Thursday, February 23, 2012

Clear your Google search history before March 1st, 2012!

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has released a very useful article on 'How to Remove Your Google Search History Before Google's New Privacy Policy Takes Effect'. Here's an excerpt.

On March 1st, Google will implement its new, unified privacy policy, which will affect data Google has collected on you prior to March 1st as well as data it collects on you in the future. Until now, your Google Web History (your Google searches and sites visited) was cordoned off from Google's other products. This protection was especially important because search data can reveal particularly sensitive information about you, including facts about your location, interests, age, sexual orientation, religion, health concerns, and more. If you want to keep Google from combining your Web History with the data they have gathered about you in their other products, such as YouTube or Google Plus, you may want to remove all items from your Web History and stop your Web History from being recorded in the future.

. . .

Note that removing your Web History also pauses it. Web History will remain off until you enable it again.

[UPDATE 2/22/2012]: Note that disabling Web History in your Google account will not prevent Google from gathering and storing this information and using it for internal purposes. It also does not change the fact that any information gathered and stored by Google could be sought by law enforcement.

With Web History enabled, Google will keep these records indefinitely; with it disabled, they will be partially anonymized after 18 months, and certain kinds of uses, including sending you customized search results, will be prevented. If you want to do more to reduce the records Google keeps, the advice in EFF's Six Tips to Protect Your Search Privacy white paper remains relevant.

If you have several Google accounts, you will need to do this for each of them.

There's more at the link, including detailed instructions on how to clear your Google search history. I highly recommend that anyone who's security-conscious and/or concerned about online privacy should follow them.

I think we owe a vote of thanks to the EFF for bringing this matter to our attention.



MrGarabaldi said...

Thanks Peter...

Aggie said...

Great post. Thank you.

Class of '70

Anonymous said...

You could also, I don't know, stop using Google? Or at least use a different search engine.

Just a thought. :)

trailbee said...

Look in your Mozilla Tools and there should be a Private Browsing button which I use every day before I do anything else. I also clean out my cookies every day. I have checked out hushmail with the hope of changing to it. I only use lxquick and StartpageHTTPS for searching.
I am looking for a new blogging platform, but in the meantime copying my personal blog, which is different from my public one.
Peter, I shall forward you a letter from Lee Bellinger which I got some time ago, which addresses this very future problem.
Supposedly, google has a privacy option right now, but don't know if they plan to retain it.
This is a very important issue and as bloggers who are not exactly ensconced in O's camp, we will be 'legally' scrutinized and probably closed down before November.

DOuglas2 said...

It is slightly concerning to me that I had to turn "on" search history in my google account before I could delete it, and then it doesn't appear to give me an "off" option, just the "pause" that you mentioned above.

I've had too many music players where "pause" will not work indefinately, it always switces itself back to ON at the least opportune moment...

trailbee said...

About the music - yes, it does turn itself back on, and I lean over and turn my speakers off. Tough, but doable. :)