Just as Google’s blog is proud to announce, the judge ruled that Google does not have to give any search queries to the Department of Justice, and that they have to hand over only 50,000 urls.
From page 20 of the official ruling pdf:
With these limitations, for the reasons stated in this Order, unless the parties agree otherwise on or before April 3, 2006, Google is ordered to confer with the Government to develop a protocol for the random selection and afterward immediate production of a listing of 50,000 URLs in Google’s database on the following conditions:
1. In the development or implementation of the protocol, Google shall not be required to disclose proprietary information with respect to its database;
2. The Government shall pay the reasonable cost incurred by Google in the formulation and implementation of the extraction protocol;
3. Any information disclosed in response to this Order shall be subject to the protective order in the underlying case;
To the extent the motion seeks an order compelling Google to disclose search queries of its users the motion is DENIED.
So, according to the ruling, Google now has to write a program that will provide a listing of 50,000 random URLs and the DoJ has to pay Google for their development time. It might seem ironic at first because the DoJ could write a program on their own to retrieve a list of 50,000 random URLs from Google’s databases, but I’m sure Google’s engineers are able to write a much better program than the DoJ could write since the DoJ only has access to functions for which Google has provided a public interface.
All that being said, this is a great win for Google, and for the Internet users in general. It’s sad that Yahoo!, Microsoft, and AOL gave in to the subpoena without fighting back.