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Milly [PersonRank 10]

Tuesday, August 15, 2006
11 years ago3,496 views

Interesting article, thanks Amit (and Philip). The eight suggestions are *summarised* below (the article has much more detail: well worth reading), with my comments/questions :-

"1. Disallow Google to Store Cookies – [...]
IE: Click Tools->Internet Options->Privacy->Sites
Firefox: Click Tool->Options->Privacy->Cookies->Exceptions "

If you wanted to add Opera, you could add ...
Opera: Click Preferences->Advanced->Cookies->Manage Cookies...

"2. Use Scandoo – [...]
   [...] Scandoo can help you search Google, Yahoo or MSN without disclosing your actual geographic location (or IP Address) to the search engine"

It's cool and useful for its stated purposes, of course. But do you *know* it masks our IPs from Google? I'd guess so, but they don't seem to claim that as a feature. Since so much else is transparently proxied, maybe IPs are too.

Oh, and they use WebTrends on the search pages and SERPs for (I guess) "web analytics and marketing performance management". I wonder what information about us they get? GUIDs? IPs?

(BTW, it looks like you'll get a Scandoo'ified Google cookie GUID, which does seem to be passed on to Google: so there seems to be no benefit in that respect (absent other cookie measures) over using Google itself. I know you're not claiming that for them).

And of course we need to trust ScanSafe (whose Privacy Policy is nice, but vague and suffers from the same specious "no personally identifying information" claim as has bitten AOL), more than we trust Google ...

"3. Download HideMyIp software – [...] "

Hmm. Trading the risks of Google doing something iffy, for the risks of one or more of an amorphous, nebulous, fly-by-night network of unknown, unregulated, unauthorised, could-be-anyone-or-anything open proxies not doing something iffy, doesn't seem smart to me. If you need/wish to hide your IP, then using TOR is surely better (and saves $30 to boot). Or use a reliable/reputable anonymising service (if there's one you trust more than Google ...).

"4. Download CustomizeGoogle for Firefox – [...]"

Surely, a fine tool. Or, if you just want the anonymising part, and/or don't use Firefox, I believe there's a cool bookmarklet somewhere, upon which that part of the CustomizeGoogle script is based ;) google.com/search?q=anonymize+ ...

"5. Block cookies from Yahoo, Google and MSN. Then use Dogpile.com for searching these three search engines simultaneously."

Dogpile?! *Dogpile*!! Oh my :(. That would be three engines and a boatload of adverts-disguised-as-results: blogoscoped.com/forum/34590.ht ...

Item seven is a much better suggestion, in the same vein. I'd scrap item five (hey, maybe replace it with that bookmarklet ... ;)

"6. Block Google from Tracking Your Clicks"

Yeah. I use a filter in Proxomitron to do the same as CustomizeGoogle for Firefox, and I don't know of an easier method for 'ordinary' IE and Opera users.

"7. Don't use Google or Yahoo to search the web as they will store your entire trail of activity on their servers. Try Clusty.com or Ixquick.com which do not save users search data. [...]"

I'm afraid I don't think that's true. Ixquick promise to delete IPs within 48 hours, but otherwise their tracking/logging system (referrers, search terms, clicks, GUIDs, cookies) appears to be the same as Google's. Kudos for the IP deletion, but otherwise ...

Clusty/VivĂ­simo seem to be even less of an improvement: they say they don't track clicks on organic (only) results, but otherwise they appear to track and keep exactly the same user data (referrers, search terms, GUIDs, cookies) as Google.

"8. Finally, you can try Scroogle Google Scraper, a search wrapper around Google (and yahoo) search that lets you anonymously search Google and promises not maintaining your search query terms. [...]"

Provided you don't mind the lack of prefs, and you trust Daniel Brandt more than Google ...

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