Google has offered multiple reasons why it shouldn’t have to comply with a Justice Department subpoena. One is privacy. An excerpt:
If Google is forced to compromise its privacy principles and produce to the Government on such a flimsy request, its search query and URL data, Google will, without a doubt, suffer a loss of trust among users. Google’s success can be attributed in large part to the high volume of Web users attracted to Google.com every day. The privacy and anonymity of the service are major factors in the attraction of users–that is, users trust Google to do right by their personal information and to provide them with the best search results. If users believe that the text of their search queries into Google’s search engine may become public knowledge, it only logically follows that they will be less likely to use the service.
The Justice Department subpoena normally would have been a routine matter, and America Online, Microsoft and Yahoo voluntarily complied with similar requests. But Google’s resistance sparked a furor over privacy, with Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, asking the Justice Department for details, and a bill appearing in the House of Representatives that would require Web sites to delete information about visitors.
Google lashed out at the U.S. Justice Department on Friday, saying that a high-profile request for a list of a week’s worth of search terms must not be granted because it would disclose trade secrets and violate the privacy rights of its users.
In a strongly worded legal brief filed with a federal judge in San Jose, Calif., the search company accused prosecutors of a “cavalier attitude,” saying they were “uninformed” about how search engines work and the importance of protecting Google’s confidential information from disclosure.
This response came after the Justice Department last month asked a judge to force Google to hand over a random sample of 1 million Web pages from its index, along with copies of a week’s worth of search terms to aid in the Bush administration’s defense of an Internet pornography law. That information is supposed to be used to highlight flaws in Web filtering technology during a trial this fall.