From the email:
At Ask, we take our commitment to user privacy and data protection very seriously. We’ve demonstrated this not just through words, but through deeds and actions. We were the first major search company to announce that we would be placing privacy tools directly in the hands of our users, as we said we would do in July 2007. Then, we did it: we launched AskEraser in December 2007. Ask remains the only major search company to develop and deploy a privacy protection tool that that empowers web users to make decisions as to data retention by Ask. The AskEraser tool is right there on our homepage, a one-step mechanism to deleting a users’ search data from Ask.com servers.
Now, we’re going several steps further.
Ask also says they’re working on “Smart Answers” pages for search queries [ask privacy] and [privacy].
My favorite part of the letter: “No one required that we take any of these steps. We took a look at our webpages, and realized we could make some key improvements when it came to privacy links on our service. It’s simply the right thing to do for the information and awareness of our users.” (Jab, jab, jab, Google.)
Will it be enough to spur Google to action? Their precious “clean” home page would apparently be so marred by the addition of a single link (to a page with more than a dozen links already), adding at most nine characters, that it seems doubtful. I mean, isn’t it obvious that “Privacy” just ruins the whole “white space” feel to the page? (Sorry, guys, I’m sure you’re getting nauseated from all the eyerolling here. </snark>)
Ahem. While Ask’s move is certainly admirable, I don’t think the still-5%-share search engine has quite enough clout to truly pressure Google into doing “the right thing,” even if now Google is the only one of the big four to lack a privacy link on its main page.