Archive for March, 2007
COPA got struck down. It was in this case that Google and other search engines got subpoenaed for parts of their index and search queries. The opinion is very thorough and gives an excellent overview of the current state of affairs concerning commercial filtering products.
Declan McCullagh has a nice article in News.com on the background of this case. It all started with provisions in the Communications Decency Act (1996).
The Supreme Court will hear this COPA case as well.
KinderStart.com LLC v. Google, Inc., C 06-2057 JF (N.D. Cal. March 16, 2007)
Google wins; KinderStart’s complaint dismissed without leave to amend. The judgment is a little long for what it’s worth. Eric Goldman has some comments and pdf’s.
This judgement from the lower court in Leuven, Belgium, is about Google’s suggestion function. Servercheck complains about this functionality because when using ‘Servercheck’ as a keyword, Google suggests the queries ‘servercheck keygen’, servercheck crack’ and ‘servercheck serial’, which Servercheck states is an infringement, because these queries give many results leading to illegal copies of serverscheck’s software. The judge concludes Google is not liable. Follow up….
Servercheck v. Google (Belgium):
I saw this video a couple of months ago. I ran into it because I like Zappa’s music (and lyrics especially). I did not know he had been such a freedom of speech activist. His position is rather absolutist and I am not sure if I agree with ‘words are just words’. I can understand his absolutist attitude much better, considering his position on Unites States politics. Any accepted restrictions on speech will be used by the ‘fascist theocratic’ majority. I think his attitude on the show is inspiring. Nicely dressed, not afraid to say things that are considered too radical to be true… For me that is freedom of speech.
Google starts to anonymize identifiable search logs. It will from now on keep identifiable IP-address and cookie data for a period of 18 to 24 months. It is probably an improvement as regards privacy – Google used to keep data for as long as useful – but still the period is very long.
When reading Google’s log retention faq it becomes clearer what to think of this new policy. First of all ip and cookie data are anonymized. Google won’t delete any data. Most privacy infringements through search logs result from the query data themselves, not the cookie or ip details. These logs will not be deleted and it seems, kept in a certain fashion to allow individual query logs to be separable.
Secondly, the law enforcement friendliness of the faq is striking. Frequent, neutral references to possible data retention laws directed at search engines, shows the policy is adapted at fulfilling such possible future obligations. These (in most places) non-existent laws are the easy excuse for Google to keep the identifiable data for as long as 18-24 months.Â In Europe, the data retention directive clearly does NOT include search engines, nor search engine query data. To suggest otherwise is misleading and confusing.
Google is reported to co-operate closely with Indian authorities, providing IP-addresses on government’s request. Not surpisingly and mostly newsworthy because of its own ‘ do no evil’ business motto. Thanks to BNA Internet Law.
In 2006 I finished my studies in Law with this thesis (in Dutch). It is a combination of data privacy Law and criminal procedural Law. The core of the thesis is a critical reflection on a new law in the Netherlands, that gives new powers to criminal investigators to ask other entities in society to hand over data (read personal data), that can be of use in running criminal investigations. The law was pretty much drafted by the Commission Mevis, which was asked to make a study of bottle-necks in criminal investigations in connection with new technological developments. It was the first time i realized how seriously flawed a lot of motivation of our legislation is (from the point of view of valid argumentation). It does not come close to a justification for the infringement of article 8 ECHR.
Part of the thesis is an analysis of federal law of the United States, with regard to access to data held by private entities for criminal investigations. I read a lot of Fourth Amendment cases, which was a lot of fun. American case law is such a relief, compared to our dull continental reasoning. The strange situation of companies gathering private data and SELLING them to the FBI and others (Choicepoint and others), and the absence of Fourth Amendment protection when data are handed over to third parties (like banks or telcos) were eye-openers as well.
I was dealing with this issue as well, when working for Bits of Freedom, Dutch digital civil rights organization. It keeps bothering me, not in the least because I find it hard to watch the slow and steady move towards a situation of governments and companies having easy access to all the data they need.