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3/31/2006
02:08 PM
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From Jill Carroll To InformationWeek's Own Tom Claburn: Journalists Just Doing Their Jobs

I feel like I should know Jill Carroll. She grew up down the street from me, went to the same Michigan middle school and high school as I did, and swam for the same neighborhood swim club. But I didn't know her. She's quite a bit--ahem--younger than I am.

I feel like I should know Jill Carroll. She grew up down the street from me, went to the same Michigan middle school and high school as I did, and swam for the same neighborhood swim club. But I didn't know her. She's quite a bit--ahem--younger than I am.I don't know why she was freed, but I'd like to believe her captors came to realize she was just a journalist doing her job. She's the real deal: someone with a drive to raise questions and expose the truth. "She saw a lot of injustices around the world and just wanted to make sure people were informed," said Seth Koenig, a former classmate at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, where Carroll was the newspaper editor, in a Detroit Free Press article today. "She had a real moral compass."

I know it's a stretch to compare InformationWeek's own Tom Claburn to Jill Carroll--he didn't spend three months in captivity. But let me just say this: Tom is also just another reporter doing his job. Tom recently filed a Freedom of Information Act with the Department of Justice to find out what other companies it had subpoenaed as part of its campaign to demonstrate that Internet filtering doesn't stop kids from accessing porn sites. The DOJ complied, revealing it had subpoenaed at least 34 Internet companies and software makers. The story is now posted on InformationWeek.com and has been referenced by such media outlets as The New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle.

Look, this is a tough case. No one wants to make it easy for kids to access sites that present information or graphics that are too much for their forming minds to handle, or, even worse, start them down a path that could expose them to online predators. But I can't help squirming at the idea of the Department of Justice requiring 34 companies to spend hours putting together information it hopes to use to reinstate the Child Online Protection Act, blocked by the ACLU because it could require, among other things, people to show their IDs when visiting certain sites.

By exposing what the DOJ has done, Tom has given us all something to think about. Is the government going overboard with its requests of companies and their proprietary information? It's not the first time in recent months that I've found myself uneasy about the actions of our federal government on any number of issues.

So let's pay attention. As journalists and citizens, lets ask the right questions and get to the truth, or the closest thing to it.

Jill and Tom, keep up the good work.

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