Whither transparency

Summary:David Berlind is appalled at the DOJ for asking for information on search data from MSN, AOL, Yahoo! and Google.

David Berlind is appalled at the DOJ for asking for information on search data from MSN, AOL, Yahoo! and Google.  Google's been lauded on all sides for this decision, but I wonder why.   Google isn't doing this to protect their customers.  They're doing it for the PR value and to protect business secrets. 

The DOJ is asking for the data to answer a question that comes up over and over again in court cases related to online pornography: do filters work well enough?  The ACLU and other litigants use the argument that "filters work well and therefore there is no compelling government interest" as a pillar of their cases.  Leaving aside the merits (or lack thereof) of these bills, I think it's disingenuous to say "of course filtering works" and then say "you can't have the data you want to determine that for yourself." 

Transparency seems to be fine for everyone else.  I can think of a number of ways Google could have cooperated and negotiated reasonable protections for it's data.  In the end, this really isn't about privacy--it's about marketing and PR. 

Topics: Big Data

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