Something I have long warned about appears to be happening. The Mercury News reports:
Bush Lawyers Ask Judge To Make Google Hand Over Data; Google Promises A Fight
The Bush administration on Wednesday asked a federal judge to order Google Inc. to turn over a broad range of material from its closely guarded databases.
The move is part of a government effort to revive an Internet child protection law struck down two years ago by the U.S. Supreme Court. The law was meant to punish online pornography sites that make their content inaccessible to minors. The government contends it needs the Google data to determine how often pornography shows up in online searches.
But, to Google’s credit, they have resisted:
…Google has refused to comply with a subpoena issued last year for the records, which include a request for one million random Web addresses and records of all Google searches from any one-week period.
The Mountain View-based search engine opposes releasing the information on a variety of grounds, saying it would violate the privacy rights of its users and reveal company trade secrets, according to court documents.
Nicole Wong, an associate general counsel for Google, said the company will fight the government’s effort “vigorously.”
“Google is not a party to this lawsuit, and the demand for the information is overreaching,” Wong said.
Google must hold the line. Information about private intellectual activity has long been regarded as fundamentally private in our culture, both for reasons related to individual dignity and because of the powerful chilling effect that disclosure of intellectual preferences would produce. The push toward the “perfect search engine” and other related technologies threaten the privacy of our online intellectual activities, and we must push Google (and the search engine companies who apparently already turned over data to the DOJ) to continue resisting such government efforts to gain access to your online intellectual activities.
[see more disuccsion at Infothought, Inside Google, Battelle’s SearchBlog, and TechDirt]
[More excellent research & analysis on the issue at Search Engine Watch]