Google Doesn't Need To Hand Over Search Logs To Justice Department

Good post from Search engine watch about the Google and Department of Justice ongoing battle.

Let’s recap:

  • Last year, the DOJ demanded that Google handover two month’s worth of query data, from June 1 through July 31, 2005. That would have been billions of queries in total. Just put them in an "electronic file," Google was told. Then find a terabyte USB key big enough to hold this monstrous text file, so that I guess the DOJ could open it up in WordPad on the special computer used to process Bill Gates’s taxes. Maybe that has enough memory to load the file 🙂
  • The DOJ backed off the original request, saying it wanted only on week’s worth of data. "Only a week" still would have put the number of queries in the billion plus range.
  • In court last week, the DOJ declared that it now only needed 5,000 random queries in total. Got it? Originally it needed billions of queries and went to court to force Google’s hand, then it decides only 5,000 were necessary.

The judge decided against giving the DOJ any search data at all. Why? From my reading of the ruling (PDF format), the judge found that the possible concerns over privacy outweighed the concerns that the DOJ needed to have Google’s data in addition to data it already obtained from other search engines or could obtain through other options.

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