The National Association of Attorneys General met in Boston yesterday and one panel discussion focused on the 1996 Communications Decency Act's "safe harbor" provision, which essentially enables the Internet to function as an open forum by protecting publishers and service providers from liability for third-party content.
Some of the AGs are petitioning Congress to let them make those "safe harbors" a lot less safe in the name of fighting crime and, of course, protecting the children. In making his larger case, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood took aim at Google's autocomplete feature to demonstrate that Google has more control over such content than it might let on:
Hood zeroed in on autocomplete in particular, saying, "We know they manipulate the autocomplete feature." He is concerned about search engines, particularly Google, where for example a user entering "prescription drugs online" is given "prescription drugs online without a prescription" as an autocomplete option.
First of all, this does not appear to be the case, at least not today and at least not for me. Here's my search on "prescription drugs online."
I'm told that the panel participants were warned that searches generated by the session itself might affect results, so maybe that's what happened. Or maybe Google caught wind of Hood's favorite example of autocomplete complicity and self-censored.
In any case, I'm assuming that anyone intent on buying prescription drugs without a prescription doesn't really need the help of autocomplete.
And, let's be realistic, here: It isn't "objectionable" autocomplete suggestions that are the target, it's "objectionable" searches.
Slopes don't get any more slippery.
Welcome regulars and passersby. Here are a few more recent buzzblog items. And, if you’d like to receive Buzzblog via e-mail newsletter, here’s where to sign up. You can follow me on Twitter here and on Google+ here.
- John Malkovich makes Redditor a voicemail greeting.
- Minecraft in Latin? … Perhaps now the pope will play.
- Geek-themed Meme of the Week: No. 3.
- State finds grocery store pricing 100% accurate?
- 1776 “iPhone Liberation Kits” go faster than Paul Revere’s horse.
- Creator of hashtag explains why he didn’t patent it.
- AG wants to autocomplete war on drugs.
- Hey, Cambridge, Netscape 4.0 was released in 1997.
- Hidden yodelers on Yahoo homepage fall silent.
- Torvalds: Stop me before I curse again.
- Nothing says narcissist like wearing Google Glass on a date.
- Microsoft’s opening act since Windows 95: Weezer.
- Will entering your ATM PIN in reverse summon the police?
- 2013’s 25 Geekiest 25th Anniversaries