Keep Google From Storing Your Search History

Perhaps you’ve noticed that Google has been quietly associating your account with your search history. Perhaps this pisses you off. Well, Ex-Googler Nelson Minar has some tips for deleting and turning off the search history feature, should that appeal to you.

You can turn off search history recording in the settings page. You can also edit your history, including removing it entirely.

—MEGHANN MARCO

Google search history and privacy [Some Bits via BoingBoing]

Comments

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  1. czechm8 says:

    first post!

    gmail is also annoying. remember their suggestion *not* to delete emails. better to sell crap to you my dear.

    I loved you Google. Tell me you don’t just love me for my demographic consumer data which you sell to corporate marketing/consulting firms. *cry*

  2. omgy says:

    I’m fairly sure that editing or deleting your search history only affects the data available to you. I believe Google still retains the search data regardless of your actions.

  3. superbmtsub says:

    Awesome. Thanks Meghann! Now google can googlymeup no more so take that Google!

  4. SexCpotatoes says:

    Damn that took a lot of poking, but I got it done!

  5. Oh my. I never realized how embarassing my search history was.

    Good thing I didnt look at my search history while at work.

    Amazingly, consumerist is on every history page a minimum of two times. (I have a habit of typing my url’s into a search engine instead of directly typing them in, its much safer)

    Thanks for the tip Meghann

  6. YodaYid says:

    My favorite search privacy method is TrackMeNot: “With TrackMeNot, actual web searches, lost in a cloud of false leads, are essentially hidden in plain view.” I.e. it sends out fake searches every couple of minutes. There’s not much any company can do to sort out your real searches from your fake ones if you use it, especially if the timing of the fake queries is random.

    Holden – how is typing your URL’s into a search engine safer? If anything, it’s less safe. Let’s say you type “Bank of America” into Google, and clever phishers come up with a way to GoogleBomb so that they come up first. It’s unlikely, but possible. If you put in the correct URL directly, you don’t have to worry about phishers.

  7. Never thought of that. I always imagined that the url that you are looking for is not necessarily the first one that you would type in. The first url to be typed in generally belongs to a squatter of some type.

  8. kim says:

    Thank you — now I can’t wait to peek at my son’s!
    Er, maybe not.

  9. HawkWolf says:

    The ‘don’t delete your emails’ thing may not be so evil. I work in technical support and a large number of people who call us need information we emailed them but they subsequently deleted.

  10. shaunirving says:

    Maybe a better tip is not to use GMail at all. I know, it’s a snazzy interface, but every bit of info in your emails can be correlated with your searches in Google (or any other bit of data you’ve given the Google empire).

    If you use GMail, search with MSN or another engine. If you use Hotmail, search with Google. Or just make sure to log out of GMail when you’re not using it…

  11. methane says:

    Brilliant! Before I followed the link in the post, apparently google WASN’T storing my search history! Now They ARE! Thanks Consumerist!
    BTW – I know this because the first time I looked at my history, it WAS completely empty. now, even searching in the google search box in Firefox adds entries to my Google search history page. Super. Fantastic.

  12. methane says:

    FYI, you can completely remove the Google Search history service from your google account, here’s how:

    http://www.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?answer=26687&t

  13. As log as you don’t login to Google, it can’t associate it with your account, right? It will be tracked by you computer’s IP address, but not necessarily tied to your account.

  14. Michael says:

    The only good reason to disable your search history is that in the event your Google account is compromised, the invader would not be able to see your searches. Google is still storing information about all your searches, so if you’re trying not to be tracked by Google that won’t help. If anything, aside from the protection against intrusion, it can be a counterproductive measure, because unless you have a really good memory of what you’ve been searching then you ought to have access to what Google remembers about you.

    But for those who don’t want to be tracked at all, you should know that even if you log out of any Google services, your Google cookie remains, and will do so until either you delete it or it expires in the year 2038. So any searches you do after that are still associated with your cookie.

    One might think, then, that it would be sufficient to delete Google’s cookie on a regular basis. However, if you delete your cookie but your IP address remains the same, Google will send you the same cookie ID again the next time you access their site.

    You could block the cookie altogether and also refrain from using any services like Gmail or Google reader. But Google will still correlate information with your IP address. If your IP address doesn’t change often, that’s just as useful to them as their cookie.

    Google is not your friend when it comes to privacy. On the other hand, Scroogle.com might be. Scroogle is operated by the same folks who run Google Watch, a site critical of Google’s privacy policies, and allows you to search Google or Yahoo anonymously.

  15. Michael says:

    Oops! That should be Scroogle.ORG, not .com.

  16. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    I fixed that little problem by deleting my G-Mail account. Really, is there any good reason for them to be keeping a record of my searches? Then there were the targeted ads tied to words in the body of my e-mail, and the little “we’ll archive your mail forever” clause in their TOS.

    Bye bye, G-Mail.

  17. Michael says:

    Dwayne, unless you also deleted your cookie and changed your IP address after you deleted your Gmail account, and didn’t load Google again until you’d completed both of those tasks, any Google searches you do are still being correlated with the other data they’ve gathered on you. I hope you didn’t register Gmail with your real name. But even people who have never used Google’s sign-in services have detailed profiles built on them.

    Of course, many companies we deal with gather as much information as they can on us, it’s just that Google and a few others are very good at doing it without most people understanding what’s going on. Perhaps at the moment it won’t matter much for many, but whenever companies merge they combine their data to create an ever more detailed picture of their users/customers. In the best cases, that may improve our interactions with services; in the worst…

    Remember, Google is the same company which is developing technology to monitor users’ microphones so that it can listen to what TV shows they’re watching and serve targeted ads accordingly. Can’t wait ’til they try to launch that one…

    Maybe it’s not evil, but it’s definitely icky.