Recently, a furious iPhone privacy debate began when people learned that the iPhone tracks and stores a year’s worth of data about the user’s location. Luckily, the release of iOS 4.3.3 (the latest iPhone update,) has allayed many of these concerns.
The furor kind of surprised me though, considering Google’s privacy issues: every single time you search Google, Google automatically tracks the search and the exact IP address of the searcher.
Try it yourself. Let’s say you are interested in looking up movie reviews for Water for Elephants because who in their right mind doesn’t want to see the gloriousness of Robert Pattinson in 1930′s clothes. Go ahead, Google “Water for Elephants.”
Instead of Wikipedia’s entry, or the author’s website, or an imdb result, the first result on the search engine results page (SERP) should show the showtimes for the movie at all your local theatres.
Can you turn this off? Nope. Does Google share information about searches with other entities- like the government, for example? Probably, if you’re searching for a meetup group called “Westchester Terrorist Cell Happy Hour.”
For most of us, this is no big deal. My searches would show that I generally look up recipes, comment on blogs, and occasionally frantic searches on to get your stupid puppy to stop running away and just COME when you call him. (Cesar Milan would hate our household.)
But what about those of us who believe that we should have the RIGHT to Google privacy no matter what? (my Libertarian husband fervently believes that psychotic Google searches have the right to privacy. Frankly, I suspect he needs to hide his fascination with Reese Witherspoon from me. We are clearly going to go see Water for Elephants asap.)
It’s the number one website used by hermits and al Quaeda!
Check this out: Encrypted Google. it’s a beta version, but if you’re interested in keeping your searches private, whether its because you believe in privacy or you have perverted interests in taxidermy, it should get the job done. It’s Google’s SSL Search, and its primary feature is that your search terms can’t be read by your ISP or any other third party.
Downsides of Google SSL:
- You’ll still get local results, because Google still recognizes your location- the difference is that your search is completely hidden from anyone else.
- Google Maps and Google Images aren’t currently offered with Google SSL, so stick with basic web results.
- Biggest problem: once you click a result link, you will probably be taken away from the secure channel. How can you tell? http is unsecure, https is secure.
What do you think? Does Google have too much power? Or should internet searches be considered public property?
POSTED: Thursday, May 5, 2011