Monday, February 15, 2010

Obfuscate your search history

Some time ago I wrote that Google knows a lot about you just by looking at your search history. Just remember Google flue prognosis. This is relevant for companies who's strategy might implicitly be revealed by searches of employees as well as for average persons whose most private interests can be revealed.

When have you last searched for "Dating" or a "New job" ?

However there is a way to protect yourself against this. It is a bit similar to the mechanism we described to protect you from the facebook data monster. For every search request you do, make several fake searches. By this method you obfuscate your searches and hide them in the noise of fake searches. It will be very difficult for Google to sort out the "real" search requests and the fake ones.

Additionally we have in mind an easy mechanism how to automate this obfuscation. A browser plugin (for individuals) or the Internet gateway (for companies) could generate random additional search requests for each normal search. You search once for "Dating" and the plugin will generate about ten additional searches with random search terms. Results from the fake searches will be suppressed and not shown to you. You will only see the relevant search while the plugin protects your privacy in the background.

We think this would be an easy and powerful mechanism to protect your search privacy and we are even thinking about building a small Firefox plugin as a demo and open source it.

What do you think ?


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