Government requests search engine records: Google says no

I think that this will be an interesting story. That’s all I’m going to say about this subject right now.

86 Responses to Government requests search engine records: Google says no (Leave a comment)

  1. Matt:

    I make it a point never to swear on your blog, but in this case I’m prepared to make an exception.

    Please, please, PLEASE tell them to go f**k themselves and do their own dirty work.

  2. sadly, under the US patriot act, all of the data currently residing on any Google server can be subpoenad.

    that includes all Gmail email, site statistics, searches, adsense and adwords revenue etc..

    all they have to do is claim you’re under suspect of being a terrorist.

    Hats off to Google for standing up for privacy. Had Google said yes, I’m sure the backlash would have been huge.

    This is do no evil at it’s best.

  3. Seconded.

  4. Hi

    Bad Idea

    Though could i submit a FOI request and get access to the data

  5. I don’t see how it’s privacy at risk or being protected. The article says, “According to the report, they wanted a list of one million web addresses. Not who went to the web pages and when, just a list of URLs picked randomly.”.

    Must be a slow week at the googleplex if that’s what you have to do to get in the news …

  6. Yep, Ben, it’s not really a privacy related request. But it could easily have been one. They made a large, giant request for data through legal channels that they could have easily gathered through other means. It does, and should, fuel some paranoia that next time, they might seek personally specific data.

  7. So, I’m wondering which search engines did comply? Maybe 😉

  8. Major Props to Google for telling them to stuff it!

    The things this administration is willing to do is pretty scary!

    If they get away with this, what will they ask for next?

    If they get their way, when you log into the computer every day, you will have to do a retinal scan to verify it is you, provide a scanned image of your attended church on Sunday card stamped by the Pastor, provide video feed of any bedroom activities to prove it was with your wife and you didn’t do anything “Kinky”, and pretty much surrender all your rights to being an individual.

    It’s a scary world indeed!

  9. Wow, I was always a little nervy of the toolbar and stuff, if the US gov can just walk in and say, “yeah, whatever” then thats pretty scary.

    Would anyone use a government owned search engine? Think about it…

  10. Remember the good old days when you felt like the government was on your side?

    Neither do I.

  11. Well,
    I myself find it amazing that Google refused!

    Comparing European Privacy Standards with those of the USA, you are years behind.

    No, we are behind as usual!!!! It will take only a few years (3-5) until we catch up on this!

    Ryan, are you sure on your Statement about the Patriot Act?
    Because if it involves Data of European Users, Google would break A LOT of European laws!

    This would really make a lot of fuss here in Europe (and it would finally destroy Googles reputation of being the “good guy”).

    Europe got its (small) portion of terrorism, but still…
    … we expect our governments to obey the laws.

    A lot of Googles services are based on trust. I guess that Googles market share (in terms of GMail, …, Analytics, …) would drop by really large amount if it would not hold at least minimum privacy standards. And here it holds, that even when there are no privat data are involved, the impression that they might be involved is just enough.

    (Sorry for my English)

  12. They already have software to scan the content of e-mails for specific words.
    They now whant to know what terms are mostly been used for search.

    I don’t think it is only about porn. It is about knowledge.

    They could the next time asking for which words in a particular language in a particular google local are being searched for.

    Big brother is watching you and if it can’t do it yet, it will look for reasons/ways to do it tomorrow.

  13. Cheers to Google for saying no. If they do allow it eventually, I guess we’ll be doing those searches that are a threat to our security (yeah right) on a friends computer. I think I’ll use my mother in laws.

    We’ve lost more rights in the last few years than any time in history. It’s amazing how nervy big brother is getting.

    If all they want is data, maybe they should buy it with their lobbyist money. If Google was Hali-burrrp-on, the govt would pay a billion dollars per 100 urls.

  14. Refuse seems right thing to do. They dont wanna measure the porn on the web of course. Is priceless this data, can be used for many things, Google is used over the world, IMHO is evil provide all information for only one country. Hurting the trust of G.

    I hate terrorism, but if G wanna the trust of rest of world, need be strong ethical acts, not just us patriot.

  15. I agree don’t do it, never do it unless there is an eminent national security threat. Google will loose users if folks know they are sharing information with the Gov. It opens doors for similar request in the future and other ramifications I will only curse about.

    The legal challenge is excellent because it reinforces that fact that Google will protect the privacy of its users.

    I would suggest that the Gestapo use keyword selection tools, the sex section of DMOZ and hire SEO experts to help compile the data for them. Or better yet, just check all the computers in Congress and the White House and im sure they will find a comprehensive list of searches for sex related words to help them start their research.

  16. Excellent point by Danny. I was thinking “what’s the big deal here?” since they were not requesting personal info, but this mundane request is probably working to establish the “right” to request private info later.

    That said, the community needs to do a MUCH better job of helping to police illegal online activity. I’ve always found it ironic that many online people think Google has a huge responsibility to prevent click fraud (and other commercial abuses) but little or no responsibility to help prevent online child abuse.

  17. As Biz says… Why doesn’t Government get their own search engine if they want those data?

  18. Agreed. I think Danny hit the nail on the head. Baby steps seems to be a tactic many groups are using, in a very effective manner, to chip away at legislation in the United States today. Glad to see you posted this here today Matt, I was hoping to see some sort of aknowledgement from a Googler on line about this.

  19. I don’t see how it’s privacy at risk or being protected. The article says, “According to the report, they wanted a list of one million web addresses.

    While this isn’t an actual threat to privacy… it opens up the floodgates for real threats. First it’s random queries, then it’s only people who search for “anthrax recipies” then it’s all people who search for porn, and finally those who critcize the government…

    Once the “we’ll give you our information” precedent is set… it’ll only get worse.

  20. There are tools the government can use to figure this out. They don’t really need Google data to get a feel for what people are searching for online.

    Still, if the data cannot be mapped back to individuals, what is the big deal?

  21. Wow, Google, you just made millions of friends.

  22. Comparing European Privacy Standards with those of the USA, you are years behind.

    the US and europe have very different views. Europe is focused (correctly) on privacy.

    In America, we tend to focus on security.. We’ll ask for the information we don’t need, but we’ll make sure it’s behind the latest technological firewall… and only give it to those who will protect it.

    I believe the European view is more correct. Forget about how well my information is protected, you don’t need it in the first place.

  23. I’ve always found it ironic that many online people think Google has a huge responsibility to prevent click fraud (and other commercial abuses) but little or no responsibility to help prevent online child abuse.

    One more point before I get back to writing code…

    Google does have a responsibility to prevent click fraud, because they are providing the means, method, cause of, and reward for doing so.

    Child porn is unrelated to Google. They don’t provide the children, host the websites, purchase the stuff, or pay the people who make it.

    Google “rewards” the click frauders, provides their means of performing click fraud, their reason they do click fraud, and profits from it.

    While child porn is revolting and obviously a larger problem, google doesn’t see any profit from it like they do from click fraud.

    When you create a problem, you have an ethical responsibility to fix it.

    Sure, if you CAN fix another un-related problem, you probably have an ethical responsibility to fix it too…In the same means anybody who makes over 40k/year SHOULD send about 10k of it overseas to africa, but we’ll leave that to Peter Singer and his bleeding hearts.

  24. I’m glad to know my tax dollars are being spent on trying to stop me from looking at porn. Alot of people are complaining left and right of privacy concerns…just be glad we live in the good ol U.S. of A, otherwise Google would BE the government. Funny how they deny requests from our own government but comply to human rights violations by China.

  25. I still think you’re all over-reacting. Google has done nothing more than spread a little hypocricy and create the illusion that they’re still not doing Evil.

    Whether the government would later ask for more or identifying data is absolutely and utterly irrelevant, because they didn’t.

    Meanwhile, over here it says:
    “We may share with third parties certain pieces of aggregated, non-personal information, such as the number of users who searched for a particular term, for example, or how many users clicked on a particular advertisement. Such information does not identify you individually.”

    I guess the moral of the story is no pay no play?

  26. I wonder how long it will take before the white house thinks elections are also a threat on national security.

  27. Perhaps Google is resisting as they don’t want to be embarassed by revealing all the obviously mainstream domains that they show in their pron searches.
    And when Google fails to ban these expired domains being used for porn, even when notified of them, they may actually be implicit in aiding and abetting the very people the feds are chasing.
    And thats scammers tricking and decepting people into visiting porn sites.

  28. I must say well done Google. What the goverment is trying to do is limit freedom of speech (limit porn). That enough should be a reason not to accept their request.

    Google has been collecting our personal data for a long time now (loading of tracking images with javascript on results page (not to long ago), never expiring cookie, personal search…). Good thing they at least not leak it to other parties. The decision is a step in the right direction but you have a lot left to prove.

  29. Looks like the beginning of some major regulation creeping into the web. George Orwell may just be proven right after all.

  30. It also pretty much puts the lid on this theory 😉

  31. How about this:

    Google offers ISPs a filtered proxy service for a reasonable fee, they can resell to their customers. So that parents can pay extra and order a filtered connection that offers either the web minus known adult sites, or only a trusted set of the web.
    i.e. they could order different levels of filtering.

    The parent could also login to a webscreen on Google, get a session cookie if they want to open the connection without the filtering if they ever need it.

    That way a parent can get adult filtering in a secure way, you make money, the ISPs make money and the parent can still access the full web if they wish.

  32. Sorry Matt, forgot to mention something obvious in my explanation:

    If the customer orders a filtered connection, their ISP always has to route that users internet connection through Google’s parent filter.

  33. Take a bow to Google…obviously MSN and Yahoo don’t care about their users. This isn’t a case of who is searching what this is a case of fishing into a business structures records to try to find criminals. Bush has already gone to extremes with the wire taps. Don’t get me wrong, child porn is a sickness and should be dealt with, but since they can’t find these people themselves handing over data such as this could get every single web surfer sued for something. Google created a business, buys bandwidth, employs people and this is their data and their business. The Government needs to figure out how to fight this without bullying companies into giving over data such as this.

    Again Google is on the right side. 3 Cheers for Google!

  34. As the owner of an adult related used panties web site and blog, I would have been disgusted if Google had said yes. I know what it means to people to respect privacy.. If it had meant catching a child porn ring or something then that is different (IMHO) but not for the reasons given. Three Cheers to Google (after I have been pulling my hair out for the past month or two as I think I am being penalised and still trying to work out why)…

  35. I wonder if other Countries leave this job up to the parents 😉 Some education along those lines would surely be better, cheaper and actually long term.

  36. Or maybe a Google Appliance, the ISPs can plug into their own network. Similar to a Google mini, it would keep up to date with the latest Google filter list (which you create for safe search anyway) and they could route connections that need to be filtered through it, and it would handle the ‘parent login screen’.

    You already make suitable hardware I think, the list you make already for safesearch, it’s just extra software and you have a product to sell.

  37. For all of you who are outraged, you can contact the US DOJ trial attorney at Looks like his home (?) phone number is (202) 265-5578. Don’t know which two addresses listed at is his actual home address though.

    BTW, I would like to see all Google searches originating from the White House, CIA, FBi and Congress. I want to know whether they are actually doing work or surfing for porn while on the taxpayer’s dime.

  38. no comment

  39. I’m not sure of all the issues that might be involved. I do applaud Google for not bowing down to the request of the Govt for information.

  40. And once againg, Google demonstrates high moral responsibility and that its the best..better than all the rest.

    GO GOOGLE GO.. 🙂

  41. Ryan – a thoughtful post there, but even Google would *strongly* agree they now have responsibilities that greatly transcend simply fixing problems they create. Seems to me that the provocative questions are:

    1) Under what circumstances, if any, should Google be required to share information about Google users with the government?

    2) Does Google have the right to collect and preserve specific user information in the first place?

    3) Is Google doing enough voluntarily to help thwart illegal online activity?

  42. Why are you guys afraid of? privacy … privacy …

    I don’t think gov will kill you for searching on GG for xxx but think about possibilities.

    If Google would work with gov to create stats about people who are searching for child porn , weapons etc I think this will stop a lot of murders , terrorists … .

    We aren’t in a perfect world but we must work together to make it better and you talk about gov like is an enemy , in US I think is one of the best (maturized) governments and this IS because of information (mass-media)
    with GG information (filtered of course ) this will be a huge step to a better world.

    And again why are you afraid ? …..

  43. Small German Update:

    Now Spiegel-Online (The Spiegel is a magazine which has in Germany a standing similar to or even better than Time magazine in the states) has picked up on this issue.

    Big, big fuss about the fact that other search engines complied.

    Also about the fact that google refused (declared as really good marketing effort) and that it protects the privacy of its users.
    The other German magazines (and other European as well) will follow the Spiegel on this (as usual, Spiegel-Online is very fast)

    I guess that google makes as much money in europe as in the states and knows as an international company about European concerns.

  44. 1) Under what circumstances, if any, should Google be required to share information about Google users with the government?

    2) Does Google have the right to collect and preserve specific user information in the first place?

    3) Is Google doing enough voluntarily to help thwart illegal online activity?

    I could write an essasy on each of these topics, instead i’ll just answer them.

    1.) none period.
    2.) yes. you use their service, you agree to their terms, whatever they may be. They have a right, and a legal authority, however it would kill them in public relations.
    3.) yes. It’s not their job. Just because you have the capability doesn’t mean you have to do anything. Ethically maybe, Especially not legally. The problem is, where do you draw the line? With every little bit they do, they always have the capability to do more, so where do they stop? You’ll end up with a google task force on everything, and google police. they don’t want to do that.

  45. In truth, while the Patriot Act may deal largely with terrorism, there is vague language in it that extends its scope (in some cases) outside the realm of terrorism, and in to general criminal activity. I’m not making political commentary, that’s just a fact.

    Kudos to Google for not giving the data up, but the fact that the government would even broach this slippery slope is very concerning.

    I think Google needs to go beyond their denial of this request, and go a step further. Larry or Sergey should pull a Heston…

    … Raise a Google server above their heads and proclaim in no uncertain terms… “they’ll have to pull this data server from my cold dead hands.”

    That would be a denial. Too many companies have reversed their stances once government pressure sets in.

  46. If the government wants information to help catch terrorists, I’m all in favor of giving it to them. If the government wants information to help catch me for downloading music or other petty things, I’m vehemently opposed.

  47. What do you think about

  48. Lol does this mean that all the emails I have received purporting to be from the CIA and the FBI were truthful 🙂 about my visiting sites that had been deemed dodgy

  49. After sleeping on this and finding out a little more this morning, I am disgusted that the US Justice Department would request such a thing which has no value to what they said it would be used for.

    As a poster said on WebmasterWorld, the information will probably be used by being sold to lobbyists who wish to find good search terms for their new enterprises.

    This is ridiculous and it horrifies me that Yahoo, MSN and even AOL (to the small way they did comply) would turn over ANY information to the US Justice Department without a court order.

    I am very pleased with Google at the moment and everything (well, not everything… there’s still a certain Cruise thing…) they have done over the past years.

    1) The best SERPs on the web. No other company/site comes close to the results displayed on Besides,, etc.

    2) The way privacy is kept is remarkable compared to other companies.

    3) Helping out Firefox and other Open Sources. It’s the future of the web and the web deserves to be free.

    4) The ongoing ambition to collect and serve the worlds information.

    Thank you Google, you are really a class act and I only wish that others would follow the lead.

  50. You guys make me giggle… 🙂

    You’re diluted if you think Google et. al. have not already given GB & company everything they’ve asked for, and more, PREVIOUS to this little dog-and-pony show designed to make you believe that everything Google is Gooooood.

    Wasn’t George just found eavesdropping, illegally?

    Good thing Google has better security than “The Good ‘Ole US of friggin’ A”! Don’t worry, they can protect everyting from George & the boys…

    Methinks Google IS George and the boys…


    Maybe I’m wrong….

  51. Matt,

    FYI — they were just talking about you on CNBC, regarding all this government stuff.

  52. I don’t understand these people at the government. Isn’t it obvious that by simply doing a lot of searches you can figure out how much opportunity there is online to find adult material? It doesn’t require a minor with the intelligence of Einstein to figure out how to switch off the filters of search engines.

    Besides, isn’t it the parents responsibility to shield their kids from unwanted websites? If an internet cafe would allow minors to use their computers and not shield their computers from adult material it would be something to fight against.

    In any way, the governments should use search engines to find the ilegal sites and then they can even argue with search engines to take those sites out of their indexes.

    Search engines are about the best research tool you can imagine, why not use them as such?

  53. Can we believe Google?

  54. Stock sure took a beating today. Must be time to tweak the algo some more or something.

  55. Link to the subpoena and Google’s Lawyers’ response:

    That link jumps to page 7, where I think it gets interesting. Here’s a snippet from Google’s response to the “request”:

    “In Google’s understanding, Defendant would use the one million URLs requested from Google to create a sample world-wide web against which to test various filtering programs for their effectiveness. Google objects to Defendant’s view of Google’s highly proprietary search database – the primary reason for the company’s success – as a free resource that Defendant can access and use, some levels removed, to formulate its own defense.”

  56. Maybe Google can just offer a Google Porn Zeitgeist and every one will be happy. Feds gets their stats, users can vicariously see what others are searching for, and Google gets more traffic. E.g., Popular Adult Movies, Popular Adult Actors/Actresses, Popular Positions, Political Sex Scandals, etc.

  57. The ABC piece was not informative and I couldn’t see Matt. I think developments at Google and elsewhere have quickly eclipsed the ability of mainstream media to shed much light on the issues at hand. Larry and Sergey looked pretty cool though – I think I’ll adopt the Larry Page blazer style for the next search conference.

    Ryan – surely you aren’t serious about no legal obligations whatsoever.. Let’s say Matt was looking into something else but then found a clear blog post and website trail revealing a plot to bomb San Francisco. The Govt makes a request for this info. You are suggesting they’d have no _legal obligation_ to turn this information over to legal authorities?!

  58. I have been thinking a lot lately about all of this. I do not blame our government for wanting access to the database, they feel left out just as those with websites feel left out who have been stamped with the Google low quality/no trust seal.

  59. Thanks, Google!

    If nothing else Google has raised the issue. While I have nothing to fear I value my privacy, and I see no difference between them demanding (it is hard to refer to a subpoena as asking) the data for one possible crime/investigation or for any possible crimes/investigations.

    I can think of no better investigation for the government to use to get the most public support … although I would be more inclined to the government looking at abortions of children because they would of been raped — but that issue likely would have less people wanting the government to ack. If i were more synical about the government motives I would suggest that the government has done nothing for years about porn on the internet so they use it in this fashion … next they will need to charge for email because email spam grows to such a big problem on the internet. Never mind setting up an email address for people to forward spam email too, that does not provide an opt-out. — It would not give them any additional power to work to prevent/solve the problem.

  60. Everyone is missing the true point here. Yes the privacy thing is important, but what we are failing to see is that this is a smoke screen. The BBC reported that Google refused such a request last year and that Yahoo and MSN complied. They are so easy! It is quite clear that the US government is looking to move into more peaceful activities, starting with SEO and rather than spend any time checking out keywords for popularity, they thought they would just ask for the information.

    So instead of:
    “I will occupy a small oil bearing country today…”

    You get:
    “I must get top position in Google for my family videos on my “house” website…”

    Google is just protecting it’s commercial activities! 😉

  61. I’m sure dubbya and crew can get their hands on whatever they want eventually, but kudos to Google for taking the more dangerous high road AND gaining so much great publicity as a result. Shame it’s negatively affecting the share price right now. Says a lot about shareholder loyalty doesn’t it? Says a lot about the priorities of other engines too.

  62. kudos to Google!

    Glad to see that Google has some backbone, where’as Yahoo caved in without a fight!

  63. Seems to me a balance needs to be struck here. The request by the DOJ doesn’t infringe on any individual’s privacy and the slippery slope theory can be avoided by Google making a definitive statement (as did Yahoo! and MSN) that no such individual information would be provided. Even the DOJ would be hard pressed to ask for individual information other than specific violator requests backed by a court order.

    Then Google can have it both ways – ensuring privacy while complying with an information request that may help the common good – controlling child pornography (or access to pornography by children).

    On another note, here is an interesting quote from the Postscript #2.

    “FYI, back to the idea of child filters on search engines, the US government has tested this, as Government Report Says MSN Search Adult Filter Most Effective covers. Note that to do this, they said:

    We performed unfiltered 5-minute searches for six keywords: three keywords known to be associated with pornography and three innocuous terms that juveniles would likely use (a popular teenage singer/actress, a popular cartoon, and a popular movie character).

    They managed to do this assessment (the US Government Accounting Office) without issuing a subpoena to anyone. Moreover, it has stats they say they want already produced and ready to go. Page 48 and 67 have details. The caveat is that this seems to have been a test of image search results (Yahoo was 92 percent non porn, MSN 76 percent, Google 64%). But you could do the same thing to measure web search.”

    Is Google concerned about privacy or perhaps more concerned about disclosing information that may eventually be embarrassing?

    Regardless, Google has now created a public relations situation that may backfire. Sure, privacy advocates will praise Google, but if the stats show a child is more likely to access porn on Google than other search engines, then Google needs to consider the long term effects of this perception.

    Time for Google to put on the white hat again and maybe outdo Yahoo! and MSN by announcing a major program to provide a special “G” rated, child protecting search engine. This would encourage parents to use Google rather that the competition. Instead of fighting the Feds, join them in this venture and be the good guys again.

  64. Joe, what you and I are talking about is different.

    If Matt himself sees a webpage about a plot, he has an ethical (not legal) obligation to say something about it.

    Google however, has no obligationg whatsoever in this case.

    Now, in this case the govt wants data on a computer, data that means nothing unless it is interpreted.

    Are you saying google has an obligation to interpret their data in a way that is not useful to the company and hand it over to the govt? If so, welcome to china.

  65. whoops forgot i had it under that name

  66. I think all you back slappers better get a grip.
    This is not about privacy, nor child pornography but about the ease of childrens access to porn on the internet.
    Wheh Google shows domains such as and In its adult searches, they should be embarassed.
    Googles porn searches are made up 90% of expired mainstream domains.These are domains that kids and adults access from links from other mainstream sites.Spam reports get nowhwere with these.Sure they eventually in time disappear but in the meantime they have made enough money to buy them another packet of expired domains.its not just expired domains but expired blogs as well and blogger do nothing about these either even though reported..
    I am going to post a stack of these now.I expect Matt to delete them but its ridiculous the bind eye that google is turning to this rort.
    and here is a list of blogs all reregistered and used inappropiately to spam porn links.And it works.Many of these links rank for top keywords.

  67. Yep, Europeans will not be happy about this (since they seem to have more strict privacy terms). I’m looking forward to seeing stock prices on Monday (Yahoo/MSN down, Google up?).

  68. A line from outsite USA:

    ” In Google we Trust”


  69. Matt,
    it is a battle Google will eventually lose. Maybe not this time, or this year but it is bound to happen, and Google will be slammed by the press. The best policy is to wipe the records every x days so, just like many libraries did after the Patriot Act was enabled.

  70. Matt, as the *world’s* most knowledgeable guy about search and porn (I mean this literally but in the MOST respectful way!), I sure hope you’ll check in on this topic in general terms.

    I’m sure the Google lawyers have asked you not to talk any specifics and that’s understandable.

    Especially interesting would be your views about what social responsibility Google has, if any, with respect to “pornographic” content.

  71. As a long time civic rights activist, and supporter of constitutional governance.
    I applaud, GOOGLE Stand. It doesn’t take much more than literacy, to understand the constitutional injunction, about secure in ones, person and effcts and the very definition of UNREASONABLE search and seizure.

    And as impressed I am with GOOGLE’s stand I am equally appalled at YAHOOs capituation and MS.COM closing of the chinese dissenters site.

    Who do they think deserves the right to freedom of speech, or do they read the constitution that unreasonable search and seizure only exist where it DOESNOT hamper the opportunity to profit.

    When the histories are qritten of this era, may it say that tempted to renounce our freedoms for the security of the policestate, we stood against the forces of darkness and the return to the dictatorships with their simple promises of security, aagainst the dangers of fredom of speech and human liberty.

    your brave stand should shame the capitulators.

    Richard W. Spisak Jr.
    writer, advocate, citizen
    ACLU Board Member, Planned Parenthood Board Member,
    Citizen of the United States of America

  72. I’ve been reading a lot more about this… and frankly, I am disgusted by some of the comments above. How can anyone who values freedom and privacy not give their full support to Google for doing what amounts to be a courageous thing?

    They are sacrificing stock price for doing what’s right. Yahoo turned in a Chinese dissident for doing not much more than sending a few emails, and that guy’s spending 10 years in jail.

    As our freedoms continue to erode, one by one, Google is a shining light… standing up not only for their users, but for themselves as well. If Google didn’t take this stand, we wouldn’t even know the implicit dangers of using search engines… that some day what you search for could become a basis for search warrants, phone tapping, and other violations of privacy.

    The fact that the immediate issue at hand deals with pornography filtering is of no consequence. At first, they said privacy could be sacrificed to fight terrorism (to stop people from dieing). Now it’s porn (to stop little Johnny from seeing a naked woman). What comes next?

  73. Scott – a thoughtful post but one sided – very odd that you seem to think most of the comments support DOJ’s request – onliners all over the web are very much in favor of Google, though I’d guess that most mainsteam folks and the court will wind up supporting DOJ’s position and will say “what specific privacy right is violated here?”.

    The world is complex. You seem to fear Govt abuses more than commercial abuses. My view is that we have far more commercial abuses of info than our (inefficient) Govt could ever dream about. The community has created a very open and virtually uncensored online environment and we better get used to Govt and society at large being threatened by this openness.

  74. This is not about privacy, nor child pornography but about the ease of childrens access to porn on the internet.

    This is complete and utter nonsense.

    If this were about children’s access to porn on the Internet and the ease of such access, why aren’t we hearing about any US government injunctions on the major adult portals and free TGP sites (e.g. The Hun, Persian Kitty)?

    Why didn’t they do any searches themselves?

    Why aren’t they cracking down on P2P software?

    Not only that, children have at least one (and usually two) things that have a responsibility to their child to educate and protect them against offensive and objectionable content. They’re called parents. And unless Matt, Sergey and Larry are running around with their penises hanging out of their pants impregnating every woman in the United States, chances are Google and/or its employees are not the parents of the children of the US.

    Your comment has nothing to do with this.

    Google’s job is not to act as a censorship medium/content filter (although they do offer the option of such if so desired), but rather to provide a means to other forms of content via user-supplied queries. And yes, that means we have to filter through a bunch of garbage as users, if we choose to use it for search. The choice, however, is ours to use Google or any other search engine, not theirs to allow us to find potentially objectionable content.

    Not only that, it’s a US government injunction. What happens in Canada? The UK? Belgium? China? Mexico? And the other countries Google serves?

    Another question that no one to my knowledge has asked yet is: why does the US government want this information anyway? Google will have very little (if anything) besides aggregate results, which accomplish what exactly?

    No good could come of this situation if Google caved.

  75. Surely google cannot give out information on its europeon users? to the american Govt

  76. dude what are you talking about? I don’t see porn on any of those websites you listed.

  77. Cmon our kids are protected from adult content and accidental searches.

    Just type in “x box toys”


  78. Hi Joe,

    Thanks for the note and for offering a different point of view.

    If my post implied that I thought most of the comments on this blog support the DOJ, I apologize for not being clearer. There are several posts above that do support the DOJ, and my comments were in response to them. Largely speaking, I find the participants on this blog to be very thoughtful and rational, and I am happy to be a part of this online community.

    As far as the world being complex – of that I am very aware. In response to your comment that I seem to fear Govt abuses more than commercial abuses – i’m not sure why you would draw that conclusion. This particular issue involves the government requesting data from a corporation that they have no special oversight over. They can request Google’s assistance, but they have no legal footing to demand it. They are seeking that legal authority now, and I am simply voicing my opinion that they should not be granted it.

    I agree – that we better get used to Govt and society being threatened by openness, but that does not mean we should succumb to it. If anything, that means we should get used to fighting it. Openness is inevitable because the market demands it. The Internet is great because it satisfies the collective demand for news, views, and more in a very efficient way. To disturb the openness would be to exert unnatural forces on the marketplace – which would jeopardize the authenticity of this medium. That’s what makes this issue important.

    The legal issue is not “what specific privacy right is being violated here,” it is whether the government can force corporations to assist them in their criminal prosecutions. It’s the privacy issue that makes this issue graver – because the slope is very slippery.

  79. “dude what are you talking about? I don’t see porn on any of those websites you listed.”

    Have a look dude.the domains seem mainstream and have google pr but have a stack of links going to porn at the bottom.So kids following a link from a harmless website to what they think is a site about amish cook or perhaps they search google for amish cook
    and then see more links at the bottom of that page that take them to porn.And if you don’t think this sort of linking in google works look up big tits in google

    and see the result

    Also those blogs are the same deal.One of those blogs was run by a friend of mine.
    Its been reregistered and the backlinks and pr for the site have been used to promote the keyword milf. And google falls for it.
    Google is showing these sites with adult links all over them for non pron keywords.Its been sucked in by expired domains and blogs.

  80. Sounds possibly like the early stages of an attempt to ban porn on the web. Hmmm did somebody get a call from Jerry Falwell? Googlebot, what sayeth you on the subject?

  81. Matt, its nice that schoolpage and amishcook have been finally banned , but what about the rest of them?
    These guys call themselvs online marketing biz and it seems they are getting tipped off about the spam reports or of course reading this blog.They may have changed their links on the sites and am now placing googles adsense on them but one look at google’s Cache and you will see their scam.
    If you really are the spammers foe, move quick on this spam when its reported and it may discourage their further endevours.I just fail to see the reluctance on dealing with them.

  82. I’ll take it back about being banned.
    Although Google shows no information on the site it has this page no#3 for its kws

  83. Google says no to the gov’t for the sake of privacy and rights.

    But aggrees to filter freedom, religion, and human rights websites in China for that Gov’t?

    And Harith Says- “And once againg, Google demonstrates high moral responsibility and that its the best..better than all the rest.”

    High moral responsibility? Give me a break.

    Or did I completely misinterpret this news with Google China?

  84. Any update on this?

  85. google agreed to filter it’s searches in china because they needed to be able to compete on a global scale….think about it, china has the largest population of the world, and is the fastest growing. now im not saying that this was right of them, but just put yourself in their shoes and understand how this is from a business point of view. now, look at the situation with the u.s. gov’t. the chinese gov’t doesnt exactly stand for freedom of speech haha, but the u.s. gov’t is ‘supposed to’ so google obviousley is preventing the u.s. govt from gaining too much power while they understand that the chinese governemnt is beyond the people really having much power at all.

  86. The way I see it, We screwed are selves. There is no such thing as a free lunch and if we accept all of these things form google and who ever, things like gmail, google desktop search, what do you expect.

    Also what do you search that you are so afraid that someone will find out? What are you so scared of? I mean I am not personally afraid of my search results being known. I would like to keep it that way.

    But… On the other hand it is scary the way things are changing and that any information would be asked of. But the end is comming so whatever…

    As far as my feelings go concerning Microsoft, Yahoo, and AOL for giving out the information I am not concerned because all the information was safe and I don’t think that there should be such a big fuss until personal information is required.