Google And Other Search Engines Are Tracking Your Every Move!

Most of us don’t search for instructions on how to build bombs or uranium enrichment, but if you did out of curiosity would you find a government agent at your doorstep one day? It could happen easier than you think. After all the government has been trying to gain more and more access to private information without having to first obtain search warrants.

Under the mission of “More Precise Ad Targeting” Google has created the most incredible spying machine that has ever existed on the face of the planet. They have recorded everything you have ever searched for and attached it to your IP address. In addition, if you use google adwords, gmail or other personalized services they have also added your complete information profile into the mix. I have been using Google Toolbar, Google Adwords for years and Gmail in the past, so all my online activities are neatly compiled in a Google database somewhere.

My question is: Why do they need to store this information indefinitely?

Do they intend to use it for something in the future? Or do they just want to learn every possible insight into human behavior so they can use it to make more money? In my opinion it makes an incredibly inviting source of data for any government agency on a witch hunt!

The truth is that many of us plug things into the search engines that we hear on the news just out of sheer curiosity. I know I’ve searched for information on Meth and other things just to find out more about what it was, not because I wanted to cook up a batch. To a DEA agent however, anyone who has searched for how meth is made could be a potential “cooker”! Yikes!!

What Can You Do To Keep From Being Tracked When Using Search Engines?

I’ve started using something called Scroogle. It is a neat little appliance that has been developed independently and can be used to search either Google or Yahoo anonymously, without all the tracking and absent the ads. In fact, if you were among the first to use Google when it was introduced it will seem like the good old days!

Google Scraper

Yahoo Scraper

It uses an anonymous IP address to complete your search and logs are deleted within 48 hours. That’s actually how all search engines should operate!

How Scroogle Works:

So In A Nutshell…

Scroogle.org is a screen-scraping proxy for the Google search engine that circumvents Google’s tracking of user activity via cookies and/or IP address. The site also allows users to perform Google searches without receiving Google advertisements. A Yahoo scraper is included. There is support for 28 languages, and Mozilla offers a Scroogle plugin for the Firefox search bar. Scroogle is operated by Google critic Daniel Brandt, who also runs the Google Watch website.

Here is the Scroogle search page…..Try it out for yourself!

For more information go to Scroogle.org

Other Alternatives…

TrackMeNot is a lightweight browser extension that helps protect web searchers from surveillance and data-profiling by search engines. It does so not by means of concealment or encryption (i.e. covering one’s tracks like scroogle), but instead, paradoxically, by the opposite strategy: noise and obfuscation. With TrackMeNot, actual web searches, lost in a cloud of false leads, are essentially hidden in plain view. User-installed TrackMeNot works with the Firefox Browser and popular search engines (AOL, Yahoo!, Google, and MSN) and requires no 3rd-party servers or services.

How It Works

TrackMeNot runs in Firefox as a low-priority background process that periodically issues randomized search-queries to popular search engines, e.g., AOL, Yahoo!, Google, and MSN. 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. As of version 0.4, TMN’s static word list has been replaced with a dynamic query mechanism which ‘evolves’ each client (uniquely) over time, parsing the results of its searches for ‘logical’ future query terms with which to replace those already used.

So In A Nutshell…

TrackMeNot submits semi random searches in the background to google from a dynamic word list. Your real searches are then obscured in the noise generated by track me not. This means the data Google have collected on you is effectively worthless as it is noise, not data, this means it is not worth collecting. If enough people use tools like Track Me Not the search engines will give up on the expense of storing huge quantities of random data for no profit very quickly.

For more information on TrackMeNot got to http://mrl.nyu.edu/~dhowe/trackmenot/

Update 02/09/2007: Criticisms of TrackMeNot

TrackMeNot may actually make it easier for search engines to link your searches together (the fact that you’re using a plugin is distinctive). Moreover, although it may create some uncertainty about aspects of your search history, it does not hide personally identifying information or the bulk of your most sensitive searches. For further criticisms, see http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2006/08/trackmenot_1.html.

Other Alternatives?

Ixquick is a unique search engine provider that deletes the personal data of all users. For more information on this search engine click here

If you too feel strongly about the way that companies like google retain records of individual’s personal data and know any other ways to avoid being tracked, please post in the comments below. Thanks

Original Source: Access 2 Privacy.com

See also:

9 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Google

6 Tips To Protect Your Online Search Privacy

Ixquick protects your privacy

31 thoughts on “Google And Other Search Engines Are Tracking Your Every Move!

  1. Interesting article. I refuse to use google desktop etc for the very reasons you have given. They are simply compiling information on all users saying it is to ‘personalise’ your surfing experience…..Big Brother is doing more than just watching isn’t he? All this information compiled in a massive database to which federal agencies will have full access too!!

    Thanks for the visit and the info :o)

    Colin

  2. Cheers Vaibhav.

    Feel free to direct your visitors to some of this information and if you have any good advice or knowledge of other ways to avoid invasive search engine tracking please add to the information here through the comments section.

    Thanks

    Tio🙂

  3. Pingback: 9 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Google « Bala Fría

  4. Say if world warfare was to break out wiping out 80% of the worlds population they would have a database full of human ideas, ingenuity and emotions?

  5. Your IP address reveals your point of entry to the Internet and can be used to trace your communications back to your ISP, your employer’s network, your school, a public terminal.
    Use our Free Web Proxy to surf the internet anonymously at ****************

  6. But how does anyone know they can trust your free proxy website? No reassurances at the site. Defeats the purpose if another third party are invading your privacy!

    Thanks but no thanks Bassfisherman…

  7. I know there is a lot of misinformation out there, but either Mr Page or Mr Brin was on the radio the other morning and when they were talking about censorship they were saying “look if holding up a mirror to yourself gives you a sight of something you don’t like, it’s not the mirrors fault!”

    Now I know they work with the Chinese government and others but we’re all compromised to some degree as Mr Zinn rightly tells us. We can only try to do our best, which if we keep trying can keep improving, and we should keep looking in the mirror, and try with a bit of friendliness and style to hold it up to other people as well!

    Paranoia can be very negative on ones productivity and progress, and those in power can get every bit of information about me anyway, so tho I’d prefer they didn’t I’m not gonna go out of my way to stop google collecting the information that runs through my head, especially cuz I’m not even sure my efforts would even be successful. We can only keep trying our best and we can’t keep worrying about everything.

    Still thanks for another well put together article Tio, it’s good to know.

  8. Thanks for your comment Pete.

    We are all individuals at the end of the day and we have to make decisions for ourselves. Alot of my work is aimed at raising public awareness. Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the world today. I feel that with this in mind, it is vital that we think about what data we are potentially sharing with others and that we seek to protect ourselves and maintain our privacy at all times. Whether it be when using the internet or in life in general.

    In the world we live in today it is wise for a person to think about the information that they are giving to companies about themselves and to choose wisely what they wish to divulge. I don’t think this is paranoia. From my own personal usage of google products I have become more and more concerned at the blatant desire to track my searches and target me with personalised ads. I don’t like it. I don’t like advertising and marketing. When you add the fact that search engines are compiling over a long period of time a portfolio on you and your IP address it starts to get a bit too invasive. I don’t like it. I am strong believer in civil rights and liberties and I believe that we as individuals and as a collective need to strive to protect our rights and privacy. We should not surrender our freedoms.

    This post and similiar items in my blog regarding the subject of protecting your privacy online are pulled together from my own personal interest in learning more and intended for people who feel similarly about the way that search engines operate. If you are willing to accept risks to your privacy and feel comfortable to keep using gmail and google directly then this is of course, your right. If you feel that you are not happy about it and would like to learn more then research and learn more.

    Thanks again

    Tio

  9. Update: It appears that the TrackMeNot software mentioned in this post may in some ways actually make it easier for search engines to link your searches together. Moreover, although it may create some uncertainty about aspects of your search history, it does not hide personally identifying information or the bulk of your most sensitive searches. For further info and criticisms, see http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2006/08/trackmenot_1.html

  10. Tio, thanks for your work it’s of high quality and I don’t remember reading anything you’ve written that I disagree with, in fact I wholeheartedly agree with nearly everything I’ve read.

    I guess I also feel it’s a bit late for me – I was ignorant to the extent that this information is stored for a long time. But I also use the web loads and for me it’s just too much hassle to worry about this (along with everything else!)

    Informed decisions are very important tho, and you opened my eyes further so thanks again too.

  11. It’s never too late to change your habits Pete. You remind me of the smoker who doesn’t give up smoking because he believes he has already smoked too much and it is too late for him. It’s never too late to break bad habits that do not benefit you. The most important part is consciousness and to strive to be conscious in every moment. Too many people are walking around with their eyes closed and I am not exempt from that. I need to be reminded everyday of the importance of clarity in my life and consciousness. To some degree maybe you are right to question how important this is in relation to the big picture but it is the attention to detail and the small things, that is what being conscious in your life is all about. As I say, only you know how you want to live your life and what is right for you.

    Thanks for the compliment. I admire your ambitions and I think you are on a worthy path.

    Peace my friend. Take it easy

    Tio🙂

  12. “It’s never too late to break bad habits”
    Very true. No matter how far down the wrong path you have walked you can always turn back. (Lifted straight out of the Pragmatic Programmers handbook!)

    And again agree on the the belief it’s upto you to decide what’s best for you. Reminds me of a before-they-were-famous Razorlight song with the powerful words “but I wish… you’d make up your own mind”

    And thanks Tio, a compliment from you my friend is a compliment I’m proud to receive.

    Cheers,
    Pete

  13. Hi Tio,

    There are many good proxy servers out there, but alas also many bad ones, as you so rightly pointed out to Bassfisherman that many do not have any reassurances or policies……stick only with safe and trusted proxies🙂

    All the best

    Colin

  14. Pingback: Ixquick Protects Your Privacy! « Bala Fría

  15. As it says above – Google has created the most incredible spying machine that has ever existed on the face of the planet. They have recorded everything you have ever searched for and attached it to your IP address.

    Scroogle has been set up by people who oppose this type of snooping and invasion of privacy and are very clear on the terms of usage of their proxy. That is all records are deleted within a limited time.

    Stop trying to scare people Nunya with spam comments on silly articles. It is not about good or evil. Google are not evil. They are just trying to make a lot of money by invading your privacy and building a vivid picture of who you are and recording all information about your IP address including names and contacts, preferences etc. This folder could in the future be used against you in a court of law which would be wholly unfair if you had done nothing wrong and false misrepresentations were made based on simple search terms you had used over the course of a lifetime.

    There are infinite things that the human mind could think about. Based on stories in the press and different subjects a person could search for a myriad of different topics in an effort to educate oneself. Most of us don’t search for instructions on how to build bombs or uranium enrichment, but if you did out of curiosity should you find a government agent at your doorstep one day or be sent to jail because of this search that was made on such a such date? If you were at the scene of a crime and arrested and the government agencies were to look at your search engine records and they show “possible terrorist activity” because you once searched on how to build a bomb would this be fair? People should have the right to look for whatever they want in their own privacy provided they are not looking at paedophilia or harming anyone.

    I think scroogle are doing a great job and are very clear on what their proxy is about – the maintenance of your privacy. Stop trying to scaremonger and frighten people!

  16. Pingback: How Google Web History Works and Why You Should Opt Out | GROWMAP.COM

  17. i know for a fact these companys track you –not for the government, for the companys are the government. i learned through microsofts error reporting– you click the box to send to microsoft, and all your private information goes to microsoft. why do you think BILL GATES has never allowed windows system, and internet explorer to never be perfected. they are designed to track everyone.. look at the macintosh–and see what a firewall is supposed to do. mac– 2% chance of spyware getting out to track you. windows firewall–87% chance.. i tried an experiment– went to every website the gov. would monitor, iranian- hugo chavez- bin laden– and g w bushes grandpa proctor– working with HITLER. started getting viruses–ruined 3 motherboards, and 3 hard drives.. i want to press charges, so now i go to every sick sex with farm animal — cheer leader sex site.. i have a page source file on every tracking cookie from yahoo- google– microsoft lavasoft, for the last 8 months.. another year, i will be able to retain an attorney, and sue each company.. well by then murdoch will own them all…. i urge everyone to spend a little more money and buy a MACKINTOSH, and you won’t have to worry about corporate america spying on you..

  18. FOR TIO—– WHO DOES THE SCARE-MONGERING SOUND LIKE.. YOU SOUND LIKE A RIGHT WING NUT SPEWING CRAP YOU HEAR FROM O’RILEY AND LIMBAUGH. YOU PROBABLY EVEN THINK TERRORISTS IMPLODED THE TWIN TOWERS. GET YOUR HEAD OUT OF THE SAND AND GET YOUR ASS TO IRAQ.

  19. i posted a comment earlier to TIO. PLEASE DON’T POST IT—– I THINK I MISUNDERSTOOD. AND VENTED A LITTLE. IF IT GETS POSTED I APOLIGIZE..

  20. artessa:

    these posts are OLD…
    this is 2011 with imminent economic collapse. is this info still viable?

    WHAT CURRENT SCRAMBLING TECHNOLOGY IS AVAILABLE. Surely something more advanced, or ‘keeping up with the g00gle advances’ is out there after Scroogle and TrackMeNot came along.

  21. not able to enter either of the sites in your article. this is 2011, not 2007. what is current to protect dna sacnning on internet use?

  22. Thanks on your marvelous posting! I really enjoyed
    reading it, you can be a great author.I will be sure to bookmark your blog and will eventually come back later on.
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  23. Pingback: How Google Web History Works and Why You Should Opt Out

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