Voluntary Versus Mandatory Privacy Protection for Web Search

Bill Hibbard   December 2005

I submitted the following letter to the editor of the New York Times on 28 November 2005, although they did not print it:

The New York Times did not print any letters to the editor in response to Mr. Cohen's OP-ED, so after a week I submitted another letter, also not printed:

There is terrific competition for space in the New York Times, so I was not surprised by their decision not to print my letters (but I was surprised that they printed no letters in response to Mr. Cohen's OP-ED). But my letters make an important point so I am printing them here.

UPDATE: here's a 10 August 2010 article in the Wall Street Journal describing the competitive pressure on Google to weaken its privacy standards, just as my unpublished letters to the Times predicted. In my opinion, the wisest response for Google would be to publicly and loudly lobby the U.S. government for mandatory privacy standards similar to their longstanding practice.