Users are on two sides of the internet privacy issue. The purpose of this article is not to debate the right or wrong of third parties utilizing search engine records to probe into the activities of others. There are those in the United States and other countries that believe that giving up privacy for purpose of prosecuting a handful of crimes is not justified. Then there are those who gladly hand over privacy for a perceived sense of security. Let’s look at internet search engines that try to protect your privacy a little further:

It is mostly about wanting to target advertisements at you. Advocates against search engine privacy will say that data should be collected to ward off criminal activity but keep in mind that the internet is mostly about advertising. Internet search engines make big money through advertiser dollars. When a search engine can provide advertisers with good marketing research like in the form of users’ search habits, it would give any search engine a competitive advantage. This is what is known in the industry as behavioral targeting. does not use behavioral targeting. They also have a product named AskEraser that will remove records of a user’s internet search activity within hours unless there is some exceptional reason to keep it (as would be the case for site abusers). AskEraser can be turned off and on quickly from the user’s control panel. is committed to privacy. This is a meta-search engine that advertises protecting your privacy at a higher level. They delete all user search data within 48 hours. uses the example of when America Online (AOL) actually published on the internet a database containing the search history of 650,000 of its users in a publicly-accessible location. They use the AOL example to make you aware just how invasive into one’s privacy this can be.

Google is one of the largest internet search engines and privacy is not as protected. It only does anonymization partially on a user’s IP address. Google engages in behavioral targeting which many believe infringes on privacy.

If you want to protect your privacy on search engines, do not log into its extra services. In other words, if you want your searches to remain private on Google, don’t log in to your Gmail account. Once you log in to your Gmail account, subsequent queries in the internet search engine will associate your search with your user name.

Don’t use Internet Explorer. Download the free Mozilla Firefox web browser at Internet Explorer is full of known security holes that can be exploited by spyware.

Don’t allow cookies where you can. Websites use cookies to store bits of information needed for the web browser to interact with the site. Many websites require that you have cookies enabled. Internet search engines use cookies too. So it is unrealistic to suggest that one never use cookies however this is where a web browser like Mozilla Firefox is advantageous in that you can set it to delete cookies when the last open browser window is closed.

Look into using the Tor Project. Tor is network of worldwide proxy servers that fully anonymizes your IP address. If the instructions are followed, it can protect you from invasive privacy attacks. Download it at

Don’t type your name with your SSN. And never put any personal information into a search engine query field unless you want to put it at the risk of getting into the wrong hands.

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