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