Davis takes issue with Google over records request

REDMOND, Wash.' House Government Reform Committee Chairman Tom Davis (R-Va.) said today that search giant Google Inc. has 'bent over backward' to comply with the Chinese government's demand that it block certain search results in order to operate in that country. So why won't the company cooperate with the U.S. Justice Department in its efforts to fight online pornography?

Google has refused a Justice Department subpoena for search results, saying it violated users' privacy. The government has said it needs the data to prepare a case regarding the 1998 Child Online Protection Act.

Other search companies have complied with the subpoena.

The company today also launched a Chinese version of its search site after agreeing to censor topics such as Falun Gong and Tibet.

'Google gave the Chinese everything they wanted. They're not going to put data on there about human rights,' Davis said.

Davis spoke to public-sector CIOs today at a summit hosted by Microsoft Corp. Microsoft's MSN service also censors search results in China, as do Yahoo and others. Microsoft, Yahoo and America Online have also reportedly given the Justice Department information it was seeking.

'What does it mean to be a corporate citizen, working to bring terrorists or child pornographers to bear? What are the boundaries?' Davis said. 'These are new areas for a lot of us that we've got to work our way through.'

Davis did not expect there to be a standoff over the issue, but he clearly hoped an agreement could be reached between Google and the Justice Department.

'Google has shown an ability to be flexible when it's in their business interests,' Davis said. 'And I'm hoping the government will show the appropriate flexibility in trying to get what we need without everybody feeling that every time you Google something, the government's going to be looking over your shoulder.'

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) today released a letter he'd sent to Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez asking for more information about the subpoenaed information and how the Justice Department was protecting personal privacy in its efforts.

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