Saturday, November 12

Chilling Free Speech On The Internet

A man's google searches are being investigated in a homicide investigation:

Robert Petrick searched for the words "neck," "snap," "break" and "hold" on an Internet search engine before his wife died, according to prosecutors Wednesday.

More than two years after Janine Sutphen's body was discovered floating in a Raleigh lake, investigators continue to find new evidence on computers seized from Robert Petrick's home that prosecutors say support their arguments that Petrick killed his wife.

The Google search was the latest in recently discovered evidence found in the 100 million pages of content removed from computers.

Imagine what might turn up in your cache following some research on, say, Islamofascist Suicide Bombers. As bloggers, we use the internet to research many different things. Some of those things are unpleasant. Back when The Passion of the Christ was news, I did a lot of research on crucifixion.

I wasn't planning on crucifying anyone.

During the Abu Ghraib bullshit, I did research on torture. Doesn't mean I was planning on torturing someone. If I wanted to write a piece condemning the Supreme Court's decision effectively legalizing virtual child pornography, you would find evidence of such a search in my cache.

It doesn't mean I'm into child porn (I find this an appalling decision, BTW).

I think that this is really stretching circumstantial evidence way past the breaking point. And as bloggers, we have to be cognizant of the fact that John Law will now potentially be scrutinizing anything we even research.

I would argue that if the First Amendment is broad enough to allow virtual child pornography, then it is certainly broad enough to allow me to research about it without fearing that my research will come back to haunt me in a court of law.

The same goes for virtually any other subject.

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