Declan McCullagh, CNET News’ chief political correspondent, does a nice job debunking the privacy fears about Google Flu Trends that a couple of pro-regulatory privacy advocates have set forth. Flu Trends is a very cool application that uses search terms as an indicator of possible upticks in flu-related illnesses in various regions of the U.S. Of course, it didn’t take long for some Chicken Littles to rain on the parade with their irrational fears about data privacy. As Declan notes, however, there is no personally identifiable information being collected or shared here. It’s just search term analysis. Moreover, if these privacy-sensitive advocates are really that paranoid about it, they should just just Tor or another anonymizer to cloak their searches instead of calling in the regulators to suffocate another technology while its still in the cradle.
Anyway, make sure to read Declan’s excellent piece.