Sunday, June 04, 2006


The debate about whether the government has the right to eavesdrop on phone conversations is interesting. There are those that say we should not be giving up our right to privacy so easily and the slope is slippery. On the other side, some are willing to give some privacy in exchange for safety. Sometimes, my mind slips to the possibilities of a poor government agent assigned to monitor my phone lines:

Conversation 1: "Yes, William is using the BIG POTTY now, can you believe it? It is such a relief. He's gotten over his fear that the water will splash his butt."

Conversation 2: "No, I don't think I'll get rid of all the chickens, and about bird flu, your husband is more likely to bring it home from duck hunting, I think."

Conversation 3: "Okay, I'll come pick you up in five minutes."

Conversation 4:"Okay, I'll come pick you up in five minutes."

Conversation 5: "Okay, we'll hold dinner for you."

Conversation 6: "Okay, I'll come pick you up in five minutes."

The agent will be asleep before the hour is up. Not the stuff of soap operas, is it? I doubt that anyone will find exciting fodder by listening to my lines, but I understand the reluctance for ordinary Americans to open their lives for inspection.

What's next? Perhaps what blog you read or websites you peruse? I heard on NPR:

The Justice Department has requested records for millions of searches
made on Google, AOL and other popular search engines in an
effort to bolster its case for an online pornography law.

At present, the information sought is broad data from the search engines, not individual information, though it seems individual information is already often sought on criminal investigations. Still, if the government is like my kids, and I think they are, if you give them an inch......

I doubt the founding fathers had any idea about the possibilities of the today's world, and that grown men could sit in the privacy of their home and webcam photos of their privates to 12 year old girls. No one would have known that many men can lure impressionable young girls into illicit conversations or meetings using their computers. Would it have changed their ideals? Would the Constitution be written the same today? (Actually, I think if they had to write the Constitution today, it would never get written but be locked up in litigation for the next 200 years.)

What about you? Would you be willing to turn over your search engine information to fight child pornography? Think carefully. Have you ever Googled your name? How about your child's name? Your address? Maybe a credit card number because you heard that if it comes up.....?
Telephone numbers? All that would be in the data, because it was part of a query on Google. Yet, they say this data could help fight the child pornography industry, which is more of a threat, in my opinion, than terrorism. What do you think?

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