By The Staff of AFP
On Nov. 30 Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) sent a letter to the multibillion-dollar Internet company Google.com demanding that the search provider install a “flag” button that would be used to help the government in its so-called war on terrorism. When opponents of the move made this letter public, it revealed how the search provider had been put in direct collusion with the FBI against American citizens.
“[Google’s] content policy does not expressly ban terrorist content nor does it provide a ‘flag’ feature for such content,” Lieberman’s letter stated. “In September 2008, in response to a previous request that YouTube not allow terrorist content on its servers, Google changed its guidelines to expressly ban ‘terrorist’ content.” In November 2010 Google introduced a “flag” button for terrorist content on YouTube.
YouTube is the popular website owned by Google that allows users to post and share videos for free on the Internet. Millions of people use YouTube, including many independent journalists and foreign revolutionary groups. AFP maintains its own YouTube page and regularly posts videos and news items to it.
So far, the latest “flag” feature will allow users to report a video to Google staff, who will then review it to see if it actually promotes “terrorism.” But the government has been pushing Google for a more elaborate feature—one that would allow Google material to be sent directly to federal law enforcement officials who would then determine whether or not to consider the material free speech.
This transfer of power to determine acceptable political expression—from the courts where it is protected by the First Amendment to officials hiding behind closed doors—has raised concerns from civil liberties groups.