I was intrigued to read a report on CNet's news portal last week about the result of a US appeals court ruling in a criminal prosecution.
The ruling centres around Matthew Schuster, a tech employee of a wireless Internet firm who got the boot and continued using the service from his home using various customer IDs.
Later he went on to stage a denial of service attack, amongst other things, against his former employer and got a 15 month sentence in clink for his troubles.
The appeal, however, centered on the legality of the use of Schuster's own Google searches, and whether they could be used in evidence against him in court.
The appeals court upheld the lower court's decision to accept the Google-provided evidence against the defendant, and the legal appeal failed as a result.
Court documents say that Schuster ran a Google search over his former employers network using the following search terms: "how to broadcast interference over wifi 2.4 GHZ," "interference over wifi 2.4 Ghz," "wireless networks 2.4 interference," and "make device interfere wireless network."
What's interesting is that CNet reports that the court documents are ambiguous and do not reveal how the FBI discovered his search terms.
CNet says: "That could have happened in one of three ways: an analysis of his browser's history and cache; an Alpha employee monitoring the company's wireless connection; or a subpoena to Google from the police for search terms tied to his Internet address or cookie."
What I find immensely worrying is that Google maintains records of Internet searches carried out by punters for up to six years and unconfirmed reports suggest it is happy to hand those records over to the authorities on request.
Not that I personally a'm doing anything naughty on Google, I might add. This weekend I'm taking the opportunity of moving over to Opera as my browser of choice, and will also be moving my search engine toolbar from Google to A9.com...