US Department of Justice narrows focus for Google demands
By Matt Whipp
Posted on 15 Mar 2006 at 15:29
The US Department of Justice has agreed to a much narrower focus for the US administration to force Google to hand over user information as evidence to back up child porn legislation.
US District Court Judge James Ware told a hearing yesterday that he would likely approve the reduced request and intends 'to grant some relief to the government'.
Since Google stood its ground and refused to hand over user data on a random sample of millions of searches and web addresses, the DoJ has now culled its request to around 5,000 search terms and 50,000 web addresses.
While this compromise will still leave Google having to intrude on its users' privacy that it is so keen to protect, the scope is now greatly narrowed. It certainly shows Google in a better light than its rivals such as AOL, Microsoft and Yahoo! which conceded to the DoJ's initial subpoenas.
Google had argued that the information sought did not further the government's aim of proving the effectiveness or otherwise of Internet filtering systems at protecting children from accessing inappropriate content.
Google also had commercial concerns of its own and was reluctant to hand over any information on its search technology.
The case also raises concerns over the effectiveness of ageing US legislation at protecting user data online.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) recently warned users against the use of the latest version of Google's desktop search, as backups of the index it creates is much less securely protected legally because it is kept online.
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