The 18-page brief filed Friday argues that because the information provided would not identify or be traceable to specific users, privacy rights would not be violated.
The brief was the Justice Department’s reply to strident arguments filed by Google last week as a rebuff of the government’s demand to review its search requests during a random week.
The department believes the information will help revive an online child protection law that has been blocked by the U.S. Supreme Court. By showing the wide variety of Web sites that people find through search engines, the government hopes to prove Internet filters are not strong enough to prevent children from viewing pornography and other inappropriate material online.
The Justice Department submitted a declaration by Philip B. Stark, a researcher who rejected the privacy concerns, noting that the government specifically requested that Google remove any identifying information from the search requests.
“The study does not involve examining the queries in more than a cursory way. It involves running a random sample of the queries through the Google search engine and categorizing the results,” Stark, a statistics professor at the University of California, Berkeley, said.
Mountain View, California-based Google has staunchly resisted the Justice Department since receiving a subpoena last summer, setting the stage for the current legal battle.
The case has attracted widespread attention because it has underscored the potential for Internet search engines becoming tools for government surveillance. A hearing is scheduled before U.S. District Judge James Ware in San Jose March 13.