When is it Okay to Make Everyone a Suspect?

I’m really glad to see Google standing their ground on refusing to submit the details of two months of search data to the DOJ.  I certainly support efforts to crack down on child porn…of course!  I want those scumbags put away for life somewhere even half as hideous as their twisted, demented, sordid actions.  However, is this the best way to do it?  Will it even yield any leads?  Aren’t other methods available for the DOJ to pursue?  Don’t other methods make more sense?  This type of activity, considering everyone within the wide net which is cast around all types of Internet searches, reminds me of a similar type of effort in Iowa a few years ago; law enforcement attempted to solve the incredibly sad, shocking and deplorable discovery of a newborn infant’s body by requiring all hospitals and clinics within a certain area to turn over records of all women who had been pregnant within a certain range of time so they could question all these women to determine which of them had committed the horrendous crime.  The intent is noble in both cases, but the probably that these invasive measures will find the targeted perpetrators is very remote, and these actions completely dismiss the associated privacy impacts, and potential and likely damages, to those whose information is being sifted through en masse.  Remember, when you cast a wide net, a great many other fish get caught and get thrown away that weren’t the target of the expedition; however, those unintended catches certainly pay the ultimate price for what may have been a noble effort by others. 

And what will the DOJ do with all this search information?  Decide, perhaps, that while they have it they might as well see what everyone else is Googling for…and then flag people making what they determine as questionable searches?  It will be interesting to see how the Google case progresses.

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