January 21, 2006
@ 02:26 AM

There's been a bunch of speculation about the recent DOJ requests for logs from the major search engines. Ken Moss of the MSN Search team tells their side of the story in his post Privacy and MSN Search. He writes

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.

Some facts have been reported, but mostly I’ve seen a ton of speculation reported as facts.   I wanted to use this blog post to clarify some facts and to share with you what we are thinking here at MSN Search.

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

Now, on to the specifics.  

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”.

At MSN Search, we have strict guidelines in place to protect the privacy of our customers data, and I think you’ll agree that privacy was fully protected.  We tried to strike the right balance in a very sensitive matter.

I've been surprised at how much rampant speculation from blogs has been reported in mainstream media articles as facts without people getting information directly from the source.


Saturday, January 21, 2006 4:23:42 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Dare, you really *can't* see how the actions of MS in the past would lead people to believe the worst about MS?

Do you understand the issue of MS caving into the Chinese government, and how that leads people to speculate that MS is caving into the US government?

You guys collect a lot of data about people, and no one outside of MS really knows what you do with it. You can claim you don't do anything nefarious - but what would we base our trust upon? MS continues to make terrible decisions and to continue its apparent practice of scoffing at legal decisions. To those outside MS, it looks like MS sells out its customers and users (the Chinese blogger case is an excellent example of this).

It might not be fair for people not to take each new MS revelation on its own merits - but MS has a track history that leads people to think ill.

I'm not saying this because I think MS is all bad or that we should bash MS. I'm trying to give some context as to why people would assume the worst about MS.
steve miller
Monday, January 23, 2006 5:54:11 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
This pretty much confirms what was widely reported: Google is much tougher in these situations.
Comments are closed.