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Ask Takes Google to Task on Privacy




Forget the fact that privacy watchdogs are all over Google threatening legal action for not linking prominently to their privacy policy—now other search companies are out to steal their bacon. Ask.com is circulating news that they’re now prominently linking to their privacy policy.

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.

As of today, Ask.com has added a direct link to our privacy policy via a “Privacy” link prominently placed right on our homepage. It is only one of four non-search related weblinks on our homepage. We’ve also made sure that the “Privacy” link appears on the landing pages across most of Ask’s verticals as well, which cover almost all of Ask’s search traffic.

In addition to this important and timely step, Ask has also added a conspicuous link to our privacy policy right on our Ask “About” page, which is one click off our homepage.

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.

  • http://www.gadgets4nowt.co.uk PS3

    What would Jeeves had said :)

    5% of global searches isn’t a bad thing in isolation, certainly gives Ask sufficient clout to bring the issue back to the coal face.

  • http://www.otlacan.com Otilia Otlacan

    The irony is, Google itself requires that publishers employing the AdSense program have a privacy policy and link to it :-D Since AdSense is really a monetizing solution for small and mid-sized publishers, I can’t help but giggle thinking of the plethora of blogs and tiny sites developing privacy policies… right, as if this will happen!
    To quote a recent entry from the AdSense Help Center (added after they have enabled 3rd party ads to be served on their content network): “We’ve also added some specific privacy policy requirements that make it necessary for publishers to post and abide by a transparent privacy policy for their users. According to this policy, publishers must notify their users of the use of cookies and/or web beacons to collect data in the ad serving process. This change relates to advertisers’ use of innovative products and features like Gadget Ads, Google’s new test ad server, and other offerings in the future.”
    One more policy that will never be enforced…

    Otilia Otlacan’s last blog post..IAB Extends Membership Benefits to Small Publishers

  • http://www.futurefactory-software.com Warenwirtschaft

    I think this whole privacy-link-discussion is absolutely useless. Who cares if they have the link on the homepage or one click later. Why is the privacy statement so important. Does anybody read it? Does it change anything if i read it? Can i load up my own privacy-statement if i use google-search replacing their statement?
    This is just a useless discussion. What is interesting is, if they have clauses in their statement that are critical. Or if they follow it or ignore it. That would be an interesting discussion. Not some useless link-position.

  • http://www.greatpriceshere.com Nicole Price

    Irrespective of the usefulness of the service offered, that it has offered something unique that the big daddy does not is interesting. Will be interesting to see what happens.

    Nicole Price’s last blog post..Bag It!

  • Cindy

    “We’ve also added some specific privacy policy requirements that make it necessary for publishers to post and abide by a transparent privacy policy for their users. According to this policy, publishers must notify their users of the use of cookies and/or web beacons to collect data in the ad serving process. This change relates to advertisers’ use of innovative products and features like Gadget Ads, Google’s new test ad server, and other offerings(Google Analytics)! in the future.”

  • http://articlewonders.com Raj Krishnaswamy

    Ask ? Who ? I agree that with 5% of the share, Ask is nowhere. They are simply trying to get more eyeballs; and frankly it is not going to work.