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Google Does not Turn Over Data But Yahoo Microsoft and AOL Did - to the Justice Department

January 20th 2006

Google Does not Turn Over Data But Yahoo Microsoft and AOL Did - to the Justice Department


The U.S. Justice Departments filed papers with the U.S. District Court in San Jose stating that Google had refused to comply with a subpoena issued last year for one million random Web addresses.  The information was to include addresses from Google’s database as well as records of all searches entered on Google during any one-week period. 

Privacy rights groups have complained about the governments attempt to have Google turn over such a broad range of materials.  Some fear it could set a dangerous precedent. 

Other search engines have already complied with the Justice Department, including Yahoo, America Online (AOL) and Microsoft.  The Attorney General Alberto Gonzales says the subpoena does not violate privacy rights.


According to Gonzales "We're not asking for the identity of Americans. We simply want to have some subject matter information with respect to these communications. This is important for the Department of Justice and we will pursue this matter."

According to the Justice Department the information will be used to prepare its case to revive the Chile Online Protection Act (COPA).  The Supreme Court found the act to be unconstitutional two years ago and blocked it from taking effect. According to epic.org the Court found that the government did not show that there are no "less restrictive alternatives" to COPA, and that "there is a potential for extraordinary harm and a serious chill upon protected speech" if the law goes into effect.   


Google has objected to the breadth of the government’s request. The company does not consider it a privacy issue since they are not asking for personal identifiable details.

Reuters reports that Chris Jay Hoofnagle of the Electronic Privacy Information Center asks “If Google hands over the search logs and the Justice Department finds search strings like 'child porn' or 'naked children,' could they not then go back and ask Google for the user's Internet address?"

Search Engine Watch founder Danny Sullivan said in a posting on his site, "Such a move absolutely should breed some paranoia. They didn't ask for data this time, but next time, they might."

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Copyright 2005 Best Syndication                                     Last Updated Saturday, July 10, 2010 09:48 PM