Over on Google Lets Users View Search Histories Pam Dixon (apparently a privacy rights expert) is quoted as saying:

"It's really a bad idea," said Dixon, executive director of the World Privacy Forum. "If you need to keep track of your past searches, I recommend using a notebook. It would be a lot more private and a lot less risky."

A notebook?!?! Pen and paper?! Are you f*#king kidding me?

Maybe Pam is just a lot better at copying down URLs than the rest of the word. But I'll be using computers to save my searches.

Posted by jzawodn at April 20, 2005 03:38 PM

Reader Comments
# Josh Hallett said:

Yeah you probably shouldn't type your password into your computer either, somebody might have put a keylogger on your system.

By the way, Pam's luggage combination is 1-2-3-4.

on April 20, 2005 04:12 PM
# Derek said:

Sorry, I'm with her on this. Who wants them to keep track of whether or not I searched for "donkey show porn pictures" three weeks ago? Not me.

She's not saying to copy down URLs, but search terms. She's saying that if the user wants that information collected, they should collect it themselves, and not have search-histories of individual people collated by the search engine. And with that I agree.

on April 20, 2005 04:31 PM
# Christopher said:

Well, Derek if you want to search for "donkey show porn pictures" then you can simply pause the recording...

See this item (www.google.com/searchhistory/help.html#pause):

8. Once I've signed up, how do I stop storing my searches in My Search History?

If you don't want any of your searches to be saved by My Search History, you can either log out of your Google Account or simply pause the service by clicking on the "Pause" link in the blue title bar of your search history page. You can then "un-pause" it whenever you want your searches to be saved again by clicking on the Resume" link. You can also edit or remove specific searches or results from the service by clicking the Remove items" link.

Seems pretty darn simple to me...

Nice feature and a good implementation in opinion.


on April 20, 2005 04:40 PM
# Mike said:


Make sure you manually encrypt your past searches before writing them in your notebook.

on April 20, 2005 05:03 PM
# Marshall said:

I'll continue to just Furl any search results pages that were particularly complicated or noteworthy. That'll cache not only what the search terms were, but what the results were when the search was performed.

on April 20, 2005 06:41 PM
# TheWatcher said:

No, Jeremy, she does not.

While there may be better solutions to that problem than notebook, her concerns are legitimate.

And why do you keep posting these links instead of these?

on April 20, 2005 08:12 PM
# AlliXSenoS said:

re: Jeremy

I completely agree with you... I've been waiting for this feature for *years* (ever since the first time I had to find the same thing all over again because I forgot what the exact search term was)

re: Marshall

yeah, but sometimes you think the results are not important and then 3 minutes later you realise they were.

re: TheWatcher

Her concerns may be legitimate if ThisIsOurFirstProject.com did something like this, but this is Google... The same Google that we already trust with our email :)

on April 21, 2005 02:27 AM
# Aaron Brazell said:

I blogged about this myself last night. Although she has an obviously impractical view on alternatives, I am with her on the privacy issue. If I need to find previous searches, all browsers offer a history. And how often do I really need to go back to a search from a month or more ago.

I'm really very opposed to the concept on privacy grounds. As time goes on I'm thinking that perhaps the government isn't the real threat to personal liberties and maybe it's Google. :D

on April 21, 2005 06:14 AM
# justin said:

is Pam's notebook available in RSS format? And is there a PamNotebook API coming out soon? I'd like to integrate my sketchpad with it.

on April 21, 2005 01:20 PM
# Adam Turoff said:

Actually, Pam does have a point. And yet she doesn't. From a privacy perspective, it means that if someone can snoop your password, they can see your search history.

If you've got a problem with that, the answer isn't to keep you history in a notebook, or use some other search engine. The answer is not to search -- so no one can sleuth out your search history!

From a real world perspective, it's a moot point, because Google can already associate your search history with you. If someone is determined enough to stalk you to the point where they can know what you're looking for at Google, they can probably figure out what you've searched for. Period.

The only thing that has changed is that Google is admitting they can track your search history, and they're providing it to you as a "new feature".

on April 21, 2005 02:17 PM
# Aristotle Pagaltzis said:

What’s the point of this? I already have a history in the search box of my Firefox. Okay, so it’s not shared across computers. Do I care?

on April 21, 2005 09:55 PM
# Glen said:

It might make a difference if they didn't already keep information on your search terms, but they do. Get over it.

on April 22, 2005 01:01 PM
# Joe said:

Just don't use Google!!!!! It's very simple. I just plain didn't take the chance on the free google accounts. I have other accounts, and even though they "could" collect information, at least it's within the United States.

on April 30, 2005 07:39 PM
# Janos said:

I have developed a Firefox extension that could solve your problem: it (more or less) randomly generates queries on Google (or Yahoo!) and click on some non-sponsored results. If someone access your account, he won't be able to recognize the real queries. The extension uses keywords appearing in some RSS flows (that you may choose) to generate fake queries on search engines. It's available here ( https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/5986) and you can find more information on my website.

Here a scary news about search history (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/08/09/google_gadget_threats/). Basically, if you install a malicious software on iGoogle, someone can stole your session and access your search history.

on August 11, 2008 12:51 PM
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