Posted August 13, 2007 6:41 pm by with 2 comments

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Google got an F on privacy from Privacy International earlier this summer. Their DoubleClick deal got scrutiny from the FTC for privacy issues. But are they really doing worse than other search engines in the privacy area?

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: 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, 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 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?


  • I think the perception of the results and habit will have more to do with what search engine most people use, but Ask will likely start to pick up users concerned about privacy.

    Overall it’s good to see all the search engines taking privacy a little more seriously even if a few of them aren’t doing enough. My guess is it will take users leaving for the privacy engine before the other engines take further steps.

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