Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Not Loving This

Judge Plans to Order Google to Turn Over Data to U.S.

From the Times:

After the Justice Department sharply cut back its request for search-engine data from Google, a federal judge indicated today that he would instruct the company to comply with a government subpoena in the department's defense of an online pornography law.

At a hearing in Federal District Court here, Judge James Ware said, "It is my intent to grant some relief to the government, given the narrowing that has taken place with the request and its willingness to compensate Google for whatever burden that imposes."

The government is now requesting a sample of 50,000 Web site addresses returned in Google searches, instead of what could have amounted to billions of Web addresses when the subpoena was first issued last August. And the government is now asking for just 5,000 search queries. Of those, a lawyer for the government said in today's hearing, the government would use just 10,000 Web sites and 1,000 search queries.

Although this means that Google is likely to be required to turn over the information, the amount of data is far less than previously demanded. The judge also indicated that he would apply greater scrutiny to the request for search queries than to the Web site addresses because of privacy concerns.
Nice to read that the numbers are reduced, but I loathe the precedent. Google has a choice in "doing no evil": either strip anything that can be used for personal identification, clean out the database on a regular basis (like Yahoo does), or fight harder against this. After the China debacle, they can't simply sit back and let this happen, or the internet goodwill they've enjoyed for so long will start seriously dwindling.

(I like Blogger, but there are limits.)

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