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Google, Yahoo Stocks Fall Amid Privacy Concerns

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Google, Yahoo Stocks Fall Amid Privacy Concerns

Google, Yahoo Stocks Fall Amid Privacy Concerns

Google shares fell 8.5% today as a recent dip search search stocks has affected the GOOG empire. The disturbing search engine stock trend has been reflective of recent tech stocks which have not met Wall Street expectations, which may be a bit inflated themselves.

* Google posted its largest single day loss on Friday, sinking to $399.46 a share, a one day loss of $36.98.

* Over the past week, Yahoo has also experienced losses, dropping from over $40 per share to $33.74 on Friday.

* InterActiveCorp, the parent company of Ask Jeeves, showed a small dip over the week from reaching almost $30 per share, now down to $28.60.

* Apple, and its music download search iTunes store, also fell from $85 a share on monday to $76.09 per share on Friday.

* Additionally Microsoft, with its MSN and MSN Search divisions, also showed a dip in value, of about $1 over the week.

Is this a bubble bursting or simply search engine growth starting to plateau? Sure some people may think that search advertising is slowing down and Yahoo & Apple earnings were a bit lower than expected, but after a hectic week in the search engine world, various factors are leading to a hint of Wall Street panic : the main being Privacy.

It was reported this week that Bush Administration attorneys had issued requests to the major search engines to turn over usage information in an attempt to build a case to instate the defend the Child Online Protection Act of 1998, which the Supreme Court blocked

While AOL, Microsoft and Yahoo all complied with Justice Department subpoenas to turn over search data, Google refused. Google’s courage of standing up against political aggression not only positions their search engine as being a champion of the people, but also breathed life into a privacy concern, which would have been a non-story had Google said yes.

Following the breaking of the story has been major announcements by the search engines which handed over their search data to the DOJ.

Yahoo acknowledged the handing over of search data, which did not include any personal information. “In our opinion, this is not a privacy issue,” Yahoo spokeswoman Mary Osako said. “We complied on a limited basis and did not provide any personally identifiable information.”

Microsoft issued a statement on their Microsoft Search Blog where Ken Moss, the General Manager of MSN Search wrote:

Over the summer we were subpoenaed by the DOJ regarding a lawsuit. The subpoena requested that we produce data from our search service. We worked hard to scope the request to something that would be consistent with this principle. The applicable parties to the case received this data, and the parties agreed that the information specific to this case would remain confidential. Specifically, we produced a random sample of pages from our index and some aggregated query logs that listed queries and how often they occurred . Absolutely no personal data was involved.

With this data you:

CAN see how frequently some query terms occurred.
CANNOT look up an IP and see what they queried
CANNOT look for users who queried for both “TERM A” and “TERM B”.

At MSN Search, we have strict guidelines in place to protect the privacy of our customers data, and I think you’ll agree that privacy was fully protected. We tried to strike the right balance in a very sensitive matter.

Kudos for MSN & Yahoo for stepping up and addressing user concerns. However, search being a multi-billion dollar business, Google is capitalizing on their press coverage of not turning over data info, although Google has come under fire by watchdog groups for their Web Accelerator, personalized search and other possible user tracking tools.

In the long term however, the average user will remember that it was Google who defended their search engine users. Google co-founder Larry Page told ABC News “Our company relies on having the trust of our users and using that information for that benefit,” said Page. “That’s a very strong motivation for us. We’re committed to that. If you start to mandate how products are designed, I think that’s a really bad path to follow. I think instead we should have laws that protect the privacy of data, for example, from government requests and other kinds of requests.”

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Loren Baker

Loren Baker is the Founder of SEJ, an Advisor at Alpha Brand Media and runs Foundation Digital, a digital marketing ... [Read full bio]

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