The US Department of Justice, in hopes of proving that the government needs more control over the lives of its private citizens after being told it cannot by the Supreme Court, last year requested that the top search organizations hand over information on the search terms of private citizens. You can read about it here on Slashdot.
It appears it is only Google that said “No, thank you…” while Yahoo, AOL and MSN simply rolled over and sent off the information. While I can understand when the government comes knocking on your door, you might give pause, but I am ASHAMED that these private companies would so readily share this type of information. I am even more shamed that the government feels the need to be big brother and find out what all of us or doing in the privacy of our own homes.
As some people pointed out, if they wanted to find out how easy or often pornography was made available from these search engines, they could just start searching themselves. Nor can I see how getting this sort of information proves anything.
Just because pornography may or may not be easily accessible on the Internet, the government has been told multiple times it cannot place unfair or restrictive practices on free speech. COPA was shot down for good reason.
While it is morally good for the government concerned about our children getting access to filth, it isn’t their job. That is the job of Mom and Dad to know what their kids are up to. I am all for enabling technologies that allow Mom and Dad to patrol this and no one mandated that Public Libraries have to allow unfettered access to the Internet for free, but we do need to be careful when it comes to what we allow the government to do.