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Government Demands Search Data, Google Refuses

By hagrin - Posted on 05 August 2006

Search Engine Watch has an important story about the U.S. Government demanding search engine data to determine the amount of pornography being distributed, or made available, to children using these web pages. However, Google has refused to provide this information stating that user privacy is a major issue and that the data being requested can be obtained by just running normal searches through the Google homepage. Other search engines have responded in a slightly different way. MSN released a very convuluded statement that explains that they abide by the law when necessary, but also take user rights very seriously. Ask Jeeves was not asked for their information.

Personally, I don't see a need for direct user data to be provided as there are other ways of obtaining the data. With the Google AdWords and Search APIs, they could create their own application that would allow the federal government to evaluate the content being offered by search engines. I'm sure Google would have no problem giving the government access to perform massive queries so as to circumvent the need for releasing actual user data. I'm excited to see Google decline the government's request, but the slippery slope has begun.