You only need to watch the PR (by Nathan Weinberg on the Inside Microsoft blog) that Microsoft received over the past week to understand that more transparency would be a good thing. Danny Sullivan, over on Search Engine Watch made the same point several times.
As I flew across the United States yesterday this story was at the top of page one on every newspaper I saw.
Note to Microsoft employees: if you aren’t transparent about when you deal with governments you will hand your competitors a huge advantage. If it were up to me I’d blog whenever governmental requests come in. One area that isn’t possible is when there are crimes involved, though. Companies regularly turn data over under subpoena.
One last thought on this story. It’s real easy to trash customer trust and very hard to earn it back. Transparency is the way here.
I’ll be at the Search Champs meeting with MSN too and will make these points again there.
How would you handle it if you were running a search engine or blog service and a government asked you to do something, even something with great ends? How would you have handled this case?