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March 2, 2006

Switch!

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Where would you hide something if you didn’t want anyone else to find it? Would you hide it next to someone you’re already in trouble with? Me neither.

Google has reportedly ‘moved’ their Chinese search database to the United States to prevent the Chinese government from being able to access it without their permission. I guess all their recent trouble with the Department of Justice has instilled some Google paranoia. The folks at Techdirt suggest Google move all of the U.S. databases over to China in an ‘oops, we don’t have it’ solution to their current legal problems. Can you see what’s going on here? It’s International hot potato!

Better yet – if the United States is holding the Chinese search database and the Chinese are holding the United States search database then all they have to do is arrange a trade! Oh, this could be fun. It would be like kindergarten all over again. Or — if the trade occurred in an abandoned field at midnight – an episode of Alias.

Search databases include information on user queries, including IP addresses and used query strings, to help companies like Google better understand how their engine is being used. There’s no way to know how effective moving the database will be until the day it’s requested (if ever) by the Chinese government.

Google has been fighting with the United States DOJ since August 2005 for refusing to turn over their American search databases. The DOJ has argued they need the information to defend a legal challenge to the Child Online Protection Act, but Google has fought its subpoena in court arguing that disclosing this information would “undermine” the trust of users and “unnecessarily burden Google”.

Google has been criticized for cooperating with the Chinese government and censoring material on the Google.cn site, a move that some consider contrary to its “don’t be evil” corporate mantra. Google has stated that censorship is merely part of ‘lawfully doing business’ in China. So they’re not dishonest… just a little sneaky.

March is going to be fun!

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