Friday, March 24, 2006


The court in California has ruled that Google should hand over some search data (including 50,000 web addresses) to the Department of Justice, but the Judge has denied request that a list of people's search requests should be handed over.

"The expectation of privacy by some Google users may not be reasonable," Judge Ware wrote, "but may nonetheless have an appreciable impact on the way in which Google is perceived, and consequently the frequency with which users use Google."

Questions should be raised over the extent in which Google holds the search requests of users. How long is it held and what are their policies? The Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC stipulates the conditions under which personal data are processed and applies within the European Union. The Directive on Privacy and Electronic Communications 2002/58/EC specifies the conditions under which "traffic data" (Art. 6) and "location data" (Art. 9) are held. More discussion and awareness is needed (whether academics, practitioners or the public) about the laws that apply to search engines.

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