White House Seeks Google Records

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A scenario long feared by privacy advocates over Google’s voluminous storage of millions of pieces of information on user searches arose as Department of Justice lawyers asked a federal court to compel Google’s cooperation with their requests.

White House Seeks Google Records
Google Efforting To Protect YOUR Privacy

The federal government has been trying to revive the Child Online Protection Act, struck down by the Supreme Court in 2004, and wants information from Google’s databases as DOJ lawyers prepare for a return to federal court in Pennsylvania to defend COPA’s constitutionality. Mercury News reported on the filing against Google in US District Court in San Jose.

Google has not complied with a year-old subpoena that asked for “one million random Web addresses and records of all Google searches from any one-week period.” Google refused the request, citing privacy concerns and the exposure of Google trade secrets in fulfilling the request.

“Google is not a party to this lawsuit, and the demand for the information is overreaching,” Nicole Wong, an associate general counsel for Google, said in the article as she referred to the DOJ action in Pennsylvania. Google plans to defends itself “vigorously” against the lawsuit.

When the Supreme Court struck down COPA, it cited the law as being too broad in scope, and that it would keep adults from legally accessing porn sites despite COPA’s intent to only punish sites that made their content available to minors. DOJ has to show how COPA can protect minors without infringing First Amendment rights.

DOJ lawyers claimed a need for Google’s records as part of their defense in Pennsylvania. “The production of those materials would be of significant assistance to the government’s preparation of its defense of the constitutionality of this important statute,” they wrote in court documents.

The government asserts that users sometimes end up at adult content sites randomly. Proving that and punishing those sites for not making that content accessible requires COPA, Nathan Weinberg wrote in summarizing the DOJ position and rationale for the filing.

Skepticism has met the federal request already. John Battelle posted: “Of course the Bush administration started with the cover of “fighting child porn.” Do you think that’s all they’ve asked for? Of course not.”

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

White House Seeks Google Records
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