The news today that Google had refused to hand over millions of records of search terms subpoenaed by the U.S. Government took me by surprise. First, let me applaud Google for not giving in to the request, as apparently MSN and Yahoo did! The government apparently wants to analyze a weeks worth of searches to see how many pornographic sites 90 million people a month search for.
A google representative said: ““Google’s acceding to the request would suggest that it is willing to reveal information about those who use its services. This is not a perception that Google can accept.” Good for you, Google! Of course the government’s standard approach to this, just like illegally wiretapping American’s phone conversations is – ‘If you’re not doing anything illegal, you don’t have anything to worry about’. I don’t search for anything anybody would care about, but its the principle of the thing! Clearly, any search engine must have the trust of its users or it will cease to be deemed credible. Search engine logs do have IP addresses which CAN be traced back to individual users. It will be interesting to see how this battle shapes up. Meanwhile, I for one will boycott Yahoo and MSN search! (not that I used them anyway). If the government wins on this one, it is a sad day for what little is left of our privacy.