Are your Internet search records public?

Big Brother wants to know what you've been searching for on the Internet, and has asked Google for the records. Google, to its credit, isn't handing them over without a fight.

As for those search records ... everybody knows (thanks to the Avenue Q Broadway musical) "the Internet is for porn." Go ahead and click, it won't bite.

(Props to JD for spotting the Merc story.)


A serious argument can be had over the morality and legality of search engines storing records of who searched for what. This debate becomes especially hot as the government presses for the release of those records. But there is another route to arguing against this potentially grave breach of individual privacy that centers around necessity. In other words, why does the government need to monitor Google searches, for example? With no reasonable purpose to justify such actions, the American government appears to be precariously close to the brink of arbitrary totalitarianism.
Proponents of public monitoring including internet searches will probably argue that such measures meet the new threats to national security that come with the electronic age. They will point to increased counter-terrorism efficacy and preventative crime intervention as benefits of federal scrutiny of internet search records. This is an absurd position, however. First, the enormous amount of search records that would have to be waded through to determine “suspicious” material would negate any practicality of this system. The time and money would be better spent on the traditional methods of counter-terrorism and law enforcement. Second, if the government started monitoring searches, people searching for material with bad intentions would merely switch to using internet cafes and libraries, currently public and “untraceable” ways to connect a search back to an individual. This means that the vast majority of people who the government would actually harass would end up being harmless citizens whose personal searches caught Big Brother’s attention. Career ruining and character assassination worthy of old Joe McCarthy himself would become commonplace. The United States of America has no room in it for ideologues who hijack civil liberties. There is no good reason for the government to study the records of internet searches, and therefore this unnecessary intrusion on privacy rights should not be permitted.