Thursday January 19th 2006, 10:28 am
Filed under: Free Speech, Government, Courts
The Bush Administration is trying to force search-engine Google to turn over a million random Web addresses and more. The Bush Administration would use the data to argue that a law limiting access to pornography on the internet is constitutional.
From an article by Howard Mintz of the San Jose Mercury News:
The Bush administration on Wednesday asked a federal judge to order Google 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 accessible to minors. The government contends it needs the Google data to determine how often pornography shows up in online searches.
In court papers filed in U.S. District Court in San Jose, Justice Department lawyers revealed that Google has refused to comply with a subpoena issued last year for the records, which include a request for 1 million random Web addresses and records of all Google searches from any one-week period.
The Mountain View-based search and advertising giant 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.
The case worries privacy advocates, given the vast amount of information Google and other search engines know about their users.
The Bush Administration has no right to this data, and the courts should reject this fishing expedition.
The importance of this data to the administration argument is questionable.
If 10 percent of websites in Google results are pornographic, does that mean a law to limit access is more constitutional than if it’s 5 percent or 20 percent?