Couple of things caught my eye today:
First, Google has been subpoenaed by the DOJ to turn over parts of its search records – one million random search records from its gargantuan database – and, having refused, is now being taken to court by the feds. For national security reasons, right? Of course not – this is because the Bush adminstration is trying to revive the Child Online Protection Act, a bill already ruled unconstitutional (not that ‘national security’ reasons qualifies as a good reason to turn over such a broad swath of records). So the U.S. government is trying to invade the privacy of its own citizens to satisfy a political agenda. Although there’s no indication that any specific person’s records will be targeted in this request, the real problem is the nasty precedent this sets, where the U.S. governemnt can snoop into any such such records, forcing organizations to turn over data that should remain confidential. If the court allows the DOJ to go ahead with this atrocious abuse of power, I think we can expect to see far more invasive attempts by the government to snoop on its own citizens for any reason (though it would not surprise me if some administration official attempts to tie those attempts to the ‘war on terror’). Can any of my American readers (assuming I have any) tell me why Americans appear so willing to put up with these types of civil liberties violations? According to the DOJ, other search engines have already turned over their records. If that’s true, then there is no search engine I will use except Google ever again.
Second: I note that Sam Bulte, the Liberal MP who takes money from special interests and downplays it, has now threatened to sue Michael Geist for…well, it’s not exactly clear what Geist has done wrong, apart from criticizing the fact that she’s taken money from the content industry and her stance on copyright legislation is ridiculously one-sided. She called people like Michael Geist (and, by extension, myself) ‘pro-user zealots.’ (Think about that term.) If she’s trying to argue that her positions are not influenced by her industry ties and that her prime concern is protecting Canadian artists, then threatening to sue someone who argues (correctly, I might add) that her positions on copyright legislation are gifts to the entertainment industry and will destroy the rights of users makes those claims absoutely farcical. I hope she gets what she deserves on election night. (Is she going to sue me too for criticizing her? The more she sues, the more these issues get out there…)