Is it just me or is this starting to seem like the year in which the privacy shit hits the fan for search companies?

We're barely into 2006 stuff is coming at us (Yahoo and the other big players) from all directions: the Department of Justice, Big Media, irate bloggers, China, etc. I don't know what's next, but I really believe that it's going to get worse before it gets better. Maybe a lot worse.

When John Battelle visited Yahoo late last year, he talked a bit about this in this "database of intentions" worst case privacy scenario.

Who KNEW that we we so exposed?! Google, Yahoo, MSN, etc. are FLOODED with requests about their privacy policies: What information do you have about me? How can I see it? What do you use if for? Come on, tell me EVERYTHING! Who else has access to it? How can I edit it? Protect it? Delete it? Manage it?

I, for one, am not looking forward to this.

But it's all part of shaking out how this new technology is really going to work in and with our governments, laws, and values. It's too bad we can't discuss it before things start blowing up...

Posted by jzawodn at February 09, 2006 06:18 PM

Reader Comments
# AC said:
on February 9, 2006 07:12 PM
# Joe Hunkins said:

>> It's too bad we can't discuss it before things start blowing up...

too bad, but more exciting.... Kaboom!

on February 9, 2006 09:56 PM
# Shrikant Joshi said:

Another irate blog post here:

May be you are right. The shit is gonna hit the fan and it is gonna spread wide. I guess by the end of the year we are gonna a new search engine rise which promise 'instant-destruction-of-your-personal-data' or anonymous searches.

What I don't understand is, what were we doing all these years when Google published Year-end Zeitgeists?

Didn't we realise the potential danger of all this back then?

on February 9, 2006 09:57 PM
# James Day said:

Lets start with one core value: "the person owns all of the data about them, regardless of who has it and why".

No time like the present to start discussing it. Beats waiting until the pain and lawsuits arrive. :)

I agree that it's going to get a lot worse (from the privacy compromise perspective), in part because of the extremely weak US laws relating to protection of personal data.

I know I'm exposed. Probably not the full extent of it. I do actively work to manage that exposure.

Probably been asked before but here are my first few questions on Yahoo and privacy:

1. Has Yahoo ever handed over information about a customer to a US or non-US government agency without a court order or other legal compulsion leaving it no choice but to comply?

2. Has Yahoo ever received a request for data about a customer from a government which the law prohibits it from disclosing to anyone? To the customer in advance? To the customer after the fact?

Or, more in your area:

3. Has Yahoo Search ever grabbed the RSS or Atom feed (neither supports lack of robots directives in a 'page') when the corresponding HTML version has "no robots" directives in it, effectively circumventing the robots block in the master HTML version? (Google did at LiveJournal as part of blog search load and has not yet corrected it)

4. Does Yahoo Search comply with UK national law requiring disclosure of all personal information held about a person? What is the process for making a request for that data? Going to be _real_ fun doing that for a search engine. Particularly one which indexes journals and blogs:)

5. When a site compromises persoal data by, say, letting a page of credit card details be crawled, what is the procedure to get that information removed from all search engines? (Not just Yahoo, not just the big names, all of them which might give cached access to the data)

on February 9, 2006 10:06 PM
# Jim Willis said:

i agree that it would be a great idea to discuss the issue before it blows up, unfortunately Yahoo! and the other big players seem unwilling to do so. If discussion were on the agenda, Yahoo! would have jumped at the opportunity to play an active role in the Congressional Human Rights Caucus:

If it weren't for Yahoo! I would probably be in a different field right now. However, the company's lack of leadership in this area has made me think twice about pushing Yahoo!, flickr and on my friends and colleagues. Perhaps I'm just another irate blogger though:

on February 10, 2006 05:49 AM
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