By Eric Auchard > Google Inc. on Friday formally rejected the U.S. Justice Department's > subpoena of data from the Web search leader, arguing the demand > violated the privacy of users' Web searches and its own trade secrets. > Responding to a motion by U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, > Google also said in a filing in U.S. District Court for the Northern > District of California the government demand to disclose Web search > data was impractical. > The Bush administration is seeking to compel Google to hand over Web > search data as part of a bid by the Justice Department to appeal a > 2004 Supreme Court injunction of a law to penalize Web site operators > who allow children to view pornography. > Google is going it alone in opposing the U.S. government request. > Rivals Microsoft Corp. and Yahoo Inc. are among the companies > that have complied with the Justice Department demand for data to be > used to make its case. > Google's lawyers said the company shares the government's concern with > materials harmful to minors but argued that the request for its data > was irrelevant. They offered a series of technical arguments why this > data was not useful. > The Mountain View, California-based company said that complying with > the U.S. government's request for "untold millions of search queries" > would put an undue burden on the company, including a "week of > engineer time to complete." > "Algorithms regularly change. The identical search query submitted > today may yield a different result than the identical search conducted > yesterday," attorneys from Perkins Coie LLP, the company's external > legal counsel, argue in the filing. > Complying with the Justice Department request would also force Google > to reveal how its Web search technology works -- something it > jealously guards as a trade secret, the company argued. It refuses to > disclose even the total number of searches conducted each day. > Google's resistance contrasts with a deal the company has struck with > the Chinese government to censor some searches on a new site in China, > a move that has drawn sharp criticism from members of the > U.S. Congress and human rights activists. > "Google users trust that when they enter a search query into a Google > search box ... that Google will keep private whatever information > users communicate absent a compelling reason," attorneys for Google > said in the filing. > The legal spat also comes amid heightened sensitivity to privacy > issues by the company as it recently began offering a new version of > its Google Desktop service that vacuums up data stored on user PCs and > makes it accessible on the users' other computers. For customers who > consent to the service, copies of their data are stored on Google's > central computers. > Privacy activists have rallied to the defense of Google for fighting > the U.S. government request while some conservative and religious > organizations have criticized the company for failing to help the > government combat child pornography. > The American Civil Liberties Union, with other civil rights groups, > bookstores and alternative media outlets filed a friend of the court > brief on behalf of Google.
Damn! Just when I get really upset with the wackos at the ACLU, they come on the right side of an issue.
The hearing on the Justice Department motion to compel Google to > divulge the search data is scheduled to take place on March 13 in San > Jose before U.S. District Judge James Ware. > "The government must show that this request is the most relevant way > to accomplish its goal," said Perry Aftab, an attorney, privacy > activist and executive director of WiredSafety.org, a popular online > child safety site. > "Why would Google or anyone else turn over data that might create > further risks for their customers? The public policy gains don't > outweigh the risks," she said. > Copyright 2006 Reuters Limited. > NOTE: For more telecom/internet/networking/computer news from the > daily media, check out our feature 'Telecom Digest Extra' each day at >
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