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MSN Explains Gov't Search Subpoena & Why They are Not Resisting

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  • User profile image
    a !

    http://blogs.msdn.com/msnsearch/archive/2006/01/20/515606.aspx

    Over the summer we were subpoenaed by the DOJ regarding a lawsuit.  The subpoena requested that we produce data from our search service. We worked hard to scope the request to something that would be consistent with this principle.  The applicable parties to the case received this data, and  the parties agreed that the information specific to this case would remain confidential.  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”.

    Ken Moss
    General Manager – MSN Web Search

  • User profile image
    JohnAskew

    So does the issue with Google involve some proprietary secrets that they have concern over exposing?

    Does MS bill DOJ or get tax credits for producing the work?

    I wonder what value this data gives the DOJ?

  • User profile image
    DoomBringer

    Statistical information like this could be viewed as a trade secret, I suppose.  The stats could be used for tuning purposes, at the very least.

  • User profile image
    BryanF

    Assuming the facts are as Mr. Moss presented, I can't see any problem with this data. Unless Google knows something he omitted, my inner cynic is inclined to believe their resistance may be little more than a publicity stunt to cling to some sort of supposed high ground.

  • User profile image
    rjdohnert

    That was my thought too, simple publicity stunt to promote their dont be evil crap.


    BryanF wrote:
    Assuming the facts are as Mr. Moss presented, I can't see any problem with this data. Unless Google knows something he omitted, my inner cynic is inclined to believe their resistance may be little more than a publicity stunt to cling to some sort of supposed high ground.

  • User profile image
    Rossj

    Does it worry no-one that this is setting a precedent for how the Government (yours not mine thankfully) can now approach them for information? What happens if next time they want more information? What if they want a live feed? What if they threaten to take MS to court to have them ordered to hand over this information?

    In the same way that companies shouldn't play with politics, politicians should not be able to force companies to provide data that they are not obliged to give.


    But why be worried, Bush is already tapping your phones.

  • User profile image
    rjdohnert

    The goverment is not asking for anymore information from the search comanies than any of the search companies already volunteer.  They are not asking for ISP's of searchers, they are not asking for IP addresses of searchers.  They are asking how many times does Term 1 and/or Term 2 being searched for.  This is not an inconvenience and personally I thinks its kind of stupid for Google not to comply because the data provided from these inquiries will go to create laws and possibly enhance existing laws that will protect our children from inappropriate content that children should not see, amd who knows it may scare a few child predators out there. Are you against protecting our children?

    Rossj wrote:
    Does it worry no-one that this is setting a precedent for how the Government (yours not mine thankfully) can now approach them for information? What happens if next time they want more information? What if they want a live feed? What if they threaten to take MS to court to have them ordered to hand over this information?

    In the same way that companies shouldn't play with politics, politicians should not be able to force companies to provide data that they are not obliged to give.


    But why be worried, Bush is already tapping your phones.

  • User profile image
    harumscarum

    Rossj wrote:
    Does it worry no-one that this is setting a precedent for how the Government (yours not mine thankfully) can now approach them for information?


    no not really I have nothing to hide.

    Rossj wrote:
    What happens if next time they want more information? What if they want a live feed? What if they threaten to take MS to court to have them ordered to hand over this information?


    What if, what if, what if. We could go back and forth on this all day  but I don't live in paranoia.

    Rossj wrote:

    But why be worried, Bush is already tapping your phones.


    Not mine.

    BBC wrote:

    Mr Bush emphasised that only international calls were monitored without a court order - those originating in the US, or those placed from overseas to individuals living in the US.



    Kudos to the msn team releasing this info.

  • User profile image
    Cairo

    OMG, the text editor on this site is sooo broken

  • User profile image
    W3bbo

    harumscarum wrote:
    no not really I have nothing to hide.


    "Having nothing to hide" nor "Being innocent" are not reasons 'not to be concerned'.

    Fact is, the US Government is abusing their power and you're going to let them get away with it?

  • User profile image
    rjdohnert

    The government is not abusing their power,  they are merely asking for statistics and information that Microsoft and others would volunteer already.  Now if they asked for a list of Microsofts customers, and or the IP address and ISP's of everyone accessing search that would be a different story.

    W3bbo wrote:
    harumscarum wrote: no not really I have nothing to hide.


    "Having nothing to hide" nor "Being innocent" are not reasons 'not to be concerned'.

    Fact is, the US Government is abusing their power and you're going to let them get away with it?

  • User profile image
    W3bbo

    rjdohnert wrote:
    The government is not abusing their power,  they are merely asking for statistics and information that Microsoft and others would volunteer already.  Now if they asked for a list of Microsofts customers, and or the IP address and ISP's of everyone accessing search that would be a different story.


    I was also making that accusation within the context of the controversial phone-tapping bill and the "Patriot" act.

  • User profile image
    harumscarum

    W3bbo wrote:
    rjdohnert wrote: The government is not abusing their power,  they are merely asking for statistics and information that Microsoft and others would volunteer already.  Now if they asked for a list of Microsofts customers, and or the IP address and ISP's of everyone accessing search that would be a different story.


    I was also making that accusation within the context of the controversial phone-tapping bill and the "Patriot" act.


    Well I thought this thread was just about search info. Exactly what section of the patriot act are you unhappy with? I have never read so I do not know what part you are referencing.

  • User profile image
    Cairo

    Cairo wrote:
    OMG, the text editor on this site is sooo broken



    So, long and quote-filled story short...

    Google is not citing privacy concerns. They're refusing to elaborate on why they will not comply, but speculation is "trade secrets". I do have privacy concerns, and I'm not happy with how fast the other companies rolled over to help BushCo defend the constitutionality of their Child Online Protection Act.

    Bottom line, I think Google is doing the right thing for the wrong reasons. The other companies apparently just want their deputy badges; they did the wrong thing for no apparent reason at all.

    So who do I trust more out of all this? None of them.

  • User profile image
    rjdohnert

    There are no privacy concerns.  What trade secrets can be revealed by saying "term A was searched for X number of times"?  As for the Patriot Act and the phone tapping stuff, if you arent doing anything wrong. what do you have to worry about?  Nothing, thats what.  Personally I would have invaded the entire middle east region and took over every single country until I found every terrorist and soldier in Iraqs army and disposed of them .  My only regret is that Bush cant stay longer in office because the next president will come in and pull our troops out and muck up all the progress that has been made in the last 4 years just because pulling out of Iraq and the middle east is the popular thing to do.

    Cairo wrote:
    Cairo wrote:OMG, the text editor on this site is sooo broken



    So, long and quote-filled story short...

    Google is not citing privacy concerns. They're refusing to elaborate on why they will not comply, but speculation is "trade secrets". I do have privacy concerns, and I'm not happy with how fast the other companies rolled over to help BushCo defend the constitutionality of their Child Online Protection Act.

    Bottom line, I think Google is doing the right thing for the wrong reasons. The other companies apparently just want their deputy badges; they did the wrong thing for no apparent reason at all.

    So who do I trust more out of all this? None of them.

  • User profile image
    Cairo

    What does the Child Online Protection Act have to do with Iraq or terrorists?

  • User profile image
    rjdohnert

    I was making a comment on others comments about the patriot Act.  As for the search engine thing, the Child Online Protection Act is to protect our children, plain and simple.  MSN, Yahoo and AOL did the right thing giving the information, its to benefit our children,.  Google wants to play hardball, I suggest they dont try to play hardball with a texan.  Its not very bright.

    Cairo wrote:
    What does the Child Online Protection Act have to do with Iraq or terrorists?

  • User profile image
    z33driver

    You never know, the next President to be elected might not necessarily be someone promoting the idea of pulling the troops out.  Pulling out isn't necessarily the popular thing to do, its the thing around which the mainstream liberal media has constructed a perception that it is the popular thing to do.  I have hope that the citizens of the country and our elected representatives will do the right thing.

    On the subject of search query statistics, if the government really wanted to be able to directly link something to an IP address, lets say if the FBI had a lead on someone for instance, isn't Carnivore still around and couldn't they use that technology to help catch the perp(s)?

    With regards to the statistics in general, there is no protected class for that data, i.e. there is no attorney-client or doctor-patient type privilege or protections afforded to that data correct?

    The data being provided in this case is rather general and broad, and doesn't worry me so much.  And its not the first time the government has requested such data.  If I recall correctly, the government was requesting banks that do business both overseas and in the US like American Express to disclose specific customer data in order to go after people trying to evade taxes by hiding money in overseas accounts and using a debit card to get to it from the states.  I don't see how this case is much different.

    rjdohnert wrote:
    There are no privacy concerns.  What trade secrets can be revealed by saying "term A was searched for X number of times"?  As for the Patriot Act and the phone tapping stuff, if you arent doing anything wrong. what do you have to worry about?  Nothing, thats what.  Personally I would have invaded the entire middle east region and took over every single country until I found every terrorist and soldier in Iraqs army and disposed of them .  My only regret is that Bush cant stay longer in office because the next president will come in and pull our troops out and muck up all the progress that has been made in the last 4 years just because pulling out of Iraq and the middle east is the popular thing to do.

    Cairo wrote:
    Cairo wrote:OMG, the text editor on this site is sooo broken



    So, long and quote-filled story short...

    Google is not citing privacy concerns. They're refusing to elaborate on why they will not comply, but speculation is "trade secrets". I do have privacy concerns, and I'm not happy with how fast the other companies rolled over to help BushCo defend the constitutionality of their Child Online Protection Act.

    Bottom line, I think Google is doing the right thing for the wrong reasons. The other companies apparently just want their deputy badges; they did the wrong thing for no apparent reason at all.

    So who do I trust more out of all this? None of them.

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