EFF Wants Horvath, Google Messages

    February 27, 2008
    WebProNews Staff

Former Justice Department chief privacy officer Jane Horvath once criticized the government subpoena in Gonzales v Google; she joined Google’s legal team last August.

UPDATE: A Google spokesperson provided this statement: “Google did not work with Jane Horvath on this issue while at the Department of Justice.”

When Horvath prepared to depart the confines of the government sector for the much greener pastures at Google, the Electronic Frontier Foundation dropped a Freedom of Information Act request on the Justice Department. They wanted to see the communications that took place between Google and Horvath, now senior privacy counsel at Google.

Justice responded by not responding. Six months have passed without an answer from the Department. EFF filed a lawsuit asking the US District Court for Washington DC to prod an answer out of DoJ.

“We want to know what discussions DOJ’s top privacy lawyer had with Google before leaving her government position to join the company,” EFF senior counsel David Sobel said in a statement.

The Department of Justice, then under Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, sued Google to release search records, in order to bolster the Department’s court case over the Constitutionality of the Child Online Protection Act. Microsoft, Yahoo, and other companies had already complied quietly with the Department’s demand.

Google stonewalled Justice, resulting in a lawsuit against Google that brought the whole issue of the Department’s information grab to public notice. At the time, Horvath, named the DoJ’s first Chief Privacy and Civil Liberties Officer in February 2006, criticized the Department’s subpoena publicly.