Software // Information Management
01:02 PM
50% Launches Search Privacy Feature

AskEraser can eliminate a users' IP addresses, user IDs, session ID cookies, and the complete text of search queries from the servers., which bills itself as "the other search engine," launched a new feature this week to set it apart from its more popular competitors.

The search engine's AskEraser feature will delete search queries from servers upon user request. Files and fields to be deleted from the database include: users' IP addresses, user IDs, session ID cookies, and the complete text of search queries within hours.

" is serious about privacy," parent company IAC Search and Media said in a statement posted on its Web site. "We are committed to meeting and exceeding emerging privacy trends in the search industry. Not only will we proactively delete the search activity of all users from our servers after 18 months, but we also offer AskEraser, which, when enabled, deletes your search activity within hours."

Users can activate the feature by clicking on AskEraser in a link in the upper right hand corner of and its United Kingdom site. Once activated, displays a notice telling users it is on.

The feature has its limitations.

First, it only works with searches. Also, IAC said that when it runs automated systems to identify and block bots, it cannot delete the information. The information also could be retained if technicians must work on problems such as denial of service attacks, or other technical issues.

In other words, in some cases, the company may take longer to delete searches.

The feature cannot prevent third-party companies from retaining information accessed through their servers. It cannot work if users access through toolbars and search boxes on third-party sites. It also cannot delete information accessed through search boxes embedded in Firefox, Internet Explorer, and browsers that don't allow AskEraser to function.

IAC still has to comply with legal requests. That means that search activity will be stored, even if a user has activated Ask Eraser, if law enforcement investigators provide legal authorization to obtain the information. IAC said it will only turn over the information for requests pursuant to "due process," indicating that it will set high standards and not turn over information based on informal or unauthorized requests.

Finally, the feature itself uses cookies to indicate that AskEraser is turned on and to indicate whether a user has agreed to view unfiltered results. IAC said the AskEraser cookie expires after two years and only retains the date and time that the user activated the feature. The cookie allowing unfiltered results expires after 20 minutes, IAC said.

Using the eraser also prevents from personalizing searches, choosing a home-page background, saving links, and saving search results.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
The Agile Archive
The Agile Archive
When it comes to managing data, donít look at backup and archiving systems as burdens and cost centers. A well-designed archive can enhance data protection and restores, ease search and e-discovery efforts, and save money by intelligently moving data from expensive primary storage systems.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
Increasing IT Agility and Speed To Drive Business Growth
Learn about the steps you'll need to take to transform your IT operation and culture into an agile organization that supports business-driving initiatives.
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.