Google and the Department of Justice

Google, the world's leading search engine, has been unfairly subpoenaed by the Department of Justice, as part of a lawsuit to which it is not a party.

Oyster Bay, NY - January 23, 2006 - Google, the world's leading search engine, has been unfairly subpoenaed by the Department of Justice, as part of a lawsuit to which it is not a party.


Federal prosecutors have asked Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and AOL to turn over logs showing search terms entered by search engine users, and a list of websites indexed by the portals' search engines.

Google has refused the Department of Justice's demand for this data, which the government wants for an upcoming lawsuit concerning the 1998 Child Online Protection Act. Two years ago the US Supreme Court issued an injunction preventing enforcement of the Act. The DoJ wants that injunction reversed; the ACLU has filed suit to prevent any such reversal. The trial date is set for June 12th,2006.

Federal prosecutors are not asking for any specific information that concerns privacy advocates, or for any personal or private information about Google's users, but Google asks why it should share its data, and how it became a party to this lawsuit in the first place. In this writer's opinion, Federal prosecutors are clearly overreaching in subpoenaing Google for this information.

The defendant in the COPA case - - the government - - would like to use the million website addresses to simulate the World Wide Web to test the effectiveness of some of the filtering programs it is developing. Leaving aside Google's motives in refusing to deliver this information, the question is, should governments defend their cases by using their might to lean on third party businesses and private entities? And if companies do not comply with such requests, should governments invoke their subpoena powers?

Territorial Rights Management (TRM) and Digital Rights Management (DRM) are some of the technologies that, when coupled with encryption, security, user authentication and credit card validation, could most certainly address the concerns set forth in the COPA law and the reasons for the Court's injunction against its execution.

Similarly, given a little time, technological innovators could invent solutions that do not undermine the First and Fifth Amendments: another reason for courts to keep this law from being enforced until the industry can provide technological tools based on TRM and user authentication that will help parents protect their children from problematic websites and content. Such issues are explored in ABI Research's study Conditional Access & Digital Rights Management, which forms part of the Digital Media Distribution and Management Research Service.

For more information about ABI Research visit http://www.abiresearch.com

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