Why the Privacy of the World’s Netizens is Still Safe

Thank God us netizens can rest easy.

And we can now do so without further worry, knowing that our favorite topics to research online are safely locked in Google’s computers – no matter what the government wants to access.

And I have to say, that’s the way it should be.

That doesn’t mean the search giant’s concerns weren’t without any sort of validity. In fact, Google representatives were right to question whether or not the government was trying to access its search data (which reports say might have been requested at one point but later dropped) – but for the wrong reasons. And apparantly, it’s because the search giant’s competitors knew something Google didn’t… at least until now. The fact is: the only thing requested was web addresses. Nothing more, nothing less. Search queries are not part of the final request – nor will they become part of the request again, if they were at all. Period. End of the argument.

Yahoo, AOL and Microsoft’s MSN were at least paying attention to the request by comparison, which revolved around a government study on online pornography to back up claims that overturned legislation – and consequently the need for even the .xxx domain category – were reasonable enough to warrant their passing in the first place. And I think that the government has a valid point in requesting the information – after all, nobody wants to see minors accessing porn sites without a legitimate reason – the only one of which that would ever pass muster in my book being for homework at school – so this, too is a valid reason for even preparing a report on web porn and what to do about it. If you ask me, no respectable website operator wants kids put at risk, which is part of why MSN, AOL and Yahoo released the requested information in line with what exactly was requested, as Google now will do without further need for complaints.

The bottom line: Google checked the facts, read the request, asked the right questions, and got the information it wanted. And it turned out they actually didn’t need to question anything about it after all. They only needed to ask their own competitiors.

And it doesn’t get simplified any more than that.

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