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Google exec flees; librarian defeats Feds

Google exec flees; librarian defeats Feds

Notes from the field

Going, going -- Google. The hejira from Google continues, as head Google spin doctor Elliot Schrage has taken a position with -- who else? -- Facebook. Schrage is the sixth top-shelf G-exec to fly the coop to Facebook over the last year. (Though the defection that hurt most was probably that of Google chef Josef Desimone). Google's response: Feh -- we got plenty more where they came from. (Methinks they're probably a little more worried than that.) However, there is no truth to the rumor that Santa Clara County officials are considering a new shuttle service to transport former employees from the Googleplex in Mountain View to their new Facebook Space in Palo Alto.

Peabody and Sherman? Confidential informants. For the last year, the Internet Archive (better known as The Wayback Machine) has been under the all-too-watchful eye of our Uncle, thanks to a National Security Letter it received demanding information on one of its registered users. Exactly what information it was demanding or identity of the target is a secret, as was the existence of the letter to everyone but its recipient (and, of course, the Feds). But Brewster Kahle, the keeper of the archive and not one to just bend over and take it, challenged the NSL in court. Last week, with the help of the ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, he won; the FBI withdrew the letter, allowing its existence to be revealed (but nothing else).

NSLs essentially allow investigators to pry into every aspect of your life -- all business records, ISP logs, friends, associates -- without a court order and without your knowledge. An estimated 200,000 NSLs were issued between 2003 and 2006; three have been challenged, all successfully. What happened to the other 199,997 is anyone's guess. But what in Gates' name did the FBI think they could find out by looking at someone's Internet Archive searches? Terrorists with a fascination for outdated Web pages?


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