Search Engine Privacy Takes a Step Forward
Last night the search engine Ask.com released AskEraser, a tool that gives users the choice of having their search histories deleted from Ask.com's servers. Consumers who want to use the tool can visit Ask.com and turn the AskEraser "On" by clicking a link at the top of the page. All of the search terms typed in while AskEraser is on will be deleted within hours. AskEraser can be easily turned on and off, so users get to decide which queries will be deleted and which ones will be kept. This kind of user control is a welcome step forward for search engine privacy, as consumers currently have few choices from any of the major search engines about how to control their own queries. At this early stage it is impossible to know how many consumers will make use of the AskEraser or how successful it will be. But ultimately success will not merely be a measure of how many queries are conducted with the AskEraser turned on, or how many unique users are employing the tool. While those statistics are useful, they won't tell the whole story.
Buy discount software at cheap prices. The success of this and other user controls depends, in part, on how well they engender Internet users' confidence in the services they use. If the mere availability of the tool draws users to Ask.com, and instills trust in the search engine, that's great news for the Internet, since it means more consumers will be more comfortable doing their daily tasks online. Building trust is part of why offering tools like these is so important. Such tools not only provide privacy-conscious users with the protections they want, they also boost the confidence of other users (for whom privacy may not be a top concern) by spreading the word about how to control their information online. The launch of the AskEraser is but the first step in offering Internet users more control over their online searches. As we reported earlier this year, competition for privacy among search engines has started to heat up, with consumers seeing the benefits as search companies try to out-do each other with updates to their privacy policies and safeguards. Let's hope the trend continues.