What do they [search engines] know about you?

MercuryNews.com | 08/20/2006 | What do they know about you?
What do they know about you?

A couple of days ago the San Jose Mercury News ran an article on search engines and privacy. This was in response to the release orf search data by AOL. The Mercury News studied the privacy policies of the big 4 search engines (AOL, Yahoo, Google, and MSN), then went on to conduct interviews of representatives of the companies. Their conclusions are that you have no privacy. The policies are summed up in a pdf chart here.

Basically, they use tracking cookies, IP addresses, and user log-ins to amass their data pile. They do not give the user access to the data they collect, they do not allow the user to correct bad information, they will not admit to who they have shared your data with. Basically they collect and analyze your data, and you should just trust them. While this was not my primary reason for dumping google services, my actions were quite prescient. You can read the responses from the big four here.

The Mercury News (which is a great newspaper, the best in the Bay area, bounds better than the SF Chronicle) also links to a CommonWealth Club talk on digital privacy.

After reading (and listening to) this, it would seem that it would be time to reinvestigate Tor. I had this setup on Windows, it was fairly easy. I wonder if I can make it work in SUSE?

Perhaps we are at the end of privacy, perhaps privacy is a quaint old fashioned idea. If this is the case, if we are in fact entering the transperant society, then we must demand transperancy from those at the top, both government and business leaders must be held accountable.

I will leave this with a link to the EFF’s short guide to Keeping Your Search Data Private.


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