In response to the recent problems with search queries being made public by AOL and the potential for not only more such “accidental” releases of search histories, somebody has developed a tool that can help.

It’s called TrackMeNot.  It is a plugin for the Firefox browser that sends fake search queries to search engines. The idea is that your real searches will be hidden amongst the fake searches, thus concealing your real search habits.

This tool is by no means a cureall and it’s only useful for Firefox, but it can help add to privacy. Especially if you regularly delete the cookies that the search engines set.

By the way, the url that the article gives for TrackMeNot is incorrect.  The right one is http://mrl.nyu.edu/~dhowe/TrackMeNot/

Another, similar web-based tool that will work for any browser is Lost in the Crowd. It can be found at https://lostinthecrowd.org.


Tool Generates Fake Searches for Privacy
Aug 31, 3:58 PM (ET)
By ANICK JESDANUN
NEW YORK (AP) – A new tool seeks to make your searches more private by hiding them in plain sight.

TrackMeNot periodically sends fake, innocuous queries to search engines, making it harder for someone to glean your actual search habits by reviewing the companies’ logs that contain your queries.

The tool comes as AOL revealed it had released the search histories of more than 650,000 subscribers. Although user names were not included, the company admitted that the search terms themselves could contain sensitive information. Two AOL employees were fired and a third resigned over the disclosure.

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