This is really worth reading if you’re at all interested in the issues I’ve been on about for so long…some tidbits:
…The Wall Street Journal Online invited Kevin Bankston, a lawyer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a privacy rights group, to debate the issue with Markham Erickson, executive director of NetCoalition, a lobby group for Internet firms including Google and Yahoo. Their conversation, carried out over email, is below….
Bankston: …the DOJ’s position is that ECPA doesn’t apply to the search engines and search terms, the search engines themselves refuse to say what they think, and it hasn’t been litigated yet. In the meantime, how the law does or does not apply is being hashed out secretly between DOJ investigators and search engines’ compliance counsel; the public has no idea how the law is being applied, just as they have no real idea of what the search engines are doing with their data.
Which leads to the question, do you think that ECPA applies — or should be amended to apply — to search engines’ disclosure of search logs? And shouldn’t we have a federal law like the California Online Privacy Protection Act, establishing national minimum standards for privacy policies?….
The answer, from a fellow who represents leaders like Yahoo and Google, is pretty damn anemic. I’ve always criticized search engines for failing to take a leadership position in this discussion, and I very much believe that whoever does first, will win big in the hearts and minds of consumers.