Porn Lawyer Attempting To Use Search Engine Data Mining To Establish “Community Standards”

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NYT story here. Below is an excerpt:

“Time and time again you’ll have jurors sitting on a jury panel who will condemn material that they routinely consume in private,”said Mr. Walters, the defense lawyer. Using the Internet data,”we can show how people really think and feel and act in their own homes, which, parenthetically, is where this material was intended to be viewed,”he added.

Mr. Walters last week also served Google with a subpoena seeking more specific search data, including the number of searches for certain sexual topics done by local residents. A Google spokesman said the company was reviewing the subpoena.

Mr. Walters is defending Clinton Raymond McCowen, who is facing charges that he created and distributed obscene material through a Web site based in Florida. The charges include racketeering and prostitution, but Mr. Walters said the prosecution’s case fundamentally relies on proving that the material on the site is obscene.

There are interesting privacy questions here. Can Google be asked to disgorge the search terms used by the judge and jury members? That would be one way to uncover biases, if one assumes the use of particular search terms carry certain meanings and ramifications. It is fairly intrusive, but the porn lawyer doesn’t seem to care about that much. He’s very invested in demonstrating there is a lot of Internet porn usage.

–Ann Bartow

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