Google and Unexpected Vacations

Greetings from Lovely Guantanamo BayWhile Google fights the good fight against the Fed’s search subpoena, it seems they are also prepping for the worst — and quietly enlisting us all to help.

With the typical media freak-out surrounding Google’s subpoena battle, it’s been somewhat easy to miss the fact that their colleagues at AOL, Microsoft, and Yahoo each caved instantly in the face of the exact same request. Clearly, Google’s pushback should be applauded but, then, they’ve also got the most to lose. It’s not hard to see the handover of the search data as a first step on the road to handing over everything else. For Google this is particularly damaging because it means coughing up Gmail, the archive-everything target of privacy peeps everywhere. If the fed takes the next logical step and wraps its carnivorous jaws around this designed-to-be-searched mail treasure chest, it’ll prove the privacy pundits right and “don’t be evil” starts to look nice in the rearview.

That’s where preparing for the worst comes in. Ultimately, if the data is there it is subject to subpoena. Solution: kill the data (as much as “organize the world’s information” Google hates it). Is it really much much surprise, then, that Gmail just recently promoted its Delete function from a backwater submenu to the very front page, giving it nearly equal prominence to the “save-it-forever” Archive button? And this promotion preceded the Fed going public by only a week or two. Coincidence? Doubt it. More like Google placing the last line of defense front and center for those of us hoping to avoid winning one of Dubya’s Gitmo getaways.

Update 2/3: Google admits legal requests for Gmail messages but says no more.

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