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A federal judge has scheduled for next month a hearing on Google Inc.'s refusal to hand over information on search results to the Department of Justice, which is looking for evidence to bolster its attempt to revive an anti-porn law rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court.
U.S. District Judge James Ware in San Jose, Calif., set the hearing for Feb. 27. He also gave Google until Feb. 6 to file its reasons for refusing to comply with the DOJ subpoena. The Justice Department has until Feb. 13 to file a response.
The Bush administration is seeking the search data in its efforts to revive the 1998 Child Online Protection Act that was struck down by the high court, which rejected the restrictions COPA placed on accessing information on sites offering adult content. The justices said filtering software was sufficient to protect children.
Government lawyers hope to revive the case by showing a federal court in Pennsylvania that sexually explicit material is easily accessible through search engines and is not adequately blocked by filters.
Yahoo Inc., Microsoft Corp.'s MSN and America Online Inc., a division of Time Warner Inc., complied with similar subpoenas received from the Justice Department. Google refused, saying the "demand for information overreaches."
The case has sparked controversy among experts over how far a search engine should go in protecting customers' search data. The information requested by the Justice Department did not include any data that could be used to identify individuals or groups.