Google keeps logs of usage. They’ve admitted as much. Their privacy policy appears to give them wide latitude on what they can do with information you provide – what you click on when you search, your GMail, your business/personal documents stored on Google Office, patent searches you do (this alone should scare you), and information related to other services they provide.

Some people don’t mind this. If Google profiling doesn’t bother you, go in peace. You can stop reading.

If it does bother you, here are some ideas to help put your mind at some ease. Depending upon the Google services you use, it may not be possible to avoid having a profile built around your usage, but you can avoid having that profile attached to you.

I’ve heard people have had success with the following:

Easy things:

Don’t install Google apps on your system. Only use web based services. Look into alternatives like an open source community site, such as Source Forge, FreshMeat, and a variety of other sites such as LifeHacker likely have what you need.

A little harder:

For Google Searches, use a proxy designed to work with Google Search. BlackBoxSearch and Scroogle come to mind.

An interface to BlackBox and Scroogle can be had at YubNub. Go a step further…set YubNub to be your browser’s url bar keyword handler.

In FireFox, type about:config in the URL bar, and set the keyword.url attribute to http://yubnub.org/parser/parse?command=

Once set up, you simply type bbg (YubNub commandline to use BlackBox Search) in your URL bar, followed by your search terms, and do a proxied Google search. No profile on you.

Go to YubNub to learn more…it has tremendous capability…a real command line interface to the web.

Harder Still:

For the real paranoids out there, you can take it to the next level by setting up your system to use onion routing proxies, such as Tor. You can use most Google services through this type of proxy. The profile can still be built around your login ID at Google, but likely not to your IP or machine. With some care, maintaining your privacy is doable, while still getting a lot of benefit from what Google has to offer.

Of course, you can use Tor to do a BlackBox or Scroogle search, to add more layers of indirection.

Still paranoid? Combine your Tor proxy with mix cascade proxies, such as those provided by JAP.

If you decide to set up a Tor onion routing proxy, this is up to you. I can provide no guidance other than pointing you at the Tor web site. The same applies to other items I list above – use at your own risk and learn how to install and use these effectively…no one else will.

 

cv

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