A federal judge has ordered that Google must hand over 50,000 web addresses used by its customers to the US government, but the judge has refused the government’s request for inputted search criteria on privacy grounds.
Google had refused to hand over any random and anonymous search data to the US Department of Justice (DoJ), which wanted the records to help support legislation designed to prevent access to online pornography among minors.
The judge said privacy considerations had led him to deny part of the DoJ’s request. The ruling had been expected as the judge hinted before his decision that he was aware that internet users may be wary of having their search criteria tracked by the government.
The US government wanted the search data to demonstrate how easy it is for minors to stumble across porn sites, despite the availability of filtering software.
AOL, Yahoo and MSN had already handed over customer data when Google decided to fight the request on privacy and business grounds.