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Google won't give up in Justice Department case

Google plans to stand its ground against the Justice Department in its request for the company's search data, co-founder Sergey Brin has promised.

"It's our obligation to use the law to the farthest possible means to protect our users' privacy," Brin told Bloomberg News in an interview on Thursday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. "It's just a legal and ethical principle."

Last week, Google challenged a government subpoena to hand over random data on Web searches and Web sites it indexes--information that rivals Yahoo, Microsoft and America Online had provided.

At the time, Google said it was not opposing the subpoena on the grounds that it violated privacy, but rather on the grounds that that it was too broad and overreaching. Since then, the company has been widely heralded for its noble efforts on behalf of Internet users. However, some of the goodwill it received for standing up to the U.S. government has been erased by the criticism it has received for complying with Chinese authorities and releasing a censored version of its search site in that country.

"I don't think we like the precedent of it, and so we're fighting it," Brin said of the Justice Department request for information. "I think we're right."

The subpoena is not valid because Google is not even a party to the case, he added. "We don't think it's a proper subpoena for some legal case, it's not anything we're even a party to."

A Feb. 27 hearing has been set in the case in San Jose, Calif., federal court.