Friday, August 18, 2006

Someone is Watching

650,000 AOL users search entries were collected and recently released on the net, supposedly as a research tool. Among those surfing the web for tidbits of information ranging from "numb fingers" to "60 single men" to "dog that urinates on everything" was No. 4417749

Drilling down and searching click by click, the identity of AOL user No. 4417749 became known. The trail or searches led to Thelma Arnold of Lilburn, Ga. "“Those are my searches," she said, after a reporter read part of the list to her. It was surprisingly easy.

People like Thelma and many others think that the Internet and how they use it is a private matter. We are searching the net for answers to questions we dare not ask even our most trusted family or friends. Someone questioning their sexuality or feel they have to remain closeted will turn to the net for answers or even to establish a community. Someone feeling down and sad all the time may look for information on Depression and mental illness. One net surfer came under suspicion after it was learned he was searching information on "how to murder someone", "undetectable poisons", "spousal murder", etc. Poor schlep was an aspiring writer and wanted to write their first murder mystery. He had some 'splaining to do. For god sake do not search for Al'Qa*** (I won't even type it), George will think you are a "turrerist".

Of course our paranoid government thinks otherwise and feels the net and our activity on it is public domain. This administration has made it clear we have little right to any privacy, so what makes you think the net is an exception. Earlier this year Google fought the Justice Department over a subpoena for some of its search data. The company successfully fended off the agencyƂ’s demand in court, but several other search companies, including AOL, complied. The Justice Department sought the information to help it defend a challenge to a law that is meant to shield children from sexually explicit material. They were fishing in my opinion.

I got this idea listening to NPR Science Friday on the radio this PM. They talked about some software that masks your searches and information. i am going to check out this software. TOR EFF. The damn Government has no need to see what I do on the net.

Z: I know you will comment!!!

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