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The Internet Businesses The Almighty Buck

Google Keeps What Erases 59

Stony Stevenson passed us an ITNews article on the AskEraser service we discussed the other day. The service is intended to obscure a user's search data - but does it really go away? "AskEraser may remove user search query data from's servers, but deleted data may live on, in part at least, on Google's servers. That's because Google delivers the bulk of the ads on, based on information provided by Ask ... It may well use the information for other purposes, such as measuring the responsiveness of its systems. However, Leeds said he could not disclose the specifics of the contractual relationship between Ask and Google."
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Google Keeps What Erases

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  • The two URL's in the story the same ... plus might want to use the printable URL [] since in FF, it pegs the CPU meter (much worse than this overly busy site) [] ... maybe it's all that information being sent to Google?
  • Someone really needs to develop a diff tool for the internet.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Andrew Nagy ( 985144 )
      I have it on pretty good authority that will likely not renew their contract with Google for serving paid ads. Ask has been developing their own platform and is working pretty heavily to recruit advertisers to it. You can see it here [].
      • Re:the only answer (Score:5, Informative)

        by KingAdrock ( 115014 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @07:10PM (#21690306) Journal
        They already renewed the deal and announced it about a month ago. Their own platform isn't even developed by them it is build on LookSmart's AdCenter technology and probably only accounts for 2-3% of their sponsored search revenue.
        • I stand corrected. I had spoken with representatives, but obviously they were just trying to generate some additional revenue and I failed to do any additional research (doh!). Here's the scoop [] and some analysis.
        • Maybe they just want to combine these two ad at the same time during the transition edge.
    • We definitely have out-used Google.
      I checked out this site called Way Back
      Machine, and I was stunned at how many
      websites we're "cached" from way back
      like in the 90's. Anyone who thinks
      there stuff is "safe" on the internet
      is nuts. Even this message I just
  • Ask not... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @06:26PM (#21689636)
    My fellow Slashdotters: ask not what can do with your data - ask what your data can do for

    My fellow citizens of the Internet: ask not what Slashdot will do for your data, but what together we can do for the freedom of all data.

  • I have search history logging shut off in my google account, I suspect (out of paranoia) that they are still logging my data however.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ZOMG, u meen teh Goog3l is staring teh too much nfo an viol8ing pplz privassy? TEH OMG, I THOT TEH GOOGEL WAS TEH NOT BE TEH EVIL?!?!?!

    TEH GOOGEL HATES TEH MIKKKR0$$$l0th... hows cud tey be teh evilz? It dunt make teh cents?!!
    • Okay, that's cute and all.. But stop. Really. It has not been funny for years now. You're like that guy in the office that still gives the Fonzie "Heyyyyyy" all the time.
  • by MindPrison ( 864299 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @06:36PM (#21689790) Journal
    Yes, Ive noticed that Google keeps things that eventually gets erased somewhere else, but Google also censors - partially because of violations of various company rules, laws, and much more (too much more!). SO much more in fact - that a little "googling" around the world....from ...servers around the world - will yield different results from what you may get googling from your country, think that I am paranoid and kidding? Try it!
    • I would be surprised to learn that Google ever deleted anything. I know a few Googlers, and from what I gather information is generally made "unavailable to the public" rather than erased.
    • Also perhaps they store what you have searched on before? It seems that when I have been searching lately it directs me to things around my area. Also caters to my system (Ubuntu). Maybe it's just me (being paranoid?) but is it possible they really personalize search?
  • by xiando ( 770382 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @06:58PM (#21690110) Homepage Journal
    Ask needs to make a profit, just like everybody else. If it were not for advertisements there would be no Askeraser, and Ask will naturally choose the partner they think will give them the most money. I use Google Adsense on many of my websites too, for exactly the same reason. I know that Google spies on my visitors, and I really would like to avoid them doing so, but at the end of the day I want dinnar and no advertisement revenue, no dinner. That being said.. I personally use (polipo+)privoxy for all my normal browsing and Tor+privoxy for the majority of my browsing. And this is kind of how I make lame excuses for myself and my Adsense usage: It's really up to each one of us to educate ourselves on how to avoid internet tracking & surveillance. It really is up to each and every one of us. If people choose to use Windows and Internet Explorer and have lots of spyware installed and not filter unwanted parts of webpages and not use Tor then so be it and if I can make a profit off it then atleast I get to eat. And I don't cry or think twice about people using things like Tor+Privoxy to visit my sites, since it's only a small percentage who are smart enough to do so. But they should. And they should not trust that I, or AskEraser, or anyone else for that matter (scroogle, and such services) do not track people - because that is not needed. See, if you trust Askeraser to erase you records then you have already decided to trust a third party. Maby they really do erase. Perhaps they just say they do. BUT if you choose to ensure that they don't track you by running software which makes sure they CAN'T track you - such as Tor - then you don't NEED to trust Askeraser (or anyone else). That is the only real solution imho, putting your faith in a third party is stupid, regardless of them being trustworthy or not for the time being.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Windwraith ( 932426 )
      Yes, your point is pretty much valid, but knowing what we know about TOR's still relying on a third party. You can't know if the end of the TOR network is run by a person interested on helping people or a data harvester. Same can apply to proxy servers, I think.
      • In bullet summary, Tor is only for traffic in the categories:

        - 1. Who cares if they log this anyway?
        - 2. Encrypted traffic

        And this is all explained in the documentation - which you should read in order to benefit from using it. Yes, you really should assume that all Tor exit nodes are run by a bad guy. But the exit node does not see the rest of the path. This means that someone who is looking at a Tor exit node (I run a few, and I can do this - and you should assume I do) really can see that SOMEONE ju
  • And it shall be yours..."

    That must've been promised to GOOGLE, not Ask...
  • This is the first thing I thought of when I read the article the other day. Google ads gets your referer string which contains the search query you used on and much of the same information Google would have gotten had you simply used Google for the search.

    Plus odds are pretty much any link you click on from the search (and pretty much and page you visit for that matter) will contain either Google ads or Doubleclick ads. Even if it's an ad-free site, you'd be surprised how many sites have google-anal
    • by rtb61 ( 674572 )
      Oddly enough using something like [] and you start to learn exactly how many sites are running the googlites anal-ytic web script, well at least until you disable script notifications of.

      As for obscuring your searches try this [] it doesn't use much overhead and well, by far the majority of searches originating from my IP address have nothing to do with me at all, sometimes I wonder who google is targeting those adds at.

      As far as I know the "do no evi

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @07:58PM (#21690994) Homepage

    Ask's parent company, IAC, is breaking up. They're a conglomerate; they own things like the Home Shopping Network, TicketMaster, Lending Tree, and CondoDirect. All those are being sold off. They're keeping all their "internet properties", like Excite (yes, that's where Excite ended up), CitySearch, Evite, Popular Screensavers (!), iWon,, and Zwinki. IAC collected many of the major losers from Web 1.0 under one corporate roof.

    At this point, it hardly seems relevant what Ask does.

    • Get Off My Lawn! (Score:3, Informative)

      by meehawl ( 73285 )
      I think your assignation of "Web 1.0" to all of these things is not warranted. For Match and evite, aren't these classic early example of almost entirely user-driven content creation and social networking? I *think* that's what Web 2.0 is about. Unless it's really just about the rounded corners and candy colours.
  • Adblockplus. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by WK2 ( 1072560 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @10:17PM (#21692500) Homepage
    Who downloads ads any more? They make the internet too slow for me.
    • Who downloads ads any more? They make the internet too slow for me.

      I could be wrong, but I believe your comp still downloads them, and you are still paying for that bandwidth. Adblock simply stops them from being displayed, not from existing. The only time you're saving is the few seconds you might have been tempted to swat the fly for a free iPod nano.
      • by WK2 ( 1072560 )
        If I recall correctly, Adblock (not plus) would, by default, not download ads. You could manually turn on a feature that would download them, but not display them. Some people would turn this feature on so that the webmaster would still get per-view credit, although the ads were not actually viewed.

        I have been using Adblock Plus for some time. Adblock can't keep up with the latest versions of Firefox. Adblock Plus does not download ads by default. I can't find the equivalent feature to make it download them
      • by WK2 ( 1072560 )
        I just checked. The "sponsor websites" ability has not been in Adblock Plus since 0.5. See this forum thread: []

The best defense against logic is ignorance.