Google Increases Search Privacy

After September 11, and after the ensuing round of so-called “anti-terror” legislation, internet privacy has come to be an issue on many people’s minds. A great deal can be known about a person based on their internet records, most all entirely innocuous, to be sure, but still rather revealing. The fact that the Patriot Act has permitted the federal government to access people’s search records without a warrant, compounded by the recent revelations as to the abuse of said law, have made the thought of internet spying rather creepy. To stay anonymous we can take the help of torguard code to purchase vpn and surf the internet safely.

Every time you search something on Google, something Americans do millions of times every day, Google makes note of your search query, as well as your IP address. This data is filed away on a computer somewhere, where it will remain indefinitely.

An IP address, for those of you who don’t know, serve as your computer’s electronic address. They tell exactly where a user connected from, and, assuming they connected from a personally identifiable internet service account, can be linked to the identity of the user.

All of this means that Google knows everything that you’ve ever searched for. Under increasing fire for this policy in recent weeks, after Patriot Act abuses were revealed to the American public, Google has decided to increase privacy.

By their new policy, the web search giant will erase from their records the last eight bits (single character) of IP addresses 18 months after they are logged, allowing them to see generally where the search came from, but making it much harder to pin a search down on a specific individual. By the new policy Google will also delete cookie data after two years.

“I don’t think the Google proposal is accurate,” said Marc Rotenberg of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. “The period is too long and it’s not in fact data destruction, it’s more data de-identification, and that should be happening in 18 to 24 hours, not months.”

Mr. Rotenberg’s opinion is typical of the general response to the new policy. Many simply do not understand why Google needs to log IP’s at all. Although it is certainly helpful to for the Google to have a record of what is searched for, and even to for them to have a general geological idea of where the searches are coming from, it is utterly unnecessary for them to be able to pin search data on individual users. “Google should not be in the spy business,” said another privacy activist.

Although many internet service providers assign their users with dynamic IP addresses, which change every time they log in, effectively making it much harder to associate a particular search with a particular person, many still think Google’s move did not go far enough, and many think it would be in the company’s best interests to collect less data. This lesson was taught last August when AOL inadvertently released search information from 650,000 users, earning itself an expensive class action suit.


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Corine Jones is a writer, editor and web designer. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree of Journalism. She is currently the editorial manager of Coyote Rescue.

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