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Thursday, January 19th, 2006

Google Refuses Bush Admin Order to Turn Over User Data

 

Yesterday, the Bush Administration asked a federal judge to order Google to give the US Government access to approximately one week of recorded searches.

The US Government says it needs the information to determine how often pornographic files are searched for and/or found using the Google search engine. It has already acquired similar data from other, unnamed, search engines.

Court papers filed in San Jose yesterday revealed that Google refused a Justice Department subpoena issued last year which ordered Google to turn over 1-million random search requests and records of all searches and results for a full, one-week period.

Fearing a privacy backlash, Google refused to honour the subpoena last year and is fighting the Justice Department this week.

Interviewed by the San Jose Mecury News yesterday, an associate general counsel for Google, Nicole Wong said, “Google is not a party to this lawsuit, and the demand for the information is overreaching.” She added Google will fight government vigerously.

The US Government contends it requires this information as part of its defense of the Child Online Protection Act, as part of a case being heard in a Pennsylvania Federal Court.

The Child Online Protection Act was struck down by the US Supreme Court in 2004 for being too broad and unfocused. In its ruling, the Supreme Court recognized the Government’s responsibility to protect children by suggesting the Government rewrite the COPA so that it does not violate First Amendment protections outlined in the constitution.

Instead of rewriting a law the US Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional, the US Government appears ready to defend it by violating the privacy of Google users and of the corporation itself. If Google is forced to release the data, it will also be forced to reveal important technical information it considers trade secrets.

Other Views:
- “Miserable Failure Administration Want Google Data“, Eric Baillargeon – Inlogicalbearer
- “US Government Wants Search Engine Data“, Barry Schwartz – SERoundtable
- “Bush Administration Demands Search Data“, Danny Sullivan – Search Engine Watch


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