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Search Engines & Perception of Privacy

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C/Net is running a special report on search engines and privacy, notably the improvements that have been made.

It would be more accurate, however, to talk about the perception of privacy. Search engines save information related to our search behavior (cookies etc.) for some 13-to-18 months, which makes the notion of privacy a bit of an oxymoron. That’s long enough for them to have their way with our information.

The bottom line is that by holding onto user data, search engines can better target advertising, helping them monetize their services better. Concerns about consumer privacy are just spin!

As an aside: is ranked as the search engine with best privacy policy since it allows people to erase their search history. Not so fast, say Danny Sullivan and points out that Ask.comis yet to launch Ask Eraser, its much touted privacy protection feature. It is at “press release stage.”

Related: Can privacy be a premium service?

3 Responses to “Search Engines & Perception of Privacy”

  1. I just wrote an article on my blog on that subject. I believe users want to be able to trust websites with their private information. When the service is free, users can become more suspicious but are easily influenced by superficial visual cues. In the end, it’s not about privacy but about trust.

  2. Privacy is an important issue with anything on the net, including but not limited to search engines. I’m surprised we only now start to see people getting bothered about companies such as Google/Yahoo/MS etc.. saving every move we do in huge servers. By the way, not related to our service over at, there is a new site that says it allows users to google anonymously –