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Monday, February 20, 2006
Google Rejects US Subpoena

Google on Friday formally rejected the U.S. Justice Department's subpoena of data from the Web search leader.

Responding to the 21 day motion issued in January by U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales,the internet giant argued that a week's search data would disclose trade secrets and violate the privacy rights of its users.

The Bush administration is seeking to compel Google to hand over Web search data as part of a bid by the Justice Department to appeal a 2004 Supreme Court injunction of a law to penalize Web site operators who allow children to view pornography.(see CDRinfo's previous news).

Google's lawyers said the company shares the government's concern about materials that could be harmful to minors, but argued that complying with the U.S. government's request for "untold millions of search queries" would put an undue burden on Google, including a "week of engineer time to complete."

Complying with the Justice Department request would also force Google to reveal how its Web search technology works -- something it jealously guards as a trade secret, the company argued. It refuses to disclose even the total number of searches conducted each day.

Google is alone in opposing the U.S. government request. Rivals Microsoft and Yahoo are among the companies that have complied with the Justice Department demand for data to be used to make its case. Yahoo, Microsoft, and AOL have said that they defend users' privacy vigorously and complied with the Justice Department's search request because it seeks only a list of search terms and Web addresses, and not individual user data. The government has not, for example, asked for information about who typed in what search terms.

U.S. District Judge James Ware has scheduled a hearing on March 13 to hear the case.

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