Feds want records of Web searches
The Bush administration, seeking to revive an online-pornography law struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court, has subpoenaed Google for details on what users have been looking for on its popular search engine.
Google has refused to comply with the subpoena, and on Wednesday the Bush administration asked a San Jose, Calif., federal judge to force the company to do so.
Federal investigators already have obtained potentially billions of Internet search requests made by users of major Web sites run by Microsoft, Yahoo! and America Online, which all complied with the government request, issued in August, a Justice Department official said Thursday. … Read all …)
You’ll pry my Web searches from my COLD DEAD HANDS, you bastards! … Ooops, Yahoo already gave them away … Thanks, Yahoo! FUCK YOU! I’ll never you use your fucking search engine again — Google’s is better anyway! And Microsoft’s? Puleeezzzzzze.
The NYT has a big story on this too: “Google Resists U.S. Subpoena of Search Data.”
As Carpetbagger Report blog comments, “And then they came for your search results.” … read more from Carpetbagger below:
Google asserts that the request is unnecessary, overly broad, would be onerous to comply with, would jeopardize its trade secrets and could expose identifying information about its users.
It’s come to this. Government-monitored phone calls, emails, snail mail, library records, and medical records … that’s all routine. But Google?
To be fair, I realize that the government’s request is for a week of search queries and a random list of a million web addresses in its index, not the personal searches of specific individuals.
Nevertheless, to its enormous credit, Google is resisting on principle and has drawn a line on privacy rights.
While its court filings against the Justice Department subpoena have emphasized the burden of compliance and threat to its trade secrets, Google also pointed to a chilling effect on its customers.
“Google’s acceding to the request would suggest that it is willing to reveal information about those who use its services,” it said in an October letter to the Justice Department. “This is not a perception Google can accept. And one can envision scenarios where queries alone could reveal identifying information about a specific Google user, which is another outcome that Google cannot accept.”
And there’s also the slippery slope. “This is the government’s nose under the search engine’s tent. Once we cross this line it will be very difficult to turn back,” said Marc Rotenberg of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a District-based nonprofit group that advocates privacy protections. “If companies like Google respond to this kind of subpoena . . . I don’t see why the next subpoena might not say, ‘Give us what we asked for the last time — plus a little more.'”
Google has vowed to resist the subpoena “vigorously.” Stay tuned.