Google Security

15 June 2005

Google is always adding new products and features. One of these is the Personalized Google Homepage.You can customize it with news, movies, weather, stock market reports and more. How convenient. But there is a dark side.

Google saves your search history. Every person, place, thing, or word you look up is stored in your history (BTW-same goes for the Google Toolbar). This can be cleared or paused on your end, but it will still be saved on the Google server. It’s in their Privacy Policy:

“You can delete information from My Search History, and it will be removed from the service and no longer available to you. However, as is common practice in the industry, and as outlined in the Google Privacy Policy, Google maintains a separate logs system for auditing purposes and to help us improve the quality of our services for users.”

So, if you have a Personalized Google Homepage, here’s how to at least manage history items on your end…

Click the “My Search History” link then “Remove Items”. Put a check next to the items on the list you want removed, or select “All”. Finally, hit the “Remove” button.

If you don’t want Search History activated, just click the “Pause” link. Again, the search info still goes to Google, but it doesn’t show up in your search history display. To turn S.H. back on just hit “Resume”.

As I mentioned, the Google Toolbar also keeps your history, but it doesn’t track you like the Personalized Homepage. To turn off…

Go to the “Options” button and select the “Search” tab.

Uncheck “drop down search history”, “Save the search history…”, and “Automatically search…”

Hit OK.

Now your toolbar searches are known only to you. As for the personal homepage searches… at least no one outside of Google or the government can see what you looked up.

~ David

David Samuel Thomas

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