Thursday, January 19, 2006

It's Bad Enough That They're Incompetent....

But their priorities are all wrong. Apparently, of the major search engines, only Google was willing to stand up to the Bush Administration's continuing war on pornography.
Via John Battelle and Google Morning Silicon Valley, Feds want Google search records from the San Jose Mercury News covers the Bush administration demanding last year that Google and other search engines turn over aggregate search information to help revive a child protection law. Google has refused to comply with the subpoena. Other search engines apparently have. Google's fighting in court this week not to be force to hand over the data.

In particular, the Bush administration wanted one million random web addresses and records of all Google searches for a one week period. The government apparently wants to find out how much pornography shows up in online searches and how often people may seek it.
The article points out how absurd the demand is:
Here's a thought. If you want to measure how much porn is showing up in searches, try searching for it yourself rather than issuing privacy alarm sounding subpoenas. It would certainly be more accurate.

Getting a list of all searches in one week definitely would let US federal government dig deep into the long tail of porn searches. But then again, the sheer amount of data would be overwhelming. Do you know every variation of a term someone might use, that you're going to dig out of the hundreds of millions of searches you'd get? Oh, and be sure you filter out all the automated queries coming in from rank checking tools, while you're add it. They won't skew the data at all, nope.

If you do, from talking with the head of a child porn fighting group in the UK, my understanding is that many euphemisms and code words are used that won't immediately register as child porn terms.
Note to Bush - save us from the terrorists, not from the 72 horny virgins.

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