March 15, 2006

Google Subpoena Hearing Result - Of Mountains, Mice, and Elephants

Now we know the Google subpoena hearing result:

A lawyer for the Justice Department told [Judge] Ware that the government would like to have a random selection of 50,000 Web addresses and 5,000 random search requests from Google, a small fraction of the millions the government originally sought.

As the saying goes, the mountain has labored and brought forth a mouse.

To save myself typing, I'll just quote Andrew Orlowski's take:

For the hearing today was a charade in several ways. Google and Justice department attorneys had already agreed on the scope of the data to be transferred, in private negotiations before today's hearing - for which the Judge complemented both parties.

So why hold it at all?

Because the hearing allows both parties to clean up their tarnished public reputations.

It's all been a serious of misreporting, hype, and more importantly, a projection of people's worries onto a convenient target. Because, further, the real problem is not going to be so openly discussed, and elephant in the room.

Under the PATRIOT Act, Federal officials can undertake wide ranging data mining requests on Google's treasure trove of information. And not only is Google unable to refuse such requests - it can't even talk about them.

There's a deep issue with search engines as Big Brother's agents. But it's hard to get people's attention about that, given the secrecy surrounding the serious problem. So a relatively trivial searching data study was drafted as a stand-in for the, ahem, sexy topic.

Hopefully there's been consciousness-raising. We'll find out.

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in google | on March 15, 2006 09:02 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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