Watching what we search

20 January 2006

I try and watch what I eat (mainly so as not to miss my mouth). I look both ways before I cross the road. But I would rather not watch what I search. Should I? Would we all be just that little bit more safe with hoardes of secret agents scanning our kewords for subversiveness? 

The liberty for security trade-off rarely achieves its declared objective. I am pleased that this week Google have refused the San Jose State prosecutor's requests for search data. Child protection strikes a note with many who, understandably, would be willing to do what ever it takes -and lo behold anyone who falls short. But the giving over of search data opens up the field for government control and prosecution for political dissent, as several million Chinese might testify to if they could read this website.

Isabel Hilton and Becky Hogge's openDemocracy articles paint a less than rosy picture of Search Engine complicity in Chinese filtering of the Internet. I just hope Google stand their ground with this one. A test case for the scrutiny of search data, this is something civil libertarians will be keeping a close eye on.

How can Americans fight dark money and disinformation?

Violence, corruption and cynicism threaten America's flagging democracy. Joe Biden has promised to revive it – but can his new administration stem the flow of online disinformation and shady political financing that has eroded the trust of many US voters?

Hear from leading global experts and commentators on what the new president and Congress must do to stem the flood of dark money and misinformation that is warping politics around the world.

Join us on Thursday 21 January, 5pm UK time/12pm EST.

Hear from:

Emily Bell Leonard Tow Professor of Journalism and director, Tow Center for Digital Journalism, Columbia Journalism School

Anoa Changa Journalist focusing on electoral justice, social movements and culture

Peter Geoghegan openDemocracy investigations editor and author of 'Democracy for Sale: Dark Money and Dirty Politics'

Josh Rudolph Fellow for Malign Finance at the Alliance for Securing Democracy

Chair: Mary Fitzgerald Editor-in-chief, openDemocracy 

Further speakers to be announced

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