What Happens In Ask Doesn’t Stay In Ask

    December 12, 2007
    WebProNews Staff

Ask.com isn’t being completely forthcoming about its highly touted AskEraser, which, the company promises, deletes searcher data in a matter of hours. Hours seems to be the amount of time required to send that data to Google first.

What Happens In Ask Doesn't Stay In Ask
What Happens In Ask Doesn’t Stay In Ask

Ask may be deleting the information from their servers, but a partnership with Google to serve up search advertising means that Google knows what people are searching for on Ask.com. And Ask has no control over what remains on Google’s server.

This technicality is made quite clear, a little way down the list of FAQs:

"We cannot delete your search activity from the servers of third-party companies that receive your search queries to provide you with certain aspects of our search results (for example, current weather conditions, stock market summaries, etc.), sponsored search results and other product features."

In short, Google (and possibly others) have access to that information and are subject only to their own privacy policies. Luckily, Google has a fairly good track record on this, even if the amount of data the company stores is unnerving to many.

But the very next question in the FAQ reveals something else: even when AskEraser is turned on, Ask may hang on to search activity data if the government demands it:

"Ask.com must abide by the laws and regulations of local, state and federal authorities. Even when Ask Eraser is enabled, we may store your search activity data if so requested by law enforcement or legal authority pursuant to due process. In such case, we will retain your search data even if AskEraser appears to be turned on."

So, just to review what information is turned over to Google and, under the right circumstances, the feds, here’s a list of what information AskEraser is supposed to delete: 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.