AskEraser: Privacy Potential
Forgot to mention my Newsbreak article from last week, AskEraser: Privacy Potential. In working on that article and looking at AskEraser, one issue occurred to me that I did not cover in the piece itself.
I received email from Ixquick about AskEraser even before I saw anything from Ask. press release. In that email, Ixquick claims that
OK, Ask uses ads from Google. To display context-sensitive ads, related to the actual query, they have to send at least the query string to the Google ads server. While I could not get a definitive answer from Ask about what specific data elements Google sees, given Ask's commitment to privacy with AskEraser it seems likely that not much more than the query is sent. Even so, I was curious to see how Ixquick funds its service, and sure enough, it uses Google AdWords as well (under Sponsored Listings). So how is their privacy better than AskEraser?
While neither Ask nor Ixquick gives complete privacy, nor do they claim to. I credit both of them with raising the search privacy issue and providing at least some tools for helping protect searcher privacy. Since the vast majority of searchers pay no attention to such issues, I'd rather see all the search engines providing better privacy options rather than just criticizing their competitor's attempts.