This New York Times editorial gets it right about what’s really at stake with the DOJ v. Google case:
…Protecting minors from the nastier material on the Internet is a valid goal; the courts have asked the government to test whether technologies for filtering out the bad stuff are effective. And the government hasn’t asked for users’ personal data this time around. What’s frightening is that the Justice Department is trying once again to dredge up information first and answer questions later, if at all. Had Google not resisted the government’s attempt to seize records, would the public have ever found about the request?
The battle raises the question of how much of our personal information companies should be allowed to hold onto in the first place. Without much thought, Internet users have handed over vast quantities of private information to corporations. Many people don’t realize that some innocuously named “cookies” in personal computers allow companies to track visits to various Web sites.
Internet users permit their e-mail to be read by people and machines in ways they would never tolerate for their old-fashioned mail. And much of that information is now collected and stored by companies like Google. When pressed on privacy issues, Google – whose informal motto is “Don’t be evil” – says it can be trusted with this information. But profiling consumers’ behavior is potentially profitable for companies. And once catalogued, information can be abused by the government as well. Either way, the individual citizen loses.
(sorta sounds like the introductory paragraphs to my dissertation)