Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) taking on the federal government is something that the company surely would not do for sport. If the U.S. Department of Justice is requesting user data under federal law – which it has done for the better part of a decade – Google has not usually refused. But of late, the company has taken a stronger stance and has actually resisted such requests claiming unconstitutionality.
If you were here earlier today, you will think this is just a rehash of a story we told you earlier about Google mostly losing a case in California against 19 DOJ National Security Letters (NSLs), which are a warrantless digital data-compilation technique to gather national security and anti-terrorism intelligence. However, we must assure you that this is not a rehash – this is reporting on a similar case in New York. In the earlier case, the decision was handed down this morning after a closed-door hearing three weeks ago in California. This time, the DOJ filed a lawsuit in New York in April challenging the refusal of Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) to hand over user data requested under a series of NSLs.
Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) does have precedent on its side, as these NSLs have previously been declared unconstitutional in the recent past, making the case that these requests without a warrant violate the due process and search and seizure clauses of the Fourth Amendment. In this morning’s California decision, Judge Susan Illston side with the DOJ on 17 of 19 NSL requests, but said that Google only lost because its arguments were too broad and should have been specific to each of the requests.
Now there is this new series of requests, and Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) appears ready to continue the battle to ensure users’ private data. Google did press Illston to throw out the New York case in lieu of the California challenge, but Illston said the New York case raised issues that were “more squarely raised.” But with so many requests for data made over the last decade, why does Google find it plausible to warran the time and expense of challenging NSLs now?