Judge orders Google to hand over URLs…

by admin March 20, 2006 at 12:09 pm

… but users’ search queries are off-limits

In a move that alleviates some privacy concerns, a federal judge granted part of a Justice Department (DoJ) request for Google search data but said users’ search queries were off-limits.

The 21-page order, issued Friday in San Jose, California, by US District Judge James Ware, represented little change from his stance at a hearing earlier this week.

Ware had indicated he would grant the US Justice Department access to a portion of Google’s index of websites but said he was hesitant to ask for users’ search terms because of worries about the perception by the public that what they type into Google.com is subject to government scrutiny.

Ware said in his Friday order that the government demonstrated a “substantial need” for Google’s random URL sample, which it plans to run through filtering software to test the software’s anti-pornography filtering prowess as the DoJ prepares to defend a child-protection law in court. But the DoJ did not meet that standard regarding search queries, Ware said.

He noted that 50,000 URLs must be turned over, unless both parties agree to an alternative scenario on or before 3 April.

Neither Google nor Justice Department representatives could be reached immediately for comment on Friday.

Full story: silicon.com