Thursday, January 26, 2006

Re: [interarchive] Government v. Google?

Christiane Paul on Wednesday, January 25, 2006 at 9:16 AM -0500 wrote:
>They are gathering enormous amounts of data but don't have a system in place that is capable of processing this information (which doesn't mean that this system won't be developed sooner or later). My guess would be that "an archive of all Internet
>activities" would be a similar data dumpster.
Christiane's argument is supported by a story in today's NYTimes that claims privacy isn't the reason Google resisted the Justice Department's demand after all:

'In its only extended discussion of its reasons for fighting the subpoena, a Google lawyer told the Justice Department in October that complying would be bad for business. "Google objects," the lawyer, Ashok Ramani, wrote, "because to comply with
the request could endanger its crown-jewel trade secrets." '

It would seem that the Bush administration was simply planning a statistical analysis on search data to disprove the effectiveness of anti-porn filters. (They could have saved a lot of trouble and just asked my 8-year-old.) Apparently Internet
companies almost never wear the sort of white hat netizens have been attributing to Google:

'According to a 2004 decision of a federal court in Virginia, America Online alone responds to about 1,000 criminal warrants each month. AOL, Google and other Internet companies also receive subpoenas in divorce, libel, fraud and other types of
civil cases. With limited exceptions, they are required by law to comply....Google tried to notify users so they could object in court before the company turned over information about them. But the law forbids such notification in some criminal

Still, I don't regret the calls I made to my senators yesterday. Even if the Google case isn't quite what it seems, it has made the average citizen a bit more conscious of how the Internet turns her thought patterns into someone else's
assets--whether that someone works for the government or Google.


Monday, January 23, 2006

Re: [interarchive] Government v. Google?

Actually, my point was less about the need to support Google than the fact that their central database made them vulnerable, whereas a distributed system (such as a peer-to-peer publishing network) is harder to mine for private info, whether by
spammers or the government. Consider for example the Electronic Frontier Foundation's reaction:

'While EFF applauds Google for defending its users' privacy in this case, the current controversy only highlights the broader privacy problem: Google logs all of the searches you make, and most if not all of those queries are personally identifiable
via cookies, IP addresses, and Google account information.

'"The only way Google can reasonably protect the privacy of its users from such legal demands now and in the future is to stop collecting so much information about its users, delete information that it does collect as soon as possible, and take real
steps to minimize how much of the information it collects is traceable back to individual Google users," said EFF Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston. "If Google continues to gather and keep so much information about its users, government and private
attorneys will continue to try and get it."

'Importantly, users can also take steps to protect their privacy from Google, the government, and others, by using anonymizing technologies such as Tor when surfing the web. Tor helps hide your IP address from Google so that even if the lawyers come
knocking, Google cannot identify you by your searches.'

More about Tor:

That said, Google does deserve support for this (somewhat uncharacteristic) concern about privacy, especially given that Yahoo (and probably MSN) caved and didn't tell anyone:

One unscientific poll suggests overwhelming support for Google's stance among the public:

You can go ahead and contribute to that poll, or better yet, if you're American, contact your local senators and representatives to affirm your support for the basic freedoms that the Bush administration is trying to undermine. I'm calling mine

jon on Monday, January 23, 2006 at 4:35 PM -0500 wrote:
>Genco Gulan wrote:
>> Dear Jon, Is there a way to support google and our rights?

Government v. Google: an argument for distributed publication?

Stuart Udell's preface to recent news about the US demand that Google turn over its search records speaks to the political risks of centralized databases--jon

----- Original Message -----
Friday, January 20, 2006 7:20:43 AM
Subject: <nettime> US gov demands Google search records

[The lesson here is simple. Anytime someone builds a database, they
are creating an object which is coveted by criminals/government. It
seems to me the best thing to do, from a developer/administrator
standpoint, is to avoid making them - and from a user's perspective,
avoid using big, popular, juicy databases... if you have to, then try
and be a dog named Joe who lives in Estonia at the time. Stand by
for a resurgence in interest in chained proxies. Waiting for an HTTP
proxy in some popular P2P clients, with crypto. See also: - Stu]

US gov demands Google search records
Fishing expedition

By Andrew Orlowski in San Francisco
Published Thursday 19th January 2006 19:17 GMT

The US Department of Justice has taken Google to court, demanding it
hand over all searches made in a one week period. It's a fishing
expedition, unconnected with any ongoing criminal prosecution. The
DOJ wants the information to back up its attempt to revive an anti-
pornography law derailed by the Supreme Court two years ago....

Stuart Udall