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Google says no to US gov

US customers more important than Chinese?

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Google on Friday rejected US government demands that it give up search information claiming that its customers' privacy, as well as its own business secrets, should be protected.

The search giant filed a response to the demand from the US government that it hand over two months of search terms and all the web addresses within its index. Google said the demands were unreasonable and were not likely to provide useful information.

In contrast to its attitude in China, Google says its users trust the company not to give out information, and that the government's demands would undermine that trust.

Google's filing says the Government has failed to prove that its request will lead to the collection of admissible evidence. Google notes that much of what the Government wants is already available online - through metasearch engines like dogpile and metacrawler.

The second grounds for rejection, Google claims, is that the subpoena would effectively reveal Google trade secrets. It says any trial would result in its trade secrets - which include how many searches it carries out in one day - would be revealed.

Google notes that Professor Philip Stark, hired by the Government to look at log records, is also a private consultant. The response says: "Professor Stark's involvement with Cogit and similarly situated companies may pose a serious threat to the protection of Google's trade secrets and confidential commercial information."

Finally the demand places an "undue burden" in that complying with it would damage its search engine performance.

In conclusion Google's submision says: "The government seeks trade secrets from Google without coming close to proving these secrets would be relevant to the underlying litigation, that the Government faces a "substantial need" that would not impose an "undue burden" on Google, and that federal law does not blunt the disclosure. The Government's Motion must fail."

More details from Google's lawyer's blog here.

Google shares have taken a hammering this month - falling from 465p to the 368p it is trading at today.

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