Google Web History and privacy
September 15, 2007 2:21 AM   Subscribe

Google's personalized search and privacy question:

I know that Google recently turned on Personalized Search by default for anyone signed into their Google account. Personalized Search uses Web History. I know you can pause Web History. Right now, it's limited to searches, but there's a link there that says "expand your web history," improving Personalized Search results and allowing you to search the full text of pages you've visited.

I use Google Toolbar on Firefox, Gmail, Google Reader, and until I got Vista, I used Google Desktop. Does it really matter much to my privacy if I click the "expand your web history" link? Basically what I'm asking is, doesn't Google already have this information (what sites I visit, because of the Toolbar)? Is it going to be detrimental to my privacy to enable this feature?
posted by IndigoRain to Computers & Internet (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
It depends on your Toolbar settings (and, of course, how much you trust Google to preserve your privacy).
posted by backupjesus at 6:20 AM on September 15, 2007

Get a load of this: Brand new computer, I set up an account for my mother on gmail. I'm doing this because she just had a stroke and has apraxia, and can't talk.

First time I log on, there is a banner ad for DVD therapies for apraxia.

Must have read my mail, where I set up her account.
posted by StickyCarpet at 6:36 AM on September 15, 2007

Google may already have this information. But if you ask that the information be kept in your Google account to be accessible to you, anyone who gains access to your Google account will have access to the information, too.

It's not a terribly big deal, but it's worth considering, and as far as I can tell it's the reason they let you turn it off if you don't want it.
posted by ikkyu2 at 12:39 PM on September 15, 2007

Google is not well known for their commitment to an individual's privacy. I would be cautious of anything they do when installing their 'free' tools etc on your computer. There may indeed be nothing to worry about, but their track record urges caution, in my opinion.
posted by Effigy2000 at 5:20 PM on September 15, 2007

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