In a strongly worded legal brief filed with a federal judge in San Jose, Calif., the search company accused prosecutors of a "cavalier attitude," saying they were "uninformed" about how search engines work and the importance of protecting Google's confidential information from disclosure.

This response came after the Justice Department last month asked a judge to force Google to hand over a random sample of 1 million Web pages from its index, along with copies of a week's worth of search terms to aid in the Bush administration's defense of an Internet pornography law. That information is supposed to be used to highlight flaws in Web filtering technology during a trial this fall.

The Justice Department subpoena normally would have been a routine matter, and America Online, Microsoft and Yahoo voluntarily complied with similar requests. But Google's resistance sparked a furor over privacy, with Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, asking the Justice Department for details, and a bill appearing in the House of Representatives that would require Web sites to delete information about visitors.

"The privacy of Google users matters, and Google has promised to disclose information to the government only as required by law," the brief says. "The privacy and anonymity of the service are major factors in the attraction of users--that is, users trust Google to do right by their personal information."

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