Trend: The Google case will set a precedent for the privacy of search on the Internet.
IBD describes the Google efforts to resist US Government for users' search trails.
Link: Investor's Business Daily: Judge Questions Government Attorneys About Efforts To Obtain Google Records (subscription required)
Google (GOOG) seemingly logged at least a partial win in its battle to prevent handing over search data to the U.S. government, but the company will have to give a little to get along.
A federal judge on Tuesday grilled U.S. attorneys on the burden they would place on Google to comply with a subpoena for turning over records of consumer searches for a government study.
But at the same time, Judge James Ware of the U.S. District Court in San Jose, Calif., made it clear that Google won't be getting a full pass on the matter.
"It is my intent to provide some relief to the government," he said at Tuesday's 90-minute hearing.
The case is viewed as a crucial test of online privacy. The issue is the protection of the Internet habits of users vs. how much access to such data the government should be allowed to get.
In front of a gallery packed with about 30 members of the media, Ware said he hopes to find a common ground between Google's right to operate as a publicly traded company, its users' rights to privacy and the government's need to do its research.
"I do intend to deliver my decision very quickly," Ware said.
The hearing ended about midway through Tuesday's regular trading. Google shares ended the day up more than 4%.
Google's feud with the U.S. government began seven months ago after the Justice Department began seeking records from Google and its main search rivals Yahoo, (YHOO) Microsoft's (MSFT) MSN and Time Warner's (TWX) AOL. The other three said they complied with the government's subpoena, but emphasized they did so without comprising any users' privacy.
The government wants the records to help in a project designed to determine if today's software filters prevent children from viewing online pornography.
Joel McElvain, an attorney for the Justice Department, told Ware the government is seeking 50,000 Web addresses and records of an undetermined number of search queries from Google for its research. Two months ago, the government sought 1 million Web addresses from Google. The government's decision to scale back first came to light in a legal filing on Feb. 27.
Tuesday's hearing was an affirmation that the government's legal claim on Google's records is no slam dunk, said Albert Gidari, an attorney for Google, immediately following the hearing.