Google’s New Web History – What “View and manage your web history” Means for Your Privacy on Google

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With very little fanfare, Google has unleashed their relatively new web history feature on their users. If you had any doubt that Google has the ability to store and track your every move you make – at least through them – let this put all doubts to rest. Here’s what’s really behind that “New! View and manage your web history” link you’re seeing on the Google page.

First of all, let’s be clear about what Google web history is. Google’s web history is the collation and correlation of the data and information about your web history – not just “what sites have I visited”, but aggregate data – sliced and diced – to determine things such as “which website did I visit the most?” and “What are my top searches?”


Here’s how Google explains it:

“You know that great web site you saw online and now can’t find? With Web History, you can view and search across web pages you’ve visited in the past, including Google searches. Web History also provides interesting trends on your web activity, such as which sites you visit most frequently and what your top searches are. Finally, Web History helps deliver more personalized search results based on what you’ve searched for and which sites you’ve visited.”

Now, take a moment to actually think about this. Do you really want Google storing the fact that you have performed a dozen searches for Nosepickers Anonymous? Or, worse?

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Of course, Google has had the ability to do this for some time – it’s just that now they are packaging it up for you and openly admitting it.

And in case you weren’t sure just how far the collection of your personal data goes, Google advises in their web history FAQ that they collect all kinds of information about you, including “your Internet Protocol address, browser type, browser language and one or more cookies that may uniquely identify your browser.” Web history even tracks the Google Adsense ads on which you click!

Now, the good news is that you can turn web history off.

 

If you know to do so.

And if you know how to do it.

So, we’re going to tell you how.

To disable Google’s web history product, go into your Google account. In your account screen, look at the list called “my services.” See the link there that says “Edit”? Click it. You will be presented with a screen from which you can delete any Google service to which you are currently subscribed (intentionally or otherwise). Delete web history from that screen.

No Paywall Here!
The Internet Patrol is and always has been free. We don't hide our articles behind a paywall, or restrict the number of articles you can read in a month if you don't give us money. That said, it does cost us money to run the site, so if something you read here was helpful or useful, won't you consider donating something to help keep the Internet Patrol free?
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4 thoughts on “Google’s New Web History – What “View and manage your web history” Means for Your Privacy on Google

  1. You have to log in to delete web history. I have half a dozen g-mail accounts that I use for various purposes. Logging in and deleting web history from one account deletes it from all the others. Scary.

  2. One may think that, just because I choose not to see MY particular history, there may be others who do wish to track my habits. There is no mention, therefore no guarantee, that I can shut down the entire gathering process. Not that I’d want to do that; in fact, I’d be glad to find that they managed, … after years of my trying, to give me a connection with someone offering wiene whistles, so I could finally get one for my wife.

    Not all history is bad.

  3. I use the firefox extension ‘Customize Google’. I wonder if by using the privacy features in it whether this web history would be much less complete.

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