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February 21, 2007


Anthony Sanchez

It's funny trend that the government wants more and more of our private information while simultaneously restricting available information about itself. But it's no joke. Luckily it never went through, but the Federal government was considering giving a grant to a Texas law school to research legally restricting the Freedom of Information Act in the name of national security. Here's the link to a USA Today story about it: http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2006-07-05-foia-research_x.htm

An important function of information in a democratic context is control. The more information government has over its population and the less information on government the people have, the worse off Democracy is.

It seems that every new threat that comes along, whether it is substantial or not, seems to be able to be used to curtail First Amendment rights. Didn't many of the same things happen, if not the same rhetoric, during our red scares?

Seeta Peña Gangadharan

Yes the trend is looking bad. Even if we can commend Google for arguing against giving up information to the government, the motion in the end was granted.

One portion of this motion that interests me is the argument by Google that "its compliance with this request would imply that is search-engine database is reflective of the entire world-wide web" (8). While Google is clearly not the entire WWW, it seems increasingly headed that way as the search engine becomes the primary gateway through which users, especially those with lesser know-how about the Web, access the internet. In this sense, the government's reasoning makes good sense, although the overall request does infringe on privacy rights.

Allyson Stewart

Yes, good for Google. But private information should really be the sole property of the user. It's great that Google has the power to resist subpoena, but if sensitive data never left your computer, you wouldn't have to worry about using services.

You can attempt to remain anonymous, yes...

How would this work?

1)Turn off cookies.
2)Hide your IP address.


1) Use an anonymozing proxy. (The proxy could be compromised, however).

3) Use a web service that gives you a dynamic IP. (AOL).

2)Use TOR. Route your URL request through an overlay network.

But this still doesn't eliminate the need for you to hand over information that you may want kept private to intermediaries like Google. Although there are certainly benefits to telling a service provider about your usage patterns (customization), there is certainly plenty of private communication users wouldn't want compromised. Unfortunately, the architecture of exchanging information with others almost always requires giving up some information about yourself. And we are willing to give it up, because services such as those offered by Google are useful. Is this compromising ourselves as users of storage products like Gmail/GoogleDocs/etc?

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