Google, Kiddie Porn and the Bill of Rights

I’ve suggested it before, and I’ll suggest it again today. In January, articles first started to surface that the Department of Justice wants to seize Google records in order to chase kiddie porn perps. We aren’t just talking about specific information being subpoenaed to find evidence about some specific alleged wrongdoer, but major fishing expeditions of millions upon millions of records.

Today’s news indicates that all the DoJ wants is a “sample of URLs and search queries”:

The Department of Justice (DoJ) has rejected Google’s assertion that a government subpoena for search data threatens the privacy of Internet users.

“The government has not asked Google to produce any information that would personally identify its users,” according to the DoJ’s response filed Friday in a San Jose court.

Yeah, right. The DoJ is going to look at search strings which indicate that someone may be looking up questionable porn and then not obtain a search warrant for more complete records — and I’ve got some beachfront property in Kansas for sale. But the issue goes deeper than this. What the feds want 1) costs a lot of money and 2) jeopardizes trade secrets. Both of these issues are covered by the 5th Amendment:

…nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

It could be fairly easy to establish a reasonable price for the data requested; the Constitution demands it. What would not be so easy is determine the valuation of Google’s trade secrets. This would be a very hefty bill, to be sure.

Instead of trying to find new ways to enforce a law already determined unconstitutional by the courts, perhaps our nannies in DC might just enter a few search strings into Google themselves.

Stephen Gordon

I like tasteful cigars, private property, American whiskey, fast cars, hot women, pre-bailout Jeeps, fine dining, worthwhile literature, low taxes, original music, personal privacy and self-defense rights -- but not necessarily in this order.

5 Comments
  1. Excellent point. Google could charge quite a bit… up to the entire worth of the corporation, as this would inevitably reveal precious trade secrets

  2. It would serve the government right if Google just took off and moved overseas. (In fact, they could afford to buy their own country if they so chose..)

    I say the same thing everytime a rich person/entity that I like is harrassed by the government… One of these days one of them will listen…!

  3. I believe that most of my libertarian friends worth over a million at least have bail out property somewhere overseas. Most of the debate is over which country is the best. Some prefer weed, others guns, others tax havens, etc.