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Jay Lake
Date: 2007-03-19 06:42
Subject: Search engine trail used as evidence in murder case
Security: Public
Tags:tech, weird, writing
This doesn't bode well for those of us who routinely search for all manner of strange things on the Internet. It also seems related to the fairly recent development in criminal prosecutions that the contents of a person's book collection at home can be considered evidence of intent to commit various crimes.
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User: jimvanpelt
Date: 2007-03-19 14:26 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'd hate to think what someone would conclude about me from some of my Google search strings!

Of course, pre-Google I had the same problem, but on a more face to face level. I had to talk to several policemen before I could convince any of them that I was researching police procedure for a story I was writing, and my doctor has gotten used to some of my stranger questions.
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User: leela_cat
Date: 2007-03-19 14:41 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I don't know what is worse. The police using her google search trail against her. Or her being stupid enough to google "How to commit murder" and then going out and killing someone.

Any bets on whether she actually bothered to clear her cache?
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Jeremy Tolbert
User: the_flea_king
Date: 2007-03-19 15:14 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Google just announced that they're doing more for privacy regarding search results. I can't find the link right now, but I think they are moving to counter this a bit by collecting less data about users. Or at least, keeping less of it.
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J Erwine - writer/editor
User: jerwine
Date: 2007-03-19 15:24 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'm screwed. I've already had some group messing around with the logs for my website...something my webhosts tell me they can't give me information about. And now this...

When I think about some of the searches I do while on the phone. Let's see, recently it's been Baghdad, Russian military equipment, maps of Fort Bragg, chemical weapons...yeah, I'm on my way to Guantanamo...

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Twilight: Goodnight
User: twilight2000
Date: 2007-03-19 15:58 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I suspect writers in general and mystery writers in particular are going to have a hard time of it... While I spent a good year or so studying Morocco, it was mostly Travel and Custom stuff. This year, I'm in the Orkneys. Fortunatly for me, my deaths tend to be (so far) more of a supernatural variety... Of course, when the poisons start mimicking the supernaturals, there'll be a STRING of poison searches that will, I'm sure, get me in all sorts of trouble...
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Coffee Shop Whore
User: skidspoppe
Date: 2007-03-19 17:07 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Yeah...but wouldn't we like to think we'd know better how to beat the system?
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User: bram452
Date: 2007-03-19 17:35 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Oddly, I know a woman -- and a staunch leftie -- whose son works for the NSA monitoring internet activity like this. He says The Man actually has a classification code set aside for "Writer doing research"
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Chris McKitterick: Vote hippie!
User: mckitterick
Date: 2007-03-19 17:35 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Vote hippie!
That creeps me right the hell out. I mean, I write SF, which means I research all manner or arcana. And world-ending scenarios.

Glancing at my bookshelves, I wonder what good ol' Alberto Gonzales would think....
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User: martianmooncrab
Date: 2007-03-19 17:39 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
One look at my personal Library and the cold case squad would be in sqees of joy to clear up so many of their unsolved. I sure hope they dont have any open mummification cases.
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User: bridget_coila
Date: 2007-03-19 22:20 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
By the same token... the whole thing seems like it would soon become an overwhelming mass of confusion...
...because, seriously, what is a "normal" search string and who on Earth is weird enough never to google odd things occasionally?

besides, the first person who they tried to arrest using evidence that they searched odd terms like "assasination" only to figure out too late that it was Tom Clancy they arrested would send the media and the court system into fits...

I personally would LOVE to be the lawyer for the writer who got hit with something like this... or the journalist who broke the story...

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In a heaven of people only some want to fly: lookin at
User: chipmunk_planet
Date: 2007-03-19 23:22 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:lookin at
Yeah. This is pretty scary.
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