Federal judge disinclined to grant DOJ access to Google search terms

[JURIST] Judge James Ware [official profile] of the US District Court of the Northern District of California [official] said Tuesday after hearing arguments by Google and US Department of Justice lawyers over a government subpoena [PDF] of search data that he might force Google to hand over a small part of its index of Web sites but would not grant the DOJ access to its users' search terms, for fear users would think the government was watching how they were using the Web. The Justice Department, which had originally requested [JURIST report] one million Internet addresses and one million search queries submitted to Google in a one-week period, said it had reduced its demand to 50,000 URLs and 5,000 search queries. Ware said the narrowed request combined with the DOJ's intention to pay Google for its programmers' time in making the data available made it reasonable to give the DOJ at least some of what it desired. He made no written ruling Tuesday but said he would release one "very quickly." CNET has more.

The government said that its Internet use study, designed to support its effort to revive the Child Online Protection Act [text] by supposedly showing that internet filters are not strong enough to prevent children from viewing pornography and other inappropriate material, could be performed without Google, but that it would be "substantially improved" with Google's assistance. Google's attorney noted that the government has other places to go such as Alexa Internet [corporate website], and that forced compliance with the DOJ request could lead to a significant burden on Google to assist countless other studies. Reuters has more.

 

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