Thursday, February 23, 2006

Google: DOJ, no; Current TV, yes

In their recent Google Friends newsletter, the search experts offered up this "miscellany":

"Current TV is a new cable and satellite channel available throughout the U.S. Through a partnership, we provide access to Google Zeitgeist information—up to the minute aggregated search query results—for the Current staff to use in creating new TV stories. The resulting program, 'Google Current,' airs every half hour on Current TV and provides a look at what the world is searching for on Google. From hybrid cars to human-animal hybrids, from Paris riots to Paris Hilton photos, your searches guide Current stories."

It's interesting to note the contrast. When the Department of Justice asked for Google searches, Google said 'no.' But then they go and partner with a TV network to provide similar data on a regular basis—by the half hour.

Actually, there are two points to make here:
  1. I'm comparing apples to oranges. The DOJ wanted every single Google search and the results for an entire week—a full 168 hours of 1,000 searches per second. Multiply all those seconds by all those searches, and DOJ wanted more than 600 million searches and the results to review. (No contest here that such is an overreach by federal authorities.) For the TV program, it sounds like they're sampling those searches every half hour.
  2. The objective is also very different. The DOJ was looking for "exploitative child porn" to rightfully suppress while the TV program is looking to promote search trends that tend to center around ways people waste time online.

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