AskEraser Elevates Privacy Standard For Search
Ask.com launched its AskEraser service across all of the search engine’s products, where people can opt to erase their search history with a single mouse click.
If the usual 18-month limit to Ask.com‘s search data retention seems too long, searchers can slice that down to a few hours. The AskEraser service announced in July debuted on the search engine’s assortment of web properties.
Ask made the AskEraser service available to users of their US and UK web properties. The company said in the AskEraser FAQ it would delete search activity data within a short period of time for AskEraser users:
Search activity data includes information about the pages you visit on Ask.com, including the terms you search for, the links you click, your IP address, and any user or session identifier.
When AskEraser is enabled, Ask.com will delete from our servers all references containing any single element of search activity data; query (what you searched for, clicked on, etc.), IP address (where you searched from), and user/sessions IDs (who you are in relation to previous searches).
After turning on AskEraser, all of a visitor’s Ask.com cookies will be replaced with a single AskEraser cookie. This tells Ask’s other search services to erase search activity data proactively.
The launch of AskEraser coincided with the search engine’s new 18-month data retention policy. Gary Price at Resource Shelf noted that for people who have not opted to use AskEraser, Ask.com will "completely disassociate search history from a user’s IP address or cookie information after 18 months."
We expect the other major search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft won’t follow AskEraser’s example. The data mining search sites perform on user activity represents tremendous value to the engines; they won’t give up such a resource that easily.