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Gonzales v. Google, Inc.

United States District Court for the Northern District of California
234 F.R.D. 674 (2006)


The Child Online Protection Act (COPA), 47 U.S.C. § 231, forbids knowingly using the internet to communicate material that is harmful to minors for commercial purposes. The American Civil Liberties Union and other plaintiffs challenged COPA's constitutionality and were granted a preliminary injunction preventing enforcement of the statute. That matter ultimately reached the United States Supreme Court, which affirmed the grant of a preliminary injunction. However, the Court raised questions about whether there was filtering software available that could prevent minors from viewing harmful content, as that would be a less restrictive way of achieving COPA's goals. The Court remanded the matter for trial so the parties could update the record to explain the available technologies. In preparing its trial defense, the government hoped to test filtering software and subpoenaed Google, Inc. (Google) (defendant), America Online, Inc. (AOL), Yahoo! Inc. (Yahoo), and Microsoft, Inc. (Microsoft). The subpoena required production of URLs available to users and text of search queries entered by users. AOL, Yahoo, and Microsoft produced the data requested by the government. Google, the market-leading search engine, objected to the production. The government reduced its initial demand for data and sought a sample of 50,000 URLs and 5,000 user queries. Google still objected to the government's request. United States Attorney General Alberto Gonzales (plaintiff) filed an action against Google in federal district court to enforce compliance with the subpoena.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Ware, J.)

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