If you (all 3 of you) have been looking for a reason to switch from your favourite search engine to Google, here’s a doozy.
The US Department of Justice has recently demanded of major search engines a sampling of 1 million random search terms in an effort to research the frequency of pornographic query results. The request is pursuant to the Child Online Protection Act, a much-opposed threat to individual privacy, in an attempt to homogenize search results. Many search engine operators gave in to the DoJ’s request without question, but Google has resisted, insisting the request violates their customers’ privacy.
Indeed, with search engines delving into all kinds of extraneous services such as email, shopping, video hosting, news aggregation, personals, photograph sharing, real estate, job searches, website statistics, and maps, the prospect of associating these random searches with personally identifiable information is truly frightening. Beknownst or not to we Internet users, we entrust all but our very souls to these companies, and the fact that so many of them are willing to surrender our very personal information is rather disturbing. I’ll wager most people with a Gmail account aren’t even aware that Google provides a search history service that presents a day-by-day summary of all searches performed while logged in. Users of Yahoo, MSN, and AOL search engines have just unwittingly handed all this information to the US government.
It is commendable that Google is fighting tooth and nail for the privacy of its users and for its very integrity. The company practises what it preaches, holding fast to its philosophy that “You can make money without doing evil.”
Let’s all wish Google the best of luck in defending against the threats of the DoJ, the Bush administration, and all those who would be carefree with our privacy.