Do Search Engines Know Too Much About Us?

March 11, 2011 | by

Privacy.  We all want it.

If you are buying a house, you want a backyard with a high fence to keep the noisy neighbors at bay.

If you are talking to someone, you don’t want them 2 inches away from your face.

If you are reading a text message, you don’t want someone reading it over your shoulder.

So it’s only reasonable that we want privacy when we are online as well.

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It seems that Google has infiltrated just about every area of our lives.  They have cell phones, email, a blogging platform, an affiliate network, a maps program, a web browser, a reader, calendars, analytics, videos, and — oh yeah, they have a search engine too.  What started as a company to help us with our searches has become a company that perhaps is searching us.

So is Google really searching US while we search IT?  The short is answer is “Yes”.  Think about it.  In order to create search results that people want to see they have to understand how people search.  The best way for them to do this is to constantly keep records of all the searches you make.  Many now wonder with Google Calendar, Chrome, Gmail, and perhaps a soon operating system if Google is beginning to learn a little too much about us.

Google Chrome is designed to help give you better search results by tracking all of the websites you visit and you can even make it so certain websites never show up in the SERPs at all.  While this is convenient in helping Google clean up some spam online, it also represents an all too inconvenient truth for its users.  Do you really want all of that information on their server logs?  Of course, the same can be said about Internet Explorer, or Firefox, but with so much controversy already about Google’s privacy policies and their over-all search engine dominance, there is legitimate cause for concern.

The anonymizing of Google’s search server logs only took place after outcries of too much privacy intrusion.  You might be wondering if all of this worry over Google’s control of our information is healthy or not.  But were it not for people speaking out about the search engine’s violations of privacy issues, they would have never made any changes.  Even the hint at federal regulation of the company has led to scoffs and ridicule at such ridiculous notions.

There is a fine line between innovation and privacy.  We all want a better web experience like the one web 3.0 promises, but should we have to sacrifice privacy to do so?  As technology gets more advanced it seems we are faced with a dilemma of trust.  With identity theft more rampant than ever it may be hard to simply trust that a company has our best interests in mind.

This is a guest post by Jon, who is a writer for an identity theft protection website where users can find more useful information about maintaining their privacy.  You can find more information on ID theft and protecting your Facebook page as well.



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