Thursday, May 11, 2006

Google Search Trends on Privacy

I discovered another useful tool at Google Labs today that allows you to track the popularity of search terms searched over time and to compare them to other searches over that same time period. Clearly this tool has broad uses beyond the one I've linked to on Privacy but that search is illuminating as it shows that we sit up and pay attention to privacy issues only rarely. The tool links to related news stories in a sidebar and highlights the story along the timeline, usually ocurring at a spike on the graph showing the number of privacy related searches.

Interestingly, two of the linked news stories shown on that graph are related to Google - one has to do with the introduction of Gmail, free email service announced by Google in April of 2004 and the controversy over the Department of Justice demand for search records and the Google refusal and resulting court case.

But there is an unexplained spike near the tail end of the graph without a news story linked to it. That is very likely to be related to the ATT vs. EFF lawsuit over the Bush Administration illegal wiretapping - as that is the only news event with privacy implications that Americans have seen reported recently.

The really interesting thing about the Google Trends results page is the breakdown of cities, regions and languages below the graph. That area shows a substantial interest from Italians, with double the number of searches for privacy related terms. Of course, the language information shows Italian as the highest interest in privacy and the cities area has it broken down like so:

1. Torino Italy
2. Naples Italy
3. Florence Italy
4. Bologna Italy
5. Rome Italy
6. Milan Italy
7. Brisbane Australia
8. Washington United States
9. Ottawa Canada
10. Vancouver Canada
#7 Brisbane, Australia outranks the US in searches about privacy issues and most of those from the US come from Washington (DC I presume, although it doesn't distinguish).

I'd love to be able to speak Italian so I could see what feeds the privacy concerns there. Italians spell privacy the same as we do in English. The top result when searching for "Privacy Italian" is a document called ITALY’s NEW DATA PROTECTION CODE Legislative Decree no. 196/2003

In any case, Italians seem to have far more interest in privacy than Americans and the Australians report on privacy issues in the news pretty frequently. How odd that Americans, who claim to be offended by privacy intrusions, are not searching for privacy related issues much. I hope something comes along to spark more American interest before the Patriot Act further erodes our civil liberties.

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posted by RealitySEO at 11:55 AM


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