Friday, January 20, 2006

Google's woes

Does Google have woes? My colleagues and I were surprised to hear that Google and the Bush administration were squaring off over turning over records.

So far, it seems that Google is the only search engine to challenge the Bush administration. According to a Yahoo news reports, Yahoo, Microsoft, and AOL have complied with the Government's subpoena without divulging personal information about their customers.

According to the Yahoo news report:

"The Justice Department issued the subpoenas last summer as part of its effort to restore an online child pornography law that has been blocked by the US Supreme Court. Although investors have initially punished Google's stock for taking on the government, Schachter and other analysts believe it could be a smart public relations move for the company."
The Government is seeking a list of requests entered into Google's search engine during a single week...think of how many queries this would include? Millions? It would also seek 1,000,000 randomly selected web addresses from a variety of Google databases.

According to

"The government argues that it needs the information as it prepares to once again defend the constitutionality of the Child Online Protection Act in a federal court in Pennsylvania. The law was struck down in 2004 because it was too broad and could prevent adults from accessing legal porn sites....[T]he government has subpoenaed search engines to develop a factual record of how often Web users encounter online porn and how Web searches turn up material they say is 'harmful to minors.' "

This will be interesting to watch as President Bush starts campaigning for the Patriot Act renewal. For a good background article, check out this article.

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