January 21, 2006

Google Search Subpoena Origins

Further note on the basis for the subpoena for search queries. I suspect it's coming out of the following aspects of the previous COPA law legal briefs (COPA = Child Online Protection Act, the law at issue):

[Note I don't quote this passage as truth, but rather to illustrate the sort of argument that the government was making, and why they're doing a search query survey]

The House Report accompanying COPA further documents the serious problem that Congress sought to address. By 1998, the number of minors using the Internet had grown to 16 million. H.R. Rep. No. 775, supra, at 9. At the same time, the number of pornography Web sites had grown to 28,000. Id. at 7. Those sites offer "teasers"-free pornographic images designed to entice users to pay a fee to explore the whole site. Id. at 10. Because Web software is easy to use, "minors who can read and type are capable of conducting Web searches as easily as operating a television remote." Id. at 9-10. As a result, pornographic material on the Internet is "widely accessible" to minors. Id. at 9. While many minors deliberately search for pornographic Web sites, others accidentally stumble upon them. Id. at 10. Many pornographic sites use "copycat" Web addresses to take advantage of innocent mistakes. For example minors would find hard-core pornography by mistyping www.whitehouse.com rather than www.whitehouse.gov. Ibid. Searches using common terms such as toys, girls, boys, bambi, and doggy all lead to pornographic sites. Ibid. Most pornographic Web sites either provide no warning that their sites contain pornography or provide a warning on the very same Web page that displays pornographic teasers. Ibid.

Sigh. I give up. The fever-swampers win. Government bad! They're coming to get you!

It just takes too much time to research this stuff, for too little return.

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in legal | on January 21, 2006 07:49 AM (Infothought permalink)
Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog (Wikipedia, Google, censorware, and an inside view of net-politics) - Syndicate site (subscribe, RSS)

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