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U.S. Government Wants Google Search Records 917

Posted by Zonk
from the proud-to-be-an-american? dept.
JimBridgerBowl writes "According to the San Jose Mercury News, The Bush administration wants access to Google's huge database of search queries submitted by users to track how often pornography is returned in results. This information would be used for Bush's appeal of the 2004 COPA law, targeted to prevent access to pornography by children. The law was struck down because it would have restricted adults access to legal pornography. Google is promising to fight the release of this information." From the article: "The Supreme Court invited the government to either come up with a less drastic version of the law or go to trial to prove that the statute does not violate the First Amendment and is the only viable way to combat child porn. As a result, government lawyers said in court papers they are developing a defense of the 1998 law based on the argument that it is far more effective than software filters in protecting children from porn."
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U.S. Government Wants Google Search Records

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  • by daveschroeder (516195) * on Thursday January 19, 2006 @09:51AM (#14508660)
    ...then there would be nothing to obtain.
  • by millennial (830897) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @09:52AM (#14508668) Journal
    But how can a law that puts no filter whatsoever in place be more effective than a software filter?
    That aside, this is pretty alarming. But let's haul out two old arguments: 1. the media tends to be alarmist (true), and 2. if you're innocent, you shouldn't have to worry (true, but only if the government isn't violating the rights of the innocent, and leads to the possibility of forfeiting other rights).
  • Age ranges? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by lisaparratt (752068) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @09:53AM (#14508672)
    What relevance is the data if they can't divide it into demographics?
  • by Monoman (8745) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @09:53AM (#14508674) Homepage
    When did Google start asking for your age along with your query? How are they going to tie queries to ages?

  • by geoffspear (692508) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @09:53AM (#14508677) Homepage
    In other news, the Bush administration wants to look through Google's records to see how often search results included critique of the war in Iraq.

    "We need to see how much of the political commentary online is speech protected by the First Amendment, and how much is dangerous speech that can't be allowed in these extraordinary times," a Whitehouse spokesman said.

    I really think we need an amendment to the Constitution that says "the words 'no law' shall be construed by the courts to mean 'no law whatsoever, without exceptions, and this means you, moron.'"

  • by EBFoxbat (897297) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @09:53AM (#14508679)
    If the administration wants statistics to back up there bill, why not ask Google for statistical data regarding pornographic requests instead of records of the actually quaries?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 19, 2006 @09:54AM (#14508686)
    Close -- you want to submit Bush's name in every one of those queries. Once it's apparent that he is inextricably linked to the other search material then he'll tuck his tail between his legs and skulk off home.
  • Which one is it? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Z0mb1eman (629653) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @09:55AM (#14508689) Homepage
    Both the summary and the article speak of child porn and protecting children from accessing porn as if they're interchangeable. Well, they're not - which one is it?

    There's no more sure-fire way to push people's buttons than to mention child porn... bah. Always makes me feel that it trivializes the problem when it's being used to push someone's agenda.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 19, 2006 @09:55AM (#14508691)
    Parents are the ones who need to educate their children... filters are pretty much useless.
  • by coinreturn (617535) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @09:55AM (#14508695)
    I'm sure glad no one "protected" me from porno when I was a kid. Someone always has an older brother or father with porno mags and they make the rounds. I had a pretty good collection before I turned 18 and it was legal - from playboy to hardcore. What's so wrong with pornography? I'd be surprised if Bush didn't have some stashed away in the oval office.
  • by digitaldc (879047) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @09:56AM (#14508699)
    to track how often pornography is returned in results.

    Isn't this an invasion of privacy?
    What ever happened to parents and not the government being responsible for their kids?
  • Porn for dummies (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jesterpilot (906386) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @10:00AM (#14508725) Homepage
    children seeing porn != child porn
  • by UCRowerG (523510) <UCRowerG@yaho o . c om> on Thursday January 19, 2006 @10:00AM (#14508726) Homepage Journal
    Easy: it can't. The Internet is a global thing now, and a law here in the USA isn't going to mean jack in China. They might come up with some sort of legal statement saying that any porn site must be blocked by ISPs in the US. Then again, we've seen how effective these have been for other countries, not to mention that censorship has up until now been one of this country's "great ideals." I still say nothing beats regulation by parents. Inform your kids about what's appropriate to say and do online in a public forum. Monitor their net surfing either in person, with a filter (NetNanny, etc), or by checking your cache after they're done. If they're not behaving, then it's good parenting to take whatever action is appropriate.
  • by dptalia (804960) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @10:00AM (#14508734) Homepage Journal
    Is that the government is claiming other search engines have already given up the requested data. I'd rather search with Google who's trying to protect my privacy than some other engine that coughed up the goods without a fight!
  • by pmc (40532) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @10:01AM (#14508735) Homepage
    I thought the two salient points from the article were

    1) Google were resisting the subpoena

    and

    2) Others (unnamed) had complied with the subpoena

    which is slightly worrying for those that use other search engines.

  • by jackb_guppy (204733) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @10:01AM (#14508739)
    Statement 2 is FALSE.

    Being a innocent can cost you your home and job. It does not have to be a government that violating your rights;

        It can be a name that matches yours. Then you have to prove that you are not the matching person. Think Indentiy Theif.

        It can be looking like another person. Then you have to prove that you are not that person. Think Misintification.

    In both case you are out the money it cost you clean it up. The public memory can be short, but with the internet... it can be long. This means that you will have do the fight over and over.
  • Welcome to... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ff1324 (783953) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @10:01AM (#14508741)
    Isn't there already a country that filters all the content that they allow within their borders on the internet? Hmmmm......oh yeah.

    Welcome to China!
  • by Ours (596171) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @10:03AM (#14508748)
    Did a miss the part of the Constitution about "dangerous speech" not been protected by the first ammendment? Or maybe it just poped-in.
    Sounds very un-democratic to me that's for certain.
  • Foot in the door (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 19, 2006 @10:03AM (#14508754)
    The problem with this action is that if it passes, it will serve as a foot in the door so that it is possible for the Bush administration (and those who will follow it) to inspect and analyze the internet habits and actions of everyone who has an internet connection. Right now there are state agents questioning certan US citizens' because of their reading habits, there are databases ran with information on normal, law abiding citizens just because they have an oppinion different from the current administration and God knows what other things are being done behind closed doors. Doesn't this worry anyone?

    US: formerly known as land of the free, currently aquiring police state status and on the fast track to fascism.
  • by Hosiah (849792) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @10:04AM (#14508758)
    My beef is, classifying things as porn automatically shuts out educational value. What if you have a daughter in her young teens and she wants to know about mammograms, breastfeeding, AIDS prevention, ovary development, etc? I made it my business to learn all about sex I could when I was a pre-teen, and it paid off when my early partners were delighted that I knew more about their anatomy than they did. I intend extending the same liberties to learn to my children.
  • by ianscot (591483) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @10:05AM (#14508760)
    The government contends it needs the Google data to determine how often pornography shows up in online searches.

    One imagines the dedicated team of talented evaluators at Justice combing the list of returned sites, carefully categorizing them as pRon or non-pRon. No waste of tax dollars there -- noooo. Glad to see we're spending our dollars on the big issues that face us as a society.

    The Supreme Court decision back in June 04 [cornell.edu] went back, again, to the first amendment. The series of decisions made over the Child Online Protection Act (COPA) and the earlier Communications Decency Act, came back to the laws not being "narrowly tailored to serve a compelling governmental interest" and to whether less restrictive alternatives were available.

    In response to those two reservations, Bush and company are apparently looking to prove how very compelling their government interest is -- by showing that kids are awash in the stuff on Google. Apparently the part where they get access to this enormous, open-ended source of information about searches doesn't set off any bells with them about the other half of that decision -- where the idea was to minimize the restrictiveness of the law and keep government intrusion to a minimum.

    These were the "small government" conservatives, right?

  • by GreyPoopon (411036) <gpoopon&gmail,com> on Thursday January 19, 2006 @10:05AM (#14508764)
    When did Google start asking for your age along with your query? How are they going to tie queries to ages?

    I don't think the government is trying to tie ages to queries. They are just trying to prove that it is easy for anyone (including a minor) to find pr0n on the internet. Although I don't agree with this attempt at massive violation of privacy, the government is correct in its assertion that finding pr0n is childishly simple (pun intended). All you have to do is a Google image search with no filters on the results. Type in pretty much anything and you are almost guaranteed to get nude or hardcore photos somewhere in your results.

  • Re:Age ranges? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bimo_Dude (178966) <bimoslashNO@SPAMtheness.org> on Thursday January 19, 2006 @10:07AM (#14508778) Homepage Journal
    I get the impression they want to find out how easy it is to stumble across porn when you're not looking for it. Probably particularly when safesearch is enabled.

    That's not the impression that I got FTA. Poring through a massive database of search logs would be much more difficult, time-consuming and inaccurate than simply writing a script to query Google with ramdon words and logging any results that lead to porn.

    It seems to me that they want to do some data mining, maybe to identify terrorists (or dissenters), and they could just be using the "what about the children" thing in their attempt to gain access.

    If Google is to remain un-evil, maybe it's time for a solar flare to wipe out the records (until the backups can be restored after this is all over).

  • by elrous0 (869638) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @10:09AM (#14508800)
    It can also be the result of two users inadvertantly on the same IP address (think Joe Dipshit, his unsecured wifi hotspot in his house, and his next-door neighbor Joe Criminal).

    As to the assumption some people make that the innocent have nothing to worry about, I ask you this:

    If the FBI showed up to your office and started asking your boss questions about you, would you bee cool with it just because you've "nothing to hide"?

    -Eric

  • by tomalpha (746163) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @10:11AM (#14508806)
    I'm all for preventing child access to porn. But if google hands over (voluntarily or otherwise) even a portion of their logs for a specific purpose it makes it just that little bit easier for Bush (or whoever) to get their grubby mitts on log data the next time round. Where does it end?

    Also, how would this play from an international viewpoint? Would the data (potentially) handed over include google.co.uk or google.de logs?

    The EU is busy being lobbied (can you be busy being lobbied?) about communications data retention (e.g. pi report [privacyinternational.org]). Without serious safeguards in place and with all those logs sloshing around it's only a matter of time before log subpoenas become routine.
  • by cnelzie (451984) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @10:13AM (#14508826) Homepage
    The only problem with that is if a search engine refused to keep records of what was searched for and perhaps which links were taken, how could the engines ever improve their effectiveness?

        It's a double-sided sword. It cuts both ways.
  • by edmicman (830206) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @10:13AM (#14508831) Homepage Journal
    1. protecting children from pr0n is completely different from combatting child pr0n. keeping johnny from searching for free pr0n sites is not the same as preventing the sickos out there violating kids. 2. heaven forbid the PARENTS actually do something and pay attention to their kids of they're looking at things they shouldn't be online. It's not the gov'ts job to be a babysitter, parent, etc.
  • by adsl (595429) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @10:16AM (#14508848)
    Will there be some agreed legal "definition" of what is pornography? Or will it be a subjective defn or list of key "words"? The results will change dramatically. Of concern here is that we would have a case of "apples" and "oranges" with an ability to produce statistical results to suit any type of requirement of the asking person.
  • by dr. loser (238229) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @10:23AM (#14508903)
    So, we should believe that when the federal authorities are given access to something like 600 million Google searches per week indexed to specific IP addresses, they're only going to use that data for the specific purpose of fighting child pornography? That the NSA, for example, would decline to data mine that information?

    Given that the current administration has shown that they're willing to spy on US citizens domestically without warrants, even though warrants are easy to get retroactively, why should we trust anything they say regarding 4th amendment rights?
  • by Phreakiture (547094) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @10:24AM (#14508908) Homepage

    They are just trying to prove that it is easy for anyone (including a minor) to find pr0n on the internet.

    Would it not be much simpler and far less invasive for them to just submit a bunch of queries themselves? Of course it would! There's something more going on here that is not related to pr0n. The war on pr0n is a Trojan Horse to get them into the database.

  • by metternich (888601) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @10:26AM (#14508918)
    if you're innocent, you shouldn't have to worry

    This is extremely firghtening. The Forth Amendment says, "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated" NOT "The Goverment shall search through any your posessions and records, but if you're innocent you should have nothing to fear."

    "We need two prisons, one for the guilty and one for the innocent."

  • by Billosaur (927319) * <wgrotherNO@SPAMoptonline.net> on Thursday January 19, 2006 @10:29AM (#14508944) Journal

    ...beat a dead horse. Is protecting minors from unwanted and unintended exposure to pornography a good thing? Yes! Can the government mandate it? No! It goes back to the problem of parenting. If parents are giving their kids unfettered access to the Internet, they're going to see this stuff. It's no different that parents not watching what programs their kids see on TV. The US Government is trying to parent the nation's kids, when it can't even govern the country effectively (NOTE: this is not Bush-bashing; the Democrats are just as ineffectual as the Republicans).

    It's good that Google has drawn the line. They aren't responsible for what their search engine turns up; the Internet is free territory and if you put up pornography or any other type of content someone finds objectionable, it may turn up. That doesn't make it Google's responsibility to police what its users are doing, anymore than it makes it the government's responsibility. At some point parents need to take back the power.

  • by IAmTheDave (746256) <{moc.oohay} {ta} {ds-evademanesab}> on Thursday January 19, 2006 @10:30AM (#14508960) Homepage Journal
    the government is correct in its assertion that finding pr0n is childishly simple

    Um... oh well?

    I'm so tired of this "won't someone please think of the children" scenario. This is a parental issue through and through. If parents haphazardly allow their youngsters onto computers without knowing jack about them, it's like allowing your child to watch TV without any idea as to the content of the programming.

    If I subscribe (this is only hypothetical) to the Spice channel and don't lock the TV, my child has access to that channel whenever. If I don't use CyberNanny or the like, my child has access to pornography on the internet.

    Parental responsibility is failing, and I'm tired of the government trying to clean up the pieces. This is why I'm all for having to have a license to have a child.

    Unfortunately, this seems to me to be quite obviously a ploy to try to get at the most massive user-habit database on the planet. Oh, they want it for porn research - my ass. You think once they are done looking for "tits" they're not going to look up "impeach bush" and place a NSA watch on the IP address that the search came from?

    Slashdot used to interest me. Now it more scares me than anything...

  • by faloi (738831) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @10:34AM (#14508988)
    if you're innocent, you shouldn't have to worry (true, but only if the government isn't violating the rights of the innocent, and leads to the possibility of forfeiting other rights).

    The sad thing is that even the innocent have to fear these days. I'm sure if you look hard enough you can find the story about the toddler on the no fly list [usatoday.com] and other examples of the innocent being at the very least inconvenienced. At some point we have to draw the line and say enough is enough. Unfortunately I think that line should've been drawn about 10 years ago...
  • by routerguy666 (926506) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @10:34AM (#14508992)
    Yeah but thank Science he's got the right to say it freely, pass it off as fact, and mislead anyone stupid enough to believe it (which since it bashes Bush is 99.9% of Slashdot readers).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 19, 2006 @10:35AM (#14508998)
    "It has nothing to do with improving anything other than their income."

    And Google spends their revenue on?
  • by Col. Klink (retired) (11632) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @10:42AM (#14509046)
    And from what Bush has said recently about allowing an "open debate" about the war in Iraq, dangerous political speech includes: questioning our oil interests in the region; questioning our support for Israel; questioning pre-war intelligence; or accusing the administration of lying or misleading us into war. But everything else is fair game.
  • by bhtooefr (649901) <bhtooefr&bhtooefr,org> on Thursday January 19, 2006 @10:44AM (#14509052) Homepage Journal
    IIRC, Google's PageRank also takes into account how many users click a link in search results, and it refines them based on that.

    AFAICT, they've GOT a Bayesian filter running on search results for logged in users. If I search for an "interesting" search term, it'll give me sites that are somewhat more relevant to what I click. Either that, or the Bayesian will go overboard, and give me stuff that I wrote :P
  • by M-G (44998) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @10:47AM (#14509074)
    This is the same administration that claimed it needed medical records of women who had abortions in order to defend an anti-abortion law in court. And of course one that feels it can tap phones in violation of federal law. The think tanks that define the current Republican agenda are scary as hell.
  • by sjwaste (780063) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @10:50AM (#14509097)
    Yeah, who are they to try and turn a profit? They should provide you a free service and seek nothing in return.

    There's nothing wrong with google seeking a profit.. even a huge profit. That's sort of the way our economy works, but if you're not into that, I'm sure moving to China is an option.
  • by elrous0 (869638) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @10:51AM (#14509109)
    Why did he get re-elected again?

    Because we allow any citizen, even those who can't read or write, to vote.

    -Eric

  • by josefek (621779) <josefek@@@sub-par...com> on Thursday January 19, 2006 @10:56AM (#14509156) Homepage
    What's truly frightening is that, in todays America, you had to give some consideration to whether that quote was factual or not.
  • by utexaspunk (527541) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @10:56AM (#14509162)
    I don't think you were supposed to actually believe that was something a White House spokesperson said. I believe the GP was merely trying to make a point by suggesting the implications of allowing the gov't access to Google logs. It may be "for the children" now, but next they'll be doing it to silence "unpatriotic" speech, or some other crap...
  • by bombadillo (706765) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @10:58AM (#14509180)
    Good point. We see this happening now with the no fly lists. Some accidental like the 3 year olds and some wickedly "coincidental" like the author of an anti Bush book.

    More alarming is that many innocent people lost their careers during the McCarthy era. Any one remotely connected to a communist group pretty much had their lively hood destroyed. Innocence is judged by the whim of those in charge and not by a consistant morality.
  • Ok - you're wrong (Score:5, Insightful)

    by btarval (874919) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @11:01AM (#14509209)
    "if you're innocent, you shouldn't have to worry ..."

    That's the logical fallacy of the sheep. Why is it so many people prefer to bury their heads in the sand, and refuse to learn?

    Sir, please open your eyes. Millions of innocent people have been slaughtered throughout human history (often within their own laws) by various governments. As shocking and frightening as it must seem to you, being innocent is no safeguard. Indeed, innocence has nothing to do with it when government officials are granted vast, unchecked power.

    The only safeguard between yourself and unjustified prosecution and imprisonment (or even death) is a thin, old piece of paper. And people's willingness to uphold the words written on it.

    I suggest you acquaint yourself with it.

    Or perhaps I should make it more simple. The Bush administration has shown itself willing to abuse the power it had before the Patriot Act was passed. The question now before us is what are the limits to its current power?

    You may not like the answer. Your "rights" have been redefined, and so has the definition of "abuse".

    Innocence isn't going to save you if you are currently viewed as the wrong type of person. Indeed, in such cases you no longer have a right to legal counsel, or to let other people know you have been detained. Or the right to a speedy trial.

    Welcome the new world that your elected representatives have given you. But please don't be under the mistaken assumption that innocence will protect you, or that the government isn't abusing your legally defined rights.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 19, 2006 @11:02AM (#14509216)
    They grab power.

    Give them the right to fight child porn "for the children", and the next thing they're doing is searching that data for "terrorists".

    Give them the right to set up a retirement plane "for your security", and they take the money and the next thing you know the retirement plan is broke.

    Give them the right to set up health care "for your health" and they ration the care and make you wait in line even if that means you're going to die.

    Give them the right to set up a welfare system "to help the needy" and they set up a system that keeps you dependent upon government largess for the rest of your life.

    Give them the right to spy on those that deserve to be spied on "to keep you safe" and they turn it around and use it on their citizens (and the US is by no means even close to being in the forefront on this issue, FWIW).

    That's what governments do - they accumulate power. And in accumulating power that get it from somewhere else - from YOU.

    And money is the lifeblood of any government's attempt to encroach your rights. And encroach them they will. Without money they can't pay for the "needed" programs that are nothing more than systems to entrench the powerful by giving them even more power.

    Anyone who thinks he's for individual rights and doesn't support MASSIVE and IMMEDIATE tax cuts and locking debt limits in place to shackle the power-grabbing aspects of any government is a blithering idiot who doesn't understand what all governments do.
  • by policywonk324 (947227) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @11:06AM (#14509257)
    Hey All, I was just thinking that Google has a reasonable case under the 4th amendment to block the seizure of this information. And just to make sure everyone who's reading this is on the same page, the 4th Amendment Reads: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searced, and the persons or things to be seized." My interpretation of the text is that the government can't seize your effects, which includes information, without substantial information that suggests that the information to be seized would help prosecute a crime, and after attaining the probable cause, a warrant must be issued. Now, what I don't know is how this would effect subpoenas, but this seems more like an seizure than compelling someone to appear in court. So, if Google argues that this information is the property of the end users and only held by Google with their consent, then the Government would need a warrant for each user's search data that they want to use. If the courts agree with this argument it would essentially make it impossible to obtain such information as the Government would not have probable cause to seize the effects of a random million or so people to make their case for the COPA law. The fact that they're not attempting to prosecute any of the people would make it even more difficult. Any real legal experts secretely trolling slashdot forums that want to comment?
  • by Caspian (99221) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @11:08AM (#14509273)
    There's no more sure-fire way to push people's buttons than to mention child porn... bah.

    Correct. A similar tactic nowadays is to mention "terrorism". Throw "this is necessary to further our War On Terrorism(TM) at the end of a statement, and at least half of Americans will accept it simply based on that.

    See also: "Red Scare", "Joseph McCarthy", "it's for the children", etc.

    Luckily, even if I wasn't sharp enough to see through this sort of obvious manipulation, this particular route of manipulation doesn't work on me. Unlike most Americans, I recall that as a "child", (12, 13, etc.) I was quite horny and would have welcomed the opportunity to have intercourse with an adult, regardless of whether there was a camera rolling or not. I thus don't see "child porn" as a universal evil.

    This is similar to how so many people interpret "anarchist" to mean "bomb-throwing terrorist". "Anarchy" implies a lack of laws in books, not a lack of morals or a predilection towards violence. Likewise, many people interpret "child porn" as "child rape or exploitation", which is ludicrous. At 12 or 13, with an IQ in at least the 140s, I was arguably more capable than the average adult of giving "informed consent" (whatever that means; it seems that legally speaking, "informed consent" means approximately "you've lived for at least 18 years and have an IQ above 50", which is a truly abhorrent approximation of the pool of people actually intellectually capable of comprehending the aftereffects of sexual context). And as a 12-year-old-- a "child"-- I wanted sex and would have welcomed sex. I also was astute enough to comprehend the issues of STDs, pregnancy, and the like-- a great deal more than I could say of the "average", say, 21-year-old. I would have used protection; would the average 18-year-old? Yet I was considered incapable of understanding the mystical "adult" issues involved with sex. This is absurd.

    This "child porn" scare is ludicrous. It's very telling that people get worked up about "child porn" but not "child rape"-- i.e. something which actually is universally WRONG. Participation in child "porn" can be voluntary, forced, or somewhere in between (coerced?); the actual sex depicted can be consensual, rape, or somewhere in between (i.e. with a child incapable of truly giving "informed consent").

    But most people nowadays (at least here in the States) don't like to judge things on a case-by-case basis; they like blanket statements, sweeping moral judgements that apply to all instances of a particular thing.

    Anyone with a properly calibrated moral compass and a lack of the cultural baggage which states that anyone under (18|16|$INSERT_AGE_HERE) is automatically incapable of giving "informed consent" can comprehend that some sex between "minors" and "adults" is, in fact, consensual and, thus, moral. Nevertheless, the overwhelming majority of the American public assumes that "sex with kids" is automatically "rape", and thus evil. Tie the (completely justified) stigma of rape in with this (ludicrous) assumption that all "intergenerational sex" (ha) is automatically rape and the (religiously motivated and laughable) stigma against "porn" in general, and you have a recipe for Instant Outrage: Just Add Americans .

    We have forgotten what "rape" is. We have forgotten what "consent" constitutes. We have also managed, as I've mentioned before, to become the sole species on the face of the planet (as far as I know) cruel and stupid enough to deny sex to a significant minority of those who want it, based simply upon their age. Saying to a horny 12-year-old "No, you can't have sex, even if you use protection, even if you take every precaution, simply because you're young" is beyond cruel, and quite bigoted.
  • by Caspian (99221) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @11:11AM (#14509300)
    "What's truly frightening is that, in todays America, you had to give some consideration to whether that quote was factual or not."
    Correct. The mere fact that there are those presently in power plausibly capable of uttering such a thing is frightening, if not downright chilling.
  • by WhiteWolf666 (145211) <sherwin&amiran,us> on Thursday January 19, 2006 @11:15AM (#14509336) Homepage Journal
    If the current trends continue, and your children reveal what you've taught them to the school's administrators, expect to be arrested, and expect to go to jail for a long time.

    The New "Republicans" don't believe in parental accountability. You raise Children the way the Rigth wants you to.

    Yes, I'm sore about it.

    Suggestion? Home schooling.
  • by thelexx (237096) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @11:19AM (#14509370)
    So. Fucking. What. The Clinton administration isn't pressuring Google, the Bush administration is. By your logic, an admin that instituted the draft for an unjust war would be off the hook and the one that may originally used it properly would be to blame for it? Sounds like unadulterated bullshit to me.

  • by guanxi (216397) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @11:23AM (#14509414)
    If the information in the logs exists, it will leak, no matter what good intentions and policy Google practices in this case. There is nothing particularly wrong with Google; they simply don't have the resources and motivation to protect this information like they should. For example, what if,

    • Google changes its policy?
    • Google changes management, which changes policy
    • Google changes ownership
    • Google cooperates with the government in other cases, per their privacy policy [google.com]: We may also share information with third parties in limited circumstances, including when complying with legal process. What if there is an actual war 20 years from now? You saw how Americans protected civil liberties after one terrorist attack.
    • Google cooperates with a foreign government. They already help China with censorship so they can do business in China. What if the Chinese gov't asks for search information on their citizens? What about the Russian gov't? Is Google crazy enough to keep a reacord of it?
    • The data simply leaks. As great as Google's reputation is, people inside the company have access to it, and often reputation doesn't match reality. And we're not just talking about hackers: The cost of protecting it from an intelligence service may be more than Google is willing to bear.
    • Google uses it against someone. The temptation will be there someday, and Google is not operated by saints. Does Google use it for background checks on prospective employees?


    Just the political value of the data -- to discredit or spy on enemies -- is so great that I can't imagine it will stay secret forever. With it, the Bush administration (or Putin or any other) can gather dirt on everyone, from congress to the dog catcher candidate. In fact, for censorship purposes it almost doesn't matter if it leaks: By merely seeking the data, the gov't raises legitimate questions in many minds and will have a 'chilling effect' on what they search for.

    I think that, until now, most people looked on privacy as something that idealogues worried about and which had no practical significance. I think that attitude was only a lack of experience and foresight. Unfortunately, their information is already on Google's servers; there is no going back.

    Google should simply anonymize the data: They can collect aggregate market research, or even person-by-person research, yet remove all identifying information. Until then, I would seriously consider avoiding using Google, or use an anonymizing proxy service to protect yourself. The standard of behavior in privacy matters must be raised.
  • by iamwahoo2 (594922) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @11:26AM (#14509439)
    I partially agree that he has done the things you stated, but I would argue that doing all of these things takes vast resources away from more important things. Common sense tells you that our response to 9/11 is over blown. A few thousand deaths is not that large in the grand scheme of things. If we are interested in saving lives we should have focused on treating heart disease or preventing traffic accidents.
  • by SoulRider (148285) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @11:27AM (#14509454)
    Why did he get re-elected again?

    Because only 33% of the eligible voters voted last election. Out of that 33%, 51% are neo-cons, the rest are so disorganized they couldnt agree on a candidate if the candidate was God. Everyone except the neo-cons have given up on voting. Nothing will change until all eligible voters exercise their one and only voice in the process and vote.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 19, 2006 @11:28AM (#14509465)
    There is a difference between 'Morals' and 'Ethics' while I do not care to debate how 'Moral' GWB is, I would debate how 'Ethical' he is. Having a panel present false evidence to support his need to go to war with Iraq does not seem very 'Ethical'. Creating a program like 'No Child Left Behind' railing it through the senate, and then under cutting it's funds doesn't seem very 'Ethical'. Sending kids off to a war on foreign soil to die under false pretenses doesn't seem very 'Ethical'. Spying on innocent Americans doesn't seem very 'Ethical'.

    Oh... and BTW... about his 'Morality' - refusing to meet with the mother of a child who died in a war he started doesn't seem to 'Moral'. Having his spin doctors smeer her name doesn't seem to 'Moral'.

    Miserable Failure... yeah... I think that sums it up!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 19, 2006 @11:33AM (#14509507)
    What about citizens from countries other than the US that use google?
  • by kadathseeker (937789) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @11:40AM (#14509574) Homepage
    just to have basics like ROMS, torrents, pr0n, and other important info, including legitimate info. Well, the only good that may come of this is a generation of 1337 h4x0rz. https://beijing999.com/ [beijing999.com] https://proxify.net/ [proxify.net] https://pimpmyip.com/ [pimpmyip.com] proxyswitcher, etc. are your friends and filters are your enemy (because filters are freakishly ineffective at hitting their target, but good at getting everything else).

    Can you really trust any studies that show up on TV or the newspaper anymore? Pr0n, weed, videogames, global warming, indooor pollution, and everything else under the sun are GOING TO KILL YOU or MAKE YOU KILL OTHERS. Jesus H. Christ! (as if people haven't killed in His name...) 40 years ago scientists were worried of global cooling. The Earth has naturally warmed and cooled many times in the past - and things died, but that's nature. We're still alive. Today's youth are, according to the FBI - the least violent generation in American history, maybe, maybe, because they are inside playing videogames? Oh, and now masturbation may prevent prostate cancer - that's what I call wanking now, cancer prevention. I really just wished people weren't so ready to believe _everything_ the media, a Nigerian email, or a politician (all parties, Libertarians too) tells them to. There's a reason what you watch on TV is called programming...
  • by Anunnaki (905059) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @11:43AM (#14509605)
    children pr0n is quite a delicate excuse to use for logging search queries and their originating IPs, isn't it? If you scare enough, the public will allow you anything .-) (That sentence is SO old you gotta remind people *g*)
  • by Alarash (746254) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @11:44AM (#14509611)
    if you're innocent, you shouldn't have to worry (true, but only if the government isn't violating the rights of the innocent, and leads to the possibility of forfeiting other rights).
    When the Nazis arrested the Communists,
    I said nothing; after all, I was not a Communist.
    When they locked up the Social Democrats,
    I said nothing; after all, I was not a Social Democrat.
    When they arrested the trade unionists,
    I said nothing; afterall, I was not a trade unionist.
    When they arrested the Jews, I said nothing; after all, I was not a Jew.
    When they arrested me, there was no longer anyone who could protest.

    That's all I have to say. Mod me down if you want.

  • by Skjellifetti (561341) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @11:47AM (#14509646) Journal
    That only works if he can read.

    Bush can read. So can most Congresscritters. They just don't read enough.

    A person who won't read has no advantage over one who can't read.

    - Mark Twain

  • by arkanes (521690) <arkanes AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday January 19, 2006 @11:47AM (#14509651) Homepage
    Wow, way to ruin the internet. This sort of thing is exactly what people are trying to fight - basing everything on the "community standards of the recipient" is a recipie for disaster when you're talking about global network (especially an anonymous, pull based one). If your law were passed, you'd have just given carte blanche to shut down almost any site in the US to *anyone* who can afford a plane ticket and the services of a 16 year old.

    This was already used years ago to try to shut down the mail order porn industry - a DA would order something (via mail) to some county with a sympathetic judge and file suit there for violating community standards where it was recieved. It's an unacceptable burden to require someong fulfilling a request to first analyze the community standards of the reciepient, and the problem is even worse on the internet.

    Lastly, it's important to remember that the internet is *not* like the real world, and that "community standards" a pretty questionable standard to apply to it anyway. Unlike physical locations, you can't be required to pass by a porn site in order to get to somewhere else. If you're looking at porn on the internet, then you're either doing it with full knowledge of your circumstances, someone has subverted your computer, or you're doing foolish image searches. And even if it's the last, I think it's extremely questionable that we need legislation to "protect" against this. I suspect that the amount of porn "delivered to children" when those children weren't actively seeking it out is extremely minimal and unlikely to happen enough to damage someone.

    I'll give an allegory for the whole "accidental search" thing. When I was in high school a few friends and I were on a road trip to Seattle. We were wandering around the city and saw a sign for some shop that was something like "fantasy bookstore". I'm sure you can see where this is going - it was, of course, an adult sex toy/bookstore, not at all the right kind of fantasy. But just like when you mis-click on a search result, it took about 10 seconds for us to realize that we'd made a wrong turn and go back out. The fact that a minor can accidently walk through the door of an adult bookstore (much less a minor who actively tries to sneak in past the proprietor) does not mean we need legislation to "protect" that.

  • by j_snare (220372) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @11:47AM (#14509652)
    Ahh, yes. The old "I read it on the internet, so it must be true!" Are you so sure it's legit?

    I will tell you that 5 seconds of searching gives you little information, besides a bunch of articles referencing the one you linked. Many of them, such as http://www.ioerror.us/2005/12/09/bush-constitution -just-a-goddamned-piece-of-paper/ [ioerror.us] rightfully expresses the need for some verification, rather than just a single person's dramatizing article. My short searching was unable to find any verification.

    Wishing something was true doesn't make it so.

    People on both sides need to cut this sort of thing out. They need to cool off and be reasonable with each other again. Both Democrats and Republicans are guilty of open hostility and attacks.
  • by electroniceric (468976) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @11:52AM (#14509704)
    This "child porn" scare is ludicrous.
    Yes, in the sense that as a threat, I believe it's overblown. Much like child abduction - dangerous, but relatively rare.

    It's very telling that people get worked up about "child porn" but not "child rape"-- i.e. something which actually is universally WRONG.
    I'd guess this is by virtue of being one of those topics that still exceeds polite conversation. Child abuse of any type is universally publicly deplored.

    Participation in child "porn" can be voluntary, forced, or somewhere in between (coerced?); the actual sex depicted can be consensual, rape, or somewhere in between (i.e. with a child incapable of truly giving "informed consent").
    I can't agree with that. A child of 12 simply does not posssess the judgement (nothing to do with intelligence) to understand and accept the consequences of being filmed having sex with someone else, or themselves for that matter. Participation in porn goes way beyond put that thing in here, no matter how it's done. And it's hard to avoid asking the question: why does an adult want to see a child in sexual poses, when the adult knows or should know that children simply don't understand sex? Have you ever hooked up with someone a good bit younger than you? You know how they interpret everything you do with meanings far different and greater than what you intended? If an adult goes specifically looking for that kind of reaction, a la child porn, it's hard not to conclude that the adult is looking for control/power/manipulation through a sexual lens.

    And as a 12-year-old-- a "child"-- I wanted sex and would have welcomed sex.
    I believe you felt/feel that way. But if you look at the people who did do that, it generally turned out much worse than they expected. Sex is potent stuff, and it takes a fair bit of self-knowledge to learn how to handle the physical, emotional, and relationship elements of it, and make it something good for you. People learn to use sex for all different kinds of purposes in their lives, and as adults, they're welcome to whatever they do, but at 12 or 13, once again, someone simply doesn't have the judgment to make those distinctions. It's a tricky balance - no parent I know wants to stop their 12 year old from checking out members of the opposite sex, making out, maybe taking a few halting steps forward from there, but none that I know wants to find out their kids have been sleeping around just to prove they can have sex (which IMO is almost universally what drives teenage sex).

    So yes, you can call the child pr0n scare a whipping boy, and a trojan horse for all kinds of government intrusion into people's privacy and expression, and I believe it is that. But that doesn't make child pornography itself a good thing.
  • by another_drone (929271) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @11:52AM (#14509705)
    With Judge Alito's confirmation, the Supreme court will certainly back the right of the Federal Government to request Google's data. You should expect to see a number of such cases resurface once Alito is confirmed.

    I doubt it is a coincidence that the Bush administration is bringing this up again.

    Funny thing... I do not hear any complaints from Microsoft and their search engine... Do you think the feds forgot to ask Bill for his data?
  • by LordNimon (85072) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @11:54AM (#14509735)
    What does "community standards of the recipient" mean? The recipient is a minor, so obviously his standards don't apply. If I'm a nudist living in a staunchly conservative county, and I allow my child to see nudity because I think it's natural, then the "community standards" are odds with my standards. So should my child be allowed to see a naked woman or not? I say yes, but apparently you say no.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 19, 2006 @11:58AM (#14509773)
    Parental responsibility is failing, and I'm tired of the government trying to clean up the pieces.

    Right! People should take personal responsibility, not let the government tell them what to do. Makes perfect sense.

    This is why I'm all for having to have a license to have a child.

    Right! People should be controlled, and the government should tell us who can or can't breed.

    ...wait. Which do you want: personal freedom, or government control? You can't have it both ways. I know the idea of someone saying to all the horrible parents out there "Don't have more kids you idiots" is brilliant in theory, but just take a second and think about President Bush controlling who can have children.

    I shiver at the thought.
  • by Haeleth (414428) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @11:59AM (#14509791) Journal
    Why not just quit worrying? Statistically speaking, the two people most likely to sexually abuse your children are you and your spouse, in roughly that order. Then other family members. Then other people whom they know well, such as friends' families, teachers, sports coaches, religious leaders, and so forth. Total strangers barely figure as a risk; registered sex offenders probably come even lower, because they know damn well they'll be the first suspect if anything happens.

    Besides, if all that guy has done is download child porn, then there's no particular reason to assume he's a predatory paedophile, any more than the fact that I've watched The Godfather means I'm likely to be affiliated with the Mafia.
  • by Anonym0us Cow Herd (231084) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @12:05PM (#14509843)
    You could salt the hashes to increase cost. But you make a good point.
  • by Caspian (99221) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @12:05PM (#14509845)
    Kindly explain why it is alright to restrict the sexual behavior of even highly intelligent people "for their own good" simply on the basis of their age, whilst even the dullest (non-retarded, non-brain-damaged) person over 18 is allowed to have sex.

    Most people look at the laws against sex between "adults" and "children" as protecting the "children" from rape and abuse by the "adults". As someone who finds it morally reprehensible to abandon the needs of intelligent youths deprived of rights solely on the basis of their age (having "been there" and "done that"-- or, rather, had that "done" to me!), I perceive the primary effect of these laws as the opposite: restricting the rights of the "children".

    Rape is rape, and rape should always be illegal. And, yes, it is worse to rape a child than to rape an adult. But not all sex between adults and children is rape! My God, if I had been approached by a comely 25-year-old as a 12-year-old, I would have accepted in a heartbeat. AND I would have used protection, so that old saw that goes "oh, kids aren't mature enough to have sex safely" is utter rubbish.

    Kindly peddle your ageism elsewhere. It is no more moral to restrict sexual behavior by age than it is by race. A FAR greater proportion of black males than white females are violent criminals; does that make it moral to restrict all black males from working?

    Of course not.

    Yes, a "higher" percentage of youth than adults are intellectually and emotionally incapable of handling sex. But, again, a "higher" percentage of blacks than whites are criminals. Why is it justifiable to pass laws restricting all youths on such logic, but not similar laws restricting all blacks? They are one and the same, and I do not accept that either is morally defensible.

    There are many, many millions of "children" whose intellectual and emotional capabilities exceed those of the "average" 18-year-old, or even the "average" 40-year-old. "Adults" far more unintelligent, immature, and reckless than I (or most other people on SlashDot) was at 12 (or even 10) are permitted rights based solely on their age. This is wrong. Drawing the line based solely (or nearly so) on age is like drawing the line based solely on race.
  • by Hosiah (849792) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @12:09PM (#14509902)
    I've already made up my mind as a youth, and have taught my children the same, that what the government wants and what's good for me, for society, or even the morally right thing to do are two seperate things. Occasionally they coincide, but only rarely. From day one, the kids' have been taught at home; sending them to school is an incidental supplement with some handy benefits. "Appear to be playing by everybody else's rules, while quietly playing by your own.", which, I hasten to stress, is only unfortunately necessary in a sick society.
  • by ianscot (591483) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @12:20PM (#14510033)
    Personally, I'm glad that there's a group willing to defend our rights no matter who's President at the time.

    The ACLU also defended Rush Limbaugh against what it considered to be government intrusion into his medical records -- you recall his Oxycontin "doctor shopping" case. They've represented unpopular opinions at most points on the political spectrum.

    Yes, it's a group that operates according to principle and not partisan positioning. That earns it the eternal enmity of those whose real credo is maintaining the status quo in order to keep a grip on power. (Let's all take a moment to consider which of our two parties essentially supports the ACLU, and which made being a "card carrying member" of the ACLU a dirty epithet in the 1988 election cycle.)

    (The parent poster missed the distinction between the law that was passed and the overreaching attempt to get Google's records, of course.)

  • by Derek Pomery (2028) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @12:28PM (#14510121)
    There is the also the fact that certain searches, local.google.com in particular, can rapidly identify a person, hashing of IP or no.
    While there are technical solutions, we can't even begin to step down this path. I hope the feds get smacked down for this.
  • by moeinvt (851793) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @12:30PM (#14510145)
    The fundamental flaw with your argument is that you're thinking about the Internet as a "delivery" mechanism that would be covered by your generic statute. The Internet is not like the USPS where you "distribute" things from point A to point B. It's a marketplace/community where content is "made available" to anyone with access. . . . and if you actually believe that this really about porn, you're misguided X 2
  • by sconeu (64226) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @12:58PM (#14510436) Homepage Journal
    Child Porn is the root password to the Constitution.

    (Terrorism is the alternate password).
  • by raddan (519638) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @01:29PM (#14510750)
    Exactly. Education is the key. I think now about "abstinence education" and I shudder. Hello! We TRIED that for, what, millenia?! I had sex in high school. I could have gotten myself in a fair amount of trouble, but I was fortunate enough to have sex ed classes and parents who, because of their own experiences, decided that knowing about safe sex was very important. Yeah, I hated it at the time, but it has served me quite well.

    Out of all my friends and all of the girls I've dated, I'm the only one I know of whose parents took an interest in teaching them about sex. Fortunately, for my friends, they had sex ed in school. This is, increasingly, no longer the case.

    People need to realize-- teenagers will have sex whether you like it or not. Do you bury your head in the sand, or do you teach them the one thing that we know will make a difference? If anything, sex ed decreases promiscuity because girls are informed of the consequences. I just can't believe the kind of cultural 180 that has happened in this country in the last few years.

  • by aralin (107264) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @01:43PM (#14510881)
    I have only a question about these community standards. If I am living in US, but not socializing with people in my town, instead being on the internet as part of the slashdot community or some other online community or communities, which standards do apply? What if I am only part of an online community whos members are not living in US? I think its time we set a precedent in the courts and define the word 'community' the way *WE* know it. And the use of community standards by courts will be just fine.
  • by kpang (860416) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @02:02PM (#14511084) Homepage
    People need to stop with the whole "if you're innocent, you shouldn't have to worry" when defending the Bush administration. Listen. It just isn't that simple. Considering the history of powerful governments, you'd think people would be a little more sceptic about the amount of corruption and abuse that goes on. Innocent people have been brought down before in systems that actually had checks and balances on power. Far more have been brought down in systems that didn't (see Stalin, Hitler, etc. etc. etc.). I find it strange that a nation full of people trying to spread "freedom" to other nations are naive enough to give up their own in exchange for empty promises that their government will not abuse it.
  • by Phillup (317168) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @02:14PM (#14511205)
    How is it that Clinton gets the knock for doing it with a chick...

    While Bush gets a bye for having a male prostitute spend the night... several times [thetruthseeker.co.uk].

    (Oh yeah, that is right... this terror stricken white house doesn't really keep track of who is in the house with the president. Riiiigggghhhhtttt.)
  • by SComps (455760) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @02:14PM (#14511212) Homepage
    Karma be damned, here I go.

    You mention that kids entering a porn shop should be shown the door. That's 100% correct. However, kids entering a website. How is the owner to know that it's a kid? What if the kid lies and says "Sure, I'm 18!" There's nothing anyone can do about that, and I don't care how great your programming skills are.

    The truth of the matter is that porn is going to be on the internet, the mail, the TV and video etc because there are a lot of legal adults that are interested enough in it to make it profitable, so it's not going to go away. What needs to be done is place the responsibility of supervision firmly where it belongs... the parents or guardians. If little billy-joe-bob is wandering the llama sex sites, why should the llama sex site owner be sued? (ignoring the obvious llama activity) billy-joe-bob's parents should be supervising his internet usage and controlling his access.

    There also needs to be reasonable limits set on accesibility. Sure an 11 or 12 yr old kid shouldn't have access to porn, although I know a few that would actively look for it if they could. Hell damn near every 13 yr old (or older) boy on the planet is most likely actively looking for porn. I personally feel that if a child is able to decide to go looking for the stuff, and his or her parents aren't monitoring that connection, the website owner shouldn't be penalized. If the website owner is spamming porn or placing links in google that are deceptive that's another story. Luring people of ANY age to your porn site should be illegal period. However if a 13 yr old clicks on a link "RED HOT TEEN PUSSY THAT WANTS YOU!" well.. that 13 yr old certainly isn't looking for pictures of burning felines waiting to be adopted.
  • by Phillup (317168) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @02:19PM (#14511266)
    'cause they are chicken shits?

    They can't raise their own kids without the gov'ment helping them protect them from the baddies... and they are scared as all get out that there might not really be a God.

    Gotta suck being them...
  • by Phillup (317168) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @02:31PM (#14511380)
    Most pre-war intelligence was believed to be true even by opponents of the war. Intelligence by definition relies on SPYING which is at best guessing

    Bush has proven himself, time and time again, to be a bad guesser.

    When he says "trust me" ... we shouldn't.

    We should fire his ass. (not wait for him to leave)

    Of course Democrats NEVER use unfunded mandates
    This doesn't make it right, it makes them BOTH wrong.

    The battle cry of all pacifists.
    Are you saying non-pacifists like to be lied to?

    WMDs was simply one of the reasons for the war.
    You mean, one of the false reasons for the war.

    How do you feel about all the mass graves (approximately 500,000 men, women, and KIDS) we are finding there?
    I think they should kill the motherf*ckers responsible.

    Starting with the industrial complex that created and sold them... and, don't forget the Dick & Donald show, either.

    History doesn't remember all the intelligence fuck ups that happened in WWII...
    Those weren't intentional.

    These are...

    That's one of the problems.

  • by rsborg (111459) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @02:39PM (#14511492) Homepage
    Google won't let you use Gmail if you block the Google cookie either. Do you see where I'm going with this? :)

    Just use the standard Firefox feature of "keep cookies.... until I close Firefox". Given the memory leaks and minor issues with extensions, you'll end up closing the browser eventually (I close it approximately 1-2 times/day). Or use private browsing option in various browsers, and it'll do the same thing.

    Then again, if you're a mainline IE user (not avant/myie2 user) this doesn't apply. Of course, if you're using IE, you've probably got bigger problems :-)

  • by jasen666 (88727) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @02:47PM (#14511582)
    "Community standards" are bullshit regardless. If I want to watch something in the privacy of my own home, that's my right, whether the "community" thinks it's indecent or not. Barring things that obviously hurt or abuse others, such as child porn or snuff films. But those aren't illegal for indecency reasons, they're illegal for much more important reasons.
  • by lgw (121541) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @02:55PM (#14511676) Journal
    That the civil war was principally about slavery was simply the propaganda of the victor (which so often makes it into the history books after a war). Slavery was merely the trigger that provoked the real issue: states' rights vs. a strong federal government. Lincoln said that he would have freed all of the slaves, some of the slaves, or none of the slaves, whichever worked best to keep the states united. However, "strong federal government" is a poor rallying cry.

    For those who think the result didn't work out well for the individual (given that slavery was on it's way out ion any case, albeit slowly), it's hard to imagine that Germany would have lost WWII without a united America supporting the British and to some extent the Russians though lend/lease in the early years (mostly in defiance of popular opinion) of that war. It seems quite likely that if the south had succeeded in seceding, Hitler would have been able to complete the war on one front before opening another, and we'd all be speaking German.
  • by einTier (33752) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @03:06PM (#14511788)
    Yes. People forget why these community standards were originally put into place. At one point in time, in a non-wired, non-global world, they made perfect sense.

    Back when our parents were children, there was very little mail order shipping. There was no wired transmission of digital media. Basically, if you wanted obscene content, you had to walk down to your neighborhood adult store and buy it. Of course, no one wants a porno shop next to their children's daycare, and some rightfully saw these establishments as blights on their community. While no one should have a problem with you consuming hardcore BDSM material in your home, some understandably had a problem with the stores you had to buy it from setting up shop right down the road. NIMBY, basically, just with porn and not waste.

    Not that I nessessarily agree with it, but this is why community standards were put into law. Basically, you couldn't sell anything in a community where the "average person" disapproved. That wasn't supposed to mean that you couldn't buy it in the next town over and then bring it back to your home -- they just couldn't distribute it in your city limits.

    We all know that these kinds of things mean nothing in today's world. But, many politicians and many judges are older and have not grown up with this worldview, and do not completely understand it. Others just hate porn and realize they can control it this way. Some are just power hungry. Whatever the reason, the old "community standards" no longer apply. If I buy a dildo from goodvibes.com, did they sell it to me in the community they're based in? Or the community I'm based in? The online community? The community where the billing took place? All of them? If I download a video from bangbros, isn't it technically "delivered" in any jurisdiction those bits happen to pass through?

    Besides, who cares what you bought or where you bought it from, or how offensive it is when it comes to your house in a plain brown box -- or if it comes to your house through digital wires, completely hidden from anyone who might have seen it? The problem is, these laws started as a way to keep people from inadvertantly seeing obscene content they didn't wish to see and have changed into a way of keeping anyone from seeing obscene content.

    Hopefully, the courts will eventually get this right, but one thing about our government is that it does nothing quickly.

  • by Omestes (471991) <omestes AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday January 19, 2006 @04:46PM (#14512863) Homepage Journal
    Here is an odd solution. Perhaps we can update our sexual mores up from victorian england, or our puritan roots?

    Why the hell are Americans such damn prudes...
  • Re:Age ranges? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by oddfox (685475) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @05:20PM (#14513163) Homepage

    "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me."

    I didn't trust the Bush Administration in the first place, from day one. I'd have to be a fool to place any trust in them to not mishandle the information they're requesting here when they've shown a willingness to decieve even with matters of much greater importance. Think about it -- Would you hang around someone you know has done things to hurt you or your friends behind your back many times recently? I wouldn't even hang around someone who's done that, period, ever. I'd be a fool to make the current administration exempt from that logic when they wield far more power than any random joe that I come across.

    By the way, trying to take an Occam's Razor-like approach to situations like this is how governments get away with whatever they please, since people assume no harm shall ever be done. Better to assume harm shall be done, and keep an extremely vigilant eye.

  • by _Sharp'r_ (649297) <sharper@NoSPAm.booksunderreview.com> on Thursday January 19, 2006 @05:38PM (#14513291) Homepage Journal
    See search engine watch for extensive [searchenginewatch.com]
    details, but the upshot is that the administration only asked search engines
    for a week's worth of search terms data and the request didn't include
    asking for anyone's personal data, just a list of terms and related search
    frequency statistics. Almost all the other major search engines have
    released the requested data and publicly stated that the data didn't include
    anything personal or threatening to individual privacy. Google's refusal
    probably has more to do with competitive reasons more than any privacy
    issues.

    Don't believe all the hype you might read in the Mercury News.
  • by NMZNMZNMZ (903066) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @06:05PM (#14513531) Homepage
    I've spent a good deal of time thinking about this. I don't want my kids to have easy access to that kind of pornography. There's enough anecdotal evidence, in my mind, from kids that are growing up with this and it being a major problem, that it concerns me a great deal. Kids whose understanding of romantic relationships have become completely skewed because their role models are guys cumming on women's faces and saying, "take that bitch!"

    I respectfully disagree with you here. I've been watching porn fairly heavily since 5th grade (around 12-13 years old). The first porn I saw was on our old Win95 box -- in fact, it was my father's stash. While there weren't many videos (this was mid-1990's, the internet wasn't quite to that point), there was plenty of close-up, uncensored, hardcore nudity.

    Yet I've never raped a girl. I've never cummed on her face and said, "Take that, bitch!" I've never had the urge to completely dominate a woman. I know that's not what relationships are about. And I know that I'm not the exception.

    I think many of the "ills" that face our society today are simply caused by bad parenting and overreactionary politicians. Porn doesn't harm mentally balanced youth. Period. Video games don't cause mentally balanced children to shoot up the school. Period. Movies, music, and TV shows don't cause mentally balanced children to commit suicide after breaking their friends' necks. Period.

    Parents that buy Doom3 for their 10-year-old kid are the problem (no 10-year-old is mentally balanced). Parents that drink, smoke, and beat members of the family are the problem. Parents that don't give their children any attention are the problem. Parents that encourage violence (yes! it happens!) are the problem. These kind of parents bring about mentally unbalanced children who don't know or don't care that it's wrong to shoot up the school or dominate their girlfriends.

    How do we fix these problems? That's up for debate. But one thing that's clear is how not to fix these problems: by taking away constitutional rights and freedoms in the name of "protecting the children." It simply won't work.
  • by Elwood P Dowd (16933) <judgmentalist@gmail.com> on Thursday January 19, 2006 @06:30PM (#14513759) Journal
    While no one should have a problem with you consuming hardcore BDSM material in your home
    Oh, how you misoverestimate the puritanical dimwits in this country.
  • by Bushido Hacks (788211) on Saturday January 21, 2006 @01:02AM (#14524687) Homepage Journal
    What I search for online is no one's business!

    Control the Airwaves!
    Fuel the the reaction!
    Use Every weapon of mass-distraction
    Turn active people in to passive consumers
    Feed 'em bogus polls and harebrainded rumors!

    Cut back civil rights
    Make no mistake
    Tell 'em homeland security is now at stake!
    Whip up a frenzy keep 'em suspended
    DON'T LET THEM KNOW THAT THEIR LIBERTY'S ENDED!
    --Stars & Stripes by KMFDM

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