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.

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