Oodles of Googles
My brain hurts. The Muse is trying his best to square the public response to a couple of recent government dust-ups involving Google. But instead of a square, I keep getting fractals.
Here’s the deal. Google is a term that used to mean a one followed by 100 zeros (a sum generally associated with Bill Gates’ checking account). Then along came an Internet search engine outfit and they adopted the term and turned it into a proper noun. Then along came us and we used this new noun so much it became a verb–as in “google his name and see if you can find any naked pictures of him.” Then along came a couple of governments, because it is the mission of governments to fuck up anything that its subjects happen to enjoy and find useful.
The first government to fuck with Google is the last bastion of the dreaded red menace, China. Fearing that its people would use the search engine to find out that communism is a failure or that there are lots of hot blondes in America, the Chinese government forced the company to install filtering software. Google, fearing the loss of googles and googles of Chinese Yuan, rolled over like a Siamese cat with an itchy belly.
For bowing to Chinese censorship demands, the company was properly excoriated. Right-wing radio dug out the old cold war uniforms and Google was dragged to Capitol Hill to explain how it was that they became a tool to enable the further oppression of China’s 1.3 billion inhabitants. It wasn’t pretty.
But know that the Chinese government isn’t the only bureaucracy with designs on using Google to further its agenda. Last summer, Uncle Sam’s crazy nephew, the Department of Justice, served Google with a subpoena demanding billions of search requests and Web site addresses as part of Dubya’s effort to protect children from porn.
This week, U.S. District Court Judge James Ware signaled a willingness to allow the government to peek at a scaled-back, random sampling of 5,000 search requests and 50,000 Web site addresses contained in Google’s search engine. And guess what? Not a peep from the same right-wing pundits and congressional lunkheads that were in such a lather over China’s foray into Googledom.
While no fan of giving kids access to porn, the Muse is a big fan of that crusty old document called the “Bill of Rights” and its first and fourth amendments (if you haven’t read it lately, Google it and learn about how it protects our free speech and protects us from unreasonable searches).
One can only imagine what the government hopes to learn from this fishing expedition. The Internet is filled with random gibberish and it is next to impossible to draw inferences from the raw data. Muse readers may remember the shock and dismay expressed in last year’s “Superficial Intelligence” in which I reported on looking up the word “fetid” and being greeted by an ad offering to treat my “vaginal odor.”
The government’s intrusion into people’s search habits inspired this junior G-man to further his investigation. Through the magic of technology, the Eyewitness Muse’s Web host provides a report on the search terms that led people to visit his humble domain.
So far this month, Internet travelers found their way here through search engines by using terms like: “choke the chicken,” “liberal dogs,” “paranoid crazy guy” and “stay away from the brown acid.” What’s to be made of that? Is the EWM Web site a refuge for dangerous tripping left-wing masturbators? It’s enough to keep Attorney General Alberto Gonzales up all night.
Call me a Bush-basher (please), but I don’t trust these guys to make informed judgments on the nature of the babble they will get from subpoenaing search engines. Let’s review: their domestic policy advisor got busted for shoplifting, the Vice President shot a guy in the face and promptly hid in his bunker, they tried to turn port control over to a country with known ties to Osama and completely bungled the Zacarias Moussaoui case because of witness tampering. And that’s just the last four weeks.
Freedom in America isn’t eroding. It’s undergoing a wholesale excavation. Perhaps we should all start madly Googling the term “constitution” in hopes that the search records are subpoenaed by the feds and they will be forced to investigate it.
If we the people don’t start pushing back on these guys, the democratic values we so cherish will become just another banal Bush slogan like “freedom is on the march.”
And what will happen if we continue to allow this assault on our liberties to go unabated? Search me.
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