George’s Goons Go After Google…

(… and request a “Full Monty” under the guise of protecting youth)

You gotta love it… the Bush administration is making another full frontal attack (pun intended) on American’s privacy — this time under the guise of protecting children from porn. The “federal government is trying to force Google to reveal all searches conducted in a one-week period, as well as records for 1 million Web addresses” according to an article released today by a Search Engine Watch blog article, Google was the only one in the big four (AOL, Yahoo! and MSN) that said NO! The other search engines agreed to hand over the information. Read more about this at:

That one action is enough to make me even more loyal to Google. The others can go hang, IMHO. It seems odd that in the middle of an uphill battle on other privacy-sensitive issues that the feds, bolstered by Bush, would make another pass at gathering information that (although it doesn’t offer “personal” information about the searchers) is questionable and a serious overreach of the governmental authority.

I’m amazed that the other search engines would bow down (or was it bend over?) Quoted from the SEW article: “by handing it over, the search engine loses the perception of trust with its users. They may not understand that it is not personal. They will understand the government made a wideranging request for information and that the search company didn’t push back. That type of trust is worth defending in the face of an ill advised, useless government action.”

Bravo, I say! That’s exactly the point. Now, another facet of this instance…call me old fashioned, but I believe that keeping kids “safe from porn” should fall squarely on the shoulders of the parents. Today’s rant isn’t just about more threats against my private information being mined, about the constant strivings of the Bush administration to over-reach its boundaries … it’s also about the government deciding (once again) that it knows more about how to raise and protect my children than I do.

Now, I’m willing to admit that having raised teenage boys, that the porn issue has reared it’s head in my Internet-savvy household. But, I fixed the problem myself. I didn’t (and don’t) need the government to add protections for me to say — “No more Internet for you!” Nor did I need the government to tell me how to make it clear to my teen offenders that I knew exactly where they had been. I didn’t need the government’s help to be able to retrieve photos/images stored in the files of the teen’s computer that proved the transgressions.

Trust me when I tell you that having your mom sit beside you and show you EACH AND EVERY image you viewed, while discussing the moral/ethical implications, problems and issues with each one is a humiliating experience for a teenage boy. This mom then refused to fix the virus problem (which rendered the teen’s laptop useless) for a number of weeks — after all, the cyber “disease” was contracted from a porn site.

You can bet that I didn’t miss that opportunity — to talk about risky behaviour and other types of viruses and the similarities between the death of a computer and the death of a person from unsafe habits. And, I didn’t need the government to ban unchaperoned Internet access for a number of months. Let’s just say my unassisted methods were effective. Right now, my son believes that I can find anything on a computer and that if I ever have any desire/need to look, his whole world will be an open book where his computer habits are concerned. And he’s right.

Tip for parents of extremely net and computer savvy teens: Don’t show them WHERE the files are located… just make a copy of these files on a folder on the desktop… and after the images are reviewed and painstakingly discussed, you should delete them permanently from the desktop and the original location, so they can’t be crossreferenced by file name. You do NOT want them to be able to determine exactly how you found their stash… the stash that they thought they had erased… do you?

You may need to access that stash again if they don’t learn their lesson the first time, or in case you plan to do daily/weekly spot checks of computer files as part of your punishment plan.

I also found that comments like “Well, that one can’t even be considered artistic, can it?” (while tilting my head to one side to view it a bit differently) and “Ewwww, you really SEARCHED for that… (pause) is there something more here that we need to discuss? (pause) No? … Are you SURE?” constitutes an effective line of questioning for a squirming and EXTREMELY uncomfortable teenager. But, overall, the worst portion for my own kids was being required to sit right beside me as I reviewed EVERY SINGLE image.

I’ve never seen a child so uncomfortable in my life. Don’t misunderstand, I’m not a prude. I believe that curiosity is natural. And, If my children have questions — about sex or anything else — I answer them immediately. I believe that if children are old enough to ASK the questions, they are old enough to receive accurate answers. Of course, I’m a little bit more blunt than some of my contemporaries.

Anyway, back to the issue of the government going overboard again and protection of the concept of privacy (corporate and personal)… has vowed to fight the latest assault attempt. For that, all I can say is… “GO GOOGLE!” and “Back OFF, Bush!” Raspberries to AOL, Yahoo! and MSN for being… ahem… sadly lacking in the ability to stand up to a bully.

(See? I didn’t use the reference a portion of the male anatomy sometimes displayed on said porn sites, aren’t you proud?) Besides, I’d have to say that these three companies didn’t even display marbles — much less the other things.