Keeping secrets.

The law, lawyers, and the court.
Jan. 23 2006 4:19 PM

Keeping Secrets

A simple prescription for keeping Google's records out of government hands.

(Continued from Page 1)

The other alternative is that we all just accept this limitation on our freedom and learn to be more careful. If you go around googling "gay cowboy," perhaps you're just asking for trouble. Perhaps one should live, as they say, as if everything you do will soon show up on Page A1 of the New York Observer. But living like that—as if everything you do will be publicly aired one day—is wretched, and the exact opposite of what it means to be living in a free society.

Other countries know this well. That's why, for example, China pays so much attention to controlling what you can find using its search engines. The whole point of Chinese media control is to promote the sense that you are being watched, even if you aren't. That's not a feeling Americans should want or become accustomed to. We should want a country where we can assume that most of what we say disappears into thin air or cyberspace, because in the end that's the only way to stay sane.


Recent events suggest that relying on the present administration to protect such basic freedoms may be, shall we say, unpromising. Other governments are just as bad if not worse. That's why the public's demand must be of Google—not the state. It should be that Google please stop keeping quite so much information attached to our IP addresses; please modify logging practices so that all identifying information is stripped. And please run history's greatest "search and delete," right now, and take out the IP addresses from every file that contains everyone's last five years of searches.

Where Google goes, the rest will follow. And if the search engines do what is suggested here, the subpoenas, when they come, will become like wiretaps—something that must be turned on, rather than merely searched. Today's search engines are close to an "always on" wiretap. Even for someone like myself who's hardly a privacy activist, that's a bit too scary. Google, and the rest of the search engine industry need to learn how to better keep our secrets.



The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

Congress’ Public Shaming of the Secret Service Was Political Grandstanding at Its Best

Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke

A Plentiful, Renewable Resource That America Keeps Overlooking

Animal manure.

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10


Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

Hasbro Is Cracking Down on Scrabble Players Who Turn Its Official Word List Into Popular Apps

The Ludicrous Claims You’ll Hear at This Company’s “Egg Freezing Parties”

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 1 2014 11:48 AM Syria’s “Moderate” Rebels Are Realizing That U.S. Airstrikes Help Bashar al-Assad, Not Them
Buy a Small Business
Oct. 1 2014 11:43 AM “I Didn’t Want to Build the Next Twitter for Cats” Search funds are the quiet, dependable, risk-averse sibling to the startup. 
The Vault
Oct. 1 2014 10:49 AM James Meredith, Determined to Enroll at Ole Miss, Declares His Purpose in a 1961 Letter
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 10:54 AM “I Need a Pair of Pants That Won’t Bore Me to Death” Troy Patterson talks about looking sharp, flat-top fades, and being Slate’s Gentleman Scholar.
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 10:44 AM Everyone’s Favorite Bob’s Burgers Character Gets a Remix You Can Dance to
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 11:48 AM Watch a Crowd Go Wild When Steve Jobs Moves a Laptop in This 1999 Demonstration of WiFi
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 1 2014 7:30 AM Say Hello to Our Quasi-Moon, 2014 OL339
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.