Ruling in Google case a win for privacy?

A federal judge's ruling Friday afternoon that Google has to give the U.S. government a limited amount of information it's seeking--but not search queries--was immediately heralded by many bloggers as a victory not just for the search giant, but for overall privacy rights.

Google ruling

The Justice Department requested the data to help it back its case in a pending trial over an antipornography law. But unlike some of its competitors, Google resisted the subpoena for search data, saying that the data would not be relevant and that the request would put consumers' privacy at risk.

Judge James Ware ruled that Google will have to hand over 50,000 Web addresses from its search index, but it won't have to reveal terms its users had been searching for.

Nicole Wong, Google's associate general counsel, got the blogging rolling by posting the judge's ruling and a statement on the search giant's official blog.

Blog community response:

"We will always be subject to government subpoenas, but the fact that the judge sent a clear message about privacy is reassuring. What his ruling means is that neither the government nor anyone else has carte blanche when demanding data from Internet companies. When a party resists an overbroad subpoena, our legal process can be an effective check on such demands and be a protector of our users."
--Google Blog

"As Google stated, this is a major victory for Internet users worried about the privacy of their search data. Unfortunately for Internet users, other search engine companies such as Yahoo! and MSN rolled over like obedient puppies for the government failing to protect user rights. Google's not perfect by any means, but you have to respect a company using their financial and legal resources to protect the privacy of their users when other major companies failed to even put up a fight."
--Hagrin.com

"All the legal threats and angry letters in the world are not going to be sufficient to clear out caches and 'securely' delete e-mail. It's always better to spend extra time hovering over the 'send' and 'post' buttons."
--Ars Technica

"Except for Google, the other companies readily complied with the DoJ requests. All three companies will likely be criticized heavily by their users for that compliance in the wake of the Gonzales v Google decision."
--WebProNews

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About the author

Michelle Meyers, associate editor, has been writing and editing CNET News stories since 2005. But she's still working to shed some of her old newspaper ways, first honed when copy was actually cut and pasted. When she's not fixing typos and tightening sentences, she's working with reporters on story ideas, tracking media happenings, or freshening up CNET News' home page.

 

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