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DOJ rejects Google privacy argument in search data case

[JURIST] The US Department of Justice [official website] insisted in a court filing Friday that the information the search engine data government is seeking from Google as part of its effort to revive the Child Online Protection Act [text] would not be traceable to specific users. Google [corporate website] had previously refused [JURIST report] to comply with a subpoena [PDF text] to hand over internet search information, claiming [motion to oppose, PDF] that the government's demand to view Google users' internet search requests would violate privacy rights and their own trade secrets. The Justice Department submitted a declaration by researcher Philip B. Stark, who rejected Google's privacy concerns and stated that "[t]he study does not involve examining the queries in more than a cursory way."

The government hopes that information derived from the internet searches, which rival companies Yahoo Inc., Microsoft Inc. and Time Warner Inc. have made available, will show a wide variety of websites that people find through search engines and thus indicate that internet filters are not strong enough to prevent children from viewing pornography and other inappropriate material. All three rival companies said they did not reveal any of their users' personal information when they complied with the Justice Department's subpoenas. A hearing on the Justice Department's motion to compel Google to hand over search data is scheduled to begin in San Jose on March 13. AP has more.

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