OK, so this is not exactly what I had in mind when I decided to put information on this blog, but I wanted to talk about this news story.
This is for all those 'paranoid' conspiracy theorists out there who swear that Google is an evil company. (See this>Evil Google) This news story would seem to fly in the face of what these people are saying. Why is it just a 'google' watch site? Yahoo seems to have complied with the government's request without question. The government asks, and Yahoo delivers. Google, on the other hand did not comply, and is continuing to refuse the request. I guess Google really does live up to their Do No Evil mantra.
Now, onto the actual request itself. I think I'm on the fence with this one. What exactly is the government going to do with one week's worth of searches? If all of the personal information is stripped off, then what good is the information? Couldn't the government just check the zeitgeist to see what people are searching? Think about it for a minute, a week's worth of searches could amount to 1.75 Trillion pieces of information (according to the searches per day number here). What good will it do if no one's name is tied to the information? Maybe I am being naive, but am I missing something? Also, I have always operated under the assumption that if I am not doing anything wrong, what does it matter if someone knows. Ok, that is definitely simplifying the matter too much, but you get the point. A look at my recent Google searches yields the following:
- Zeitgeist (for this posting)
- Red Hat Society (overheard someone in the office ask if someone was a member, and I wanted to know what it was)
- How do I get phone service in Orlando, FL (curious who the local provider in Orlando is)
- Mitchell, South Dakota (a trivia question answer)
- USB Drives (looking for good deals on imprinted flash drives for a work-related give away)
- Fisher Space Pen (I lost mine, and wanted to get another one. It's a great pen.)
- Golfwits.com (received an e-mail and wasn't sure if that was the site name)
- Sandusky, Ohio (couldn't remember the name of Cedar Point Amusement Park, but I knew where it was)
You get the point. I would be willing to guess that 99% of people in America have a similarly boring list. But, I guess THAT'S the point of the request. It's the 1% of people who ruin it for everyone (maybe a little harsh, but probably true).
I read a quote this morning that said "Everywhere, unthinking mobs of "independent thinkers" wield tired cliches like cudgels, pummeling those who dare question "enlightened" dogma. If "violence never solved anything," cops wouldn't have guns and slaves may never have been freed. If it's better that 10 guilty men go free to spare one innocent, why not free 100 or 1,000,000? Cliches begin arguments, they don't settle them." ~Jonah Goldberg
I agree with this statement whole-heartedly. Especially the part about freeing 100 or 1,000,000. There has to be a line drawn somewhere. If the lives of my family are made safer by the government looking at Google searches, I am okay with it. If the government is looking to start a witch hunt for people that search for naked women on the internet I have a problem with that.
With all the brain power in Mountain View, as well as the rest of the country, there has to be a better way. Figure out a way to not only make search better, but to make the Internet a safer place for children. I believe it can and will be done, and when that finally happens, we can worry about bigger issues, instead of 'searching' for them.