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Six Ways To Keep Your Search History Private

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Six Ways To Keep Your Search History Private

Six Ways To Keep Search History Private

Questions are arising around the search engine world about the controversy of behavioral tracking by the search engines and privacy invasions such as the AOL Data leak and some governments demanding the search history or information kept secure by the major search engines of the world.

Most recently Brazil has issued an order for Google to hand over private information on the Orkut members who are using the social networking service for illegal means such as child pornography, trafficking and other gang related reasons.

Although Orkut is not a search engine, it is still a Google property and as the demands and leaks of private search history information grow, Internet users may want to step back and question the reasons of opting into personalization and utilizing one search service as their online desktop.

The Electric Frontier Foundation has issued a list of 6 ways to keep one’s search history private, which is quite useful for those who are privacy advocates or want to attempt to remain anonymous online:

* Don’t put personally-identifying information in your searches, at least not in a way that can be associated with your other searches. You should take the precautions below to avoid giving away your identity to your search engine anyway, but they’re especially necessary if you want to do a search to see if your personal information has appeared online or want to do a vanity search for your name.

* Don’t use a search engine operated by your ISP. Most ISPs inherently know who their users are, at any given time and over the long run. If you use their default search tool, they know who you are and everything you search for. Use someone else’s search tool instead.

* Don’t log in to a search engine account. If you use a web-based e-mail service or other services provided by your search engine — such as GMail or Yahoo! Mail — see below on cookies.

* Don’t accept cookies from your search engine. If you use a service like web-based e-mail that requires you to accept cookies, don’t let the personally-identifying information in your e-mail get linked with your searches. For Firefox users, the free CustomizeGoogle extension will allow you to anonymize your search cookie without breaking GMail (see the “Privacy” tab in the CustomizeGoogle options). We’re still looking for extensions that provide corresponding functionality for Yahoo!, MSN, and AOL users. You can also use Privoxy, although it’s a bit more difficult to configure.

* Use a separate browser or browser profile for search and for other activities.

* Use an anonymizing proxy, or proxy network like Tor, to prevent search engines from learning your IP address, especially if your ISP gives you the same IP address each time you use the Internet.

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Loren Baker

Loren Baker is the Founder of SEJ, an Advisor at Alpha Brand Media and runs Foundation Digital, a digital marketing ... [Read full bio]

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