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Personalized Search From Google Now Opt-Out 206

Posted by Soulskill
from the escort-on-the-road-to-enlightenment dept.
An anonymous reader writes "CNet reports that 'Google now intends to deliver customized search results even to those searching its site without having signed into a Google account.' This may be what finally drives me to seriously experiment with cookie-free browsing. I consider non-personalized search results to be of value. They quasi-subconsciously give me a better perspective of the full range of information and ideas on the net. That, and I'm also a bit paranoid about a coming world with push-button infrastructure for personalized mis/disinformation."
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Personalized Search From Google Now Opt-Out

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  • oh c'mon (Score:3, Insightful)

    by drougie (36782) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @10:43AM (#30343104) Homepage

    How is this a bad thing exactly? With such changes Google makes it will only help you get better search results, maybe other people get better results too somehow and it will help Google target advertisements better which benefits not just Google but advertisers and consumers too. How does this pose enough a threat for you to turn your cookies off?

    • Re:oh c'mon (Score:5, Interesting)

      by MrNaz (730548) * on Sunday December 06, 2009 @10:48AM (#30343126) Homepage

      I'd like to see Google make their far-forward cookie and personalization tracking service be opt-in. If someone wants to have Google looking over their shoulder almost 100% of the time they're on the web (remember, it's not just google.com but every site with a Google ad) ensuring that they are effectively advertised at, then it should be something you ask for, not ask to have taken away.

      If they made their tracking "services" an opt-in proposition, *that* would prove to me and probably all other Google skeptics that they truly were out to do no evil.

      As it stands, I'm convinced they're as evil as the next megacorp monopoly.

      • Re:oh c'mon (Score:5, Funny)

        by Nerdfest (867930) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @11:09AM (#30343232)
        I agree that it should be opt in, but I'm for it. Ideally, when things get advanced enough I figure Google can save me a lot of work. Once they know enough about my searching and buying habits they'll be able to do both for me. Every once in a while a box will show up at my door: "You need this. We found it at an awesome price. You will be billed via Google Finance".
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          "Every once in a while a box will show up at my door: "You need this. We found it at an awesome price. You will be billed via Google Finance"."

          I hope you are joking, because my creep-o-meter just went off the scale.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by aurispector (530273)

            Mine, too, mainly because it's so *possible*. Worse yet, there's a pretty good chance it WILL be something I need. I really hate personalized results. Amazon continues to recommend music I hate simply because I bought some CD's as gifts. Sure, there's ways around it but it's a pain in the butt, and sometimes you just want to know what everyone else likes.

            There really needs to be some simple way to get these recommendation engines to stop showing results for a particular category without having to get into

          • Re:oh c'mon (Score:5, Interesting)

            by causality (777677) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @11:57AM (#30343506)

            "Every once in a while a box will show up at my door: "You need this. We found it at an awesome price. You will be billed via Google Finance"." I hope you are joking, because my creep-o-meter just went off the scale.

            Another generation or two of advertising and propaganda, and people will be begging for this new feature. Once conditioned to it, they will be as disappointed by companies that don't offer it as they are today at the prospect of preparing their own meals or interpreting their own information. What amuses me (despite its minor inconvenience) is the way people on this site already try to portray privacy advocates as unreasonable, paranoid, and backwards. It's as though their message is, "you don't automatically welcome every marketing effort from corporate America with open arms? WTF is wrong with you?" Since when did siding with the marketers become the default position? Ever since some of them worked for Google? Does the name really do that much for you? If so that's some effective branding, but that's all it is.

            That's particularly surprising on Slashdot, with a technical crowd who should be much more aware than the masses of how information can be gathered, used, and abused. You'd think that this crowd would more intuitively understand what you can do by cross-referencing bits of information from multiple sources, like what Google is in a position to do. You'd think that because of that, there would be more privacy advocates speaking out in discussions like this. But we have our favorites and they're precious to us, aren't they? Google can do no evil because they say so, now here, look at this shiny new feature and shut up. Right? Let's also sidestep the fact that anyone could potentially data-mine if it's alright for Google to do so. Privacy is in a sorry state right now, we need some strong protections for it, and marketing efforts like this personalized search should always be opt-in. Even if Google never does any evil to anyone, you have no reasonable expectation that everyone else will be so nice.

            • by dangitman (862676)

              That's particularly surprising on Slashdot, with a technical crowd who should be much more aware than the masses of how information can be gathered, used, and abused

              That hasn't been true for quite some time now. Slashdot these days is essentially Digg with a slightly more informed user base.

          • Even if he isn't, unless they've got a contractual obligation with you either in writing or digitally Signed, you simply say "Thank You Very Much for the Free Gift" because under United States Commerce Laws, that's exactly what it would be and it's exactly what I've told many idiots who've sent me unsolicitated products.

        • by careysub (976506)

          How about the day a policeman shows up your the door with a search warrant because Google informed the police of probable criminal behavior?

        • I agree that it should be opt in, but I'm for it. Ideally, when things get advanced enough I figure Google can save me a lot of work. Once they know enough about my searching and buying habits they'll be able to do both for me. Every once in a while a box will show up at my door: "You need this. We found it at an awesome price. You will be billed via Google Finance".

          Deliveries could get really personalized once you fill out this page:
          http://www.realdoll.com/cgi-bin/snav.rd?action=viewpage&section=frealdoll2 [realdoll.com]
          Be sure and check the shipping container for signs of tampering, because in this case the "handling" in "shipping and handling" may have deeper meaning.

      • Re:oh c'mon (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Kjella (173770) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @11:11AM (#30343240) Homepage

        Might as well ask them to pull out a gun and shoot their own foot. What should be changed are browser defaults to "delete new cookies on exit", and make it a special opt-in to allow the site to set permanent cookies. If I go to the cookies page after a surfing session, there are tons and tons of sites that have no legitimate reason to leave cookies other than to track me. Permanent cookies should be handled by a info bar in the same way as popup windows, "Allow this site to set permantent cookies?". That would cut down cookie abuse massively.

        • Re:oh c'mon (Score:5, Interesting)

          by iwaybandit (1632765) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @12:22PM (#30343648)
          That's easy, set the cookie file permissions to read-only. I've been running the browser this way for a few months, and it has been a bit of a hassle at times. Overall it seems to be worth the trouble, since each time I start the browser, there are only the cookies for site preferences and login status.
          • start browser
          • go to every site that you frequently use
          • log-in, set preferences, whatever it takes to make the site set the cookie that you want to preserve
          • use the cookie manager to delete unwanted cookies
          • close browser
          • set the cookie file read-only (0400)

          Next time you browse, the cookies will accumulate like always but disappear whe you close the browser. However, if you change site preferences, those changes will be lost also.

        • by number11 (129686)

          What should be changed are browser defaults to "delete new cookies on exit", and make it a special opt-in to allow the site to set permanent cookies.

          Firefox already has that, more or less.

          Re Google, if you add the CustomizeGoogle extension you can specifically block Google's session cookies.

          Throw in TrackMeNot or SquiggleSR to generate some noise in your searches, and any record they have of your search history will be a mess.

          Or go through the Scroogle proxy.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Reaperducer (871695)

          You know -- that's a great idea. Perhaps in a future version of Firefox when I Apple-Q, it would slide down a sheet with a list... "The following web sites have added cookies to your browser during this session. Delete or Keep?" with a list of domains and checkboxes next to each.

          I like that. I could keep allowing Google or Slashdot or whatever to track me, while unchecking the boxes for things I don't know or recognize.

        • by Jim Hall (2985)

          Might as well ask them to pull out a gun and shoot their own foot. What should be changed are browser defaults to "delete new cookies on exit", and make it a special opt-in to allow the site to set permanent cookies. If I go to the cookies page after a surfing session, there are tons and tons of sites that have no legitimate reason to leave cookies other than to track me. Permanent cookies should be handled by a info bar in the same way as popup windows, "Allow this site to set permantent cookies?". That would cut down cookie abuse massively.

          For more than 10 years now, my personal browser settings have included "delete ALL cookies on exit". For me, cookies exist only while my browser is open. Works great for browsing throughout the day while my computer is on. When I close the browser, it's all gone.

          It's sometimes a pain to have to login to every web site that I use (work webmail, Gmail for my domain, my general Gmail, Sourceforge, Facebook, etc) but I think it's a bit more secure. [I know, my Flash cookies are still there...]

          I originally did i

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Mr_eX9 (800448)

        1. Install NoScript.

        2. Blacklist google-analytics.com.

        3. Stop whining.

      • If they made their tracking "services" an opt-in proposition, *that* would prove to me and probably all other Google skeptics that they truly were out to do no evil

        As much as I like the I idea of "Don't Be Evil" as an unofficial motto, I can't buy into to idea of classifying every action that is not overtly good as Evil by default.

        There are a lot of things that people, companies, groups, governments and others do that are pretty much guaranteed to piss someone off or run afoul of their moral code even if mo

    • Re:oh c'mon (Score:5, Insightful)

      by oDDmON oUT (231200) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @10:54AM (#30343166)

      "How is this a bad thing exactly?"

      Two key phrases:

      Uninvited opt-out "feature"
      Persistent tracking

      Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you.

      • It's much better to opt out by adjusting your browser's settings. This allows you to opt out of a load of shit from all sorts of companies. If you're not doing this then you've got more to worry about than google and if you are doing it then why bitch?
    • Personally, I do not like the idea of my search and browsing habits being tracked by anyone, in any capacity. I cannot speak for whatever country you live in, but here in the USA, our government has a history of monitoring citizens without warrants and without concern for the constitution. Google have a massive database of our browsing habits is the last thing we need, given that the courts already declared that email stored on a third party server is not covered by the 4th amendment.
      • > ...the courts already declared that email stored on a third party server is
        > not covered by the 4th amendment.

        They have done no such thing.

      • Every website you visit that stores a cookie is tracking your browsing habits on its site, until you delete that cookie. What Google's doing is just the same.

        http://www.google.com/support/accounts/bin/answer.py?answer=54048 [google.com]

        To disable the tracking, you just delete the cookie. Set Firefox to delete cookies on exit or startup, or disallow that site's cookie and you're golden. This 'feature' from google is no different.

        Just rememeber to obliterate those evil, sneaky Flash cookies too: https://addons.mozilla.org [mozilla.org]

      • Re:oh c'mon (Score:5, Insightful)

        by thetoadwarrior (1268702) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @11:42AM (#30343404) Homepage
        Your ISP already knows everything you're doing and pretty much any site you visit will have your IP too and know what you did on their site. The government can already track you and may be doing so now
        • by jdogalt (961241)

          The point of the original poster was not about google or your ISP nefariously spying on you. The poster is clearly that paranoid already. The point was about not wanting your search results skewed by previous searches, _by default_.

          With browser uptimes of weeks and a dozen plus searches a day, that quickly adds up to very skewed results for each subsequent search. Auto-deleting of cookies on browser close, or 'allow cookie for session' is not enough.

          I may be in the Global Warming alarmist camp, but I don

      • Personally, I do not like the idea of my search and browsing habits being tracked by anyone, in any capacity.

        Fortunately Firefox 3.5 has private browsing. Combine that with the TOR browser button and you'll have a measure of privacy. You can pick and choose what Google knows about you.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TheSpoom (715771) *

      Because the FBI and others are positively *drooling* over access to a database of everyone's entire search history, and they'll almost certainly get it.

      • That's easy. Just force ISPs to give up their logs. Everyone has an ISP but, believe it or not, not everyone uses Google.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Most of us want information. We _tolerate_ advertising. By "tuning" the advertiser, they enhance the chances of their paying clients, _not their customers_, getting what they want. We as users of Google do not want the select few larger advertisers automatically getting the lion's shares of the hits.

    • Re:oh c'mon (Score:5, Insightful)

      by peragrin (659227) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @01:43PM (#30344222)

      Simple, I want an unbiased source of information even if those biases are my own. I don't want results taiolered to me, as then I can't learn new things about subjects I would never have thought about search for relavant information.

      In other words i don't want all my searches spoiled by my previous line of thinking. I am not a religious nutjob who can only believe what I already know. I don't want the fact that I am catholic to let google to stop searching islamic sites, or the fact that i am a man and never wear jewelry to prevent me from searching for a bracelet for my girlfriend.

      By personalizing search you limit yourself to what you already have. how do you expect to grow with such limitations. Personalizing search is stupid. the problem is there are so many stupid people on this planet that it will be a big hit.

      • by peragrin (659227)

        I want to Learn new things like how to work my keyboard to spell tailored.

        I also think somethings should vanish over time. i was just messing around on amazon the other day and pulled up my buying history for the last 11 years. i don't keep receipts that long, As a business amazon doesn't need to keep them that long either, but they are still there. everything I bought. In fact search their recommendations i found a couple of odd items. Items were recommended that shouldn't be. until l I realized that

    • Re:oh c'mon (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Hatta (162192) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @01:55PM (#30344302) Journal

      With such changes Google makes it will only help you get better search results

      I'm not sure you will get "better" search results. Good search results are unbiased. You'll get the same results for the same terms, no matter what. If I want different search results, I will change my search terms. That puts me in control. The thought of sitting down at someone elses terminal and getting different search results from my own, or telling someone else "google this" and not being sure what sort of results they'll get is really objectionable.

      I'm mainly not concerned about the privacy implications. I just think a good tool should behave in a predictable manner. No tool should ever assume that it is smarter than me.

      • by dangitman (862676)

        No tool should ever assume that it is smarter than me.

        It probably is, but it's hard to argue with ego.

      • For one by knowing what you searched for before and which links you clicked, it can re-sort the results on the same query to show u the prior ones first (it already does this with people with google accounts , with a tag of 'x' times visited). Not to say that I'm pro-google or pro-tracking , it should be opt-in not opt-out
    • by westlake (615356)

      With such changes Google makes it will only help you get better search results

      Better results -

      or results custom-tailored to fit your beliefs and prejudices? That is - after all - the quick and dirty way to get the add clicks.

      Think about how the Borg icon and stained glass window shapes every story posted here about Slashdot.

      Is that really what you want from a search engine?

      It makes a useful precedent if you want to shape results for other reasons. To appease the government of China, for example.

    • by gonz (13914)

      You assume that Google uses your private information in indirect, anonymous ways to improve advertising or predict general trends. But have you looked at Google's privacy policy?

      "We restrict access to personal information to Google employees, contractors and agents who need to know that information in order to operate, develop or improve our services."
      http://www.google.com/intl/en/privacypolicy.html [google.com]

      That's the extent of the promise. They can use your data to improve their "services", which obviously include

  • TrackMeNot (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 06, 2009 @10:48AM (#30343122)

    I'd wonder how it'll affect users of this nice Firefox extension [nyu.edu]...

  • Scraped Google (Score:5, Informative)

    by gzipped_tar (1151931) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @10:52AM (#30343154) Journal
    I'd suggest Scroogle (https://ssl.scroogle.org/ -- Google sans the crap), but it seems down at the moment. Cue the conspiracy theories in 3, 2, 1 ...
    • Re:Scraped Google (Score:4, Interesting)

      by anagama (611277) <obamaisaneocon@nothingchanged.org> on Sunday December 06, 2009 @12:00PM (#30343536) Homepage
      Scroogle looks very interesting, but how do we know it is unevil? I've looked over the site moderately thoroughly and haven't found any terms of use or privacy policy. If it is there, it isn't in an obvious spot. And even if it is there, it is nothing but words.

      Scroogle itself appears to be related to http://googlewatch.org/ [googlewatch.org] but whois shows different registrants (googlewatch=Deng Youqian, scroogle=Daniel Brandt). I just don't really know how to evaluate a proxy such as scroogle, because my only means of finding out information is google or other search engines, not wikipedia though as the scroogle article is deleted. If I'm going to be paranoid about search, I would be naive to trust search results, proxies, or random comments on Slashdot. And since I am a bit paranoid about search (I played with the AOL data a few years back -- a real eyeopener), I feel quite lost at sea.
    • by Animats (122034)

      I'd suggest Scroogle (https://ssl.scroogle.org/ -- Google sans the crap), but it seems down at the moment.

      Scroogle has limits on how much you can use it. If you use it too much, your IP address will be blocked and the site won't answer you at all.

  • The use of the phrase "quasi-subconsciously" is fascinating. The rest, not so much.

  • by drDugan (219551) * on Sunday December 06, 2009 @10:59AM (#30343186) Homepage

    I use a proxy as my default search service, like this:

    http://www.scroogle.org/cgi-bin/nbbw.cgi?q=google+is+collecting+your+data [scroogle.org]

    There may also be others, but this one has worked for me.

    Downsides: no cached or similar pages, no searchable search history, no cute math results, none of the value-add search links or maps at the top of the results - just the plain search results.

    Upside: no data collection on my searches. (if I believe that the proxy is not also collecting data), you can also set it to give 100 search results as the default.

  • All the spam cookies generating extra page loads to doubleclick et al weren't enough to get you to install CS Lite? You must be running a supercomputer on a private T3. By the way, when a story like this comes from "An Anonymous Reader" I can't help but think "Unabomber". Wasn't there something about a push-button infrastructure for personalized mis/disinformation in his manifesto? Only people hiding in shacks and never speaking to other humans are vulnerable to personalized misinformation.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      "Only people hiding in shacks and never speaking to other humans are vulnerable to personalized misinformation."

      That really depends on how well crafted the misinformation is. If every person was given exactly the information they needed to hear in order to gossip about whatever topic the powers behind the information want them to gossip about, the misinformation would work very well against people with a lot of friends. All that you would need is a detailed enough portfolio on everyone: habits, manner
      • All that you would need is a detailed enough portfolio on everyone: habits, mannerisms, interests, etc...

        That and competence. So far, google has demonstrated competence. If it is an arm of the government (let's just postulate here) then sooner or later it will become the government; google has always demonstrated an ability to promote efficient alternatives. The question has always been, if I might paraphrase Pippin, is whether the fornicating we're getting is worth the fornicating we're getting. I would argue that in order to successfully pull off an orchestrated yet personalized misinformation campaign on a national scale, the government would have to reinvent itself into an entity that would at least function efficiently as a government, which is about all you can ask for. The powers that be will always find a way to place themselves above the rest.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by couchslug (175151)

      "Only people hiding in shacks and never speaking to other humans are vulnerable to personalized misinformation."

      Does the basement of my mother's shack count?

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by dangitman (862676)
        Your mother's shack has a basement? Ooooh, laa-dee-daaa. Be careful not to spill your caviar into your Dom Perignon.
  • I Google (Score:5, Insightful)

    by delire (809063) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @11:19AM (#30343280)
    This in built 'subjectivity' in the search mechanism represents a kind of fragmentation of the commons the searchable Internet supposedly represents: sometimes I want to know what other people know, what they are looking at, what is popular or interesting for them.

    Secondly, grouping searches around an assumption of my interests assumes that my interests are 1/ Statistically quantifiable (solving a loathesome and boring problem may result in many queries), 2/ Particular to me (I may be searching for someone else, or my computer could be shared with another), 3/ Can be built from clear-text (sometimes I might be searching within a context do take me to a binary, like a video, arbitrarily linked in a page (like the comments for instance)).

    Finally, isn't there a problem with diminishing returns here? The set that represents my interests will get 'smaller' in subject matter as I continue to search within that set.

    I'll certainly be switching if Google's approximation of my interests goes under the radar, digging into cookies when I'm 'signed out'.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gbjbaanb (229885)

      sometimes I want to know what other people know, what they are looking at, what is popular or interesting for them.

      so do I, but they complained and now I'm not allowed within 100 yards of them :(

    • Re:I Google (Score:5, Insightful)

      by noidentity (188756) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @12:47PM (#30343824)
      This is an example of a computer trying to be smart. The way it behaves changes over time with your interactions with it, but this modified behavior is particular to your connection. If you go search on another machine elsewhere, you'll get different behavior, and you might not know why you aren't finding something you could find easily on your home machines. Smart computers frustrate users. Give me a dumb, predictable computer any way, then I can accuractly predict how it'll respond to my input, and this tailor my input for the exact response I want, every time.
      • by delire (809063)

        Give me a dumb, predictable computer any way, then I can accuractly predict how it'll respond to my input, and this tailor my input for the exact response I want, every time.

        Well said..

        So often it's the geeks that are the real humanists - those that know enough about 'intelligent software' to be suspicious of it.

        It's not just (suicidal) self reflection but a potent mix of ignorance and laziness that steers us toward Vinge's Singularity.

    • Re:I Google (Score:4, Insightful)

      by MagicM (85041) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @04:02PM (#30345392)

      I completely agree. The privacy aspects aside, this is Google making assumptions which are likely to be wrong. It's just like with their new fade-in homepage: they assume you're there to search, but when they're wrong, the end result is just frustrating.

      You know what they say about assumptions...

  • by Ilgaz (86384) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @11:24AM (#30343308) Homepage

    I think Google apologizers has become worse than Apple apologizers but let me try one more time.

    If you install current Google maps to your Symbian phone (possibly others soon) and "reset it", it will send your personal "favorites" (read: locations saved) to Google, without even asking you. For example "Grandma's home" goes from your personal phone memory to Google, instantly.

    It must have sort of "opt out" too of course but it doesn't change the fact that Google really looks like some sort of information vampire, trying to get all data from you, especially personal ones.

    One day in future, looking to their horrible image among customers and several government/private investigations going on, they will ask themselves "What did we do wrong?" but it will be too late for them. My "citation"? MS history in 1990s. Quote from the book "No Logo" (sorry, double translated) "It was a cool thing to work at Microsoft but whatever happened in no time, people started to stare at us like we work for Philip Morris."

    • by thetoadwarrior (1268702) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @11:52AM (#30343472) Homepage

      If you install current Google maps to your Symbian phone (possibly others soon) and "reset it", it will send your personal "favorites" (read: locations saved) to Google, without even asking you. For example "Grandma's home" goes from your personal phone memory to Google, instantly.

      I don't care if Google knows where Grandma lives. It's the Big bad wolf that I'm worried about.

  • Sorry, but it's true. I'm not either. The internet seems to have made everyone out there think they're being watched, studied, and examined 24/7. As if people really care what you've been searching for any reason beyond showing relevant ads and making search better.

    People thinking that there's someone over at Google wringing their hands together and laughing maniacally because they have your recent searches need to get over themselves. They're not spying on you for some nefarious purpose, it's to give yo
    • by Mashiki (184564)

      People like their privacy, even their illusion of privacy even when they turn around and give whatever privacy they have away willingly. It's human nature. That google tracks results to give better results in turn? I couldn't care, some people will and do. See the first sentence, it's half fallacy, half reality.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gbjbaanb (229885)

      They're not spying on you for some nefarious purpose, it's to give you better results. You'd probably be a much happier person if you just dealt with it.

      Yes, but if they do monitor all web surfing and searches and use the results to target adverts, they'll only be serving ads for porn from now on. How is that going to help society?

      Seriously for a moment, once you got ads targetted by the site the ads were displayed on, so if I visited 'lawnmowers.com', I'd want to get ads for lawnmowers and garden supplies.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by NoPantsJim (1149003)
        I dunno, I've found Google's targeting to be pretty spot-on, with the exception of Gmail (which is still pretty accurate). I find if I search for something, I'll get ads related to that search, not previous searches.
        • by gbjbaanb (229885)

          They don't need to personalise your search when they know what you're searching for - and they do that based on your search keywords. Personalisation is about amending that list based on what you've searched for previously, you disable it by turning off Web History. This is what they're intending to do.

    • by Hatta (162192)

      You miss the point. Google is keeping track of us anyway. That we're using google means we're already ok with that. What I'm not ok with is with them messing with my search results. I want the same results from the same query no matter where I am. This makes Google a lot less useful.

      Suppose I have a large search history built up at home. One day I google a new term, and get a new and interesting result. The next day I go out of town and want to revisit that site on a public computer. I google the sam

      • You miss the point. Google is keeping track of us anyway. That we're using google means we're already ok with that. What I'm not ok with is with them messing with my search results. I want the same results from the same query no matter where I am. This makes Google a lot less useful.

        Suppose I have a large search history built up at home. One day I google a new term, and get a new and interesting result. The next day I go out of town and want to revisit that site on a public computer. I google the same term I did the night before, and get nothing. That's bad.

        Well, then do both sets of searches while logged in to your Google account!

  • Just needs to be easier to manage, Radio button:

    O Customize (Personalise) Searches: Yes/No
  • Simple solution (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Timosch (1212482) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @11:38AM (#30343386)
    Auto-delete cookies when closing the browser. It's not that complicated, and while it costs you some extra time (logging on etc.), it might be less than you thought it would. I've been doing it for 5 years now.
    • by Hatta (162192)

      Who closes their browser? The only time my browser ever gets closed is when I reboot for some reason or other. I'm going on 2 weeks now. What would be more useful is to simply block the cookies from ever getting written in the first place.

      • I do. I don't like having lots of windows open and I close them when I am done with them. If I'm done browsing the web, I close my browser. I can always click the icon again and launch it in a second if I need it. Likewise, if I'm done with any other program, I close it.

        I agree with you about blocking cookies. I use the CookieCuller addon to review my cookies list about every week or two and see which ones go to what look like advertising and tracking sites. I then block those sites from setting cookies. I'

    • by nfk (570056)

      I'm using Firefox and I simply reject all cookies. For the sites that need it (for login purposes, in my case), I add exceptions. You can even add exceptions forever or just for the session. This method may be too restrictive for some, but if, like me, you only absolutely need cookies in a handful of sites that very seldom change, it works well.

  • I've had my browser cookies turned off for 8 years. I only use cash to make purchases. I don't even use the bathroom in my house because I'm worried THEY are watching what I'm eating. Sure my basement is filled with mason jars filled with crap, but it isn't as difficult as you might think. You also get used to the smell after a while. It is a small price to pay to not have the government know what I'm eating/drinking.

  • Someone wrote a book last year saying how more and more of the polarization in the U.S. is because people are segregating themselves into neighborhoods based on politics. Do you want to leave someplace with Whole Foods and yoga studios, or with megachurches and gun shops? This Google move seems to be taking this same segregation on-line. Google "climate change"....hmmm, I see this person's been to Fox News recently...better send 'em to a denial site. Or, more generally, once you get stuck in an affinity
    • Do you want to live someplace with Whole Foods and yoga studios, or with megachurches and gun shops?

      Can I live some place with Whole Foods, gun shops and no Yoga studios or Megachurches? Maybe with a computer store or two nearby?

      'Segregation' and stratification can still be close to continuous in reality.

  • I think if everyone's laundry were out in the open, we could stop pretending that some people's laundry is always clean.

  • I noticed the other day when I went to the YouTube homepage that the recommendations it gave me were videos that closely conformed with my actual interests. Except I hadn't "logged in" yet.

  • I like the forms feature. I most particularly use it [on comuters under my physical control] to keep track of my login names on sites I may not visit frequently. I don't want to clear my form history to clear my search history, as they advise and have good reason to believe it would help much if I did. Perhaps the Waltham MA Google center is running some sort of experimental "improvement", but they seem to track more than cookies and browser history

    Though I have loved Google for over a decade, I dislike Per

  • How come the tin-foil hatters never seem to bring up the fact that you can simply vote with your feet if you don't like Google's privacy policies? Is Google pointing a gun at your head forcing you to use Google instead of Bing, Yahoo, Ask.com? The reality is those sites are probably collecting just as much information about you as Google is but they don't get nearly the same amount of attention.

    You can't opt out government surveillance but there are plenty of ways to opt out of Google's.
  • by MarkWatson (189759) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @09:38PM (#30348162) Homepage

    Just some advice that I give friends and family:

            * Delete all cookies in your browser every week - it is easy enough to sign in again to web sites that require authentication. People who do not delete their cookies never see what sites are tracking them. It is easiest to do a 'delete all cookies' operation and not to try to save the 5 or 10 cookies out of thousands that are stored in your local browser data.
            * Keep a text file with all passwords in encrypted form - and, do not use the same password for different purposes.
            * Every time you use your super market's discount card (or possibly pay with a credit card), your purchases are permanently associated with you - do you care? maybe or maybe not.

    I do use a lot of web services that track what I do (GMail, for example) but I make the decision to give up privacy vs. benefits on a service by service basis.

"The greatest warriors are the ones who fight for peace." -- Holly Near

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