DOJ, Google Battle In Court Tuesday

David A. Utter By David A. Utter
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The Department of Justice has asked the presiding judge in Gonzales v. Google to impose a 21-day deadline for Google to hand over the search records DOJ requested in August 2005.

A January subpoena requested by DOJ sought to force Google to give up information from its databases on search activity. Negotiations between Google and DOJ had not proceeded to DOJ’s satisfaction, and they have rejected Google’s claims that complying with the subpoena will endanger the privacy of its users.

Tomorrow, Google learns if it can continue to fend off the DOJ subpoena, or if it will have to hand over information that could reveal some of its inner workings to those who review the data. It is thought that revealing this information could unveil some of Google’s trade secrets, a much more frightening prospect to the company than the search records themselves.

DOJ claimed it does not want personally identifiable information. The Mercury News reported how one expert in the government’s employ regarded Google’s complaints of user privacy intrusions:

The government relies heavily on Philip Stark, a statistician at the University of California-Berkeley who is helping assemble the data.

Stark declined comment. But in a recent declaration, he rejected Google’s assertion that the data can be used to track the habits of individuals.

“Google queries are disclosed routinely to third parties when a user clicks any link in Google search results,” Stark wrote. “The government seeks less information about queries than Google publishes in Google Zeitgeist,” a list of Google’s most popular searches.


A lengthy response to the lawsuit submitted by Google criticized the DOJ as being “uninformed” on how search works, and that its request is not for evidence, but only ” ‘useful’ to its purported expert in developing some theory to support the Government’s notion that a law banning materials that are harmful to minors on the Internet will be more effective than a technology filter in eliminating it.”


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About David A. Utter
David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

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