
      • We will lower the defict.
      • We only spy on terrorist and only with warrents.
      • I will fire any traitor in the white house (one has been caught, and he quit; more to come).
      • Sibel Edmunds is a security risk (well, at this time, we still do not know.
      • Global warming is not happening.
      • Ok, global warming is occuring, but it is natural and man can not influence it.
      • We will catch OBL.
      • The war in Iraq is over.
      • The war in afghanastan is over.
      • No information was obtained from the airlines.
      • The information from the one airline did not go into TIA.
      Now, trust us that this info will go into protecting children. These are the same "no child left behind" that was not funded.

      Hummmmm.
  • by Quaoar ( 614366 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @09:36PM (#14515482)
    The giraffe video?

    Giraffes. Who couldn't appreciate those long necks? So slender .

    Why confront me? It's obvious.

    She's stalling until the police arrive.

    "Nothing you saw was illegal - in the countries it was filmed. "

    So appropriate [penny-arcade.com].
  • If not in size... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Suhas ( 232056 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @09:36PM (#14515485)
    ....then at least in balls to stand up against , google wins by a tremendously big margin.
  • by CyricZ ( 887944 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @09:36PM (#14515488)
    Time and time again we hear about privacy, freedoms and liberties in the US being restricted in favour of "security". This is just one small example in a field of many. Now I ask a question to all Americans: do you actually feel any safer? If you do, please explain.

    • by starwed ( 735423 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @10:00PM (#14515664)

      While I personally don't like what the US goverment has done in the name of "security" , this has nothing to do with this particular case.

      1. The request wasn't for any personal information. None. There's no association with IP address or individual profiles or anything like that.
      2. Google didn't necessarily turn it down out of privacy concerns (as there really aren't any.) Rather, they just didn't think they should have to worry about gathering the logs...
      • by MP3Chuck ( 652277 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @10:33PM (#14515873) Homepage Journal
        "There's no association with IP address or individual profiles or anything like that."

        Regardless! There is no need for the government to monitor search logs. None. Whether they're aggregated, impersonal, or not.

        It may be simple aggregation now ... but what happens when suddenly search engines need to submit weekly reports? What happens when suddenly the gov't starts saying "Well ... we're going to need the IP's of whoever searched for _____ and ____"??

        Maybe I'm overreacting ... maybe it's just slippery slope hyperbole. But it all seems very unnecessary. Especially when the goal is to revive a law that was alredy struck down as unconstitutional.
    • by jlarocco ( 851450 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @10:18PM (#14515766) Homepage

      I can't speak for anyone else, but with a lot of the stuff the U.S. government is doing lately, I'm more scared of it than I am of any terrorists.

      I would never support a lot of the stuff they're doing, but it would seem a bit more legitimate if they could show any of this stuff was actually having an effect. So far they've cut back our freedom quite a bit, but to my knowledge they haven't prevented a single attack. It reminds me of the Simpsons episode where Lisa tells Homer she has a rock that keeps tigers away.

      • I can't speak for anyone else, but...
        Yeah, you can -- in this case, you can speak for me too.
      • by Red Flayer ( 890720 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @11:49PM (#14516365) Journal
        "I would never support a lot of the stuff they're doing, but it would seem a bit more legitimate if they could show any of this stuff was actually having an effect."

        To me, that's the scary part. Perceived legitimacy means that we'll be saddled with more and more BS like we've been getting.

        I don't want to see effectiveness -- I want to see CLEAR and PRESENT DANGER.

        Until then, get out and stay out, Uncle Sam.
      • It's not just you guys. We have this sort of crap in the UK, too.

        One of my favourite political comments of recent times came from Lord Hoffman, a Law Lord (our highest judicial authority). In the conclusion of a review of our recent "anti-terrorist" legislation, he stated:

        "The real threat to the life of the nation, in the sense of people living in accordance with its traditional laws and political values, comes not from terrorism but from laws like these."

        I take some small comfort in the fact that the

    • by x_man ( 63452 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @10:18PM (#14515769)
      A few weeks ago I submitted an Ask Slashdot question to the editors about creating a Slashdot Political Action Network. My question still shows pending, but maybe this latest outrage is a good time for me to post my idea to the public forum. Here's my idea:

      Why not set up a method in Slasdhot whereby YRO and related articles have a link that allows a registered user to forward his forum comments to his/her appropriate representative(s) in their district? Non-profits are doing this now with great effect. Instead of preaching to the choir, shouldn't our +5 Insightful comments be forwarded to our representatives and news agencies. Can you just imagine the effect we could have by Slashdotting Congress!!!

      A lot of people will say that nobody in Congress reads email, but that's not entirely true. Your opinions are put in For and Against piles and some are even read; I know this from personal experience. By hitting Congress and the news agencies we also generate awareness for many issues that go largely unreported like black box voting, DMCA, and so on.

      So Slashdot editors, how about it?

      X
    • Nope. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Weaselmancer ( 533834 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @11:08PM (#14516131)

      In fact, I feel less safe. WAY less safe. Now I have to worry about all the people in the world who are pissed at me for being an American, the new people in the world who hate me because W has pissed them off, and now I have to worry about my own government spying on me and throwing me in jail if I type something into a search engine that returns something naughty.

      And that can happen without you doing anything wrong. Ever type in a search that returned a few surprises? How about your wireless access point. Are you SURE it can't be hacked? You BETTER be.

    • Devil's Advocate (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jfengel ( 409917 )
      Since everybody else is saying "no", I'll say "yes". I think that Americans feel a lot safer.

      At least, they feel a lot safer than they did on September 12, 2001. Americans were pretty spastic then, and that's why PATRIOT Act I was passed pretty quietly. They were scared. I was scared. It was pretty frickin' scary.

      Today, they feel a lot safer. The follow-up attack that everybody expected never materialized. They're not glued to CNN. They're not kissing their wives perhaps a final good-bye on the way o
    • Yet again I am reminded that a terrorist that originated in a repressive religious fundamentalist oil-rich country engaged in domestic terrorist actions against a secular amoral country, resulting in the emergence of a repressive religious fundamentalsit government siezing power in an oil-dependent country.

      This very same oil-dependent country whose regime currently in power has never brought to justice those persons who engaged in an anthrax attack (domestic WMD attack) against the liberal press and libera
  • by bcarl314 ( 804900 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @09:37PM (#14515492)
    Is there a reason that the DoJ needs information from all of the search engines? At some point, can't we make a statistical comparison and say that since x% of results in AOL / MSN / Yahoo were for this subject, that google most likely is in the same area?

    I mean are the users of google search that much different than AOL / MSN / Yahoo???

    Does the DoJ need a complete analysis? If so, let's hand this over to the US Census bureau.
    • by dark_requiem ( 806308 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @10:26PM (#14515821)
      You miss the point entirely. First of all, the US Census bureau is constitutionally entitled to collect statistical information regarding the number of people in each state. It has no authority to collect any other data, and regardless of what any court might rule, without an ammendment, the constitution does not authorize it to collect any other data. For those unfamiliar, the constitution actually states that the federal government may not perform any functions not specifically granted to it by the constitution, not that any government agency actually obeys the constitution. A perfect example of how the political state naturally devolves to restrictive tyranny, regardless of it's founders' intent.

      That is, of course, entirely beside the point. Constitutional restrictions on the government, both state and federal, were put in place because government powers, no matter how seemingly innocuous they appear to the general public (such as, for example, demanding search logs from a private enterprise), are prone to abuse to the point that, in the long run, abuse is the rule rather than the exception. That is specifically why the federal government was so severely restricted when it was actually bound by the constitution (no government can be restricted to respecting civil liberties in the long run, as all forms of government are subject to corruption, but that is an entirely different discussion).
  • This isn't news! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by syousef ( 465911 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @09:37PM (#14515493) Journal
    People. Get a grip. Most companies will comply with government subponeas. Don't get your hopes too high that Google will hold it's ground either. In fact I think they're playing with fire.

    The ONLY way to protect against this sort of information being used by law enforcement is to never collect it in the first place. Only collect statistical obfuscated data and you won't have these problems - how valid and accurate your statistics based on aggregate data will be is another matter though.
    • by interiot ( 50685 )
      The ONLY OTHER way is to comply, then go tell a newspaper right away. That is, if you can find any actual honest-to-god journalists hanging around anymore these days.

      People. Get a grip.

      The grip-losing isn't about primarily about companies... if George Bush knocked on my door and demanded something, I don't think anybody would hold it against me if I gave him what he wanted. The issue is still the knocking on the door and demanding stuff, that should never have happened.
    • Most companies will comply in a criminal investigation, as they should. This is different; this is the Justice Department abusing the court system to push their agenda. Google stands a good chance of winning this one; even if they don't it's still a huge PR win for them.
    • Well, I tend to disagree with you. Simply rolling over and playing dead for the DoJ is hardly the answer. I will give Google credit for sticking to its guns for the moment. Google is taking the correct stance, which is to say "nope, we aren't in the business of serving as a political tool, and if you want access to our files you'd better have a damned good reason." Lawfully issued subpoenas for the purpose of investigating specific crimes are one thing, raiding a corporate database en-masse because you want
  • IANAL, but... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ScaryMonkey ( 886119 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @09:38PM (#14515500)
    Aren't subpoenas supposed to be reserved for matters where there is some kind of trial involved? Surely the government can't just subpoena information for research purposes.
    • Re:IANAL, but... (Score:3, Informative)

      by ari_j ( 90255 )
      For an article on "administrative subpoenas," see here [cdt.org] (linked to from here [wikipedia.org]). I have not read the entire article, so I don't know if it's biased or not in its facts, but it does discuss some situations in which there doesn't need to be a trial to have subpoenas.
    • Re:IANAL, but... (Score:5, Informative)

      by plantman-the-womb-st ( 776722 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @09:53PM (#14515625)
      I work for an attorney, though I myself am not a lawyer, and our firm handles what are know as section 1983 cases. Section 1983 deals with police misconduct. One of our current endeavors (pardon the the lack of details, too much info would reveal the client) involves a person who had an arrest warrant issued on them as part of a civil case. Such an issuing is illegal. There was a case pending but, given that it was civil and not criminal an arrest warrant being issued became grounds for liability on the part of the county the warrant was issued from. That being known, I would think (this is in no way to be taken as legal advise) that issuing a subpoena when no case is pending would be a gross violation of the 4th Amendment which states:

      The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

      So, in this case I would think Google has a good leg to stand on. They are being asked to hand over information with no probable cause.

      But I guess it's up to the courts to decide.
  • Scariest part (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Teppy ( 105859 ) * on Thursday January 19, 2006 @09:38PM (#14515501) Homepage
    Why would MSN, Yahoo, and AOL be so eager to cooperate? I can't believe that these corporations care one way or the other about people viewing porn. So what is it? Are they hoping that by cooperating they get some special favors later, or do they fear recrimination by the Bush administration if they refuse?
  • by Bananatree3 ( 872975 ) * on Thursday January 19, 2006 @09:38PM (#14515504)
    It is interesting how many of the other search engines outside of google bowed down to this. The reason for the search engine logs seems quite shady to me, and seems like a ruse just to get access for some other purpose. I have a feeling Google probaby detected this and has decided that the intent of the log request is much deeper and shadier than it looks.
    • by dark_requiem ( 806308 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @10:47PM (#14515983)
      Never underestimate the willingness of supposedly private enterprises to roll over and lap up potential political favors. Google need not have detected any deep, hidden conspiracy (the dangers of massive personal information databases in the hands of a political agency, and especially a political agency whose rulers change regularly, should be readily apparent). The other search engines quite possibly (and quite probably) rolled over in the hopes of obtaining future favorable political actions.
  • Useless information (Score:4, Interesting)

    by StringBlade ( 557322 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @09:40PM (#14515521) Journal
    The article makes the good point that all this data collecting is really useless. So the government finds out that millions of searches for porn takes place every 10 minutes. All that really says is that the porn industry is alive and well.

    Unless they're planning on using this data to push anti-porn decency laws (which would be an abuse of power to say the least) the data doesn't suggest in the slightest the context in which the searches were made.

    It's also unclear as to whether or not they were after information about percent of porn results in a non-porn search (for example: "breast cancer" as two unquoted words) or just the searches explicitly for porn or child pornography. What about people researching child pornography for a class? It's all so useless that this entire exercise is a waste of money and time at every level.
    • by CyricZ ( 887944 )
      It's all so useless that this entire exercise is a waste of money and time at every level.

      Indeed. This is a point that true conservatives should pick up on. I'm not talking about Republican conservatives, of course. I'm talking about the truly patriotic conservatives, who love America with all of their heart. They're the kind of people who have a true respect for responsibility, especially fiscal responsibility.

      As unlikely as it may sound now, it may be time for those true conservatives to realize that thei
    • by Cattywampus ( 19657 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @10:29PM (#14515842)
      Unless they're planning on using this data to push anti-porn decency laws (which would be an abuse of power to say the least)...

      From the Google has been sued [bloomberg.com] link in a previous comment [slashdot.org]:

      "A motion to compel compliance with a subpoena, filed yesterday in federal court in San Jose, California, said the government seeks the data to enforce the Child Online Protection Act, designed to protect minors from pornography."

      The Feds are not after this data in the matter of a criminal case. They are not after the data because they want to know how many people are searching for porn. They're after the data because they want to use it to bolster their case for the Child Online Protection Act [wikipedia.org], an act which is a thinly veiled attempt to push anti-porn decency laws.

      So, yeah, you might want to think of it as an abuse of power. Whether it's a legitimate abuse of power or not will probably become a matter for the courts very soon.
  • Big Brother (Score:5, Insightful)

    by br00tus ( 528477 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @09:43PM (#14515541)
    First we hear about how the NSA is tapping into Americans talking with people overseas, and now the government wants to see what we're searching for on Google. I see so many articles on Slashdot about what the Chinese government is doing (which of course they shouldn't be doing), but how about what the US government is doing?

    And if we go back a few years, we can see all of this COINTELPRO data wasn't to stop foreigners, or even people doing illegal things, but to harrass people like Martin Luther King, or breakins to the Watergate hotel to bug the Democrats. Not like the Democrats have rolled this stuff back when they got into office, Clinton's staff was over-requesting FBI files of people during "filegate".

    And we're told it's because of the "War on Terror", which is a war which they never say when it will end. It reminds me of Orwell's 1984, when the government is in a state of permanent war, or war preparation anyhow. I may be older than some Slashdotters, but when I grew up I was told the US only had foreign military bases because of the USSR, and if they weren't targets of attack by Moscow, we wouldn't have them there. A decade and a half after the fall of the Berlin wall, I'm now told we are in a new state of permanent war - the cold war has become the war on terror. American military bases still circle the globe - in fact they've expanded, especially in countries south of Russia and west of China. The Russians used to say America had bases all over the world not because of Russia, but because of American imperialism. I was always told this was false, the bases were there because of the possibility of Russian attack. A decade and a half later, what the Russians used to say rings truer than what the US used to say. In fact, the government has now changed its story, and wants us to forget they used to say that, and have us all concentrate on their new permanent war.

    • Re:Big Brother (Score:5, Interesting)

      by cDarwin ( 161053 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @11:27PM (#14516245) Homepage

      You know what I'm starting to think more and more?

      Fuck this!

      • Increasing intrusion into my privacy
      • An $8 trillion federal debt due to insane tax cuts without offsets ($27,447.62 per American, at this moment)
      • Suspension of habeus corpus whenever they feel like it
      • A promise of war without end
      • A farcical "No child left behind" policy that produces armies of highschool graduates who can't write a five paragraph form essay, or do basic algebra
      • Et cetera, et cetera

      The Republic I grew up loving is on life support, at best.

      Is this really worth sticking around for? I didn't create all of these problems. Why should I pick up the tab? Plenty of very nice countries would love to have me (and my skills) and my wife (and her skills) and our kids (they can write essays and do math.) I'm keeping my passport current. If a majority of the American people are crazy and stupid enough to keep these nutjobs in power in November, I may just take my marbles and move on.

      • The Republic I grew up loving is on life support, at best.

        I think the Republic you thought you grew up loving was an illusion. Today, the US government probably has fewer ways of getting away with screwing you, screwing other nations, or restricting your speech than ever before. That doesn't keep them from trying, but that's what governments always do--it's part of the package. Furthermore, you have more ready access to education and information and more social mobility than ever before.

        The debt is real,
  • by globaljustin ( 574257 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @09:43PM (#14515548) Journal
    The COPA is a bad law. Bad in the sense that it is not doing what it truly seeks to do: curb child exploitation on the internet.

    The DOJ is trying to go after child pornographers, but they are making laws for service providers.

    This discrepancy is typical of old-school thinking. Stop the profitablility of such activity by going after the people making money in the process, but, especially on the internet, this only servers to inhibit legal providers of porn.
  • by NullProg ( 70833 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @09:51PM (#14515610) Homepage Journal
    Quotes from the article here: http://news.com.com/Feds+take+porn+fight+to+Google /2100-1030_3-6028701.html?tag=nefd.lede [com.com]

    AOL response...

    AOL spokesman Andrew Weinstein confirmed that the company received a subpoena from the DOJ but said the information from the ACLU was not accurate.
    "We did not and would not comply with such a subpoena. We gave (the DOJ) a generic list of aggregate and anonymous search terms, and not results, from a roughly one day period. There were absolutely no privacy implications," Weinstein said. "There was no way to tie those search terms to individuals or to search results." He declined to elaborate.


    Yahoo response...

    Yahoo acknowledged on Thursday that it complied with the Justice Department's request but said no personally identifiable information was handed over. "We are vigorous defenders of our users' privacy," said Yahoo spokeswoman Mary Osako. "We did not provide any personal information in response to the Justice Department's subpoena. In our opinion this is not a privacy issue."

    MSN response.... ?????

    Please don't let the details hit you in the ass in reguards to AOL/Yahoo.
    Enjoy,
    • by afree87 ( 102803 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @10:37PM (#14515906) Journal
      MSN response (from the same article):

      A Microsoft representative said: "MSN works closely with law enforcement officials worldwide to assist them when requested....It is our policy to respond to legal requests in a very responsive and timely manner, in full compliance with applicable law." The company would not confirm or deny whether it complied with the Justice Department's subpoena.

    • by dark_requiem ( 806308 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @10:56PM (#14516038)
      Suppose they really did not provide any personally identifiable information. There is still the fact that the government has the clout to demand information from some of the nation's largest companies and they are willing to provide it without a warrant or a fight. It sets a very bad precident. Powers the government may use are powers that it may abuse.
    • by geekotourist ( 80163 ) on Friday January 20, 2006 @12:58AM (#14516740) Journal
      I question this assumption by Yahoo, AOL, etc. that search terms, by themselves, have no privacy considerations because they've been separated from personal info. What if the search itself contains personal information? Are the search companies deleting the timestamps and randomizing the order of the search terms themselves? Because otherwise I could see personal info showing up:
      • Alice.Geekotourist and cryptography (searching for a relative's paper)
      • Geekotourist 212 (then their phone number and address)
      • Model.rocket.supplies near 742.Evergreen.Terrace, Springfield (buying hobby supplies)
      • postal.regulations rockets (learning why I can't buy model rocket engines )

      So now a block of searches associates the name Geekotourist with rockets and with one or two addresses. Does this affect my privacy if these searches are clumped together?

      Did Yahoo/AOL include any white pages or yellow pages searches while doing the government's homework? Does the government expect Google to keep all Google Local searches out of the "1 week of searches"? The white page and local style searches leak personal info like mad.

      Or what if a search was designed to check on one's personal privacy, for example:

      • Geekotourist and Bob.Aliceson (checking to see if anyone has linked "Geekotourist" with the nickname "Bob.Aliceson)
      • Geekotourist and 212.313.4114 (seeing if my old phone number is linked to me)
      • Geekotourist and bobalice@yahoo.com (seeing if I'm connected with an old email address or to a blog, say)

      And while Y/AHOOL didn't provide "the results of the searches" to the gov't, I assume the gov't will be re-running them. The searches 'Cameras near 742 Evergreen Terrace' combined with 'photographing children' may have just been me helping with photos at a birthday party or finding a portrait studio. But its going to be analyzed by people who think 15-degrees-of-separation is a reasonable search.

      From the prescient (and unfortunately being used as an anti-guidebook) best essay this century on Why Privacy is a Fundamental Human Right [privcom.gc.ca] [just substitute 'Porn' for 'September 11' as the excuse the gov't gives, it comes out the same]:

      "But though we tend to take it for granted, privacy - the right to control access to ourselves and to personal information about us - is at the very core of our lives. It is a fundamental human right precisely because it is an innate human need, an essential condition of our freedom, our dignity and our sense of well-being.

      "If someone intrudes on our privacy - by peering into our home, going through the personal things in our office desk, reading over our shoulder on a bus or airplane, or eavesdropping on our conversation - we feel uncomfortable, even violated.

      "Imagine, then, how we will feel if it becomes routine for bureaucrats, police officers and other agents of the state to paw through all the details of our lives: where and when we travel, and with whom; who are the friends and acquaintances with whom we have telephone conversations or e-mail correspondence; what we are interested in reading or researching; where we like to go and what we like to do.

      "If we allow the state to sweep away the normal walls of privacy that protect the details of our lives, we will consign ourselves psychologically to living in a fishbowl. Even if we suffered no other specific harm as a result, that alone would profoundly change how we feel. Anyone who has lived in a totalitarian society can attest that what often felt most oppressive was precisely the lack of privacy.

      But there also will be tangible, specific harm.

      "The more information government compiles about us, the more of it will be wrong. That's simply a fact of life.

      "...But if our privacy becomes ever more systematically invaded by the state for purposes of assessing our behavior and making judgments about us, wrong information and

  • by Feanturi ( 99866 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @10:05PM (#14515690)
    I'm not getting it. How do random anonymous search results of any kind assist in determining whether something is constitutionally sound? I take it that they want to make sure the Act is not trampling on anybody's constitutional rights, correct? I'm trying to imagine what you could possibly learn with regards to that, from search results. You can see percentages of people searching for particular things and what they wind up getting as a result. Ok, so you know roughly what random people of unknown ages are searching for, and you have a rough idea of where they might choose to land. I can't find the link to constitutional issues here, so I just have to say: wtf?
    • by Jeremi ( 14640 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @11:48PM (#14516360) Homepage
      I can't find the link to constitutional issues here, so I just have to say: wtf?


      Apparently the better Google is at filtering out porn from search results that didn't request porn, the more constitutional rights we have.


      (That was a bit tongue-in-cheek, but I think it is essentially the argument that the DoJ wants to use: if they can show evidence that the Internet is more like, say, broadcast TV, in that anything broadcast goes to everyone, then they will have a better chance of being able to censor the Internet than if the Internet is shown to be more like a collection of bookstores, where the only people who see porn are those who actively look for porn. Personally, I don't think they have a case on those grounds, but you never know)

  • I hate children. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jackie_Chan_Fan ( 730745 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @10:12PM (#14515732)
    I really hate children. The war against adulthood has forced me to make a choice, and that is... I hate children. More importantly... I hate the parents of children who think they have any more right than the rest of us.

    Ok, I dont really hate children, but you can see my frustration with this and the arguement "its for the good of the children"

    People dont even use the V-chip, and those same people will lobby our government with hopes of ridding the planet of porn.

    Microsoft and Apple should just build in a complete censorship layer into their OS that can be attributed to a certain user level account.

    That way if your child searches breast... and finds a sweet pair of titties... its your own dam fault and not googles.
    • by MP3Chuck ( 652277 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @10:39PM (#14515918) Homepage Journal
      OR ... they could not build a complete censorship layer into their OS. And if your child searches 'breast" ... and finds a sweet pair of titties ... it's your own damn fault for not monitoring their internet usage, not Google's. ;)
    • Re:I hate children. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Julian Morrison ( 5575 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @11:30PM (#14516260)
      "if your child searches breast... and finds a sweet pair of titties" - it's liable to make him think "milk please".

      Seriously, the people panicking over sex aren't the kids. They could see it, snicker at how gross and icky it all is, and oh my god that's sure to give him cooties, eww - but at the end of the day they probably care a whole lot more about football. It's the adults who are going nuts here. Or at least, people who ought to be adults.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 19, 2006 @10:12PM (#14515734)
    Anyone who voted Republicrat or Democan, shut up and go sit on the sidelines.

    You've already demonstrated that you want an intrusive, activist government, you have no room to complain now. You ASKED FOR THIS.

    ______________________________________
    A vote against a Libertarian candidate is
    a vote to abolish the Constitution itself
  • About time! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gentlemen_loser ( 817960 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @10:26PM (#14515820) Homepage
    To be honest - I've been skeptical about Google for some time. I was not sure how I felt about a company who's sole purpose in life was to perform the same services as Yahoo! but market it as "not evil". Sucessfully so, I might add. I honestly doubted their "Don't be evil" mission.

    After reading up about the other companies quietly folding under White House pressure, I am honestly relieved to see SOMEONE finally standing up for the rights of our citizens. Rights are NEVER erroded all at once. The day will never come when we wake up and the amendment about free speech is removed from the Consitution. The day WILL come, however, when we wake up and the free speech amendment means nothing because several iterations of the "Patriot Act" have erroded what it really means.

    People in this country need to seriously wake the fuck up. We've been through several iterations of errosion of our rights under this white house. Allow me to sum up: 1) Plame's identity leaked (treason according to the law - I eagerly await the hangings), 2) The Patriot Act (need I say more?), 3) CIA spying on US citizens (notice how quickly W. moved on catching the traitors that leaked that), and 4) This request for search records. The day is rapidly approaching when we wake up and our rights will not mean anything ALL IN THE NAME OF PROTECTING US FROM [insert irrational fear here].

    Today, I for one, take my hat off to Google. At the least, even if they are required to acquiese in the end, it garned media attention on the shifty White House request. It will be a long time before I doubt "Don't be evil." again.
    • by cazbar ( 582875 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @10:59PM (#14516059)
      "The day is rapidly approaching when we wake up and our rights will not mean anything ALL IN THE NAME OF PROTECTING US FROM [insert irrational fear here]."

      Rapidly approaching? I thought that day was a couple years ago.

    • Re:About time! (Score:3, Insightful)

      The day is rapidly approaching when we wake up and our rights will not mean anything ALL IN THE NAME OF PROTECTING US FROM [insert irrational fear here].

      When you will people educate yourselves that there is a very strong republican voting block that:

      a) Are agnostic/atheist.
      b) Believe very strongly in personal freedom and privacy.

      Our rights will never be restricted beyond reason because this voting block (libertarians mainly), will not stand for it. The US still has virtually unlimited freed
  • Ummm...right. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kythe ( 4779 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @10:28PM (#14515834)
    Justice is not requesting this data in the course of a criminal investigation, but in order to defend its argument that the Child Online Protection Act is constitutionally sound."

    Sure they aren't. And NSA is only wiretapping terrorists.
  • by tlambert ( 566799 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @10:40PM (#14515930)
    I think Google should comply with the request... ...by running it through something like CAPTCHA and providing the information as hard copy.

    -- Terry
  • by guruevi ( 827432 ) <evi AT evcircuits DOT com> on Thursday January 19, 2006 @10:56PM (#14516039) Homepage
    Do you really think that real child pornographers are going to look for things through Google without any kind of redirection?

    What do they think, that we criminals are stupid? Anyone heard of proxies, remembering/bookmarking URL's, non-USA search engines?

    This is really a stupid thing going on. This government and laws passing in the "great" United States of America makes me remember of the witchhunt for "communists" about 50y ago. It's happening all over again but now you just have to accuse that neighbour you don't like of filesharing, terrorism or kiddie-porn-searches. And anyone remembers those commies from half a decade ago? No, media, government and agency's are all trying to cover it up as if it never happened or that 'it wasn't that bad'.
  • by blair1q ( 305137 ) on Friday January 20, 2006 @12:19AM (#14516534) Journal
    These search engines have no right and no compulsion to turn over any customer data, anonymous or otherwise, in response to politically motivated fishing expeditions.
  • by kozumik ( 946298 ) on Friday January 20, 2006 @07:39AM (#14518034)
    I think people are misunderstanding the whole nature of this law and the controversy around it. It's NOT about child porn.

    The purpose of this law is to increase censorship on all porn, even legal porn, and it's driven by the Christian Right Wing, supposedly to protect children from viewing it.

    That's why it's initially a 1st amendment issue (freedom of speech) which is now becoming a 4th amendment issue (unreasonable search and seizures) as the admin asks for private records. But make no mistake, the dispute is not a "child porn" issue, it's a censorship issue, supposedly to protect children. Big difference.

    Child porn is already aggressively investigated by the DOJ, and it's an entirely separate thing. In those investigations, the DOJ has no trouble getting warrants which all the major companies including Google are happy to comply with to catch child pornographers.

    It's also a pretty sneaky move by the admin, because obviously nobody likes the words "child" and "porn" anywhere near each other, which distorts and misrepresents the whole issue. So to anyone who took the bait, congrats, you've been had by the Bush admin and their clever spinners.

    =P
  • by digitalgimpus ( 468277 ) on Friday January 20, 2006 @10:29AM (#14518990) Homepage
    I propose [accettura.com] we all start querying search engines for the following phrase in an attempt to skew search results a bit:

    George Bush Rapes America Porn


    The following are quick links for each popular search engine to perform the search:
    Google [google.com]
    Yahoo [yahoo.com]
    MSN [msn.com]
    AOL [aol.com]

    If a lot of people did it every day, it would eventually skew popular queries, and send a little message, should Google loose the fight.

    It's on my blog already. If a ton of people do the same, and get a big campaign going, it could be interesting.

Everything that can be invented has been invented. -- Charles Duell, Director of U.S. Patent Office, 1899

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