Holly Deyo, Contributing Writer
For a decade now, Stan and I noticed that we could make a Net search for say, pressure cookers. In mere hours after the Google search, we’d get emails advertising pressure cookers. Some of the searches were so obscure it couldn’t be fobbed off to coincidence.
This became really obvious a month ago when I had visited the Sofft shoe site – just for a minute – to see what was new for Spring. Imagine my surprise when the very shoes I’d clicked on appeared on the right side of various news pages. Then I checked out some books and viola! Ads for those exact books replaced the shoes.
Just this morning, it was revealed that Google, Facebook and others were bypassing Safari’s web settings to spy on users for advertising purposes. Google has reportedly deleted this intrusive code. One thing that is apparent, as soon as one privacy hole is plugged another one pops up. For Firefox users wanting more information, visit Do Not Track dnt.mozilla.org/
Sidecar: It is shocking that people still send credit card information through email. This begs for identity theft. For any email, regardless of your provider, always assume that it’s open for all to read. Once the send button is hit, before it reaches destination it makes many “hops” through forwarding computers. As many as 25 to 30 hops is common. At each hop, your entire message can be read. This is not just done by employers checking on staff, or gov’t agencies searching emails using trigger words. Anyone stationed at these computers can have access. So before you hit Send, read your email again. Read it like through the eyes of a stranger. Did you really want “that” publicized?
All email services check your email to filter spam and detect viruses, etc. This is the good side of email scanning. However, lack of privacy is the price we pay. Gmail admits it keeps multiple copies of your email – even if you’ve deleted them – “so that we can recover messages and restore accounts in case of errors or system failure”.1 Some might view this statement as a convenience excuse.
For those using Google’s Gmail you should be doubly concerned and get a new mail server today.
Start with Starting Page
We are aware of only two search engines that grant total privacy: Starting Page startingpage.com/ and Gibiru gibiru.com. Gibiru was just brought to my attention last night and I haven’t had time to explore it thoroughly. It offers many more options than Starting Page such as News, Category searches and Alerts, but search results are much more limited. Gibiru appears to have come online just last year so maybe it will improve with time. Not sure what’s up with their New Age looking logo, but as time permits, I’ll give it a more intensive run through.
Like everything, Starting Page has pros and cons. First, the good.
Starting Page (SP) never mines or collects your personal data, or your IP address or tracks your searches or attaches cookies. SP is “Google Enhanced”, which means when you do a search, they strip off all identifying info before submitting your request. It lets you do a “clean” search and Google’s none the wiser.
As soon as news search work is finished for the day, I’ll clear the Google search history. Google does not make finding this page easy so here’s the direct link with instructions how to do it: support.google.com/websearch/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=465.
Once there, you’ll want to clear 3 things:
- Search History
- Toolbar Search History and
- Web History
Holly Deyo is a writer and researcher who has produced books including Garden Gold and Dare to Prepare! Her website Milliennium-Ark is a must-read to keep up to date on news from around the web on a wide variety of topics.