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Court Date Set for Google Lawsuit 209

Posted by Zonk
from the to-be-a-fly-on-that-wall dept.
Jason Jardine wrote to mention a C|Net story giving the date and location for Google's court case with the government. From the article: "Google's attempt to fend off the government's request for millions of search terms will move to a federal court in San Jose, Calif., on Feb. 27. U.S. District Judge James Ware on Thursday set the date for the highly anticipated hearing, which is expected to determine whether the U.S. Justice Department will prevail in its fight to force Google to help it defend an anti-pornography law this fall."
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Court Date Set for Google Lawsuit

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  • Too bad.. (Score:4, Funny)

    by JDooty1234 (253000) on Friday January 27, 2006 @11:04AM (#14578489) Homepage
    ... they can't just dredge up a cache of Johnny Cochran.
  • I bet there will be a media and protester circus outside the courthouse on this one. Then again, maybe CourtTV will have the hearing live. This will be interesting and will definately shape the discussion on the Justice Department and internal US spying.
  • Interesting Point (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gasmonso (929871) on Friday January 27, 2006 @11:06AM (#14578500) Homepage

    I find it somewhat interesting how Google rightfully doesn't want to cooperate with the US government on this issue, but I also find it funny how they will appease the Chinese government when its in their best interest.

    http://religiousfreaks.com/ [religiousfreaks.com]
    • That's because there is no potential profit from cooperating with the US government.

      1. Create Search Engine
      2. Cooperate|Not Cooperate
      3. Media Exposure
      4. Profit!
    • by rindeee (530084)
      Indeed. Will Google's moral compass be so fixed when the Chinese government demands similar of them?
      • by treehouse (781426) *
        The Chinese government hasn't made similar demands. Why do you think they might? If you're looking for a "slippery slope" argument, what will Google say when the US government asks for a list of all people who make queries critical of Bush?
        • They will say no, take the request public and the free press would demolish Bush. The Chinese have no such option. You have done an excellent job of underscoring my point.
    • by MindStalker (22827) <mindstalkerNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday January 27, 2006 @11:10AM (#14578538) Journal
      They arn't giving china information on its citizens (though I believe there are search engines that are??) simply complying with blocking requirements by the chinese government. Look at it the other way google currently attempts to block warez sites which the US government deems illigal, such blocking would be seen my many in china to be an parralel example.
    • It seems to be in Google's best interest to get the exposure in China.

      It ALSO seems to be in their best interest to NOT GIVE exposure of their US clients' data.

      No issue here as far as I can see (apart from (potentially) my grammar)

    • by Anonymous Coward
      We all don't like China's way of running the government, but what the justice department asked for is illegal in the US. What they are doing in China is not illegal, and in fact, is the only way it can work. Other countries set there own laws, and you follow them in there or else. There are many laws in the US that aren't in other countries(drinking age being one of them). What would you think about guiness having a billboard targeted at teenagers in our country?
      • "What would you think about guiness having a billboard targeted at teenagers in our country?"

        A black soother with Guinness foam on the end of it would be AWESOME!
      • I really can't understand why such a request is legal, because I can't understand why such a request was made. Why was it made to Google?
        Want a million random website, it seems to me that nmap would build a list of open port 80's, randomly select a million and feed them to wget. The headers would probably be as reliable as anything for finding porn, just grep for XXX and SEXXXX; porn site want to be found!
        Real porn merchants don't want minors anyways, they don't have credit cards that they can legally use.

        T
    • by ranton (36917) on Friday January 27, 2006 @11:16AM (#14578589)
      I hate how short sided people can be when they have their mind made up about something. Cooperating with the Chinese government was not as "evil" as the Slashdot crowd would like you to believe.

      Google had two options:

      1) Refuse China's request, therefore reducing the average Chinese citizen's access to information on the internet greatly.

      2) Comply with China's request, therefore helping the average Chinese citizen access information while only restricting their access slightly. In addition, they can have a message that notifies them that sites are being blocked for political reasons.

      In my opinion, it would have been "evil" of Google to not comply with China's request. It would be the same as refusing to give food to North Korea because you do not like their government. I do not think letting millions of people starve would be the best approach to overthrowing the North Korean government. I also do not think the best way to liberate China from their oppressive regime is to isolate them even further.

      --
      • I disagree. Subsidizing evil's still evil. Many are claiming Google's shunning of the government's request has nothing to do with protecting privacy, but rather trade secrets [mediabuyerplanner.com], which could be reverse engineered from making such massive lists (potentially) public. As with the censored Chinese Google News, when it comes to removing content, from Google News sources [pcworld.com] to multiple DMCA complaints [slashdot.org] to the now infamous Google Print caving in to publishers legal threats [lisnews.com], the company has been consistent: they do what'
        • by daBass (56811) on Friday January 27, 2006 @12:14PM (#14579204)
          In one way I agree with you. But information - even if some of it is filtered - is power. Selling arms to the chinese goverment is obviously bad. Giving it's citizens at least some access is better than depriving them completely because you don't like the goverment. If the people can't see beyond the curtain at least a little bit, they don't know what they are missing and what they should be protesting about. (see North Korea)

          Besides, Google being Google, it would not surprise me at all that now that they are in and paying lucrative taxes to the Chinese goverment they will try to keep pushing the boundries. If the stayed outside and managed to avoid the filtering, the Chinese goverment could easily block them completely. Now they are on the inside, the goverment has something to lose.
        • Christ, there are valid reasons to criticize Google (the China thing is pretty bad), but you're verging on making crap up.

          " removing content, from Google News sources [pcworld.com] ": Google's always had a policy of not indexing things people don't want indexed. That's not evil, that's polite. Agence France Presse is shooting itself in the foot by not being indexed by Google News, but hey, that's their point.

          " Google Print caving in to publishers legal threats [lisnews.com] ": Did you read the article. This is temporary. Goog

      • In my opinion, it would have been "evil" of Google to not comply with China's request. It would be the same as refusing to give food to North Korea because you do not like their government. I do not think letting millions of people starve would be the best approach to overthrowing the North Korean government. I also do not think the best way to liberate China from their oppressive regime is to isolate them even further.

        IMO, the two things do not equate, as the Chinese can live without the Internet, but th

      • 2) Comply with China's request, therefore helping the average Chinese citizen access information while only restricting their access slightly. In addition, they can have a message that notifies them that sites are being blocked for political reasons.

        I have heard this argument, but have not yet seen the proposed message that the Chinese user would see. If it really says, "hey, your government made us hide some useful information from you" then fine, but I really expect it will end up watered down, barel

        • Re:Interesting Point (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Soruk (225361)
          That's an easy one. Go to www.google.cn [google.cn], do a search for "Democracy" (Hmm.. slashcode is removing the HTML entities for the Chinese characters.. the unicodes are: 6C11 4E3B 653F 6CBB, convert these into their Chinese characters and paste into google.cn) and see what you get back. Oh, and all the better if you can, or can borrow someone who can, read Chinese.
      • can the above post be a mod'ed a higher please ... maybe up to 20 or something? finally someone who has a clue!
        I also do not think the best way to liberate China from their oppressive regime is to isolate them even further.

        From what I can see, I am sure that gov't of the PRC would have loved google to refuse to censor searches...the less access to information their citizen's have the better.
      • by Jagasian (129329) on Friday January 27, 2006 @12:08PM (#14579150)
        Compare this American Google image search [google.com] for "tiananmen square" to the same search in the Chinese Google image search [google.cn]. While a disclaimer is displayed saying that some results were blocked do to Chinese law, the disclaimer does not tell what kind of results were blocked. Hence when the people ask, the Chinese government can just say that the results were pornographic or involved terrorism. So, no, Google definitely has done evil in this case. Stop trying to make excuses for them.
        • I was just playing around your search results and noticed something a little bit odd. First thing, why would you search Chinese Google with english search terms? I ran it through Systran and tried the search again but with Chinese search terms. The results were different but not better. The odd thing is that if you use the same Chinese search terms with the uncensored Google you get nearly the same set of images as the Chinese Google. I expected results similar to when using the English search terms.
          • Obviously when presented with Chinese language queries, Google throws them against a Chinese language index. Apparently the Chinese language index is the same one used for Chinese Google, which is censored. Why build large costly indexes in Chinese, if you are just going to censor the results obtained from throwing a search at them? My guess is when presented with English language queries to the Chinese Google, it throws them against the uncensored English index, but then filters the results before sendi
            • It would be interesting to repeat the search using the equivalent Traditional Chinese characters in place of the Simplified Chinese used on the Mainland. I wonder if you might get different results then?

              I did notice that if you change the hl=zh-CN in the URL to hl=en, you get redirected to the full google.com search, I wonder if it works that way inside the Great Firewall as well?

        • But Google hasn't blocked any of those Tiananmen Square massacre sites - there are plenty of other ways to access them still, given that the entire Web is full of billions of hyperlinks, and that there are thousands of other ways to publish URLs or spread them by word of mouth etc. Plus it's not as if as if the citizens had links to the massacre sites previously that they don't have now due to Google's filtering ... Google hasn't "removed" any links to the massacre sites, they have merely failed to add lin

      • Your #1 supposes that if Google were to stop operations in China, Chinese would lose access to information. How is that again? Google indexes information, they don't make a ton of it. Additionally, it isn't like Google is the only useable internet search engine or even the first.

        If Google were to stop operations in China, then people in China would have to use someone else to search. They wouldn't lose access to any data they had access to before. But Google would lose the ability to sell ads to Chinese cus
    • America Has freedom of speech on the books , China does not .
      If goggle want's to operate in China they have little choice on the matter , The Chinese government is not famous for its leniency on such issues
      • Look for comparisons between Google search and library records. It is actually quite likely that a judge will find there's no reason Google can't comply but at the same time there's no law (yet) that requires they comply.

        I doubt this can be blocked by free speech or any of the other amendments.
      • A common myth, sort of. China does have freedom of speech, sort of. They do have a constitution which protects the freedom of speech and basic liberties of its citizens. It's just that it has, at the very bottom, a single line which says something like "except where it infringes on the interests of the state." heh.
    • by KutuluWare (791333)
      You are missing one key element here, in that what the US government is demanding from Google to do is not something they (yet) have any legal authority to demand. What the Chinese government demanded fell squarely in line with Chinese law. It's one thing for a collective of individuals to fight against unjust laws by simply ignoring them; corporations don't usually last too long when they try the same thing.

  • You kidding me? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ranton (36917) on Friday January 27, 2006 @11:07AM (#14578504)
    Wait a minute, I read the article and didnt find what law Google is breaking here. I am not even close to being a privacy advocate, in fact I usually am on the side of the government in issues like these. But I do not see what law Google is breaking.

    This must not have to do with the "War on Terror", because I thought that Google couldnt even notify the press if that was the case.

    Does anyone know more about this than simply what this article is saying?

    --
    • Re:You kidding me? (Score:4, Informative)

      by WebHostingGuy (825421) * on Friday January 27, 2006 @11:11AM (#14578545) Homepage Journal
      I could tell you but then I would have to kill you.

      Seriously, the gist is that the government wants the search records so they can promote/support their war on porn. The law is that the government issued a subpoena, which is a court order, i.e., legal requirement to do something. Google said no because the subpoena essentially is not valid. This is the long story very abbreviated.
      • Re:You kidding me? (Score:3, Informative)

        by ranton (36917)
        The law is that the government issued a subpoena, which is a court order, i.e., legal requirement to do something. Google said no because the subpoena essentially is not valid

        Okay that makes sense, but I wonder what legal trouble Google could get into. I hope that fighting a subpeona is not illegal even if you do not win, expecially if you had a valid reason to fight it.

        --
    • Wait a minute, I read the article and didnt find what law Google is breaking here.

      They're not violating any law. They were subpoenaed for information and are contesting it.

      At this point, they might as well hand it over. The only PR they're going to get out of this is "China, China, China".

    • Of course it is the war on terror. Think of the children and then think of terror that the word boobies could potential put in them. If the life of one child is saved from the terror word boobies then it is all worth it.

      Na thats not it. I think what is happening is there is a law that was passed the deals with pornography. I think Google was asked to fork over records for search queries from certain key words. Google has a team of lawyers saying that the law may be a law but it may not be constitutional
      • Re:You kidding me? (Score:3, Informative)

        by Liza (97242) *
        I think Google was asked to fork over records for search queries from certain key words.

        Actually, they were asked for all searches and search results over a two month period. IMO, the DOJ is trying to prove that lots of "innocent" searches generate porn results, therefore we need a law to protect children from seeing those "harmful to minors" search results.

        Liza
        • Re:You kidding me? (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Analogy Man (601298)
          In other words the government is too lazy to come up with a means of mining this information on their own so they are compelling a public company to supply the logs for them to perform their analysis.

          I think with a little creativity the government could instrument a government institution...say HUD, DoD, DoE and trap any outgoing searches to major search engines. This might be even more useful as you could then toss these searches against ALL of the major search engines and see what results come back. You

      • If the Feds aren't allowed to get the naked ladies off the internet, THEN WE'RE LETTING THE TERRORISTS WIN.
      • Re:You kidding me? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by quantum bit (225091)
        Of course it is the war on terror. Think of the children and then think of terror that the word boobies could potential put in them. If the life of one child is saved from the terror word boobies then it is all worth it.

        They've got it all wrong. Terrorists don't have boobies, that's why they're so pissed off at the world. If their culture had a little more nudity in it they'd probably be more relaxed.
    • Wrong "war"

      This one falls under the "War on Heathens"

      It's about (supposedly) some porn bill.

    • by RingDev (879105) on Friday January 27, 2006 @11:17AM (#14578596) Homepage Journal
      Google is resisting a subpoena.

      It like went like this:
      Feds: Give us your records
      Google: No
      Feds: We'll sue you!
      Google: We're shaking in our booties
      Feds: [thwap] subpoena!
      Google: Hey ACLU, the Feds want your search history!
      ACLU: F' You feds!
      Feds: Hey Judge, they said no :( [pouty face]
      Judge: All right ass hats, get in here.

      -Rick
      • by tribentwrks (807384) on Friday January 27, 2006 @11:32AM (#14578764)
        Finally someone explains politics in a way I can understand it! You should write a book explaining everything this way.
      • And it should have went like this:
        Feds: Give us your records
        Google: No
        Feds: We need IPs and Searches, plz kkthnxbye
        Google: No, that's a violation of privacy rights for you to have that and ...
        ACLU: The constitution!
        Google Customer: Wait, you said "no based on privacy rights" not "no based on that you didn't actually record that information"
        Google: ...
        Google Customer: So uh, you're recording IPs and searches for those IPs?
        Google: ...
        ACLU: The constitution!
        Feds: haha, Google got pwned by teh customer! lollers
        • Google Customer: Wait, you said "no based on privacy rights" not "no based on that you didn't actually record that information"
          Google: ...

          Actually, it's more like:

          Google: Um, yeah. We kept telling you "it's not the usually Yada yada." You don't like it? That sucks, but we told you we were doing it.
          Customer: Oh. But, what about don't be evil?
          ACLU: Constitution!
          Google: One at a time, fer crying out loud. We're still not evil, and the Constitution has nothing to do with it. Next question!
          Feds:

    • Re:You kidding me? (Score:3, Informative)

      by tinkerghost (944862)
      Rough history -
      1) congress passed legislation saying if it's 'harmful' for kids to see it then the site owner has a legal duty to restrict access in some arbitrary and perfectly pointless way.
      2) AG tried to enforce stupid law.
      3) SC said some of the law is OK but other parts of it violate free speach - IE asking for a CC# to view a website restricts your ability to speak to the poor and underprivalidged(sp?).
      4) AG says it's not so and even if it is so, it's our patriotic duty [wave flag here] to protect
    • "This must not have to do with the "War on Terror", because I thought that Google couldnt even notify the press if that was the case."

      "War on Porn" is the term you're looking for.. yea.. "War on Porn", described as "defending our country from the modern threat of naked people shot on film".

      We'll have to give up some of our civil liberties, such as privacy and personal information, but what the hell, I'd give anything to protect myself from the threat of naked people shot on film.
    • I hate to see authority being abused as it is being abused right now. However, I'm unsure who I need to contact to tell them I do not want them to have access to Google's search records, for the sake of the children or not.

      Does anyone know what I, the concerned citizen, can and should do?
    • I am not even close to being a privacy advocate, in fact I usually am on the side of the government in issues like these.

      You remind me of the famous quote by someone called Martin Niemoller:

      "First they come for the Communists and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist. And then they came for the Socialists and I did not speak out because I was not a Socialist. And then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews and I

    • Basically pornography is defined by comunity standards, so what porn in the bible-belt is different than what's porn in California.
      The law COPA says you have to protect minors from porn.
      the legal thing is basicaly the law is unconstitional because if some erotica is legal in california, and not in tennesee people are not being equally protected under the law.
      why they want sample searches and websites eludes me, it seems they either want to incriminate search engines, or try and say the problem is so pervasi
    • I say start now with seeding the data in googles searchs.

      Start searching for things like

      "us government tramples peoples rights and supoenas search logs from google"

      or

      "bush administration invades privacy by supoening search logs from google"

      correct the spelling of course.
  • Let's hope that Google wins. There could be several unexpected consequences if the Government wins this one.

    Everything from possible unreasonable search & seizure violations to exposing Google's proprietary trade secrets.

    Does anyone actually think that these 'fishing expeditions' are protecting children or making us safer?
  • by NewToNix (668737) on Friday January 27, 2006 @11:11AM (#14578543) Journal
    to determine whether the U.S. Justice Department will prevail in its fight to force Google to help it defend an anti-pornography law

    This is about trying to revisit (show the need for) a law that has already been struck down.

    So it's not about a law at all, it's about the governments attempt to show the need for a law.

    And trying to use Google records for that is as relevant as using a /. poll for the same (or any other) purpose.

    • Yes! and Yes! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by wsanders (114993) on Friday January 27, 2006 @01:14PM (#14579950) Homepage
      >>>> So it's not about a law at all, it's about the governments attempt to show the need for a law.

      This post is one of the few to point this out. This is just a fishing expedition to provide data for - something. God knows what. Maybe the next step - lets go to one random residential neighborhood in Anytown USA and sieze all the computers. Who knows what we'll find! We promise not to arrest anyone - this time!

      Aside from the privacy concerns, what business wants to be obliged to respond to random government requests for information, outside of that is already required by law and good business practices?

      BTW Almost certainly the info Google might be forced to provide contains no identifiable information, so you can take your tinfoil hats off. Yahoo and AOL already complied, and aggregated the data and removed individually identifying information. Microsoft, good little quislings they are, had no comment.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 27, 2006 @11:14AM (#14578566)
    They should supply a list of URLs that google has indexed.

    The list should be in the form of 0 byte length files where the filename is the URL -- on a FAT partition.

    When the DOJ asks why all they see is millions of files named "http:/~1" google should point them to the FAT long filenames patents.

    Fran
  • Slavery (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MikeRT (947531) on Friday January 27, 2006 @11:18AM (#14578622) Homepage
    They are asking Google to pay for this part of their lawsuit to protect the COPA law at their own expense. Google gets nothing out of it. I'm sure that Google could have been paid a few hundred thousand dollars to write a test suite to prove the DoJ's case. One Google engineer could have written a script that would have given them millions of results based on simulating actual search queries.

    Yet the DoJ didn't want to be bothered to have to pay for this. This is slavery because they are forcing someone to work for their benefit without compensation or as a form of restitution for a crime against their life or property. There is no middle ground here. The DoJ is in the wrong because they refused to pay for the data they wanted and attempted to extort it using the force of law.
    • Par for the course - all government is that form of slavery. What do you think they're doing to you for the 50+% of the year you're working to pay the taxman or keep the regulators happy? You might as well be in shackles.
    • Maybe google should say "ok fine just open up a printer port and we'll shoot the data to your printer over the internet!"
  • by JFlex (763276) on Friday January 27, 2006 @11:27AM (#14578714)
    Google must have some massive plan to organize the world's porn for faster and more efficient searching. I, for one, look forward to pr0n.google.com!
  • Freedom of ? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by FidelCatsro (861135) * <[fidelcatsro] [at] [gmail.com]> on Friday January 27, 2006 @11:28AM (#14578720) Journal
    I know you have freedom of speech in the USA, I was however unaware about the amendment that allowed the government to stick you in a sound shielded room so nobody hears you.
  • Past records (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Tourney3p0 (772619)
    Even if the government loses this one, they have the power to make laws which will make it legal. Basically they can potentially do anything they want to win this one in the future. It's not like this administration has a history of fighting for our rights. The question then becomes whether or not they'd be able to seize past records. If Google wins this, that means that as of right now my search records are off limits. Hypothetically speaking, I have this reasonable expectation in mind when doing my s
    • Except for that the House and Senate have to pass the law first.

      And if they pass a law saying "OMG We can search everything ever" I think the Supreme Court (even if Alito is approved) would have to agree it conflicts with the Fourth Amendment.

      If the following transpires in this nation, I vow to become as crazy as Granny D (see http://grannyd.com/ [grannyd.com])

      I: The House and Senate pass a law giving the executive branch the authority to search these private records, whether or not they previously had the right to.
      II: T
  • What bothers me (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Sheepdot (211478)
    One thing that really bothers me (and no one as yet has asked) is why Google responded the way they did.

    IMHO, when the Federal Government asks for searches, getting a response of: "We don't think it's constitutional for you to be requesting that kind of information on the general public" instead of, "WE'RE NOT ASSHOLISH ENOUGH TO RECORD EVERYONE'S SEARCHES!" is the difference between someone who fights for their stock price (theirself in the eyes of the public), and someone who truly does fight for liberty
    • Re:What bothers me (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Tacvek (948259)

      IMHO, their response should not have been "No, we will not give you that information." it should have been, "No, we do not record that information."

      I'm not sure that that would be right either. Let us assume that Google is not evil at all. It would still make sense to keep track of every set of search terms every searched for, and the number of times in a certain tyime period (say a week) that that term was searched for. They would use this information to keep track of the current most popular searches.

    • Did you consider that possibility?

      Come on, this company keeps huge caches of a large percentage of the web page on the internet. You think they throw away the data that is generated within their own company?

      I'm certain they don't.

      So I think that without lying, they did what they could on this issue.
    • Umm yeah... I am going to have go head and ... disagree with you on this one

      A. Google provides a free service. To pay their bills they use search data, add views, etc. They have a right to save that data. THey tell you up front they are saving it (check their terms of of use) and make no pretenses about it not being saved. They need to make money too... sorry, everything in this world is not free. Google worked for the information they store and have a right to it. The goverment does not.

      B. This law
    • The government is going to win this case. It's a business, not a real person

      That is not correct. A corporation, according to law, is a person, with the same rights. They have freedom of speech, can't have their property seized with due process, etc, just like and American citizen. I guess they would even have the right to bear arms!

      Corporations have been using that "loophole" to quote the constitution in their defence for as long as it exists.

    • Re:What bothers me (Score:4, Insightful)

      by WhiteWolf666 (145211) <.sherwin. .at. .amiran.us.> on Friday January 27, 2006 @12:31PM (#14579432) Homepage Journal
      The government is going to win this case. It's a business, not a real person, all the arguments Google can make against the government holding the information the government could make against Google themselves holding it. Google will break a deal and keep recording what people search for. If they would have been smart and just never recorded searches in the first place (which they do on the Google Search Appliance) then this wouldn't have been a big deal.

      There's a HUGE difference, and I think the government most likely won't win this case. DoJ is probably incredibly surprised the Google is fighting this, and given the recent PR regarding China, this is an excellent way for Google to demonstrate their "Do No Evil" policy, at least in the U.S.

      Google acknowledges that they collect data, however, for consumers to be comfortable with that, consumers need to know that data will not be abused. Most people would consider federal government data mining about pornography "mis-use". You say that Google shouldn't be collecting data. Well, guess what: Data collection IS Google's PRIMARY business, both in terms of indexing websites, caching websites (and images, and video, and sound, and news), and in terms of search records, for advertising. Without data collection, there IS no Google; your under a serious delusion if you think they could function without search records. The key is not that they collect data, the key is they keep that data sacred. No one, not you, not me, not the government, not Google employees, is allowed to peruse that data. That data is soley used for targeted advertising and search optimization, and only by software algorhthm. Google stakes its reputation on this ironclad privacy guarantee.

      People don't want the federal government playing around with their porn search records. It's as simple as that. If (and when) Google wins this case, it makes AOL, MSN, and Altavista look really bad for just rolling over and playing dead. You want your data private, even though a search engine will collect it? You want to have trust in a company that will fight for your right to privacy?

      Trust Google. That we see Google fighting things like this out, versus AOL or MSN, is a BIG deal.

      It's a business, not a real person, all the arguments Google can make against the government holding the information the government could make against Google themselves holding it.

      It's totally different. Google doesn't have a monopoly on physical force, nor can Google arrest you, nor can Google play any of the other dirty tricks a government regularly would. Google uses information for one purpose: advertising. If Google can convince you your information won't be used for any other purpose, they'll have a monopoly on high quality data for high quality advertising.

      It's well recognized that the government will misuse personal data collection; this is why we (both democrats and republicans) disapprove of national federal data collection. Indeed, most capitalists see no problem with data collection by private organizations, because they can't force you to comply. This is totally different that the federal government, and real capitalists acknowledge that the government should be under much stricter scrutiny because of its unique position.

      Your also oversimplyfing the legal case, as well. I quote:

      Google vowed last week to fight a renewed request from the agency, calling the subpoena overbroad. Yahoo, Microsoft and AOL all conceded that they have turned over some records, noting that they did so in a limited fashion involving only aggregated data and no personally identifiable information.

      Leahy said in his letter that his concerns came "against the backdrop of strong public concern over the government's monitoring of Internet communications and warrantless eavesdropping on the telephone conversations of American citizens."

      Justice Department spokesman Charles Miller said the department planned to respond accordingly, though h

    • Re:What bothers me (Score:2, Insightful)

      by zrenneh (949977)
      The feds aren't asking for any identifiable information. They're asking for a random sample of 1 million URLs and 1 million searches from Google's database, with the user-identifying information removed. Google is making a big fuss over this lawsuit in order to gain some great PR and appear to be on the side of the users. Whether they are or not is open to debate (see below).

    • IMHO, their response should not have been "No, we will not give you that information." it should have been, "No, we do not record that information." I've been using Yahoo's streamlined search at http://search.yahoo.com/ [yahoo.com] now for the last two months, but this alone would be enough to make me switch if I hadn't already. I loathe MSN's search, but I've found Yahoo's to be nice enough that I just never enable cookies.


      so your search results were probably already given to the feds, as yahoo and MSN and aol complie
    • Re:What bothers me (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ChaosDiscord (4913) *

      The government is going to win this case. It's a business, not a real person, all the arguments Google can make against the government holding the information the government could make against Google themselves holding it.

      What are you talking about? Google, as a company, is legally free to collect and keep whatever data it likes. Google didn't force other companies to hand over data; they collected it themselves from users who voluntarily visited Google. The government is also free to collect the data

    • Here's the thing about subpoenas, or don't blame Google for having this particular information.

      Once someone, like DOJ, asks you for this kind of information as part of a legal proceeding, you have to retain or create it unless it's an undue burden on you/your business to do so, or you don't routinely create/retain that information.

      You can still fight in court about whether or not you have to turn over the info, and whether or not the request is actually valid. But imagine how obnoxious it would be if at the
  • by Billosaur (927319) * <wgrother@NosPAm.optonline.net> on Friday January 27, 2006 @11:35AM (#14578793) Journal

    Govt lawyer: We need to see this cached data if we're ever to curb terrorism!

    Google lawyer (waving hand): You don't need to see our data.

    Govt lawyer: We don't need to see their data.

    Google lawyer: You won't find any terrorists with it.

    Govt lawyer: We won't find any terrorists with it.

    Google lawyer: You are dropping your request

    Govt lawyer: We are dropping our request

    Google lawyer 2: I was sure we were dead back there.

    Google lawyer: The Force (tm) has a strong influence on the weak-minded.

  • If the government wins and is able to subpoena Google search records, would it be feasible to develop a script that generates bogus Google queries with terms that will trip off the government's data mining software? If there were enough of these in the logs (coming from different IP addresses), could that make the data much harder to mine? Just curious.
    • If the government wins, Google should destroy their records akin to the way librarians are destroying theirs. The government can't get what you don't have.
      • Yeah, some people said that Google would probably do that. But wouldn't destroying information after it's been subpoenaed get them in a lot of trouble? The difference with librarians and ISPs is that they make a point of not storing the information in the first place, which means that they actually wouldn't have anything if they got a subpoena.
        • If Google's lawyers were smart, they would have never admitted to having the information:

          Govt: Give us your search data.
          Google: No.

          If all Google sais was "No," then they never said they had any data to give. They could be merely saying "No" as a matter of principle. Prove otherwise.

          • I'm wondering how plausible it would be if Google tried to claim that they had no search records. For example, when you misspell a word, it's able to ask, "Did you mean to search for ....?" based on information about previous searches. This would indicate that Google was indeed retaining something.
            • It's not clear to me that Google uses previous searches to do the "Did you mean to search for?" thing. You can also do fuzzy matching and if you get more results from a fuzzy match than the non-fuzzy one, that's when you ask the question.
    • The whole reason Google records search results is to improve the quality of search and provide new features. If you make that database useless in order to confound the government, you also screw up Google.
      • Good point. I'd wondered if there was a way of submitting a relatively small number of queries with terms that the data mining software would pick up - not enough to mess up Google, but enough to make it harder for the government to mine. Let me clarify - I'm not planning to do this, but the situation made me curious whether it would be possible.
      • damn that wasn't the preview button.
        just write a script the evokes wget with the above sting and back comes the query. by changing the q=subversion to q=query you'll query google for query, changinge start=0 to start=10 gets the second page. you can dump the returned page to /dev/null or save it pretty easily. If you've got a website you can search for one of your key words untill you hit the page with your URL automaticaly and track your page rank over time; basically pretty easy stuff.

        building a dictionar
  • by g00z (81380)
    Anybody know anything about this particular judge or any of his past rulings? If he's a Bush appointee I have to make a call to my bookie.
  • "That's not a "Request" son! That's an Order!"
  • Do No Evil, Really (Score:5, Interesting)

    by camperslo (704715) on Friday January 27, 2006 @01:00PM (#14579772)
    I hope that those behind Google are really committed to doing no evil. Google has the potential to greatly impact our lives. It is up to them whether the influence is good or evil. Google appears to be acting inline with their "Do No Evil" behavior commitment in this case, but I have several other concerns.

    1) Censorship - While they apparently have no choice but to cave into to the wishes of the Chinese government, I'm wondering if it goes beyond that. Could Google censorship be happening in the U.S. too? There's a wealth of info buried in Slashdot archives that I seem unable to find anymore when searching through Google. (try searching using our nicknames and keywords) Also, a story that I'd seen on the BBC website a while back seems to have been buried. The story was about something like 60 % of the Iraqi oil revenue, managed by the U.S. for reconstruction, being unaccounted for. I haven't been able to find the story again by searching the BBC site directly either. I never saw it covered in the U.S. media, which was preoccupied with Jury selection for Michael Jackson at the time.

    2) Potential Target of Funds From Political Corruption - This one is a hot potato. The commercial media will barely mention it, because they are where the money is going. There is a great deal of attention right now over political corruption, with influence being bought. New laws won't stop illegal behavior, and politicians are generally not going to be very effective in making changes when it means cutting the funding that got many where they are. Media attention is focused on politicians getting dirty money, but doesn't address the issue of where it is being spent. Broadcast licensees in the U.S. are supposed to be acting as "trustees of the public interest", although that seems to be an old-school concept that is conveniently forgotten. If broadcasters would not accept ANY paid political advertising, instead only providing free and equal time for legally qualified candidates/measures, politicians would not have the huge incentive to sell their souls to finance campaign advertising.

    Where does Google fit in? As advertising shifts from conventional media to the net, the potential for Google to become a primary destination of campaign funds is huge. I believe Google should "Do No Evil" and publiclly state they will never provide paid political advertising or boosted search ranking, and should make a public statement that it is also time for broadcasters to kill the incentive for corruption by also refusing paid political ads.
    Over time, advertising on Google could be even more insidious [pbs.org] than television and radio broadcasting, because it is better able to selectively target tuned messages for different segments of the population. Essentially politicians would be able to tell each demographic only the things they want to hear.

    Sometimes "Stuff That Matters" isn't new news. Like the toad swimming the the pot on the stove and not feeling the temperature rise, or the person looking through tinted glasses with eyes that have normalized for the color bias, issues that have developed over time often don't stand out. Some serious issues don't get nearly enough attention. Perhaps we can get Google to help with this one before they become part of the problem.
    It'll take all of us working to bring about change. The commercial media aren't likely to help when it means turning away cash cows. It is up to us pressure the media, our representatives, and the F.C.C. to eliminate paid political advertising.
  • I thought it was my responsibility as a parent to keep my kid from looking at porn, not the governments. I think that's a task I'd like to handle myself.
  • I'm sure I remember lots of comments saying that the US government merely >requested this data from Google... why has it suddenly turned into a court case?

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