CNET interviewed search engine reps to ensure that they compared apples to apples when looking at privacy policies at search engines. It’s good to see a more objective comparison of search engines’ privacy efforts than we’ve seen recently. Their conclusion: Ask.com is far ahead of the four other major engines in the privacy arena.
For the other engines, CNET offers backhanded praise for Google’s anonymization of user data, but applauded their avoidance of behavioral targeting. MSN, Yahoo and AOL all have mixed results: better anonymization than Google, but worse in using behavioral targeting.
On the other hand, CNET points out, this is an improvement over last year:
These were, nevertheless, remarkable improvements. Google, Microsoft and Yahoo told News.com, in response to an earlier survey we did in February 2006, that they kept search records for as long as the data prove useful. Now they’ve set expiration dates, and Ask.com went further by promising to stop recording user search histories starting later this year. Google also has shortened the lifespan of its cookies from expiring in 2038 to expiring two years from the last visit.
Are you worried enough about your privacy to switch search engines?