And yet, still only the occasional mention that other search engine firms already have complied: Privacy experts condemn subpoena of Google [pdf]
“This is the camel’s nose under the tent for using search engines and all kinds of data aggregators as surveillance tools,” said Jim Harper of the libertarian Cato Institute who also runs Privacilla.org, an Internet privacy database.
[...] The Justice Department said on Friday that America Online, Yahoo and Microsoft had all complied with similar requests.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales rejected concerns that the subpoena might violate individual privacy rights.
“We’re not asking for the identity of Americans. We simply want to have some subject matter information with respect to these communications. This is important for the Department of Justice and we will pursue this matter,” he told reporters.
[...] But others were not reassured. Massachusetts Rep. Edward Markey (news, bio, voting record), the ranking Democrat on the telecommunications subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said he would introduce a bill to strengthen consumers’ Internet privacy by prohibiting the storage of personally identifiable information Internet searches beyond a reasonable time.
“Internet search engines provide an extraordinary service, but the preservation of that service does not rely on a bottomless, timeless database that can do great damage despite good intentions,” Markey said.
Chris Jay Hoofnagle of the Electronic Privacy Information Center worried that the government could follow up its initial request with a demand for more information.
[...] On the other side, the Cincinnati-based National Coalition for Protection of Children and Families, a Christian fundamentalist group, said search companies should be willing to help the government defend children from pornography.
The WaPo article: Google Refuses Demand for Search Information [pdf]
Later: Boston Globe’s Google subpoena roils the Web [pdf]; WaPo’s Forgot What You Searched For? Google Didn’t [pdf]