I have not had much time lately, but I’ve been following the COPA proceeding via Seth’s blog. Seth has posted copies of the expert report on filtering technology submitted as part of the government’s case, remember, the one which touched off the Google subpoena controversy. (I’ve mirrored them stark-report.pdf stark-supp.pdf stark-supp2.pdf)

I only had a chance to briefly browse the report but one thing caught my attention. The reports estimates that only 1.1% of the websites indexed by Google and MSN are “sexually explicit adult entertainment websites”. But 6% of queries in AOL, MSN,
and Yahoo! return at least one sexually explicit site. The report estimates “that 1.7 percent of the AOL, MSN and Yahoo! search results are sexually explicit and notes that this is higher than expected. the report notes that the “most popular searches retrieve far more than their share of sexually explicit results.”

I found it rather odd that they used a search for “jenna jameson”, which was the 20th most popular, as an example that if you search for things you may get porn in the results. in my view, if you search for “jenna jameson” you probably *want* to have porn in your results. How many of the “popular” search terms were actually intended to retrieve porn? Do these words have any relevence to terms that children would be using?

Was “Safe Search” (a type of filtering) turned on when searching in search engines? Given that the effectiveness of filtering was being tested, one would think that the report would distinguish between filtered and unfiltered search results.

There does not seem to be any effort to distinguish between trying to find porn and stumbling across porn.

Also, transcripts fo the case can be found here.

One comment.

  1. Readers!

    The SafeSearch setting is described in a different report (Mewitt) which hasn’t been released yet. It also came up on 11/8 testimony.

    “Q. And you did this — a similar analysis with the Google search engine — with the Google SafeSearch product. Correct?

    A. That’s right.” [etc.]

    Note “children” here means “minors”, “means any person under 17 years of age”.

    The search terms of 16-year-old boys are left to your imagination …

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