The federal judge hearing the US Department of Justice (DoJ) case against Google says he may grant some of the search results the US government has demanded.
The Bush administration wants Google to provide random anonymous search results from its customers to enable it to defend legislation designed to make it harder for minors to access porn sites.
The government argues that filtering software is not fully reliable, and that porn site homepages should be hidden behind passwords, issued to potential customers.
To prove its proposals, the government wants to analyse search engine data to see how users arrive at porn sites. Google has refused to hand over any results, citing customer privacy and a threat to its business.
The judge hearing the case yesterday said he expected to make a decision on the case “very quickly”. He said he might give the DoJ access to a portion of Google's index of websites visited by users, but not access to users' search terms entered.
The judge said he may not give the government everything it wanted from Google as users may fear that their search terms could be handed over to the government in the future.
AOL, Yahoo and Microsoft have already handed over to the government sites visited and search terms entered by some of their customers.