Hoping to establish itself as the Internet’s least intrusive search engine, Ask.com is empowering people to prevent their search requests from being deposited in data banks.Ask posts a link to AskEraser in the upper right corner of the home page, and here's their FAQ.
The new privacy control, called “AskEraser,” is scheduled to be unveiled Tuesday. When it’s turned on, the safeguard purges a user’s search requests from Ask.com’s computers within a few hours.
Industry leader Google Inc. stores personal information for 18 months, as does Microsoft Corp.’s search engine. Yahoo Inc. and Time Warner Inc.’s AOL retain search requests for 13 months.
I wish all search engines allowed users to opt out/in, so kudos to Ask for leading the way (even if it is partially a marketing strategy--ultimately, it has to be inasmuch as the data fosters improved search). I do admit that these privacy concerns can be a bit of an abstraction to me. That is, it doesn't particularly bother me that something I searched for on Google that I may not want others to know about sits on a server in Oregon. If I knew Google employees were pouring over searches tied to my name and e-mail, etc., I'd be more than a little concerned, but until then, other privacy matters are more important. Protecting yourself is important, but so is not living in fear.