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Calif. Initiative To Regulate Search Engines?

kdawson posted about 8 years ago | from the escalation dept.


Lauren Weinstein writes to tell us about CIFIP, the California Initiative For Internet Privacy — his attempt to get search engines off the dime on questions such as how long they retain search data. The initiative aims to explore "cooperative and/or legislative approaches to dealing with search engine and other Internet privacy issues, including a possible California initiative for the 2008 ballot." There is a public discussion list.

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Sounds good in theory. (3, Insightful)

CosmeticLobotamy (155360) | about 8 years ago | (#16274689)

But it's government, so to get anything done, anything enforceable would have to pretty much say, "You can only keep records for 25 years, and then you have to delete them. Seriously, guys, okay?" I'm not saying don't bother. Good on ya, California. But don't get yours hopes up.

Re:Sounds good in theory. (2, Insightful)

jacquesm (154384) | about 8 years ago | (#16275235)

the government is at odds with itself over this, there is privacy protection and then there is the 'war on terror' bs that says that we will track everything everywhere all the time (carnivore and such).

I'm pretty sure that privacy protection (of which there is precious little in the US to begin with) is going to lose out on this one. The right thing for GOOG, AOL, MSN and so on to do would be of course to unilaterally stop keeping track of peoples searches in such a way that they can be attributed to a particular person.

Then the government would have to mandate that such queries be kept and we can all see the emperor again. As it is the big search companies do the governments bidding because their goals are fairly strongly aligned.

Keep everything -> more control over the population in terms of dollars spent or people on file.

kiss your privacy goodbye.

Re:Sounds good in theory. (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | more than 7 years ago | (#16278325)

How about an initiative that reduces the number of laws that are basically redundant? I think what we are looking at is the lazyness of criminal investigators to investigate. I think also we are looking government types that would rather make a law, than look for a reason to understand the other persons view point. As for the Islam issue, maybe Islam could review how Kuwait does it; Not to many Kuwaites in the news these days, there must be a reason for it.

"With all these damn laws being passed, it is looking like the Republicans are slightly left of the Liberal Democrats." - Unknown

Head to Head (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | about 8 years ago | (#16274703)

Won't this come head to head with the data retention rules?

You can either keep the information on the grounds of security or you can remove them on the basis of privacy.

There is no middle ground.

If you are not a supermodel with stolen pictures then you are a terrorist.

Re:Head to Head (1)

walnutmon (988223) | about 8 years ago | (#16274823)

I am not exactly sure what I think should be legal and illegal for companies to do with their data. There is definately some gray area and good arguments on both sides.

What I am sure of, is this. The government should not have the right to tell companies they need to save this data. That is absolutely wrong on a very basic and fundamental level.

Re:Head to Head (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16275189)

If you are not a supermodel with stolen pictures then you are a terrorist.

Can't I be both? []

The alternative (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | about 8 years ago | (#16274729)

The only alternative to having a law on the books is to have a court case define a precedent. Given that lawmakers are actually beholden to their constituencies and voting base, it makes more sense to have them define the rules than a judge who may only be able to see the issue through the particular case in front of him.

Ultimately, though, no one really cares about this type of issue because it doesn't hit home at all. Most people are still using ATMs and paying bills with checks. Technology is passing most of us by and we're not really that interested in the details. Internet privacy is a non-issue to the majority of Americans.

Re:The alternative (0, Offtopic)

Secrity (742221) | more than 7 years ago | (#16276161)

I don't mind people paying bills with paper checks, what I can't stand are the people in supermarket checkout lines that still write paper checks to pay for groceries. These paper check holdouts are the women who won't even open their purse to get out their checkbook until the order is totalled up, they write REAL slow, they wait until the check is OK'ed and they are handed their receipt before they write the purchase in their check register, and then they won't move along until they finish balancing their checkbook and everything is put away nicely in their purse. After carefully putting their checkbook and pen away, some of them continue to block the checkout line while they carefully reapply their lipstick.

Don't get me started on the use of hand sanitizer.

Lets get Ted Stevens on this... (4, Funny)

tehSpork (1000190) | about 8 years ago | (#16274755)

When you allow companies to save mass amounts of information, mass amounts of information, about the searches performed on the tubes, the tubes could get clogged with all this information. Therefore, instead of allowing this information to accumulate on the walls of the tubes, we are putting forth a mandate that all search engines clean their tubes on a yearly basis. To protect privacy. To protect the tubes. To save the internets!

Re:Lets get Ted Stevens on this... (2, Funny)

bky1701 (979071) | about 8 years ago | (#16275045)

Or someone could call Roto-Rooter, I hear they know about pipes.

Re:Lets get Ted Stevens on this... (1)

aplusjimages (939458) | about 8 years ago | (#16275813)

Tubes and pipes are totally different especially when it comes to the internets. Do you think Osama is laughing at America right now? He sits back, while our own government finds a way to destroy America.

That's right, I said "internets" too.

I hope this doesn't go too far (3, Interesting)

walnutmon (988223) | about 8 years ago | (#16274785)

Basically the most dangerous part of keeping this data is the fact that other people can match you to your queries.

I think the government should only get involved if there is a problem that cannot be solved by the people themselves. Unfortunately, the willingness of companies to offer easily accessable avenues for finding some of the risks of their services is not as good as it should be.

I think the first step here is not to make hard rules as to how long all search info can be held, instead, they should give rules as to what can be held indefinately, and what cannot.

In this case, I don't think there is anything wrong with queries being kept indefinately, but it should not be kept in relation to people. Make it so that they have to encrypt IPs to some other value, so that searches can be tracked, and even what the users search, but there will be no way to tie that information to actual people.

That way the information can be stored indefinately, and in the event other people want to see, they will have nothing that they can use maliciously against other people. They will see search trends, and even see what individual users search for in order to create correlation between searches, but will not have access to anyones personal business.

It would be difficult to argue against this because any business that wants to know specific peoples searches is obviously using information that the users did not intend anyone to have.

By doing this the search companies would have a much more trusting user base.

If only we had a media that brought up important stuff like this, the companies would do it on their own in order to generate good PR and more traffic.

Re:I hope this doesn't go too far (1)

CosmeticLobotamy (155360) | about 8 years ago | (#16274937)

In this case, I don't think there is anything wrong with queries being kept indefinately, but it should not be kept in relation to people. Make it so that they have to encrypt IPs to some other value, so that searches can be tracked, and even what the users search, but there will be no way to tie that information to actual people.

Remember when AOL did exactly that and the humongous problems with it brought the issue to everyone's attention?

Re:I hope this doesn't go too far (1)

jacquesm (154384) | about 8 years ago | (#16275167)

I'm working on a little contest, the prize will be 2500 euros for the first person to match up 100 real life identities with the search profiles, stay tuned.

(it took a while to get all the data correlated, but the main tables are all ready to go)

It is my firm belief that search engines should VOW not to keep search profiles on their users, nobody has yet seen an increase in quality from keeping person bound search records (even anonimized like aols were). Search records are 'radio active' in a sense because they'll always be of some value in the future which would possibly cause you damage. If you think that's not true think about this: would you consent to having all your searches of the last 5 years made public during ANY possible lawsuit filed against you (wrongful or not) and to have your opposition cherry pick your searches for 'proof' of their contentions ?


Re:I hope this doesn't go too far (1)

OmnipotentEntity (702752) | more than 7 years ago | (#16276221)

Huh? I know I find it very useful when the entity in question allows you to search through your past searches. (*cough* Google *cough*)

And honestly, how would you know if search companies don't actually take your search history into account. Quality is a very subjective measurement, and you don't actually know what's going on behind the scenes.

I honestly would not mind my search history made public. It's nothing interesting, I don't look up loli porn. And the most incriminating thing I have on it is probably a search for "Dattebayo." Because I'm a Narutard. (Well, Bleach-tard, same thing really)

Now, I'm not about to claim the logical fallicy "Only the Guilty Have Things to Hide." But if I actually had things to hide I WOULDN'T GIVE THEM TO A BUISNESS. Hell, it's your own damn fault if you searched for something incriminating without taking precautions.

Re:I hope this doesn't go too far (1)

jacquesm (154384) | more than 7 years ago | (#16277141)

well, as an omnipotent entity you have little to fear :)

Re:I hope this doesn't go too far (4, Informative)

finkployd (12902) | about 8 years ago | (#16275161)

(1) The identity can sometimes (often?) be figured out by going through all of the searches. This is basically what all of the uproar over the AOL snafu was all about

(2) The US government wants this data to be saved and tied to users in case they need to get it (via a court order I'm sure *snicker*). If you are against this you must love the terrorists and child porn.

(3) This data represents significant intellectual property of the search engines. Remember, you are NOT their customer, you are their product. The advertisers are their customers. As their product, they want to collect and retain as much as they can about you, this makes their product more valuble.

Basically, the search companies and government are not going to want to do this, only the "product". And if the data is all tied to a single IP (or long term cookie like google's), encrypted or not it is possibly still traceable.

Part of the problem is the weird notion that all internet searches should be completely anonymous, I don't know where that came from.


Re:I hope this doesn't go too far (4, Informative)

jacquesm (154384) | about 8 years ago | (#16275205)

the main reason for keeping searches anonymous is that you have no idea where that data will end up. You've looked up something about aids recently ? Your insurance just went up.

Tried to find out how to make TNT ? Off to Guantamo bay with you.

Finding out about the origins and local chapter of the KKK ? Better buy a new set of windows.

and so on.

Search queries are a private thing because like calling the help hot line for being suicidal if you can not guarantee privacy you end up causing real life damage.

Marketeers wet dreams and bottom lines only go so far, it's perfectly possible to run a search engine without profiling and still make a buck.

Maybe not quite as many bucks, and maybe you'd have to work a little harder to 'monetize' but to unconditionally hold hostage an individuals entire search history for an indefinite amount of time is a serious breach of privacy.

It would be like the phone company keeping a record of all your CONVERSATIONS, not just the numbers that you have dialled.

Re:I hope this doesn't go too far (1)

finkployd (12902) | about 8 years ago | (#16275763)

the main reason for keeping searches anonymous is that you have no idea where that data will end up.

Yes, but since we know that there is no privacy (and never has been any reason to expect it) that should be the reason to either (1) change the law like they are trying to do here or (2) self censor what you search for, or at least make it hard to trace to you.

Marketeers wet dreams and bottom lines only go so far, it's perfectly possible to run a search engine without profiling and still make a buck.

If you are a publically held company, you pretty much have to do what your stockholders want. If becoming a data warehouse for users searches makes a lot of money, that is what you will do. Or you will be removed and someone who will do it will be put in your place.

It would be like the phone company keeping a record of all your CONVERSATIONS, not just the numbers that you have dialled.

Ok, but there is some history here. The phone company was a fully regulated monopoly. Basically an arm of government. So they did not answer to shareholders, they did what the government told them. This meant that they did not need to find profit lurcking under every rock, they were doing just fine.

That is no longer the case, but during that time we had many laws passed specifically for the phone system regarding privacy and recording. Those laws do not address the internet and people should not view the internet as an extension of the phone system, inheriting all of its characteristics. You want searches to be private and untracable? You have to do it yourself in the form of either passing a law to make it so, or taking your own steps to be anonymous (and even then, no way to know for sure). Unless a law is passed, there is absolutely no expectation of privacy, and there should almost be the expectation that your search patters are being sold to the highest bidder.


Re:I hope this doesn't go too far (1)

jacquesm (154384) | more than 7 years ago | (#16277033)

spot on, but for technology people like you (and hopefully me) this is obvious. The problem is that the 'general public' is absolutely clueless about this and it will probably cause them great harm in the long run.

Just like credit bureaus started out collecting stuff just for the heck of it they are now causing a very large problem for a very large portion of the population. Europe has much stricter privacy laws and as far as I know there is no way for your insurance company, your employer or anybody else for that matter to lift your data without your explicit consent. And if you tried to do it without consent you'd be surprised at the level of punishment that goes with privacy invasion.

So a law to protect a user of a search engine's privacy would go a long way towards making the perceived level of privacy closer to the actual level of privacy.

Re:I hope this doesn't go too far (1)

nschubach (922175) | about 8 years ago | (#16275773)

My biggest problem with all this crap is as follows:

I feel my freedom of speech and information allows me to go out and read up on Nazi Germany if I want. It doesn't mean I'm going to go out and slaughter millions of Jews and try to invade Russia. I'm just interested in the war and I want to find out as much as I can about what happened. Now if this data is collected and I find that I have a police officer following me around town pulling me over every time I go 3 miles over the speed limit, or I go to the library to pick up a book that has more information and I'm questioned when I check out the book, then we get to a point where this information is abused. I fear that we as a society will be afraid to learn about controversial figures and won't even bother to look up the real information (or try to find it if it's out there.)

I even find that in some of the more harsh speedtrap areas of the US, the general populace seems more introverted. Sure, when they first start harsh penalties, the people are in an uproar, but only those that drone through their day and hate anyone that might deviate from the norm will remain in such harsh environments. That and those that can't afford to move. I suppose if your looking to reduce crime rates and your not completely freaked out by the fact that your neighbor never looks at you on their way into their social cave, maybe this kind of social monitoring doesn't seem so bad to you.

Then again, I could just be overreacting. But I'd rather be information safe, then sorry later.

Re:I hope this doesn't go too far (2, Interesting)

1134 (191981) | more than 7 years ago | (#16276743)

Looks like California is getting uppity... trying to regulate the world. Sometime I'd like to see someone like google just say "Fine, we are boycotting your state." I am not specifically complaining about Calf, but the general principle of someone thinking they are big enough to extort others into doing what they mandate. It would be nice to see someone give these these bullies the proverbial finger.

Re:I hope this doesn't go too far (1)

stuartrobinson (1003887) | more than 7 years ago | (#16286097)

Try running s/California/USA/g on your post. I wonder if you would still feel the same way.

Re:I hope this doesn't go too far (1)

MasaMuneCyrus (779918) | more than 7 years ago | (#16281073)

Perhaps search engines could keep the IPs, but replace ccc and ddd (aaa.bbb.ccc.ddd) with "", thus deleting any identifiable information (aside from ISP and region), but keeping the valuable information that helps search engine makers improve their search resutls, based on region.

You volunteer this information. (4, Insightful)

onion2k (203094) | about 8 years ago | (#16274809)

While search firms have a legitimate business interest in using this data in reasonable ways for both ongoing business and R&D purposes, it is difficult for reasonable observers to justify the retention of this data on an indefinite basis.

The information that you submit to a search engine, such as your search terms, your IP address, your user agent string, any cookie information, is all submitted voluntarily. You give up this data willingly. If you want to keep any of this information private then don't submit it. Of course, that means you won't be able to use the search engine, that's the cost of privacy. A price you should be willing to pay if your privacy is genuinuely important to you.

Too many people seem to expect that they should be able to live a private life despite handing over vast swaths of data on a daily basis. You can't. If you want your data to be private you need to keep it to yourself. Data retention issues are only applicable in situations where you don't have a choice about relinguishing your information (eg tax returns, vehicle licensing, etc).

Bottom line: If you choose to tell someone something voluntarily you cannot expect them to forget about it when you think they should.

Re:You volunteer this information. (2, Interesting)

walnutmon (988223) | about 8 years ago | (#16274863)

You give up this data willingly.

To a certain extent.

My problem is this. It is not obvious to most users that this information is tracked to such a detailed degree. I spent four years in college for computer engineering, before that, I didn't know that entering text in a search engine was actually trackable to me. And I certainly didn't know that it was trackable, storeable, and searchable.

There is a reason people have their rights read to them when they are arrested. It is because not everyone knows the law and when something really important to someone is at stake, the government believes that the less educated still deserve to know how certain things will affect them...

This leads to a dispute over what should people know on their own, and what should people be told before using. Google has an EUA, but you don't need to read it, or even look at it to use their service. Maybe you should (oh yeah, and maybe it should be readable by normal people, not just lawyers).

I know there is sentiment to say "fuck people who use stuff they don't understand". I think that people need to be more responsible for themselves. But in the case of the internet it is a great tool for everyone, and I think the more people use it, the better. Something as basic to anyone who needs information as a search engine should have the risks better explained on a regular basis.

Re:You volunteer this information. (1)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 7 years ago | (#16276055)

``It is not obvious to most users that this information is tracked to such a detailed degree.''

Maybe we should make it so that it isn't. Right now, most web browsers broadcast an enormous amount of information, whenever they send a request. Do all websites we contact really need that information? Does it have to be broadcast in the clear? What if we made a browser that submitted only the minimum amount of information necessary to get a response back, used an overlay network to make different requests appear to come from different IP addresses and hide its own IP address, and used cryptography to make information available only to the intended recipient?

Re:You volunteer this information. (2, Informative)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#16276257)

This post is a little bit fanboyish, but Google does pretty well, so let's give them due consideration.

Their terms of service are clear and fairly concise: l []

They attempt to explain how your interactions with their services seperately from their actual privacy policy. The privacy highlights document is somewhat shorter than the actual policy, but neither is terribly long, and both are clearly written: [] on []

They also include a link to what exactly they are tracking in their logs, that explains what information the actual text of the log represents: []

These documents aren't hard to find. I'm not sure what more google should be doing to communicate with their users. A link advertising all this stuff on the front page might be nice, but 'About Google' isn't exactly obfuscated.

Re:You volunteer this information. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16276427)

Ignorance of the law (or the current technology) is no excuse.

What, the government could listen to my phone conversations? No way!

What RFIDs in car tires or my Easy pass could be used to track my movement? No way!

Hell, satallites could be use to watch what I build in my back yard. No way!

It's not written in stone (2, Interesting)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | about 8 years ago | (#16274871)

Though you may hand over this information, there's nothing forcing the government to force search engine companies hold on to the data. If the search engine decides it doesn't want to hold on to all these search stats, they can't do anything about it if their hands are tied by government regulation.

I don't care whether or not my privacy is protected by Google. I do care that the government cares enough that they see fit to codify it in a way that isn't leaning towards the privacy side.

I would rather they just left it alone and went on their way.

Re:You volunteer this information. (1)

CrankyFool (680025) | about 8 years ago | (#16274997)

Look, we do the "you gave it to them, they can do what you want with it" dance here when it comes to search engines every once in a while, and we do the "you gave it to them and you can reasonably expect they'll safeguard it" dance here when it comes to financial institutions every once in a while. In the end, it's all about disclosure -- sure, you're giving your info to SEs, but you should be able to make that decision based on some information about what they'll do with it, and "whatever we damn well like" isn't good enough.

Re:You volunteer this information. (4, Informative)

pubjames (468013) | about 8 years ago | (#16275017)

You give up this data willingly.

Within the context of applicable laws. The laws we define.

You can apply your argument to pretty much everything - when you send a parcel via UPS, when you make a telephone call, when you give your details to a company to purchase something. Laws apply which protect us from misuse of our personal information.

If you choose to tell someone something voluntarily you cannot expect them to forget about it when you think they should.

Rubbish. An organisation can use your personal information within the bounds set by applicable laws.

Re:You volunteer this information. (1)

RexRhino (769423) | more than 7 years ago | (#16279165)

Rubbish. An organisation can use your personal information within the bounds set by applicable laws.

Since when did the government start legislating WHAT WE ARE ALLOWED TO DO, instead of what we ARE NOT ALLOWED TO DO? The last time I checked, in a free society, we do whatever we want by default, unless the government explicitly and specificly bans a certain behavior.

Perhaps I am misinterpreting what you are saying (in which case I apologize), but it sounds like you are saying that an organization can only use personal information in ways SPECIFICLY ALLOWED by government. As in, we may only act in ways specificly pre-approved by government. While it may be true that government nowadays does consider everything that isn't specificly and explicitly approved by the state as being criminal, that is not a free society.

Re:You volunteer this information. (1)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 7 years ago | (#16279529)

> Within the context of applicable laws. The laws we define.

Sure, and you can produce any speech you want, worship any religion you want, or peacably assembly to protest what you want... within the context of applicable laws. The point is that there (at least should be) limits to what laws control.

Re:You volunteer this information. (1)

caudron (466327) | more than 7 years ago | (#16278013)

I'm calling bullshit on this one.

I want to agree. I really do, but this isn't the 1800's. You can't just go off into the mountains to stay out of society's way. To live in this Brave New World you must---not can or ought, but must---participate in the global information infrastructure. In doing so, you will leave a trail. In other words, we've crafted a world wherein a person, to live as normal, must give up that privacy that was expectable in generations past. You must do these things to compete with others in the same community. In that regard, it is absolutely incumbent upon us all to both recognize that loss of privacy and do what we can to abate it.

Privacy is paramount. It is a needed precursor to the freedom of speech and the press, against illegal search and seizure, or the right to think as we please without persecution.

I want to beleive you when you say we can just opt out of such things---that they are optional---but the reality is that we can't and they aren't. Want to turn in a paper for homework? Some school insist that you do so electronically in MS Word. Want to call your mom? Every call is now tracked and stored. Want to protest City Hall? Your face is captured forever on digital film by the block cameras. I want to beleive you, but I can't.

In the face of these threats to our freedoms and rights, we must stand resolute and unwavering. We must always do all we can to err on the side of freedom. The battle for privacy is part of that fight.

I, for one, do NOT welcome my new privacy invading, click tracking, camera-watching overlords.

Tom Caudron []

This may come as news to these folks, but... (3, Insightful)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | about 8 years ago | (#16274921)

If the search engine doesn't have an office in CA (and it'd be easy to move for stuff like this), they have no reason to listen to your silly laws.

Re:This may come as news to these folks, but... (3, Insightful)

jacquesm (154384) | about 8 years ago | (#16275301)

no, not really the traffic passes through points located in California.

Also, right now:

                Google Inc. (DOM-258879)
                Please contact 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
                Mountain View CA 94043

they're pretty well represented there, and moving house is also not cheap (not to mention relocating all your employees) and all that just to avoid abiding by the law.

You might as well set up shop in Afghanistan if that's you attitude :)

Re:This may come as news to these folks, but... (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | about 8 years ago | (#16275559)

They could see it as a way to offshore without all the negativity. "Sorry everyone, our hands our tied!". Though I didn't know they were talking about google.

And even if the traffic passes through hops in CA, what can they do about it? Maybe force all local ISPs to block the search engine, but there's still 49 other states that will be unaffected.

Re:This may come as news to these folks, but... (1)

jacquesm (154384) | more than 7 years ago | (#16276971)

google was implied (at least for me), they're the no.1 search company by a long stretch, and California would be a bad state to lose for any hightech company.

Re:This may come as news to these folks, but... (1)

RexRhino (769423) | more than 7 years ago | (#16278959)

You mean set up shop Somalia... Afghanistan is an American puppet nation, so I am not sure it is the place to go to escape U.S. regulations.

Re:This may come as news to these folks, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16285971)

Well, Afghanistan is only an American puppet for values of puppet close to Kabul. All google would have to do is set up their HQ somewhere in the mountains. Of course, they'd have to convert their business from internet search to growing poppy seeds, but they'd probably make more money that way for shareholders anyway :)

Re:This may come as news to these folks, but... (2, Interesting)

IO ERROR (128968) | more than 7 years ago | (#16276071)

Mod parent up... I love these CIFIP guys. They basically are saying: "We want you to run your business OUR way, and if you don't, we'll get the guys with guns (the state) to MAKE you run your business OUR way." They act as if they didn't have a CHOICE or the ABILITY to protect their own privacy, both of which they do in abundance. Maybe this will finally wake up Silicon Valley and they'll finally get the hell out of the People's Communist Democratic Republic of Kalifornia. There are much better places, even in the U.S., for the tech industry to be located.

Public discussion? (1)

blirp (147278) | about 8 years ago | (#16274941)

There is a public discussion list.

But is it searchable?



Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16274943)

.. sounds to me that the american controllers want's what China allready have ;) .. scary!

Offtopic I know ... but there hasn't been ... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16275273)

a slashback in awhile. Some might take it offtopic because it's about search. Which kinda pertains to this story.

Anyway ... can either:

1. The general /. population start to use tags, or can we see start seeing the tag cloud? Is it ever going to come out of beta?

2. Can we have whoever is tagging the stories stop tagging things fud or notfud, or yes or no. It is annoying and serves no purpose for searching via tags. If a story is tagged fud or notfud then what is the point? I don't think anyone is going to be searching the tag cloud for the word "yes" or "duh". A tag serves a point to make meta-data about the story itself. So when I see stories that could have been tagged with more descriptive data, and instead are tagged with agenda markers or non-information from a minute amount of individuals, it really doesn't help the purpose of tagging at all.

If we were to see the tag cloud now. I bet the words "duh", "yes" or "fud" would be the largest words. That tells you about the mentality of /.

It would be interesting ... (1)

LaughingCoder (914424) | about 8 years ago | (#16275303)

... if the search companies were required to tell *us* our *own* search history. Of course there is the non-trivial issue of identify verification which, if not done properly, could lead to much abuse.

Good job! (1)

numbski (515011) | about 8 years ago | (#16275541)

Way to chase those search engines off our shores and into places where they won't be bothered! :P

I want some answers too, but when it comes right down to it, can we really bully these private companies into giving out this kind of info?

Impress me (1)

symbolic (11752) | more than 7 years ago | (#16276387)

This is a knee-jerk reaction to an unfortunate incident- it's only a symptom of a much larger problem that lawmakers refuse to address...companies that make their living pimping and prostituting the personal information of American citizens. There is also the complete lack of a comprehensive law governing the handling of sensitive data, and that protects citizens from people that essentially profit from the increased risk they pose to the security other peoples' information.

But then, in order to really address the issue, you'd have to start at the top- and that means scrapping all this TIA nonsense, as well the illegal re-routing of internet traffic to government agencies...that might actually happen, but it won't have a chance in hell until we get some true patriots in the whitehouse.

Government Contradiction... (1)

RexRhino (769423) | more than 7 years ago | (#16279293)

So, very soon in California, it will both be illegal to retain data on search engine queries in order to protect people's privacy, and at the same time search engines will be legally required to retain data on searches for ciminal investigations! Brilliant!

Whose really pushing this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16279441)

Newspapers, even the NYT, aka the "Grey Lady", are notorius for their inaccuracies and even deliberate dis-information. Yet, I can go the any good libary and search the stacks and/or microfilm files for any story about any subject that they've ever published. How is this not violating privacy acts?

Internet news sites, blogs, etc., suffer the same faults as printed papers, but web sources have a decided advantages: speed and multiple points of view. If you disagree with an Op-Ed piece in a newspaper and submit an opposing letter, you can consider yourself lucky IF it gets printed AND you can consider it a miracle if they don't mangle your letter till is says something you did not intend to say or worse yet, it seems to agree with the position you were writing against.

I believe the real powers behind this move are the printed and televised media. ABC and CBS have recently admitted that Drudge style reporting now rules the reporting of news. People have thrown of the shackles of controlled news. Are the old media now seeking ways to re-establish their old strangle hold on what is printed and how?, is that a "search engine" (1)

sdiz (224607) | more than 7 years ago | (#16279443)

Will outlawed? What is "search engine", actually.

California =! Calif (1) (886486) | more than 7 years ago | (#16279557)


n : the civil and religious leader of a Muslim state considered to be a representative of Allah on earth; "many radical Muslims believe a Khalifah will unite all Islamic lands and people and subjugate the rest of the world" []

Begs the question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16279575)

Is there anything left that CA hasn't regulated? Perhaps a warning label on absolutely everything sold in the state: "WARNING: This product hasn't yet been proven to be harmful to humans, the Earth, or baby seals, but eventually someone with too much time on their hands will think of a reason why you should avoid this product. Just save yourself the trouble and move into a grass hut and walk everywhere you go. Don't ride a bicycle because you will need non-renewable fossil fuels to lubricate the chain."
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