Friday, January 20, 2006

Search Requests Contain Personal Info

As I suspected, an expert has come out and stated that the information requested by the US Government is a privacy issue.

In the article found here (you must go to page 2), "Pam Dixon, executive director for the World Privacy Forum, warned that the content of search requests sometimes contain information about the person making the query, such as names, medical profiles or Social Security information."

(From their website: "The World Privacy Forum is a nonprofit, non partisan organization focused on conducting in-depth research and consumer education in the intersecting areas of technology and privacy." They have offered up some excellent Search Engine Privacy Tips here.)

So on one side of this argument we have the US Justice Department and Yahoo! Yahoo! just turned over millions of their users' private information over to the US Justice Department, during a time when that organization is a "rigorous defender" of the White House's habit of performing illegal wire taps on US citizens. Yahoo! claims this is not a privacy issue, when they have a notorious disregard for their customer's privacy. Yahoo! is also struggling financially in the face of Google's growth. This side of the argument is relying on rhetoric, and hoping the listeners are not members of the "reality based community."

On the other side of the argument you have Google, who is dominating the market, and entering into a legal battle with a government agency that does not often get such a response. They are not relying on rhetoric; they are simply doing the right thing.

BooYahoo! is not outright endorsing Google yet, but I'm getting damn close ...


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