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MSN Search On DOJ Demands

The MSN Search Blog has a statement on their handing over of search data to the U.S. Department of Justice. The highlights:

There’s been quite a frenzy of speculation over the past 24 hours regarding the request by the government for some data in relation to a child online protection lawsuit. Obviously both privacy and child protection are both super important topics – so I’m glad this discussion is happening.

Let me start with this core principle statement: privacy of our customers is non-negotiable and something worth fighting to protect.

… Specifically, we produced a random sample of pages from our index and some aggregated query logs that listed queries and how often they occurred. Absolutely no personal data was involved.

With this data you:

CAN see how frequently some query terms occurred.
CANNOT look up an IP and see what they queried
CANNOT look for users who queried for both “TERM A” and “TERM B”.

Okay, fair enough. I’m sure this is true. But many people are not so trusting of anything that comes from Microsoft. If the information is that inoccuous, why not release it to the public at large? Barely a few hundred people would ever look at it, but it will not only go a long way toward defusing this situation (and possibly make Google look like they are overreacting), but also provide some pretty useful information for search experts to wade through.

After all, if its that innocent, why not let us see it?

UPDATE: HMM.. says in response to MSN’s blog post:

Rest assured that high on my list of things to take to Search Champs v4 next week will be much more transparency about privacy issues and clearer privacy policies for MSN Search.

Ooh. I like that. I think I’ll back him up…

January 21st, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Search, MSN, Law, General | 3 comments

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  1. […] You only need to watch the PR (by Nathan Weinberg on the Inside Microsoft blog) that Microsoft received over the past week to understand that more transparency would be a good thing. Danny Sullivan, over on Search Engine Watch made the same point several times. […]

    Pingback by Scobleizer - Microsoft Geek Blogger » I’m pushing for more transparency, here’s why | January 22, 2006

  2. That “If you’ve got nothing to hide, why don’t you post it?” attitude is ridiculous. How ’bout you and fellow bloggers post everything you’ve ever searched for at Google? If you don’t, I’ll just assume you have something to hide.

    I believe I called this when the story originally broke — no personally identifying information.

    Hysteria Amongst Bloggers +1

    Comment by Stu | January 22, 2006

  3. Although by them releasing all the data, it could be used by other companies for stats and info gathering which I’m sure is not what they want to do…?

    Comment by Mladen Mihajlovic | January 23, 2006

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