February 17, 2006 6:13 PM PST

Google may have to fight second subpoena

Google may be about to face a second round of subpoenas for search-related information.

If the U.S. Justice Department is successful in obtaining a week's worth of search terms from Google, which it demanded as part of an attempt to defend a 1998 Internet pornography law, a second round of subpoenas is shaping up to be far more intrusive.

The American Civil Liberties Union warned Friday that if the first subpoena is granted--giving the government's expert the information to use to evaluate the effectiveness of porn filters--the ACLU's legal assault on the same antipornography law will require it to target Google as well.

"If the government utilizes the information in any manner, we're very likely going to need to do follow-up discovery," ACLU attorney Aden Fine said.

A legal brief the ACLU filed with a federal judge in San Jose, Calif., on Friday says its request would seek to learn how Google's search engines operate, how Google serves up links in response to queries and whether there is "any way to distinguish between queries generated by actual individuals and queries generated by artificial programs or software."

The civil liberties group, which characterizes itself as a staunch defender of privacy, says it is not eager to expose details about Google's inner workings and the habits of its users. The ACLU says it has "no need or desire to obtain any of this information from Google." But, the group warns, if the government gets the information, it would have little choice.

The unexpected news of a second subpoena from the ACLU could complicate the Justice Department's attempt to convince U.S. District Judge James Ware to grant its request. Ware has scheduled a hearing for March 13.

The Justice Department is seeking a random sample of 1 million Web pages from Google's index, along with copies of a week's worth of search terms to aid in the defense of the Child Online Protection Act (COPA). America Online, Microsoft and Yahoo voluntarily complied with similar requests.

A representative for the Justice Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday.

For its part, Google has raised the possibility of being enmeshed in the increasingly complex COPA lawsuit as a reason to oppose the subpoena. That would place Google "in the witness chair, and exposes Google's intellectual property to cross-examination in open court by the ACLU, its counsel, experts and consultants," the company said in its own brief filed Friday.

AOL, Microsoft and Yahoo each have received two subpoenas from the Justice Department, one asking for information about filtering technology and the other asking for search terms. The ACLU has given AOL a subpoena to appear at a deposition "asking for testimony about their parental control technology," according to the ACLU's Fine.

The Justice Department has disclosed nothing about what it plans to do with the records from search companies, except to say it has hired Philip Stark, a professor of statistics at the University of California at Berkeley, to evaluate the search logs.

See more CNET content tagged:
subpoena, Child Online Protection Act, Google Inc., request, America Online Inc.

28 comments

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ACLU GO TO HELL!!!
The ACLU has no place in this. I personally have not heard one good thing that the ACLU has done for the American people more than cost tax dollars in fighting these idiotic law suits. Can somone name one thing that the ACLU has done that is good?
Posted by Mojo777 (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
If not the ACLU, then who?
Who I ask, will stand up for our Civil Liberties? YOU? If not for groups like the ACLU, our rights will be trampled by this, and other administrations.

I applaud the ACLU and even give my monetary support for their actions.

THANK YOU ACLU!
Posted by Leppard (41 comments )
Link Flag
AMEN!!
Google claims that releasing a random sample of URLs will disclose trade secrets. Clearly not so...

However, the ACLU came right out and said... "If the gov does this, then we want all the trade secrets from Google."

Read the article... they want MORE than the government. They want to know the inner workings of Google technology, and they have no right to this information. The ACLU is merely piling on the pressure and hoping that a government win for non-damaging data will result in a higher probability of them being able to collect true trade secrets.

The ACLU can stick it.
Posted by William Squire (151 comments )
Link Flag
Screw the ACLU!!
Down with ACLU!
Posted by computerman822 (3 comments )
Link Flag
RE
"The ACLU has no place in this."

The ACLU was one of the organizations that challenged and got struck down the original COPA law in 1998. Since the government is trying to bring it back I suspect they'll want to challenge that effort.


"I personally have not heard one good thing that the ACLU has done for the American people more than cost tax dollars in fighting these idiotic law suits."

Not surprise, haters usually suffer from selective hearing and pick out the bad while ignoring the good. Of course whether something is good or not depends on perspective. I personally think getting COPA struck down was a good thing since it would have been eneffective, applied to non-pornographic material, and allowed the community with the most restrictive standards to dictate what is acceptable for everyone else.


"Can somone name one thing that the ACLU has done that is good?"

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.aclu.org/religion/gen/19910prs20050726.html" target="_newWindow">http://www.aclu.org/religion/gen/19910prs20050726.html</a>
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.aclu.org/freespeech/youth/23267prs20051222.html" target="_newWindow">http://www.aclu.org/freespeech/youth/23267prs20051222.html</a>
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.aclu.org/freespeech/protest/23309prs20051222.html" target="_newWindow">http://www.aclu.org/freespeech/protest/23309prs20051222.html</a>
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.aclu.org/privacy/youth/24050prs20060202.html" target="_newWindow">http://www.aclu.org/privacy/youth/24050prs20060202.html</a>

I though I suspect nothing they do short of closing would be enough for you.
Posted by unknown unknown (1951 comments )
Link Flag
Necessary extreme perhaps
Sure, the ACLU goes overboard sometimes. That doesn't make them evil though. I would argue that they provide balance. In the United States (and the world for that matter), the loudest voices are often the most extreme. We need those extremes on both sides then to keep one another in check. Without the ACLU, those on the other side (I'd generalize and call them the far right, but that may not be a fair categorization) would have free reign. It would be great not to need them and it would certainly be cheaper. Unfortunately, it just doesn't seem to work that way. Lukily though, I don't think they have the influence one would think based on their volumn, in the same way that, for example, church groups don't have that much power. They argue, they fight, they bicker, but in the end reasonable minds prevail.
Posted by someguy389 (102 comments )
Link Flag
WE MUST APPLAUD GOOGLE FOR STANDING UP FOR US. THE AMERICANS!
If we do not do something about this NOW we are going to be just like China and then it could only get worse. The government will try to have certain words filtered from our search engines then what's next?
Either the government needs to just come out and say "exactly" what they are looking for or Google should just hand over the search queries pertaining to child pornography. There has to be a way for Google to filter such search queries. Then release the the IP addresses of those individuals so they can be hunted down and killed. SIMPLE!
Posted by spindoctor720 (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
While screwing the Chinese? Hipocrisy!
Google is just playing the cards to its max. favor. When it came to China, it was in their interest to salivate and agree to every demand of the Chinese Govt. In the US they know they'll be more popular for resisting uncle Sam, especially while the republicans are in control...
Posted by kartbart (48 comments )
Link Flag
Google Stands Up for Porno
The DOJ subpoena does not seek individual information thus Google's refusal to release the info does nothing in terms of protecting Americans. Instead, their stance helps to protect kiddie porn sites. Explain how their refusal for such info meets their credo of do not evil?
Posted by tbsteph (62 comments )
Link Flag
Aye
amen.
Posted by AimsAlpha (21 comments )
Link Flag
Googles Power Is Beyond Belief...
Or so you would think do to the fact that Google won't divulge any of it's search engines inner workings. Not even 3rd party verification is allowed in the realms of Google World. So with this instance in fact would jeopardize Googles very existence as well as expose inner workings of Google that were never meant to be exposed due to possible criminal retaliation?

All I know is that Google is apparently smart enough to tell me that I was generating false clicks for the Google Ad-Sense Program while I was extensively working on some web development.

Only when I brought to the attention of Google that I was working on my site extensively and if there was false clicks generated than it's up to me to file a grievance with Google and then they would review it and get back to me on whether or not I could continue to use the Ad-Sense Program.

When I asked how they could tell that I was generating false clicks they just told me that that information is classified to Google.

So my question is this: If Google is so great how come they service doesn't have any 3rd party verification like every other service on the web. Is it because the truth of Google being severely flawed would come out?

~Justin
Posted by OneWithTech (196 comments )
Reply Link Flag
answered your own question
&lt;&lt;So my question is this: If Google is so great how come they service doesn't have any 3rd party verification like every other service on the web.&gt;&gt;

Well... right off the bad... not EVERY site uses 3rd party verification. In fact, MOST do not.

But realistically... How do you know they don't have 3rd party verification? You said yourself.....

"When I asked how they could tell that I was generating false clicks they just told me that that information is classified to Google. "

Seems to me you might be spinning a bit.... I understand your grievance about the Ad-Sense program... but if you read the fine print in the contract, you'll see that your "extensive development" that is responsible for generating false clicks and thus... false charges to Google, is in violation of the user agreement.
Posted by William Squire (151 comments )
Link Flag
Open & De-centralized is only way to the stop the threat of the US governme
Only way to avoid the real threat of the US government, or any one government, or
group of companies, controlling what people say, read, search for, etc.
is to oppose and break the Google or Yahoo model of the search engine which
is to run a closed &#38; centralized search engine.
Because it is only inevitable that with all this power centralized in the hand
of 2 US companies that this power will be abused.
I mean for God sake why should the search result of people searching for something
in Germany, or in Russia, India, etc. be provided by 2 US companies in Silicon Valley?
That is non-sense!
Who knows more about what is happening in Germany, Russia, India, France, etc.?
Companies/people in these respective countries or 2 big US media companies in Silicon Valley?


That is why I, and more and more people on the know, have began to evangelize the following combination:

For DB MySQL:
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.mysql.com/" target="_newWindow">http://www.mysql.com/</a>

For search engine AnooX
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.anoox.com/" target="_newWindow">http://www.anoox.com/</a>

For DNS root server
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.orsn.org/" target="_newWindow">http://www.orsn.org/</a>


For many reason they provide the better model, because they are taking control of Key parts of the Internet and dispersing it around the world, rather than concentrating them in the hand of 1 or 2 companies (in US). This is the best way to ensure real freedom of access to information and freedom from government control of information.
Posted by free_people (66 comments )
Reply Link Flag
go away
this is cross posted crap and what you say makes no sense.
Posted by R Me (196 comments )
Link Flag
Ah yes.... Dear Cyril....
... with an alias.

Anoox still is a loser.
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Link Flag
Nice camouflage
I love how the AnooX faithful are inserting references to other open source products now in an attempt to mask their single minded initiative. You've gotta give them points for perseverence. If at first you don't succeed Cyril, try try again. I know I sure couldn't spend all my time pushing such a worthless product though.
Posted by someguy389 (102 comments )
Link Flag
Google seems to be a "PORN SEARCH PAL"
Google seems to be a "PORN SEARCH PAL"
Posted by Stan Johnson (322 comments )
Reply Link Flag
thebignoticeboard.com
their actions are commendable
Posted by thebignoticeboard.com (23 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Fighting Back
It is great that someone is fighting back,I personaly think the ACLU is Unamerican and hopefuly someone will start a counter organization to counter attack them on all of there frivilous law suits.
Posted by saleo paleo (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
I agree: ACLU, GO TO HELL!
I agree: ACLU, GO TO HELL!
Posted by lameo_nameo (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
 

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