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Be honest. Have you ever avoided doing a perfectly legitimate search because the keywords might attract negative attention?

By Andrew Pollack on 08/07/2006 at 05:26 PM EDT

The use of search engines is now ubiquitous. Whatever you want, start with Google or Yahoo or Ask. I wonder though, as we live in an increasingly paranoid and monitored culture how many people have now started rethinking their use of these tools for legitimate purposes because the terms they're interested in might look suspicious to someone.

If you read about the training I did for the Explorers last week, you may recall that we ran into a problem caused (we think) by the residue from tear gas or pepper spray (probably both) when the police used the training site not to far back. I was wondering if using dish soap and copious amounts of water would clean this and thought about doing a search for terms like "tear gas clean up" -- and then thought about just who might flag on a search term like that.

What about you? Do you hold off searching for odd things if you think it could raise eyebrows?


There are  - loading -  comments....

Not yetBy Jens on 08/08/2006 at 04:43 AM EDT
Hey, you have really a point that we all should be thinking about. Socialism à
la Soviet Union was broken because of the technological evolution, so that the
State of Supervision was no longer feasible. Seems, this time technology will
bring back that capability again, so that another culture may pick up a
"Supervisional Community". Thats scaring ....
My own thoughts on this are...By on 08/08/2006 at 07:34 PM EDT
You bet. I wouldn't be caught dead doing a search for how to "Replicate private
views." :)
Mary Beth
Have you seen the article about AOL searches?By Ben Langhinrichs on 08/13/2006 at 08:45 AM EDT
The URL I used was
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/09/technology/09aol.html?_r=3&oref=slogin&oref=sl
ogin&oref=slogin but I don't know if you can get to it without a subscription.
An excerpt:

<like ones for her dog, Dudley, who clearly has a problem. No. 4417749 conducted
hundreds of searches over a three-month period on topics ranging from “numb
fingers” to “60 single men” to “dog that urinates on everything.”

And search by search, click by click, the identity of AOL user No. 4417749
became easier to discern. There are queries for “landscapers in Lilburn, Ga,”
several people with the last name Arnold and “homes sold in shadow lake
subdivision gwinnett county georgia.”

It did not take much investigating to follow that data trail to Thelma Arnold,
a 62-year-old widow who lives in Lilburn, Ga., frequently researches her
friends’ medical ailments and loves her three dogs. “Those are my searches,”
she said, after a reporter read part of the list to her. >>


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