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Survey finds solid opposition to release of Google data to feds

The company is fighting a subpoena seeking search data

By Linda Rosencrance
January 24, 2006 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - A majority of 1,017 Americans, 56%, who responded to a survey by Ponemon Institute LLC said they do not believe that Google should turn over Web search information to the U.S. government.
The U.S. Department of Justice recently asked a California court to force Google Inc. to turn over information about how the company's search engine is used to find pornography on the Internet. Justice officials say they need the Google usage records to prepare their case to revive the 1998 Child Online Protection Act (COPA), which the Supreme Court blocked from taking effect two years ago.. But Google has so far resisted the subpoena (see "Update: Feds wrestle Google over search records").
The Justice Department said last week that America Online Inc., Yahoo Inc. and Microsoft Corp. had complied with similar requests.
According to the survey, entitled "Should Google Release Information to the Government," 41% of the respondents who do not want search company to hand over the information said they would stop using Google if it turned over their information on their Web searches. Another 18% said they're not sure what they would do if Google released the information.
According to the survey, 89% of respondents believe that their Web searches are kept private, and 77% believe that Google Web searches do not reveal their personal identities.
The respondents, who were paid $5 each by Ponemon to take the survey, appear to be evenly split on whether the Bush administration can be trusted to take reasonable steps to protect the privacy rights and civil liberties of Americans, the survey said.
For those who believe that Google should not release information to the government, 81% do not believe the current administration is committed to protecting their privacy rights, according to Ponemon.
In publicizing the survey data, Ponemon noted that because it is based on the answers of respondents who chose to take part, the opinions of those who opted not to do so could vary.
Ponemon is a columnist for Computerworld.
See Larry Ponemon's columns.

Read more about Privacy in Computerworld's Privacy Topic Center.



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