Block Your Web History Before Google Tracks You Down (Again)

Coming soon to a Google near you: a new unified privacy policy designed to "create a beautifully simple, intuitive user experience." At least, that's how Google describes it. According to some privacy advocates, it's a troubling change that will result in the invasion of users' personal information.

Starting March 1, Google's new privacy policy brings together 60 separate privacy documents into one. The idea is for Google to be able to deliver all kinds of personalization (like improved search results and, ahem, better targeted ads), but it also means your private search history will be now be shared across Google's services.

There are some benefits to sharing this information: for instance, Google could decide you're a snowboarding fan based on your searches, then recommend snowboarding videos when you visit YouTube. However, if this new policy ooks you out, there's an easy way to disable your search history.

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Search results are an absolute goldmine of personal information, potentially revealing all kinds of data about who you are—your location, sexual orientation, age, interests, religion, and health concerns. For Google to be able to combine your search history with other information they may have about you (your YouTube habits, your GooglePlus account) gives the company a pretty thorough peek into your life—and the ability to serve up super-targeted advertising.

Personally, I'm less concerned about the privacy aspect and more leery that I'll be getting skewed results based on the things I search for my writing job here at The Stir. I may spend a lot of time looking up, say, entertainment content, but that doesn't mean I want customized search results based on my undying love for Justin Bieber.

Anyway, here's how you can turn off your web history:

1. Sign into your Google account.

2. Go to https://www.google.com/history.



(As you can see, I spent my morning researching J.K. Rowling's new book. Whew, glad this wasn't my "comb the web for naked photos of Alexander Skarsgård" day.)

3. Click "remove all History," then click "OK."

And that's it! Note that removing your Web History also pauses it; Web History will remain off until you enable it again.

This doesn't prevent Google from gathering and storing this information, and in case you were thinking of searching for something nefarious, this also doesn't stop Google from handing over your data to law enforcement if need be. But it should prevent Google from using your search information to custom-design ads and other services.

Did you know about Google's upcoming privacy policy change? Does it bother you at all?



Image via YouTube

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