Fiscally nuts. Socially insane.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Federal Googling

Drudge just cracked this story:
"Flu Trends" uses search terms that people put into the web giant to figure out where influenza is heating up, and will notify the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in real time!

GOOGLE, continuing to work closely with government, claims it would keep individual user data confidential: "GOOGLE FLU TRENDS can never be used to identify individual users because we rely on anonymized, aggregated counts of how often certain search queries occur each week."

Engineers will capture keywords and phrases related to the flu, including thermometer, flu symptoms, muscle aches, chest congestion and others.
It's an interesting idea, and I know they certify user data will be kept confidential (highlighted in bold above), but anything internet reporting gets me a bit queasy. Sure, this doesn't itself break privacy restrictions, but maybe a next step, specifying age ranges for the affected, will bend such laws. It's scary.

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