May 19, 2008

Confused Senator Lieberman Demands Google Stop "Aiding" Terrorists

Greetings. Senator Joseph Lieberman (aka Senator John McCain's "error-correcting" shadow) has joined the "blame it all on Google club" -- with demands that Google more effectively remove (or preemptively block?) al-Qaida and other terrorist-related videos from YouTube.

Google already pulls down videos after they're flagged by users for violating YouTube's violence or other relevant guidelines, but Lieberman seemingly wants Google to remove the videos on a more technically proactive basis. It should be easy he says, since the videos are already usually "branded" with the terrorist organizations' logos.

Interesting idea Senator -- but it won't fly. Prescreening the vast numbers of videos uploaded daily to YouTube is of course utterly impractical and unreasonable. True, Google now has a system in place to prevent certain (mostly relatively high-profile) copyrighted videos from appearing on YouTube, but this assumes the cooperation of the copyright holders who want to keep their materials off of YouTube.

The increasingly technically sophisticated producers and uploaders of terrorist videos presumably don't fall into that category.

If Google went through the time and effort to build a system to detect "Terrorist ID Bugs" (uh, "TIBs"), how much time do you think would elapse before such logos were no longer present in the produced materials, or simply cropped, replaced, or blotted out prior to YouTube uploading, specifically to thwart such detection systems? This could all be trivially accomplished using cheap and ubiquitous video editing tools. And by the way, in case you hadn't noticed, YouTube isn't the only fish in the sea when it comes to venues for Internet video distribution, either.

C'mon Senator, do you really think that the guys behind those horrific productions are idiots? They're not, you know. In the Internet age, censorship of the sort that you appear to desire -- even for laudable motives -- is effectively impossible.

That's simply the reality, whether you or anyone else likes it or not.


Posted by Lauren at May 19, 2008 06:53 PM | Permalink
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