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Not compared to yesterday, anyway...when I got home around 8 PM after dropping phoenixalpha off at her place and then getting myself a steak at Outback, the parking lot was plowed, the sidewalks had been cleared, and the hot water was working again. Yay!

Today I had 67 pages of AU closures to wade through; the good news is that 62 of them weren't on my system and the remaining five pages had nothing biled to them yet, so I could just close them without having to chase people down and ask them whither they wanted their charges moved. I also had the usual deluge of billing files, but those went smoothly as well.

This gave me time to do a little blog reading, in the course of which I discovered that Google has apparently decided that what's good for the Chinese is good for the US as well. and taken the axe to The Peoples' Cube, a pseudo-Communist site that lampoons the Left. Apparently Google is unhappy with them over hidden text and links on the site, which is kind of dorky considering that all of those are duplications of openly displayed links further up on the page, and also a mite suspicious - usually if you commit an unknowing or ignorant TOS violation, you get a warning instead of being immediately flushed down the memory hole. You can still find the site fairly easily through Yahoo and other search engines, but given how central Google has become to a lot of peoples' experience of the Internet, it doesn't look very good. More deep thoughts on the issue here. Via Michelle Malkin.

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
digex
Mar. 17th, 2006 03:17 am (UTC)
I have to wonder about the Google "don't be evil" motto
at this point - if they are not ankle deep in evil poo by now,
they are staring over the precipice and looking for a good
LZ. Sad but seemingly true. -digex
wombat_socho
Mar. 17th, 2006 12:56 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I think between this, the PRC business, and their refusal to cooperate in the DOJ child porn crackdown, most folks have already come around to the POV "Nobody believes that bullshit any more!"
(Anonymous)
Mar. 18th, 2006 04:51 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry, but I have to respectfully disagree here. What you're looking at is not, as you put it:
"an unknowing or ignorant TOS violation" nor have they been "flushed down the memory hole". thepeoplescube.com attempted to game the system by including a bunch of text to push up their page ranking (as well as duplicating a bunch of links) and then hiding them using CSS slight-of-hand. I'm sure they though they were pretty damn slick nowithstanding the fact that it's a trick that dates back to Altavista in the late 90s. Or maybe they paid a bunch of money to a consultant who told them this was a quick way to synthetic popularity. In any event, Google noticed and stopped indexing them. As soon as thepeoplescube.com gets rid of the spam, they're back in the index - requests for reinclusion are acted upon in a quite quick fashion. The notion that this was an innocent mistake fails the basic plausibility test.

The PRC business is one of those damned if you do, damned if you don't sort of things. In some ways I suppose it's preferable to turn one's back on China and keep the moral high ground. That's what I think I would have done in Google's place, but I can't say for sure because I haven't been there.

Refusal to cooperate with DOJ's fishing expedition and divulge Google trade secrets in the process is an action which should be applauded by civil libertarians and GOOG.O stockholders alike. There is a very real concern that the DOJ is not following the guidelines set out in 18 USC 2703 (that's the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which has been around for 20 years now). Now, you have to understand that I *like* President Bush and am generally a fan of our foreign policy in Afghanistan and Iraq, yet I find the Administration's apparent decision to play it fast and loose with adherance to statutory law in both this case and the NSA/FISA Court case... troubling. Google is doing the right thing by refusing to play ball. Yahoo and friends should have done their part to see to it that appropriate case law comes into being; instead, they rolled over.

Probably best to not comment on the "don't be evil" bit. When you're public, nobody believes that bullshit anymore either. :-/

--RS

wombat_socho
Mar. 18th, 2006 07:40 pm (UTC)
Well, you've forgotten more about SOE than I ever knew, so you're probably right about Google and The People's Cube. As for DOJ, it was my understanding that everyone else that cooperated did so after redacting personal information out of the search info, which should have addressed any privacy concerns.

Now, FISA...IANAL, but SIGINT used to be my field. I agree with Hugh Hewitt: FISA does not apply to NSA in the first place, still less in a time of war. While I respect Bruce Schneier's opinion on 99% of crypto matters, on this he is blowing smoke up peoples' asses. Interception of foreigners' phone calls has always been legal, and the technology is a side issue.
(Anonymous)
Mar. 19th, 2006 01:04 am (UTC)

Interception of foreigners' phone calls has always been legal, and the technology is a side issue.

In many cases, the other person on the phone was a US citizen. In those cases, I am deeply concerned that due process wasn't followed. I happen to agree with Bruce Fein, who is quoted here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NSA_warrantless_surveillance_controversy

If you respect Bruce Schneier's opinion on 99% of crypto matters, you respect him a whole lot more than I do. ;-)

---RS

wombat_socho
Mar. 19th, 2006 04:03 am (UTC)
So the other caller was a US citizen? Tough beans for them, but it's still legal for the NSA to check the call. There's case law on this going back to the First World War.

Ah, you noticed I was careful to restrict my approval to crypto. :)
I think he's right on some computer security issues and dead wrong on others, but fortunately those aren't likely to get anyone killed.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )