Google Enables Users to Delete Search History, Piece by Piece

August 31, 2016

The article on CIO titled Google Quietly Brings Forgetting to the U.S. draws attention to Google have enabled Americans to view and edit their search history. Simply visit My Activity and login to witness the mind-boggling amount of data Google has collected in your search career. To delete, all you have to do is complete two clicks. But the article points out that to delete a lot of searches, you will need an afternoon dedicated to cleaning up your history. And afterward you might find that your searches are less customized, as are your ads and autofills. But the article emphasizes a more communal concern,

There’s something else to consider here, though, and this has societal implications. Google’s forget policy has some key right-to-know overlaps with its takedown policy. The takedown policy allows people to request that stories about or images of them be removed from the database. The forget policy allows the user to decide on his own to delete something…I like being able to edit my history, but I am painfully aware that allowing the worst among us to do the same can have undesired consequences.

Of course, by “the worse among us” he means terrorists. But for many people, the right to privacy is more important than the hypothetical ways that terrorists will potentially suffer within a more totalitarian, Big Brother state. Indeed, Google’s claim that the search history information is entirely private is already suspect. If Google personnel or Google partners can see this data, doesn’t that mean it is no longer private?

Chelsea Kerwin, August 31, 2016
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


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