Well that didn't take long at all. While he still hasn't released his official decision, it sounds like the judge hearing the dispute between the Department of Justice and Google over whether or not Google needs to turn over a random sample of searches and URLs has made up his mind. He's going to split the difference and require Google to turn over some data, though it's not entirely clear how much. Apparently, Google's original effort in basically suggesting the government was clueless wasn't particularly convincing. In court, the company took a somewhat different strategy -- apparently focusing on the fact that Amazon's Alexa now offers open access, so the government researcher can get all the data he needs from there. Even the judge admitted that he was worried the result of this case would force Google to hand over data to researchers involved in all sorts of lawsuits -- and thus, it's expected that he'll have the government compensate Google for the work needed to supply the data. Already, though, the ACLU (which is on the other side from the government in this case) has said that it, too, will need to get data from Google in order to respond to the government's case. While it seems unlikely that any of the data revealed gives up any seriously private info, this does seem to open some worrisome precedent-setting doors that could lead to problems in future cases. Update: A different take on today's events claims that Google and the DoJ had already reached a settlement on handing over the data before today's hearings -- and the hearings were just a facade to make everyone look better.
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