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  1. So a COTR brought this up.... COTR is considering a new acquisition. Among other tools used in the research, he "GOOGLED" possible solutions. (He did other research as well, but GOOGLE was one of the search engines used.) "When we are looking at cloud services (or really any product for that matter) search engines like Bing and Google are indispensable for gathering market research, documentation, etc. Since the companies that provide the search engines also compete on other products, could they use search and site visit history to identify competitors for an RFP and gain an unfair advantage?" GOOGLE recently came to the agency and demonstrated a new product. In his words "They were such a close match to the kinds of functionality we searched for and tested that I began to feel like they were in our heads. Having been on the “vendor side” before, I have seen first-hand how intense the desire for competitive info is and how ethically unconstrained most response team leads are. Having access to search data would give a tremendous advantage." and further.... "I did a test. I went back and looked at my search history for “(redacted name of project)” to see if I could identify which products we were considering. The answer was a resounding “Yes”. By plotting them over time, I was basically able to map our project lifecycle." I told him I did not think he had done anything wrong, as he is still doing research. However, it does raise some interesting points. I do not especially worry about a search engine finding out about other competitors when THEY search. Theoretically I might worry they "block" a competitors product from coming up in one of OUR searches, but only when indulging in paranoia. Such an argument does give me more ammo to tell the COTR that a "Google search" in and of itself is not sufficient for a JOFOC, so that is helpful. I can more easily envision an vendor "tracking" our searches in order to customize a sales pitch. All the more reason to have a properly constructed solicitation, and not to evaluate on capabilities that we did not explicitly call out in the official paperwork. (Hey, we didn't ASK for it, but that sure looks COOL!) Has anyone had any "real life" issues related to such a situation?
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