Google Federal Subpoena
(also "don't touch my users' data")

:: Facts
:: Questions
:: Google comments
:: Bloggers comments

FACTS

:: In order to relaunch the 'COPA Law', US Department of Justice asked some search engines to provide two files on August 25, 2005. The first one might contain 1 million random URL's (random 10,000 URLs selected from random 100 of Google's data centers). The second one, a copy of the text of each search string entered onto Google over a one-week period (absent any identifying the person who entered such query).

:: Google denied to provide both files, and on January 18, 2006, Bush Administration asked a federal judge to order Google to give the information.

:: Other big search engines, like Yahoo!, MSN Search or AOL, turned over the required information.

:: Google stock value dropped 8% on January 20, 2006, because of the federal subpoena.

QUESTIONS

:: Does US Department of Justice really need to get these both files in order to know how many porn websites children have access? Doesn't US Government have other methods to know it?

:: US Department of Justice claims this information is not personal, since it doesn't contain IP addresses or usernames. But aren't they personal data if files contain personal-related searches?

:: Could US Government have access other type of information about citizen behaviors with these data?

GOOGLE COMMENTS

:: On CNN: "We intend to resist their motion vigorously".

:: On 'ABC's World News Tonight', Larry Page: "Our company relies on having the trust of our users and using that information for that benefit. If you start to mandate how products are designed, I think that's a really bad path to follow. I think instead we should have laws that protect the privacy of data, for example, from government requests and other kinds of requests".

BLOGGERS COMMENTS

:: VERY IMPORTANT POINT (by Philipp Lenssen): "In Google vs Government, It's Not About Child Porn" (It's about Child Protection on the Internet).

:: Biz Stone, ex-Googler: "Get Your Own Search Engine Then".

:: Jim: "Google's Got Balls! That's where the responsibility lies; with the parents, not with 'Big Brother'."

:: Subroto Roy: "The mere fact of protesting sends a strong signal to Google users. With a motto like 'Don't be evil' and a a search philosophy that is changing how students learn Google is set for great things."

:: Patriot Search (sarcastic): "Help the government by making your search activity public".

:: Xaprio: "Right-to-privacy groups said on Friday an attempt by the Bush administration to force Google Inc. to turn over a broad range of materials from its databases set a dangerous precedent that should worry all Americans.".

:: Mary MacElveen: "Google defies Morality Police.".

:: Kurt: "Well, good on Google. The government doesn't need to be babysitting the internet, the parents do.".

:: Berky: "What remains unclear is why the government would need records from Google--which is, after all, a private company and not an investigative arm of the Department of Justice.".

:: Garett Rogers (on ZDNet): "They did the right thing. They were in the position to gain trust points of users by making it difficult for the government to request personal (or even general) information from the search engine.".

:: Ghormax: "Is Google really the only one willing to fight such a dangerous subpeona?".

:: Norman Garrett: "Kudos to Google. I have a feeling that they also want to appease their users by letting them know that 'what happens here stays here'".

:: freeinvestor: "As far as the DOJ request is concerned, I feel Google is doing the right thing by protecting our privacy rights.".

:: Alan Howard: "I think it's great that Google is fighting to protect your privacy and shows that, unlike all the other search engines which complied with the US government's request for search data, Google is actually interested in your privacy".

:: Kim Cavanaugh: "It's nice to see a big company standing on principle" (It's worth reading his full post)