Google refuses to let US examine search requests
Google users will face US government monitoring if the American authorities win a court case aimed at getting the website to hand over copies of every search conducted. ACLU
said an attempt by the Bush administration to force Google to turn over a broad range of materials from its databases set a dangerous precedent that should worry all Americans.
"This is the camel's nose under the tent for using search engines and all kinds of data aggregators as surveillance tools"
The Cato Institute
who also runs Privacilla.org
. The Bush administration is under fire from a number of rights groups over security measures it has taken since the September 11, 2001 attacks on America. The Justice Department stated that Google had refused to comply with a subpoena issued last year for one million random Web addresses from Google's databases as well as records of all searches entered on Google during any one-week period. The government said it needed the information to prepare its case to revive the 1998 COPA
, which the Supreme Court blocked from taking effect two years ago. The law prohibited Internet companies from knowingly making available obscene or pornographic material to minors. The Supreme Court said there were potential constitutional problems with the law and sent the case back to a lower court for consideration. The Justice Department said on Friday that America Online, Yahoo and Microsoft had all complied with similar requests. Alberto Gonzales
rejected concerns that the subpoena might violate individual privacy rights.
"We're not asking for the identity of Americans. We simply want to have some subject matter information with respect to these communications. This is important for the Department of Justice and we will pursue this matter,"
A Google spokesperson said the company objected to the breadth of the government's request but did not consider it to be a privacy issue since the search terms would not include personally identifiable details. Edward Markey
said he would introduce a bill to strengthen consumers' Internet privacy by prohibiting the storage of personally identifiable information Internet searches beyond a reasonable time.
"Internet search engines provide an extraordinary service, but the preservation of that service does not rely on a bottomless, timeless database that can do great damage despite good intentions"
Chris Jay Hoofnagle of the EPIC
worried that the government could follow up its initial request with a demand for more information. Ari Schwartz of the CDT
said he was glad Google was fighting the case but the company needed to make privacy a more fundamental part of its products.
"Such a move absolutely should breed some paranoia. They didn't ask for data this time, but next time, they might."
On the other side, the Cincinnati-based National Coalition for Protection of Children and Families, a Christian fundamentalist group, said search companies should be willing to help the government defend children from pornography. - Uproar Grows Over US Demand for Google Search Records
- Search engines vs. the DOJ: The aftermath
- Minneapolis Star Tribune (subscription)
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Number of Chinese netizens grows to 111 million!
The number of Chinese netizens rose to 111 million at the end of 2005, an increase of 17 million from a year ago, according CNNIC
that published its 17th China Internet Development Report on Tuesday. 91.69 million Internet users live in urban districts. Through the end of 2005 China had 49.5 million online capable PCs, up 19% from 2004. Internet expenditure in China surpassed 100 billion yuan
for 2005. It was the first time spending data has been released. CNNIC mentioned that China's Internet users spent an average of 15.9 hours per week on the Internet or 20.5% more than the previous year. It also said Internet users in eastern China, the country's most affluent region, accounted for 57.8% of the total, representing a sustantial digital divide between the east and the rest of the country. CNNIC is a government-backed non-profit organization providing Internet-related services including domain name registry, IP address application as well as Internet surveys. - China Internet users at 111 mln at end-2005 - CNNIC
- In China, 111 million Net users counted
- People's Daily Online
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Blogs Buzzing With Google PC Report
A Los Angeles Times
story says the search engine giant has been chatting with Wal-Mart and others to sell a computer that would run a Google-developed operating system, not Microsoft's Windows
The PC would run an operating system created by Google, not Microsoft's Windows, which is one reason it would be so cheap - perhaps as little as a couple of hundred dollars. Bear Stearns analysts speculated in a research report last month that consumers would soon see something called "Google Cubes" - a small hardware box that could allow users to move songs, videos and other digital files between their computers and TV sets. Larry Page
will give a keynote address Friday at the Consumer Electronics Show
. Analysts suspect that Page will use the opportunity either to show off a Google computing device or announce a partnership with a big retailer to sell such a machine. - CES Suspense: Does Google Have Low-Cost Web Device Up Sleeve?
- Google PC on the horizon?
- Search Engine Watch
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