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Is Big Brother's little cousin willing to blink?
December 24, 2008 9:32 AM   Subscribe

In a move applauded by some internet privacy advocates, Yahoo will retain personally identifiable search information for only 90 days. This places it above competitors Google and Microsoft in terms of protecting user privacy. Congressional representatives are taking notice, but others criticize Yahoo's method of preserving user anonymity as not enough, hearkening back to AOL's massive data leak in 2006.
posted by Law Talkin' Guy (11 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
How about a search engine that retains personally identifiable search information for zero days?
posted by dunkadunc at 9:36 AM on December 24, 2008


dunkadunc; somehow, I don't expect many people would be willing to pay for such a service, which they'd likely need to do in order to offset the lost revenue from targeted advertisements.
posted by odinsdream at 9:41 AM on December 24, 2008


dunkadunc, would you settle for two days?
posted by enn at 10:22 AM on December 24, 2008


In 2006 i tried shrooms for the first time. Me and my webmaster set up up a play room and off we went. While rolling a joint proved to be a task quite beyond our means, typing into google was not. I had heard some rumours about this interesting AOL search database that had gotten out, and we quickly located the mother lode. As we started digging into it through laughter and confusion, reading what was often these people's stories, their most intimate fears and the challenges they faced, we experienced a profound communion with them. We were in their minds, typing through their fingers, understanding their humanity perhaps better than at any other time, having removed the filters in our head and also the filters on these people's thoughts. It was a remarkable experience and one that i will always treasure.

These days it seems unlikely we'll get another such data release or leak. I sure would not like to see my search queries published. But i'll tell my grandchildren that in the early days of the networks we were given a telescope into the human mind that outshone the secrets told to priests, doctors and sometimes even oneself.

But that data is out there for all of us.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 10:39 AM on December 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


Yah who?
posted by blue_beetle at 10:43 AM on December 24, 2008


How about a search engine that retains personally identifiable search information for zero days?

Get the CustomizeGoogle extension for Firefox, and pay special attention to the Privacy tab. For super dooper privacy, use a proxy on top of it.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:09 AM on December 24, 2008


Actually the much ridiculed cuil records no information whatsoever about it's users. Unfortunately, it doesn't give very good search results.
posted by delmoi at 12:12 PM on December 24, 2008


Unfortunately, it doesn't give very good search results.

This is in fact not a coincidence, as the data retained is used to guide / improve the search algorithms at the other companies.
posted by wildcrdj at 1:33 PM on December 24, 2008


These days it seems unlikely we'll get another such data release or leak.

Ah ha ha ha ha ha.
posted by ryanrs at 4:25 PM on December 24, 2008


Wildcrdj, no, I think cuil just sucks. If their ranking algorithms are as lousy as their crawling algorithms (hey, let's hit each page on this site a zillion times today!), the reason for the suckitude would not have to do with user data retention.

Also, Yahoo is just ... screwed. If they're thinking some PR about data retention is going to help them in any fashion, they're even more deluded than I'd originally suspected.

As to user data, I think the privacy policies are cute, but in reality, anonymity is not something you can be granted, it is something you have to fight for, day in and day out. Through subpoena, hack, legal threat, employee idiocy, fine print in the EULA, insider data selloff, or just having a company's assets parceled out in bankruptcy, all of the pretty promises about your privacy might as well be the Vaselined smile of a used car salesman for all they're worth.
posted by adipocere at 5:58 PM on December 24, 2008


>"How about a search engine that retains personally identifiable search information for zero days?"

Have a look at Scroogle. It delivers Google search results but keeps your search from being traceable back to your IP.

(And remember, kids, scroogle.org = search, but scroogle.com = porn)
posted by Grimp0teuthis at 7:54 PM on December 24, 2008


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