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A Brief Look at Danny's Appearance on Nightline

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Danny's appearance on ABC's Nightline is over and within minutes of it ending I was able to access the transcript (thanks TVEyes for the help) of the report. I'm not going to post the entire transcript here but rather share a few of Danny's comments that made the air during the 5 minute report. Of course, you can read all of Danny's thoughts in this blog post.

The story opens with background on the subpoena (we have plenty of that elsewhere on the blog), including comments from the US Attorney General who says:

We're not asking for the identity of Americans. We simply want to have some subject matter information with respect to these communications.

and

a comment from Sergey Brin who spoke to ABC News earlier today:

The idea there could be such a large overreaching, in my mind, request, based on something so far off and not related to security or anything like that, I think that's worrisome.

Comments by Larry Page were also made to ABC earlier this evening here.

So, with what one side saying one thing and another side saying something else, where is one to turn? Danny Sullivan. Of course, all of us already knew this important fact.

Reporter: We turned to Danny Sullivan, of searchenginewatch.com, one of the world authorities on search engines. yes there are world authorities on search engines. it's a multibillion dollar business and quite baffling to most of us and even to some experts.

Danny: They [engines] can still be mysterious in some ways.

The reporter then introduces Danny. Btw, this is the first time I have ever seen Danny's home office and it's way cool, reminds me of NASA mission control.

Danny: They seem to be trying to understand how likely it is that if you were to use a search engine you might run into pornographic content.

Danny: They haven't asked for any information that's going to violate anybody's privacy in any way, shape or form.

Reporter: But Sullivan says the government request shows something important. The government has no idea what it's doing.

Danny: It's overkill, the amount of data that they want. They're literally going to get more than a billion searches in what they're asking for.

Reporter: Sullivan thoroughly reviewed the government's subpoena, available online (and summarized by yours truly here). He says the government did not ask Google to remove automated searches from the data, the searches requested by software as opposed to the ones made by you and me.
Note: You can access the documents and a summary of them here.

Danny: For the searches to remain any automated searches that happen, some people use automation to query the search engines on a regular basis. Since they haven't asked for those kind of automated queries to be remove, it suggests they don't even know it happened, which maybe suggests they aren't educated enough to know how the search engines operation or how behavior is on the searches in the first place.

On Yahoo, MSN, and AOL
Danny: I think it would have been good if they had pushed back. Think the amount of data, even though it wasn't violating anybody's privacy, was so large and was going to raise so many red flags down the line that they should have done it.

On Search and Search Engines
Danny: They go in so many direction, it's difficult for anybody to keep track of absolutely everything they're doing. Sometimes I think the search engines themselves aren't quite certain which way they go at times.

Here's a screen cap of Danny from the report.

Congrats Danny!


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