In a partial victory for the government, a federal judge says he will require Google Inc. to turn over thousands of user queries to the Department of Justice. Initially, the government was seeking access to millions of records.
Google sought to quash a subpoena for search data, including millions of user queries, in a battle over privacy issues on the Web. The demand, by U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, was for data the government wanted the company to produce as part of a separate case over the extent to which online pornography is a threat to children. Read more.
Do you think Google was right to fight the subpoena? Should people expect their online activity to be private?
E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org and jump into the debate.
Here's what FOX Fans are saying:
“I believe that Google had every right to fight the subpoena. I agree somewhat that pornography is a societal threat, but every single search engine should be included. The only information the government should be allowed to request are searches dealing with weapons, adult material, computer hacking, and computer viruses.” — Jimmy
“I am strongly against the government having access to any and all Google records. Other than suspicious activity dealing with national security, the government should not have blanket access to search records.” — Stephen (UT)
“This is yet another example of the government violating its citizens’ privacy. We all know what everyone is searching for because we all search for the same things! ‘Cancer symptoms, cheerleaders, dream dictionary, Paris Hilton video, work from home, etc.’ What I search in my own home on my own time is not anyone’s business. Soon President Bush will demand we log all of our private thoughts into an online database.” — Douglas (CA)
“Child pornography, which is what is at the crux of the government’s subpoena, is disgusting and must be stopped — even if it means giving up certain ‘liberties.’ You might think that these degenerates are only looking at pictures, but the Internet is the gateway to some seriously devious actions. Look at how many sick perverts are willing to drive hours and hours to lure children (who they met on the Internet) away. These Internet search records might be the best crime-fighting tool since DNA analysis!” — Thomas (Lancaster, PA)
“Stories like this make us all quake in our boots. I can’t be the only one who surfs the Internet for details on topics that I am embarrassed and ashamed to talk about with others. Child pornography is unacceptable. However, the Internet is our last shot at a censor-free form of media, and companies, like Google, recognize this and will fight a valiant fight.” — Susan (Columbus, OH)
“Thanks for the warning! I’m officially done searching for stuff on the Internet.” — D.
"As a staunch conservative, I fully support Google's position on the right to privacy. The courts are wrong. If the government wishes to find out about pornography on the Internet, maybe they should log on and look for themselves. We have been down this road in courts for years." — Thom (Greenville, TX)
"Just one more case of this administration poking into our private affairs! Of course Google is right to fight the subpoena. I just hope the government finds some prominent names in the data, so at least we can get a chuckle out of this sad case of government interference." — Erin (Hollywood, FL)
"The Internet and the telephone are not covered by the Fourth Amendment. These are services provided to a person for a fee. A person's online activity is no different than their activity walking down Main Street. Google should provide its information to the U.S. Government to help them analyze trends in Internet usage." —Bruce
"Give me a break! I thought this was a free country. With the president tapping our phone calls, e-mails, and soon our mail, where has our freedom gone?" — Chuck
"Google needs to fight this to the bitter end and then some. Child pornography is a real problem and needs to be dealt with. However, if I am a college student and need information on pornography for a research paper I might start my search with 'porn' or 'pornography.' If I need statistics I would then use various categories of pornography in my search. If my search information was given to the government I could end up under investigation and have my reputation tarnished by an overly zealous investigator. How about shutting down the websites, and involving the web hosting companies? I’m sure this could be done with international cooperation." — John (Littleton, MA)
"Google should fight the subpoena. This is similar to the 'library card fiasco.' People have the right to seek any information that is legally and publicly available and a right to privacy in that quest. If there is information available on the Internet that is otherwise illegal, then the government should pursue the specific individuals responsible for putting it there. — Phil (Rensselaer, NY)
"Google can't decide which path it wants to take. They will fight feverishly with their own government to uphold privacy, but they don't have a problem helping the Chinese government quash the free speech of its own citizens." — Ted (Atlanta, GA)