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The Real Reason Google Won't Hand the Data Over

Google's refusal to cooperate with the U.S. government's request for user search data is probably motivated more by the desire to cover its own ass than to protect user privacy, according to a Forbes.com report. The government is seeking a week's worth of Internet search queries from a list of 1 million random Web address in an attempt to build a case that says Internet porn is easily available to minors, which in theory creates the need for the Child Online Protection Act. America Online, Yahoo! and Microsoft have all agreed to hand over the data, which they have assured their customers contains no personally identifiable information, but Google has refused, citing user privacy and the danger of revealing "trade secrets" to its competitors. Experts doubt the government cares how Google executes its searches, saying that it's more likely Google worries about the results of its searches. Public disclosure of how much porn is viewed on the Internet and how often will likely be bad for the Internet, which, by extension, would make Google look bad, as porn is the de facto starting point for many Web users. Google and its competitors all make money from porn sites, but no one knows how much, as none of the search engines have ever disclosed how much porn Web users look at. Rest assured that the figure is not insignificant. Restricting porn and--worse for the search engines--banning porn advertising, could result in a debilitating revenue loss for the engines, and disproportionately so for Google. You have to believe that's one of the aims of the Child Online Protection Act's sponsors

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Read the whole story at Forbes.com »

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