Thought that when you clicked on the Clear Private Data button that you were deleting your search history? Well if you have a seach tool bar you’d better think again.
Having recently blogged about the potential for Ip addresses to be considered personal data, i thought i’d take a look at how various search engines handle dealing with data about our searches. What i found was quite a surprise.
All of the major search engines have (and display on their sites) Privacy Policies detailing what data they collect , how they collect it and how they use it. While Yahoo and live search don’t allow you much control of this data, it would seem that Ask and Google have taken very different approaches.
Ask recently announced that they are adopting an 18 month data retention policy and will delete all data over that age. They also released AskEraser an option that allows you to opt out of having your data collected. This is a simple one click option on the home page of there search page. The data is actually captured, just not committed to their database (unless it meets certain legal requirements for data that has to be tracked).
Google on the other hand have created Google History (currently list listed as a BETA). To use the history services you’ll need a google account and the google toolbar (if you have the toolbar but not an account your details are recorded you just can’t access them).
The History services is split into search history, trends, interesting items and bookmarks. My history showed me details of each search i’d done going back to April 27th 2007. This information is sub divided into wen, images, news, products, sponsored links, video, blogs and books.
Trends shows your top queries, sites and clicks, interesting items predicts pages you might like related to your searches (so searches you havn’t done but others with searches like yours have) finally boomarks shows you all of the searches you have bookmarked. There is also a calendar showing your search colour coded with your search activity.
There is an option to delete all or some of your search history from the menu bar when you’re loggen in as a registed user, and the settings within the google bar appear to have options to turn off this feature.