Google users will face US government monitoring if the American authorities win a court case aimed at getting the website to hand over copies of every search conducted.
The world’s most popular search engine, used by 90 million people every month, has been asked to hand over an entire week of search requests made at Google.com.
The US Department of Justice wants the information to help it to establish how much child pornography is available on the internet, but Google is unhappy that it is being used as part of what it calls a “research experiment”. Although the contents of most searches are anonymously entered phrases such as “weather in Rome”, some could reveal personal information.
Google has now been taken to court in California by Alberto Gonzales, the US Attorney-General. The lawsuit describes any privacy concerns as illusory, arguing that it does not want to see “any additional information that would identify the person who entered the search”.
Other search engines, such as Yahoo! and AOL — which use Google technology — have complied with the request, although it is not clear what they handed over. Google was originally asked to hand over every search made between June 1 and July 31 last year.