Magazine article American Libraries

Google Must Provide Sites, but Not Search Terms

Magazine article American Libraries

Google Must Provide Sites, but Not Search Terms

Article excerpt

At a March 14 hearing on the Department of Justice subpoena of randomly selected web records held in search-engine firm Google's databases (AL, Mar., p. 12), attorneys for the government disclosed that they would only ask for 50,000 websites and 5,000 search terms--instead of the 1 million sites and one week's worth of searches originally requested. Lawyers for Google conceded that the reduced demand was less of a burden to comply with, the San Jose Mercury News reported March 15.

In his 21-page ruling on the suit March 17, Judge James Ware of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California only required Google to turn over the web addresses, not the search terms. He wrote that he was balancing the government's need to gather data against Google's expectation that it could operate without undue interference or fear that its trade secrets would be revealed.

"The expectation of privacy by some Google users may not be reasonable," the ruling stated, "but may nonetheless have an appreciable impact on the way in which Google is perceived, and consequently the frequency with which users use Google. …

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