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Search engine subpoenas

Posted by Michael Bloch in online world (Sunday January 22, 2006 )

Microsoft Corp., (MSN Search), Yahoo Inc. and America Online Inc, 3 of the 4 major search engines, have acknowledged that they were recently subpoenaed and supplied requested search data to the US Government. Google had also been subpoenaed, but refuses to comply at this stage, stating that the requests for data are unreasonable.

According to Danny Sullivan’s Search Engine Watch Blog, the US Government demanded a million random URLs and a list of all Google searches for a one week period – that would be a mighty long list. The goal of the Bush administration in this exercise is to estimate how much pornography shows up in the searches that children do.

Isn’t this approach a little ass about face? As Danny points out, how would the government agency that is supposedly going to evaluate this data know if little Johnny had actually searched on any of those terms? Regardless of the privacy issues, in order for the government to get any value out of this, they’d need to compare apples to apples.

It always makes me laugh when bureacrats try to take control of the web; it becomes abundantly apparent of just how clueless they are of the way it works. Their money would be better spent in assisting ISP’s and various service providers with improved avenues of communications and methods of reporting. Leave the detective work to the people who actually know what they are doing.


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