When AOL released the search data of over 500,000 users the whole world was in awe. No one could believe that their own search data was released to the public and AOL was quick to remove the file from the Internet. However, it wasn’t done quick enough to prevent mirrors from being setup and sites were even created for searching the 439MB data file.
So who is to say that it won’t happen again? Remember when you were a little kid and you’re parents said that you did something wrong…that never stopped you from doing it again. You just took you a little time to devise a new method to accomplish the goal. The point is that AOL learned not to share their search data with the public, but who’s to say that they wouldn’t give it to any organization that asked for it? They definitely won’t do it the same way again but I don’t think there is anything stopping them from quietly releasing your information.
What you need is a Firefox extension that will prevent the search engines from storing your searches. TrackMeNot does just that! According to their homepage:
It hides users’ actual search trails in a cloud of ‘ghost’ queries, significantly increasing the difficulty of aggregating such data into accurate or identifying user profiles.
So it doesn’t block the search engines from receiving your query but it will try to give them false information. That way they won’t be able to accurately identify you and your search patterns. Sounds like a nice solution for right now and hopefully this extension will continue to evolve.
Thanks for the tip “C”!