"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) - eWeek - TMCnet - InformationWeek