ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Sunday, January 22, 2006

The Google Subpoena - An Opposing View and A Response

As some of you know, I am also a contributor to California Conservative. It is one of the premier blogs on the Right. I encourage all to put it in their rotation. Normally Cal and I are in agreement. But that is not the case on the issue of the Google Subpoena.

Prior to posting my thoughts on the subpoena, Cal and I had an exchange of e-mails. I think they capture at least a part of the question and the divide that exists on the right regarding this question. So I will share them.

Cal's e-mail to me:

John,Read your post and will publish it tomorrow. However,
wanted to engage you in a little banter in advance thereof. It's obvious
you're quite steamed over the Google story. You wrote: "Some things are just a
violation of our values and ways of doing things. Should I not be
able to do a search without thinking the government is, or might be,

Not to be argumentative, but what values are being violated? IMHO, if
you're searching for porn (which is perfectly legal), who (cares) if the
government or your wife, for that matter, are watching? And if you even want to
include the kids, it's your choice. No one is going to kick down your
door. If you use a credit card, with every transaction you make, people
are watching, tracking your every move. That's life in the technology age.

However, if someone is searching the internet for kiddie porn and then,
after inspiration, surfs on to find instructions on how to best kidnap, rape and
a little girl from a school yard, wouldn't you sleep better knowing
that law enforcement would be alerted?

My response:

Hi Cal, the value to which I spoke is privacy and respect for
privacy. I am not one of those who thinks privacy is a Constitutional
right Griswald et al notwithstanding. However, I do believe that we as
Americans expect our privacy to be respected absent some very good reson not to
do so. A blind subpoena for over a million searches is on its face
without a good and specific purpose.

People should be entitled to a certain space. Activity on the
internet is obviously on the fringe of that space, and it is that fringe to
which I rise to defend in this case. If we don't defend it here,
then where? If we don't defend it now, then when?

Further, I am just not believing the Justice Department's rationale for the
subpoena in the first place. It was allegedly issued to obtain information
supportive of COPA. Legislation is a Congressional not executive
function. Had Congress wanted this information, something with which I
would have a lot less philosophical difficulty, they could have gotten it.
But that is not what happened here and I am left to wonder what Justice is
really up to.

My bona fides on supporting this adminitration are pretty good, but I smell
the hand of Big Brother here.

... this issue is a good example of the faultline between the
libertarian and traditional conservatives. I guess it is pretty clear
which camp I fall into along with Christopher Hitchens and Bob Barr, though I
disagree with them as to the NSA flap. I do not think it is any
secret that the faultline exists. That others may try take advantage of
that divide, well, so be it. (I for one would certainly never have shown up on
the same stage with Algore.)

Secondly, you asked if some entered a search for "kidnap, rape, kill"
wouldn't I want the authorities to be alerted? Hell no I would not want
the authorities to be alerted, not unless there was some reason to think that
person might be up to something. Should a reporter who entered such a
search be the subject of a police investigation, or even closer to my heart, a
lawyer? What about a pastor trying to understand what someone has
done? No, I don't think buzz words should put law enforcement on anyone's

Note I said "law enforcement."Intelligence in support of national security,
where prosecution is not the aim, is a very different thing in my mind.

So endeth thus epistle.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: MontereyJohn