Copy of the DOJ v. Google Complaint and some thoughts

I'm posting the DOJ/Google complaint because it took me a while to find it and it makes pretty interesting reading. Particularly Google's Oct 10 letter to the DOJ in response to the subpoena for URLs.

First, Google knew MSN and Yahoo turned over the info without a fight and still decided to go forward with this, so kudos to Google!

Second, the emphasis is definitely on protecting the "crown jewels," despite the protective order already in place to protect trade secret information in the case file. It looks like Google would have to release pretty sensitive information and I think they have a strong argument here.

Third, Google notes that turning over the information will create the perception that it is OK with turning over personally identifiable information about it's customers, even if in this instance no PII is released. Google does note that the requested URL's may contain PII even if divorced from external cues about who did the searching.

Finally, Google emphasizes that the use of these search terms to model a "mock" WWW is not adequate because Google does not encompass the entire WWW. I think this is a really important point for them. As they grow in size and users, they sometimes look more like a part of the architecture, or a public utility than an application. Are you on the web if you are not accessible through Google? They need to keep many degrees of separation between themselves and the 'web' and this case may be one part of that goal.

I'll continue to follow this case closely. The role of search in our lives, and in the courts is really fascinating and will occupy at least one of the sessions of my Privacy and Technology class this fall. The increased availability of information, access to it, and it's permanence has been one of the most important factors influencing personal privacy to come out of the Internet age. I'm glad Google is pursuing this question because thanks to their resources-- both financial and their excellent lawyers-- we will hopefully get some answers out of this case.

(Hat Tip: SJMerc for breaking the story and SearchEngine Watch for excellent coverage.

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