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BetaDot » Google Privacy
Google Pressured by Feds to Release Search Data

The Internet’s largest search and contextual advertising company, Google Inc., has reported the Bush administration is pushing to get access to millions of people worth of search records.

The U.S. government is requesting that Google provide access to the online databases to government workers in order to track individuals, and to be used as crime-research tools.

Google Inc. has reportedly refused to comply with a White House-sent subpoena which was issued last summer. U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales reported that a federal judge has sent an order to Google to force them in to delivering access to the search records database.

Currently, the subpoena is requesting access to a single week of search data, millions and millions, if not billions of records. The subpoena also requests a selection of 1 million randomly selected entries in the nearly 10 billion websites indexed by the search engine.

“Search engines now play such an important part in our daily lives that many people probably contact Google more often than they do their own mother,” said a San Francisco based privacy lawyer, “just as most people would be upset if the government wanted to know how much you called your mother and what you talked about, they should be upset about this, too.”

Thursday, Yahoo Inc., Google’s strongest competitor in the search engine and web-advertising markets, confirmed that they also recieved a subpoena from the Bush administration. Yahoo reports that they have complied with the government request.

Yahoo’s Mary Osako made a statement on Thursday saying they did not reveal any personally identifiable information. “We are rigorous defenders of our users’ privacy, in our opinion, this is not a privacy issue.”

A representative from the World Privacy Organization claimed that they’ve been worried about governments forcing their way in to search engine databases for a long time. “Google should be commended for fighting this,” says Pam Dixon, from the WPO.

Google says they will do anything possible to prevent compliance with this privacy invading attack, claiming that compliance would be a betrayal to their users. “Google’s acceding to the request would suggest that it is willing to reveal information about those who use its services. This is not a perception that Google can accept.”

Summary

Google, the victim of a government subpoena promises it’s users they will fight for privacy.


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