Feeds

Phew! Google saves US netizens from Gov snoops

What's wrong with this headline?

Security for virtualized datacentres

Hurrah! Google has made the internet safe for US citizens! Or at least that was what the company implied late on Friday evening, after a federal judge ruled that the company didn't have to turn over a sample of anonymized search queries to the US Department of Justice, and only needed to provide a sampling of websites it searched.

"This is a clear victory for our users," Google said in a statement.

The DoJ had wanted the anonymized data to bolster its attempt to revive COPA, or the Child Online Protection Act, a 1998 law requiring site owners to restrict content, or access to content. In 2004 the Supreme Court agreed with an appellate court decision that the law violated the First Amendment.

It should be noted that Microsoft, AOL and Yahoo! meekly handed over the data without a fight. But the case was never about protecting the privacy of Google users - as no personal information was requested.

And ominously, the judge explained that there was no reason for Google to hand over the queries because the DoJ already had obtained what it wanted from Microsoft, AOL and Yahoo! who had supplied a week's worth of search queries, and a sample of million websites in their respective indices.

What should put this decision in its proper perspective is explained [subscription required] in this month's issue of article of The Atlantic, where investigative journalist and author James Bamford, whose 1983 book Puzzle Palace documented much of the work of the National Security Agency for the first time.

"Today the NSA has access to more information than ever before," Bamford reminds us.

"People express their most intimate thoughts in emails, send their tax returns over the internet, satisfy their curiosity and desires with Google searches, let their hair down in chat rooms, discuss every event over cell phones, make appointments with their BlackBerrys, and do business at Wi-Fi hot spots."

"NSA personnel ... have the ultimate goal of intercepting and reviewing every syllable and murmur zapping into, out of, or through the United States. They are close to achieving it." ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
The 'fun-nification' of computer education – good idea?
Compulsory code schools, luvvies love it, but what about Maths and Physics?
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
'Cowardly, venomous trolls' threatened with TWO-YEAR sentences for menacing posts
UK government: 'Taking a stand against a baying cyber-mob'
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.