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3/24/2006
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Don't Celebrate Yet, Google

More lawsuits are expected despite Google's partial victory over the Department of Justice.

Google scored a partial victory in its battle to keep its search data out of the hands of the government. Yet that could prove to be just one win in a long-running war.

U.S. District Judge James Ware this month ruled that Google must turn over 50,000 URLs from its index to the Department of Justice, but not customers' search queries as requested by the department. The government hopes to use Google's data to prove that Internet filters aren't enough to shield minors from adult material online as part of its case to reinstate the 1998 Child Online Protection Act, which the courts blocked when the ACLU and other groups challenged the law's constitutionality.

Google will want to keep its lawyers close by. In his ruling, Ware anticipated that the government's planned pornography study will be challenged based on the incompleteness of Google's data, resulting in efforts by other litigants to get to what Google considers confidential information. The ACLU likely will seek more information from Google in its battle with the Justice Department, staff attorney Aden Fine says.

And don't expect the government to forget about Google. The Justice Department "has an almost insatiable desire for different pieces of information," says Stephen Ryan, a partner at law firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, "and they're going to continue to seek those under any authority that they have."



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