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Judge May Force Google to Submit to Feds 418

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the lubricious-embankment dept.
illeism writes "News.com is reporting that a California judge may force Google to give the feds at least some of the information it wanted. The feds may get some of Google's index of sites but none of the user search terms. From the article, the judge said he was 'reluctant to give the Justice Department everything it wanted because of the "perception by the public that this is subject to government scrutiny" when they type search terms into Google.com.'"
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Judge May Force Google to Submit to Feds

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  • by bcarl314 (804900) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @07:06PM (#14920152)
    I've said it before, but I can't understand why the government needs this data when they already have search results from MSN, Yahoo, and AOL. One would think that statistical analysis should be able to give enough information to make or break their case already. What are they looking for from a MOE perspective?

    I'm just not sure what they need this data for. Are the google search results that much different than MSN or "live.com"???

  • by Repton (60818) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @07:17PM (#14920243) Homepage

    It would be interesting to know if they are!

    The perception is that google is used by more net-savvy people, whereas MSN (say) is used by the mum-and-dad types who just use the search button in IE. So, it'd be interesting to see how much the actual searches made reflect this.

    I bet there's more porn in the google results :-)

  • by necro2607 (771790) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @07:18PM (#14920250)
    "It is subject to government scrutiny when you type something into Google."

    Oh, what? So my internet browsing habits are subject to scrutiny by foreign governments? I live in Canada. IMHO the US government should keep the hell out of my personal information completely, and should have not even the slightest rights to ever know of such information unless I actually enter their country. Otherwise, GTFO ...
  • What's the theory? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Black Parrot (19622) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @07:26PM (#14920318)
    What's the political theory that supports the idea that the feds can just demand anything they want and expect to get it?

    Would any judge be supporting them if it wasn't about pornography? Did they get whatever they wanted from Enron without a warrant?
  • by jd (1658) <imipak AT yahoo DOT com> on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @07:27PM (#14920325) Homepage Journal
    Compromise would be trying to figure out what part of their search fit within the law, the Constitution and the authority's need to know. (The Federal Government does NOT have an automatic need to know, even when it lawfully CAN know.)


    Compromise would also involve determining how much of the request would actually be meaningful - signal versus noise. Handing the Feds a bunch of noise would weaken the Feds' ability to do useful work. Which, given the useful work done since the Total Information Awareness campaign began, explains a lot.


    And, lastly, compromise involves looking at what data Google has that is essentially public knowledge (eg: it can be looked up through Google, given time) and what information should rightfully be more widely distributed.


    THAT is compromise, the essence of "reaching an agreement". The only ones who "reach an agreement" by giving the other side essentially everything they want are the victims of a crime like a mugging, extortion or a protection racket. I can't help it if that's the view of compromise that certain politicians have, but it's flat-out wrong.

  • by bnenning (58349) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @07:42PM (#14920439)
    These guys [scroogle.org] proxy Google and claim to keep no permanent records.
  • Re:Reluctance? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by penix1 (722987) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @07:47PM (#14920476) Homepage
    It isn't a "privacy issue" it is a 4th ammendment issue. Google has 4th ammendment rights. They are entitled to the protection from unwarrented searches. There is no crime being investigated in this request. This is the government trying to build a case where none exist.

    B.
  • Re:Why is it... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Stormy Dragon (800799) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @07:49PM (#14920491) Homepage
    For the same reason newspapers are terrified of offending Muslims but show little concern for offending other religious groups.

    It's easy to stand up to people you know aren't going to retalliate.
  • by iminplaya (723125) <iminplaya.gmail@com> on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @07:55PM (#14920535) Journal
    That's how you deal with an intrusive government in Soviet America.

    Silly me. I always thought you could vote in qualified people that actually represent you, the voter. I guess as long as you simply vote for the guy with the most money, then that is what the candidates (and party) will represent. It seems to me that they are doing an excellent job of that. If big money is what gets them into office, it's because we vote for big money. Waddaya know, the system works!
  • by TheAxeMaster (762000) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @07:56PM (#14920540)
    Its not like what you transmit to a search engine via the internet is private and secured. Its fully open to the public and viewable by all. What the administration is trying to do is get google to do the legwork for them using the courts. Google doesn't want to do it, doesn't want to get tangled into what it could lead to. Its not like the NSA or someone else couldn't aggregate the data.
     
    And it is bullshit, they shouldn't have to. Others have to pay a lot of money for this data, and google doesn't even want to be in the data selling business (read: non-evil ;).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @07:58PM (#14920559)
    I'll bet Slashdot that I've figured the judge's legal reasoning out. The key is here, from TFA:

    "Ware said that the reduced demand, coupled with the government's "willingness to compensate Google" for up to eight days of its programmers' time, had convinced him to grant the Justice Department at least some of what it had requested."

    The government is claiming the data as private property to be taken for public use under the 5th amendment. I'm pretty sure this is unprecedented, anyone heard of anything like this before?
  • by ackthpt (218170) * on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @08:56PM (#14920904) Homepage Journal
    if you read the article you would notice that google does not oppose the extremely limited amount of info requested. and if the govt would have asked in the first place they wouldnt have gone to court.

    Only thing is, at first the Just-Us Dept wanted far more -- but have back-pedaled to a position the judge is more favourable to.

    You overlook that during this battle the Just-Us Dept. was hungrily viewing online records as a whole new avenue to take their investigations down. Some ISP's have fought hard against opening records for RIAA/MPAA/DMCA proceedings, while others have been more than willing to help investigators track down those who prey on children. Google, et al, do have a heart, but this was simply another battle in an ongoing war between privacy and giving investigators information which may find its way out of the primary objective and being used to drum up unrelated investigations, if you get my drift.

  • by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @10:25PM (#14921308)
    This is so hard for me...

    I really do think strict constructionism is the only correct approach to the constitution. And I'm mostly convinced that abortion is murder. And I think gay marriage is not a guaranteed freedom in the Constitution. (Perhaps there are other reasons for permittting it however.) For these reasons I am, no... was, pro-Republican.

    But how do I weigh those really important issues against what Bush + the Republican congress has done to us? The deficits make me fear for my childrens' future. I think global free trade is probably a bad idea. His appointment of the inept guy to run FEMA prior to Katrina was truly, in my mind, a case of graft deserving of impeachment. And his administration's acceptance of torture, or near torture, as a good idea make me want to vomit - forget about have him represent my country. And of course there was the administrations basically dropping Microsoft's antitrust abuse culpability when Bush came into office.

    It's so hard to balance these issues. Will we ever have a president we can feel really good about again? This all makes me so sad...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @11:44PM (#14921641)
    Google for Judge James Ware, the judge running this case.

    Find out neat things... like he claimed to have discovered his passion for justice and the law when his 13 year old brother died in his arms. He stated in newspaper interviews that his brother was shot off his bicycle by some racist white punk. He gave speeches. He was highly respected. Clinton nomintated him for a circuit court judge position.

    Except it happened to some another man who was also black and also named James Ware, whom he had never met.

    He abandoned his circuit court nomination when this was made public.

     
  • by necrognome (236545) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @12:04AM (#14921750) Homepage
    It's so hard to balance these issues. Will we ever have a president we can feel really good about again? This all makes me so sad...

    I think you could feel good about Feingold, Hagel, or (maybe) Mark Warner; possibly others... McCain and H. Clinton have shown themselves to be mere politicians.

    Disclaimer: I am of the left side of the fence, sort of a "libertarian with a social conscience".
  • by PoopMonkey (932637) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @12:38AM (#14921911)
    Completely offtopic, but with the whole "u-spelling" of many words, I'd say its use is inappropriate if you look at the etymology of the words. For instance, look at favor. "Middle English, friendly regard, attractiveness, from Old French favor friendly regard, from Latin, from favEre to be favorable." It might be because I took Latin as my language in school, but I generally consider words closer to the original form to be the correct spelling. Might also be because I don't like wasting things, even letters :P Which is also why I liked Latin, if you saw a letter, you pronounced it, none of this "silent letter" crap.
  • by Wrath0fb0b (302444) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @03:00AM (#14922352)
    But, Google has to be ALLOWED in China first.


    The already did when they introduced the internet. Remember, the internet interpets censorship as damage and routes around it. If Google really wanted to they would have no problem keeping all their operations outside the great firewall (but they would have to forego some profitability in the process).

    It's not like Google is short of the technical expertise on the matter. Meanwhile, I'm no CS major but I can think of a few steps that would help:

    (1) FreeGoogle desktop application that allows you use your home computer as a proxy to fetch google content from mainland China. Use very weak SSL to obfuscate the content (but not destroy people's home computers). Aggregate a list of all these IPs and distribute accordingly. This could be extended to other sites on a per-computer whitelist basis (eg: Wikipedia, NYTimes, CNN).

    (2) "Unofficial Google Servers" that essentially perform (1) but on a higher-bandwidth scale. Don't bind them to any DNS entries, just distribute the IPs. When the firewall blocks them, move on to a different IP. Lather Rinse Repeat.

    (3) Google-News-Packs: Download all the content from the front page of news.google.com, strip the pictures and zip the contents. Distribute freely. Especially the ones about China.

    How hard can the Chinese government make life for Google if they refuse to set a single foot inside the country (or Hong Kong)? Technically, I'm sure that Google would win this arms race if they only had half of the balls necessary to fight it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @03:05AM (#14922360)


    God damnit people. Get it straight. The primary function of the constitution wasn't to define "rights" it was to restrict the power of the government. The bill of rights was an afterthought. Just to make double sure certain things were really clear. Turns out that was a big fucking mistake. Now everyone thinks things like that have to be in the constitution.
     
    "Honey? Do we have a right to free speech? I don't know honey, let me check the CONSTITUTION!"
     
    "Sweetheart, what's a right? .. I don't know sweetheart, isn't it something that is written in the constitution?"
     
    You people have lost the spirit of independence. Who gives a shit about Canadian healthcare? Is that what this country is for? To maximize lifespan and minimize infant mortality? The FEDERAL government's response to Katrina? Let me knit you all some big fluffy fucking mittens. You can bump around in padded suits all day long and let the government feed you SOMA. I hope you all rot. The stench around here is unbearable anyway.
  • by killjoe (766577) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @04:15AM (#14922567)
    " In fact the law is NOT needed at all, it's already a crime to reveal the existance of classified programs, and revealing a undercover operation by the police is also a crime."

    So why are republicans pushing for this law? It's because it goes much further then you have stated.

      ""Domestic Spying" which is 100% LEGAL,"

    Lie

    "as it does NOT target calls within the USA to another USA destination, and for those calls that are point-to-point in the USA the callers are "persons of interest in a Federal Criminal Investigation" which is also quite legal. "

    Lie

    "Getting a judge to sign off is really a formality as when they see the evidence they usually will sign off. "

    Since the FISA court is nothing but a rubber stamp for the president why bypass them in the first place?

    "If you read the law, they are NOT breaking it"

    Lie

    " and by the way every President INCLUDING BlowJob Bill used the provision in the law."

    Lie.

    " Write this down, UNLESS you are a terrorist or are plotting terrorist acts with another citizen (and someone turned your name in) the Gov't is NOT listening to your calls."

    Lie

    "Congress knew all about this program for a long time, they got regular briefs,"

    Lie

      " They (the liberals) really don't give as damn about National Security"

    Lie

      "they just want to try to find SOMETHING to criticize GWB about."

    Lie.

    So are you pants on fire yet?
  • by hedgie (589324) on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @09:16AM (#14923266)
    It is actually much more then originally afraid of: It is a 'squeeze' - and they G. cannot escape. ACLU will be the bad guy if they comply. They will be fined (x milllions a day) if they do not.: "If the Justice Department does win this case, Google is likely to face a second round of subpoenas from the American Civil Liberties Union (Aclu) for follow-up information. The Aclu is challenging the 1998 Child Online Protection Act, which makes it a crime for a commercial website to post material that some jurors might find "harmful" to any minor who stumbles across it. ... Aclu attorney Aden Fine told Ware that his organisation would "certainly need to know" additional information about how Google's search engine works, in order to rebut the Justice Department study. That information, he said, would include topics such as the number of servers and the number of web pages indexed" http://networks.silicon.com/webwatch/0,39024667,39 157220,00.htm [silicon.com] Surprizingly, stock went up.

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