Google personalized search for everyone: byebye privacy?

Mon 7 December 2009 11:00, Bas van den Beld

Google personalized search for everyone: byebye privacy?

Since this weekend Google has decided to give everybody, signed in to Google or not, personalized search results. This move seems like the next step towards better search results, but with that come some troubling privacy issues.

Google says it wants to give everybody more relevant search results by opening it up beyond the sign-in option. That however means they are storing data from every user to make sure they get personalized search. The move is bound to raise questions in the European Union who already is not very Google-minded lately.

Google says it will customize search results based on 180 days of search activity linked to an anonymous cookie in your browser. Before Google used the web history of your Google account which you could access yourself and, if you wanted, clear yourself. This cookie however can only be deleted if you delete ALL other cookies with it. Talk about an opt-out. There is an actual opt-out option available though. In your web history page you can turn off logging.

There are many privacy issues here. Over at Searchengineland Danny Sullivan did a good write up about the possible privacy issues this step could deliver. Without a doubt this topic will be part of some new discussions in the European Union, especially with the new "Internet boss" Kroes in charge.

Below the video Google posted to explain personalized search.

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