A Federal judge says he will likely grant part of a Bush administration request for data from search giant.
Google shares rose Tuesday after a U.S. federal judge said he would likely order the search engine to comply with at least part of a scaled-back Bush administration request for search queries and web addresses stored on Google’s servers.
While the U.S. Department of Justice originally asked Google in August for two months’ worth of search queries, government and Google lawyers recently agreed to a diminished request in private negotiations after Google fought the first DoJ subpoena, according to Bloomberg. A Google spokeswoman told CNBC that the company is “very pleased” by the curtailed DoJ request, which seeks the information to bolster a bid to revive an Internet pornography law.
Judge James Ware in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Jose ended Tuesday’s courtroom showdown by saying that he would issue a written ruling very shortly.
Google stock gained $14.10 to $351.16 on the Nasdaq. Reuters reported that government lawyer Joel L. McElvie told Judge Ware that the government can make its case without the data from Google, but that the government study would be “substantially improved,” if Google provided what the DoJ wanted.
Judge Ware’s decision could have broad ramifications beyond DoJ research. A decision in favor of Google has law enforcement worried that it will be harder to obtain search records to solve future crimes. But privacy advocates fear that a ruling on the side of the Bush administration would weaken laws protecting personal information.
Google has said that the requested information would be far more useful to competitors in the form of trade secrets and proprietary systems than it would be to government lawyers. The feds have been seeking the information to bolster a legal theory arguing that banning Internet porn does a better job of protecting minors than technology filters.
In late February, the DoJ sought to assuage the worries of privacy advocates and said in a brief filed Friday, “The government seeks this information only to perform a study, in the aggregate, of trends in the Internet. No individual user of Google, or of any other search engine, need fear that his or her personal identifying information will be disclosed.”
Google’s rivals, Yahoo, MSN, and AOL, all apparently agreed with the DoJ, and complied with similar requests for information. The Bush administration is seeking to revive the 1998 Child Online Protection Act, which the Supreme Court struck down two years ago as a violation of free speech.
Meantime, Google continued with its stealthy acquisition of small companies. The Google blog Tuesday had a post from Jeff Martin, the product marketing manager for SketchUp, a small, six-year-old Boulder, Colorado company that makes 3D design software, announcing that Google bought the company. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.