Managing Your Privacy Online: Search Engines

By on May 28, 2010, 2:53 AM
If you are looking to attain utmost privacy while browsing the Web, you must first acknowledge that even the most basic and ubiquitous of tools like search engines tend to collect a ton of data every time you use them. Often this recorded information is like a puzzle comprising of IP addresses, search logs, and other data that needs to be connected before anything can truly be revealed about you. However, this glimpse into your online habits combined with personal and sensitive information you may have shared with third party sites -- banking information, credit cards, addressesor phone numbers -- could potentially expose you to identity theft and other privacy invasions.

All major search engines claim that they need to retain personal data, in part, to provide better services and improving results, while also taking countermeasures against web nuisances like click fraud and search poisoning (using elaborate SEO techniques to rank up scam websites on search engine indexes). Even if you trust that search companies will take your business seriously, there are various things you can do to adopt safe browsing habits and help protect your privacy.


Most of the browsing privacy tips we have listed in this piece are straightforward and easy enough to follow without falling into 'paranoid' territory. Others require a bit more knowledge and effort, but will give you near-complete safety. Depending on your particular situation and willingness to accept certain 'risks' in favor of functionality, you'll have to trace your own privacy goals and adopt the ones that won't hinder your browsing experience.

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User Comments: 11

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skitzo_zac skitzo_zac, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

That Cookie Monster image is hilarious!!!

Relic Relic, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

skitzo_zac said:

That Cookie Monster image is hilarious!!!

Just had to comment on that too, it's awesome. I can totally hear Cookie Monsters voice heh.

PanicX PanicX, TechSpot Ambassador, said:

Struggling to champion privacy on the internet is a losing battle.

Arstechnica has a good article on how the methods here can all be made irrelevant.

Disabling logging on your side isn't going to cut it. And I don't think its reasonable to assume that opting out of logging from any companies website that derives profits from targeted advertising is at all effective.

Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

PanicX said:

Struggling to champion privacy on the internet is a losing battle.

Arstechnica has a good article on how the methods here can all be made irrelevant.

Disabling logging on your side isn't going to cut it. And I don't think its reasonable to assume that opting out of logging from any companies website that derives profits from targeted advertising is at all effective.

You are right but you are slightly safer with the above mentioned privacy settings switched on. Your Link is spot on actually, maybe we need to stop consentrating on apple forcing companys to create HTML5 websites for their iPhones and more on the fact you have absolutely no privacy while online?

Guest said:

Flash cookies are another interesting subject relevant to privacy concerns. Here's the wiki link if anyone is interested: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Local_Shared_Object

Guest said:

I use Ghostery, is a Firefox addon that blocks web bugs and trackers

http://www.ghostery.com/

https://addons.mozilla.org/es-ES/firefox/addon/9609/

give it a try ^^ and keep your privacy uncompromised

Badfinger said:

Try blocking IP's with Hostman or at least use custom hosts file (no extension) from MVP. (find these via search)

I use spybot, spyware blaster, malwarebyte's anti-malware, avast! internet suite, parts of avanquest's System Suite Pro 10 (not the firewall it is subpar vs. avast!'s), boostspeed (really a suite of utilities) by auslogics, winpatrol/task catcher, process lasso, and anvir task manager.

Give those a look...

tipstir tipstir, TS Ambassador, said:

Let's keep it simple! I just use IOBIT Advanced System Care Privacy Sweep and system clean-up tools. Cookies are needed just can't blocked them all. Cookie Monster program is opensource you could use that but that's doesn't really stop them so much. Sitting there manging cookies can be a nightmare!

elijahbel said:

You have shared very good information on maintaining privacy online. I am gonna install cookies cleaner in my pc reading your article. Keep writing such informative articles

Guest said:

Also (for Firefox) check out GoogleSharing.

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/search?q=googleshar
ng&cat=all

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/60333/

http://www.googlesharing.net/

This add-on not only anonymizes your IP while searching via Google, but also anonymizes other information like your browser, OS, plugins, etc.

If a Google service does not require your identity (e.g. Gmail, or Google Docs) then this plugin provides a proxy to anonymize unnecessary information for Google to provide that service, e.g. Google Maps.

Technically, GoogleSharing randomizes the information, but this is a good thing. Randomization provide anonymity, but it doesn't look like anonymity, so, if Google is analyzing traffic and recording potential anonymization, then GoogleSharing hides the anonymity by making you look "real".

P.S. I am not Moxie of thoughtcrime.org. I am just an enthusiastic user of GoogleSharing.

Guest said:

A good alternative is http://stopstalking.me, it does not track you and you get the same results from google bing and yahoo

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