One of many articles online read it and more like it and get worried, also let your elected officials no you are not happy about it. Think of the Dim line "Its for the Children" while reading it. New controls on porn mean new controls on everything.
Online privacy is a fragile shield
FEDERAL SUBPOENAS MAKE USERS UNEASY ABOUT WHOM TO TRUST
By Michael Bazeley Mercury News
Steve Shaer is feeling more skittish about Internet companies these days.
Not only is he upset that the federal government subpoenaed reams of data from four Internet companies -- Google, Yahoo, AOL and Microsoft. He's now wondering which online companies he can trust to keep his personal information private.
Although Google is strenuously fighting the government's request, the three other Internet companies gave authorities at least some of what they were seeking.
``It definitely brings up the issue of trust in those companies when they will comply with a bogus subpoena without fighting it,'' said the Miami real estate developer. ``It does give me pause that they would roll over without a fight.''
News this week that government officials asked the four large companies to provide information about the billions of Internet searches conducted on their sites has cast new light on the fact that online companies collect and store so much potentially personal information about people.
Authorities in this case never sought any personal information about any of the companies' users, according to court documents and statements by government officials this week. But the case has nonetheless sparked a dialogue about how much those companies can be trusted to guard information about their users and how forthcoming they would be if the government were more aggressive in its information requests.
It also raises questions about how many times companies may have already turned over information to third parties, including the government, without the public knowing.
For some people, these questions have taken on more urgency at a time when the government has been given more freedom to search and spy on Americans.
Neither Yahoo, Google or AOL responded to requests to be quoted in this story.
Internet users may be surprised to learn that privacy standards for personal online data vary widely, said Chris Hoofnagle of the Electronic Privacy Information Center.
Laws dictate what banks, telephone, cable and satellite companies can do with their customers' information and with whom they can share it, he said. But there are no rules, he said, to govern how most Internet and e-commerce companies handle personal information.
``There are no laws that stop the government from looking at that info,'' Hoofnagle said.
The amount of information amassed by online companies grows daily. Companies such as Amazon, Yahoo and AOL are constantly signing up new members who willingly hand over their names, addresses, gender, income levels and, in some cases, credit-card information.
Search engines, meanwhile, are constantly building a growing record of search queries, Web site visits and Internet Protocol addresses, which can sometimes help identify who owns the computers being used by searchers.
Even without specific legal requirements to safeguard that information, most online companies have done a good job of policing themselves when it comes to privacy, said Trevor Hughes, executive director of the Network Advertising Initiative, which represents online marketing, analytics, advertising and e-mail companies on privacy issues.
``I think it's fair to say that, even in the absence of legislation, we've had widespread adoption of privacy practices and policies,'' Hughes said. ``The private sector generally has an incentive to do things in a good way.''
Yahoo forcefully asserted this week that it protects its users' privacy.
Nonetheless, privacy policies are voluntary and carry no legal weight.
``They're just stated intentions,'' Hoofnagle said.
Companies could avoid many of these legal and social questions by reconsidering how much information they collect and how they long they store it, some privacy experts said.
Lauren Weinstein, a noted privacy commentator, said he worries that the U.S. government will somedy try to compel companies to store their personal data for longer periods of time so it will available to the government in the fight against terrorism. New rules adopted by European lawmakers require Internet service providers and other companies to retain certain types of data for up to two years for just that purpose, he noted.
``Part of the reason these problems come up is because this data is being retained in the first place,'' he said.
Lee Tien, attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, agreed. ``What we always say about subpoenas is, they can't subpoena what you don't have.''
Some companies allow their users to purge their online accounts whenever they want. Other online services that host personal information will block search engines from crawling their sites, preventing them from creating their own records of the data.
But few Internet users take the time to understand or think about how much of their personal lives is stored online.
``It's the society we live in, that we're so open and trusting.'' said Sonia Arrison, director of Technology Studies at the Pacific Research Institute think tank. ``We make the assumption that everything is OK. And then something like this happens and it's a wake-up call. I'm certainly going to think more about where I put my information.''
It's for the children.
Thanks Mommy Washington.
Bump for ADD impaired. Show Google some support and badger your elected officials if you can be bothered. Please.
IBTRA (In Before the Republican Apologists)
60+ reads. I think they are at a loss on this one.
dems have done alot worse to us....
You probably meant 'know', not 'no'.
Waaah. We want free search engines, they want to make money with advertisers. So guess what is going to happen? Portal sites are going to collect data. This should come as a shock to nobody, but instead, people are acting like the sky is falling because their search for 'BOOBY PICTURES' has been cached.
Damn the goverment for prying into my...oh, wait. They didn't actually pry into anything since they are just asking for search terms.
What about when typing certain words into a search engine becomes probable cause for a search warrant of your home?
Google search: Romanian SAR1
Google search: AK47
Google search: Ar15
Google search: M16
Google search: Smoke GRENADE
Google search: AK47 Home Build
Google search:80% receivers
Google search:Home made fire arms
AOl\Microsoft: Romanian SAR1
AOl\Microsoft: Smoke GRENADE
AOl\Microsoft: AK47 Home Build
AOl\Microsoft:Home made fire arms
AOl\Microsoft:Pound me in the ass prison.
That isn't the case, nor is there any information that it will be the case. Hyperbole doesn't help your case any, you know.
I happen to be a 'NeoCon', and I don't support these subpoenas.
I honestly expect an apology from Mattl for comparing me to these Statists.
Please, keep going. You're providing some much needed late night humor.
My thoughts exactly, share more please.