The last couple days have been quite hard for Google as their stock has dropped significantly. This stems from their anticipated Q4 financial report -- based on Yahoo's less than stellar performance -- and a subpoena which asked Google (and other search engines) to share information with the government to monitor how much pornography is being viewed by children. This case has nothing to do with child pornography as Philipp Lenssen tells us in his blog.
I ran into the same situation yesterday. People who I work with know that I monitor what happens at Google, and when they hear news they flock to me with questions. Many people asked me what I thought about the "Google child pornography scandal". What? Is this how the public is perceiving this? It probably has a lot to do with the larger news sources including CNN, Forbes, Times Online, Mercury News, Market Watch and more who all published articles which used the phrase "child pornography" -- definitely not what this is about.
"The Justice Department is asking Internet search giant Google to turn over search records in an effort to defend a child pornography law"
"The company has refused to turn over the data, which the Bush Administration claims it will use in its fight against child pornography."
"The US Department of Justice wants the information to help it to establish how much child pornography is available on the internet"
– Times Online
"However, the Supreme Court invited the government to either come up with a less drastic version of the law or go to trial to prove that the statute does not violate the First Amendment and is the only viable way to combat child porn."
– Mercury News
"Trolling through two month’s worth of random results at the world’s leading search engine, as the government’s original subpoena requested, presumably would give Justice Department investigators a good read on what percentage of those searches were for child porn."
From Google Blogoscoped
This misinformation could backfire on Google. They were in the position to gain trust points of users by making it difficult for the government to request personal (or even general) information from the search engine. They did the right thing, but I'm sad to see how people like my colleagues and others who read traditional news media have been wrongly informed. Have you run into the same thing? What do you think about the request for this information by the Government?