Google and obscenity – update

I know that all you intellectual freedom fighters and toon porn aficianodos were waiting with bated breath. It turns out that the Florida case mentioned elsewhere on this blog has been settled out of court.

The Washington Post has a reflective article1 about the case and what it means in terms of privacy. There is also some interesting commentary about whether the defense argument was legitimate. To wit:

Does the fact that more people Googled “pomegranate” than “watermelon” in early 2008 mean that more people were eating pomegranates?

Or does it mean that everyone was researching the wunderfood’s antioxidant properties? Maybe people hate pomegranates and everyone was rushing to blog about those weird seeds.

Do more people in Pensacola really have orgies than go boating? Even though the city is on the Gulf of Mexico?

Seems like these are some pretty legitimate questions to ask. And questions that may well have been answered had the case gone to trial 2. It will be interesting to see if the next time a pornographer is in need of defense whether this argument will rear its head and what the major news medias will do with it. The Post reporter remains skeptical:

Google is where we safely learn about swinging, erotic furries, objectum-sexual (don’t ask, just Google) and a whole manner of other subcultures that we don’t necessarily plan to partake in, but feel compelled to research nonetheless. Because we can. Because they’re there. Because we can ask our own mothers for apple pie recipes. “Orgy” might be a popular search term not because it’s a popular practice, but because it’s not. How do all those limbs fit together, anyway?

The Internet so easily lends itself to depravity. How we behave in public might not be how we behave in our bedrooms, but how we behave on Google doesn’t seem to reflect how we behave in bedrooms either. It’s more like how we behave at a drunken bachelor party in Las Vegas.

Happy surfing and watch what you Google!

1 “Are we what we Google?” the article asks. And answers “Dear God I hope not.” Indeed.
2 And conceivably been passed all the way up to the Supreme Court

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