A hearing on US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' attempt to compel Google to turn over search records to the US Department of Justice (DOJ) has been postponed until March 14.

The hearing in the US District Court for the Northern District of California, in San Jose, had been set for February 27. In an order filed on Thursday, US District Court Judge James Ware pushed the date back without explanation.

The US DOJ subpoenaed records from several search engine companies to bolster its argument that a federal law is more effective than filtering software for protecting Internet users under 18 from viewing pornography. America Online, Microsoft's MSN and Yahoo all complied with the subpoena to some degree, but Google refused to provide the records. Gonzales filed a motion in the court in San Jose to compel Google, based in Mountain View, California, to comply.

Google now has until February 17 to file its response to Gonzales' motion, and the DOJ has until February 24 to reply to what Google files. Third parties filing "friend of the court" briefs also have until February 24.

The DOJ is defending the Child Online Protection Act in a 1998 suit by the American Civil Liberties Union, which says the law violates the US Constitution's First Amendment right to freedom of speech.