The Slipperly Slope of DOJ v. Google

Steven Levy’s Newsweek article on the DOJ v. Google issue closes with a prescient warning of the slipper slope allowing government access to web search history would create:

Though the government intends to use these data specifically for its COPA-related test, it’s possible that the information could lead to further investigations and, perhaps, subpoenas to find out who was doing the searching. What if certain search terms indicated that people were contemplating terrorist actions or other criminal activities? Says the DOJ’s Miller, “I’m assuming that if something raised alarms, we would hand it over to the proper [authorities].” Privacy advocates fear that if the government request is upheld, it will open the door to further government examination of search behavior. One solution would be for Google to stop storing the information, but the company hopes to eventually use the personal information of consenting customers to improve search performance. “Search is a window into people’s personalities,” says Kurt Opsahl, an Electronic Frontier Foundation attorney. “They should be able to take advantage of the Internet without worrying about Big Brother looking over their shoulders.”

[via John Battelle]

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