I have a confession to make: Sometimes I wonder if my Internet activities could get me arrested. I can clearly imagine a loud pounding at the door -- bang, bang!, And then a man's booming voice, yelling, "Open up, Ma'am!" Err, whaaa -- ? So I pad to the door in my jammies and standing there are six big men sternly holding up FBI badges. "What did I do, officers?" I gasp. (Quickly trying to prettify myself.) And to my horror, they answer, "You did a Google search for kiddie porn!" Oh noooo. Let me explain myself.
You see, as a journalist slash blogger, I'm on the Internet all day and often into the night. I'm looking forinteresting and often bizarre stories I can write about. Like today, I noticed a story about how legislators in New York are trying to close the loophole that allows looking at kiddie porn to be legal while downloading it is illegal. I thought maybe I could write about that. So I did a search on "kiddie porn." And then I sincerely wondered what watchlist I'd just been entered into.
A few weeks ago, there was a blog post about a woman who saw her young son innocently lying his head on his female friend's body. She wondered if this was "too close for comfort." Thinking about some of the "doctor" games I played when I was little, I mulled writing a story on child sexuality. So I Googled, "Are kids sexual?" Then, I waited for the feds to bang on my door.
This isn't so paranoid. The feds DO monitor certain terms on social media sites. No brainer words like "terrorism" and "attack" could get you monitored, but so can innocent-sounding terms like "cloud" and "pork." (By the way, in order to find that article, I did a search on "feds watch terrorism" -- yikes!)
Legislators are now trying to figure out exactly what the laws on viewing kiddie porn should be.While it seems obvious to flat-out arrest anyone who looks at kiddie porn for even a split second, what about someone who does it by accident? Think that can't happen? Think again.
Once, while at work, I was clicking around into a million different sites, and lord only knows how it happened, but I was suddenly in what appeared to be some kind of animal porn site. I didn't even know these things existed! I quickly clicked back out but sat waiting in terror to be called up by my IT department.
Let's face it, the Internet is filled with all kinds of gross stuff we'd rather not know about. But if we don'tknow about it, we can't STOP it. Maybe there needs to be rules about who, how, why and where people can view illegal activities on the Internet, but I don't think it can be a case of zero tolerance.
As for Internet searches, I've done some weird ones, all in the name of my job, I swear. And I plan on using this article as my defense if the feds come a knockin'!
Do you ever do weird Internet searches?