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Justice Department responds to Google's privacy concerns
San Jose Mercury News ^ | Sat, Feb. 25, 2006

Posted on 02/26/2006 9:55:26 AM PST by nickcarraway

Concerns by Google Inc. that the Bush administration's demand to examine millions of its users' Internet search requests would violate privacy rights are unwarranted because the information provided would not identify or be traceable to specific users, according to a declaration filed by the government late Friday.

The 18-page brief provided the Justice Department's reply to the strident arguments that the online search leader filed last week as a rebuff the government's demand to review its search requests during a random week.

The department believes the information will help revive an online child protection law that has been blocked by the U.S. Supreme Court. By showing the wide variety of Web sites that people find through search engines, the government hopes to prove Internet filters aren't strong enough to prevent children from viewing pornography and other inappropriate material online. On Friday, the Justice Department submitted a declaration by Philip B. Stark, a researcher in the study, who rejected the privacy concerns, noting that the government specifically requested that Google remove any identifying information from the search requests.

"The study does not involve examining the queries in more than a cursory way. It involves running a random sample of the queries through the Google search engine and categorizing the results," Stark, a statistics professor at the University of California, Berkeley, said in the declaration.

Stark also said the nature and depth of the requested information would do little to threaten Google's closely guarded trade secrets. The company itself publishes more details about its queries in its Zeitgeist report than is being sought by the government, he said.

The dispute is scheduled to be aired out again before U.S. District Judge James Ware in a March 13 hearing in San Jose.

(Excerpt) Read more at mercurynews.com ...


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Constitution/Conservatism; Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Extended News; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events; US: California; US: District of Columbia
KEYWORDS: aclu; doj; google; justicedept; privacy

1 posted on 02/26/2006 9:55:27 AM PST by nickcarraway
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To: nickcarraway
the information provided would not identify or be traceable to specific users

Then why would they want to see it in the first place? For statistical purposes, like X-million people search on the word "Allah" during any given period?

2 posted on 02/26/2006 9:59:51 AM PST by PistolPaknMama (Al-Queda can recruit on college campuses but the US military can't! --FReeper airborne)
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To: PistolPaknMama
"For statistical purposes, like X-million people search on the word "Allah" during any given period?"

Ya, that's pretty much the argument.
3 posted on 02/26/2006 10:04:24 AM PST by ndt
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To: PistolPaknMama

Just to clarify, this subpoena (that is what it is) is being used not to prosecute a crime, but to provide evidence of need for legislation.

For the life of me I don't understand why they can't just run the queries themselves. Google even provides an API that would allow the government to automate it.


4 posted on 02/26/2006 10:11:44 AM PST by ndt
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To: ndt
Just to clarify, this subpoena (that is what it is) is being used not to prosecute a crime, but to provide evidence of need for legislation.

OBJECTION!!

(Sorry, I couldn't resist.)

If what you're saying is true, then the DOJ is acting as a lobbying group. That would be a grossly inappropriate activity for a government agency. That the judge hasn't thrown the subpoena out for this very reason leads me to suspect that they are looking for evidence of a crime. If that is the case, then the DOJ is involved in a fishing expedition; and the subpoena should be disallowed for being too broad.

5 posted on 02/26/2006 10:22:12 AM PST by Redcloak (<--- Not always a "people person")
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To: nickcarraway
Concerns by Google Inc. that the Bush administration's demand to examine millions of its users' Internet search requests would violate privacy rights are unwarranted because Google is already providing the information to the Chinese government ...
6 posted on 02/26/2006 10:25:00 AM PST by af_vet_1981
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To: Redcloak
"DOJ is acting as a lobbying group"

They are.

"That would be a grossly inappropriate activity for a government agency."

It is.

"That the judge hasn't thrown the subpoena out for this very reason leads me to suspect that they are looking for evidence of a crime."

If they are looking for evidence of a crime, then they are lying about it. It is contrary to their stated purpose.

"the subpoena should be disallowed for being too broad."

IMO it should.
7 posted on 02/26/2006 10:25:24 AM PST by ndt
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To: af_vet_1981
"Google is already providing the information to the Chinese government ..."

That was Yahoo, not Google. Not the same company and not real fond of each other.
8 posted on 02/26/2006 10:26:27 AM PST by ndt
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To: nickcarraway

How long before some lawyer subpoenas the entire Google database of search requests in some lawsuit?


9 posted on 02/26/2006 10:27:02 AM PST by omega4412
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To: albertp; Allosaurs_r_us; Abram; AlexandriaDuke; Americanwolf; Annie03; Baby Bear; bassmaner; ...
Libertarian ping.To be added or removed from my ping list freepmail me or post a message here
10 posted on 02/26/2006 10:30:22 AM PST by freepatriot32 (Holding you head high & voting Libertarian is better then holding your nose and voting republican)
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To: omega4412

"subpoenas the entire Google database"

Oh, it's coming. The Google DB (and associated user info) is enough to make any authoritarian drool. It's a peek into the mind of a large segment of the worlds population. Considering I just got done searching for muslim, bomb, mosque and ricin due to post here on this forum, I fear what someone would think of my searches without knowing the context.


11 posted on 02/26/2006 10:32:49 AM PST by ndt
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To: nickcarraway
Google $$$'s,that's what they're about,which is fine,but at least they could be consistent.

Censorship: Google's newest business strategy

12 posted on 02/26/2006 10:49:38 AM PST by mdittmar (May God watch over those who serve,and have served, to keep us free.)
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To: ndt
That was Yahoo, not Google. Not the same company and not real fond of each other.
    It looks like you are correct but are we certain Google is not also sharing information with the Chinese government ?
  1. Lee defended Google's business posture in China and said Google had worked closely with the government when it entered the Chinese market and has done nothing wrong.
  2. Google, filtering out web sites the government wants blocked, with words in them like “democracy” and “human rights”;

13 posted on 02/26/2006 11:27:13 AM PST by af_vet_1981
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To: nickcarraway

Let's see, they bent over and grab their ankles for the Chicoms about Political Speech but when it comes to cracking down on Child Porn, they tell the US Feds to get stuffed. Yep, Google is run by Democrats all right


14 posted on 02/26/2006 11:42:22 AM PST by MNJohnnie ("Good men don't wait for the polls. They stand on principle and fight."-Soul Seeker)
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To: af_vet_1981
"It looks like you are correct but are we certain Google is not also sharing information with the Chinese government ?"

They might also be drinking the blood of innocents. Now all we need is evidence.

You can rightly bash them on the China blocking thing but no point making up possible scenarios without anything to back it up.

Note, while I do not condone Yahoo's move to release information to China, when you think about it, it's not that different than what the U.S. is asking Google to do. Both countries are using subpoena or threat of subpoena powers to demand information. Except in China actual laws were violated (asinine laws to be sure but laws never the less) in the case of the U.S. they want the information even though no illegal activity has taken place.
15 posted on 02/26/2006 12:17:12 PM PST by ndt
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To: nickcarraway
If anyone is interested in actually seeing the difference, you don't need to be in China to see google.cn. In the same way that people in China can still access Google U.S. You can do your comparative analysis from where you are. Google China Google U.S.
16 posted on 02/26/2006 12:23:19 PM PST by ndt
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To: nickcarraway
sorry bad link. Google U.S.
17 posted on 02/26/2006 12:24:26 PM PST by ndt
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To: nickcarraway
the information provided would not identify or be traceable to specific users

Bullpuckey. And the companies that caved to the Ministry of Love's initial request should be actively boycotted.
18 posted on 02/26/2006 12:27:09 PM PST by mysterio
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To: nickcarraway

What are the compliance options if Google's legal staff rejects the Justice Department's analysis?

Arm twisting, confinement, confiscation of first-born offspring?


19 posted on 02/26/2006 12:33:15 PM PST by Old Professer (The critic writes with rapier pen, dips it twice, and writes again.)
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To: PistolPaknMama

Perhaps you should take another look at the article.

Apparently some activist judges think that the law is un-necessary because filters work.

I among other smart people know that Google and these activist judges are full of it.

The administration just wants proof so they can go back and say "See I told you so."


20 posted on 02/26/2006 2:37:32 PM PST by Almondjoy
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To: nickcarraway
By showing the wide variety of Web sites that people find through search engines, the government hopes to prove Internet filters aren't strong enough to prevent children from viewing pornography and other inappropriate material online.

This is the giveaway sentence. OK, the Federales want Google's search data, which will certainly prove that lots of people search for pornography, and probably find it. But how can they show that children are viewing pornography? To do that, they need to identify not just the searches but the searchers themselves. In other words, this request is only step one. Step two will be - must be - a direct invasion of privacy.

21 posted on 02/26/2006 5:40:56 PM PST by John Locke
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To: Almondjoy
The administration just wants proof

Then they need to develop it without stealing private data.

22 posted on 02/27/2006 12:53:14 PM PST by steve-b (A desire not to butt into other people's business is eighty percent of all human wisdom)
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To: steve-b

How is it stealing?


23 posted on 02/27/2006 8:16:49 PM PST by Almondjoy
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To: ndt
Note, while I do not condone Yahoo's move to release information to China, when you think about it, it's not that different than what the U.S. is asking Google to do. Both countries are using subpoena or threat of subpoena powers to demand information. Except in China actual laws were violated (asinine laws to be sure but laws never the less) in the case of the U.S. they want the information even though no illegal activity has taken place.

Your moral equivalence pitch does not persuade me.

The Chinese would probably use it though.

24 posted on 02/28/2006 7:04:42 PM PST by af_vet_1981
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