Google hits out at DoJ search subpoena

Google has hit out against a US Justice Department subpoena demanding it hand over two months’ worth of users’ search queries.

Google has hit out against a US Justice Department subpoena demanding it hand over two months’ worth of users’ search queries.

The search engine giant is claiming that this would breach users’ privacy and reveal Google’s trade secrets.

The US government is seeking the search data – along with all the internet URLs in Google’s index – as part of a long-running battle over a new Federal law to protect children from access to online pornography.

But in papers filed with a federal judge in San Jose, California, Google said “a real question” existed over whether the government had to follow procedures in the Electronic Communications Privacy Act in seeking the search information.

“The privacy of Google users matters, and Google has promised to disclose information to the government only as required by law. Google should not bear the burden of guessing what the law requires in regard to disclosure of search queries to the government, or the risk of guessing wrong,” the filed papers say.

The US government's argument for seeking the data fell “woefully short” of demonstrating that the information would even lead to admissible evidence in its case that a legal ban on internet materials that are harmful to children would be more effective than a technology filter.

“In truth, the data demanded tells the government absolutely nothing about either filters or the effectiveness of laws,” the papers say.

Instead, the data would “tell the world much about Google's trade secrets and proprietary systems”.

Search data has already been provided by rival search companies MSN, AOL and Yahoo.

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