An unofficial blog that watches Google's attempts to move your operating system online since 2005. Not affiliated with Google.

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January 20, 2006

Bush administration requests data from Google

The Bush administration on Wednesday asked a federal judge to order Google to turn over a broad range of material from its closely guarded databases.

The move is part of a government effort to revive an Internet child protection law struck down two years ago by the U.S. Supreme Court. The law was meant to punish online pornography sites that make their content accessible to minors. The government contends it needs the Google data to determine how often pornography shows up in online searches.

In court papers filed in U.S. District Court in San Jose, Justice Department lawyers revealed that Google has refused to comply with a subpoena issued last year for the records, which include a request for 1 million random Web addresses and records of all Google searches from any one-week period.

"We had lengthy discussions with them to try to resolve this, but were not able to and we intend to resist their motion vigorously." Nicole Wong, a Google lawyer, said in a statement. Wong said the demand for information "over-reaches".

The government argues that it needs the information as it prepares to once again defend the constitutionality of the Child Online Protection Act in a federal court in Pennsylvania. The law was struck down in 2004 because it was too broad and could prevent adults from accessing legal porn sites.

According to ZDnet, who’s quoting an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, other search engines complied to release the information: Microsoft, AOL (who fully complied) and Yahoo (who complied in parts). ZDnet writes that a Microsoft spokesperson said, “MSN works closely with law enforcement officials worldwide to assist them when requested ... It is our policy to respond to legal requests in a very responsive and timely manner in full compliance with applicable law.”

Google objected to the government's subpoena, saying it would reveal trade secrets by providing the data and disclose personally identifiable information about its users. It's important that Google doesn't provide this information because it will be the first step in government's requests. To give up the first time means setting a bad precedent.

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