Offers Secret Searching

Dennis Faas's picture

The Ask.Com search engine now offers users the ability to search without any records being collected. Anyone using the site can, with just two clicks, make sure details such as their IP address (which identifies the particular computer they are using) and the phrase they are searching for are not stored by the site. (Source:

The service is titled AskEraser. Some critics have noted that the name is slightly misleading; rather than erasing data, it simply makes sure the information is never written in the first place. It only applies to future searches and it isn't possible to remove information about any searches you may have made before turning the service on.

Despite some flak, it's the first time a search engine has offered such a service. (previously Ask Jeeves) is the fourth largest search engine in the American market, running around three to four per cent of all searches. The three largest search engines, Google, Yahoo and Microsoft's Live Search, all store personal information from searches for between 13 and 18 months.

Ask.Com's service applies to all the features covered by the site, such as blogs, videos and maps. CEO Jim Lazone said "AskEraser is simple, straightforward, and easy-to-use. It is an idea whose time has come."

There are some catches, however. carries advertising from Google which is customised to fit the search terms. The details of your search will continue to be passed to Google for this reason. (Source: also retains the right to store your search information if government officials require it. This requirement is the subject of some debate; firms such as Google claim they have to store the details of all searches to comply with anti-terrorism laws, while believes it will only have to store the details of individuals specifically flagged up by officials. (Source:

The loopholes mean the AskEraser service isn't perfect. However, those who advocate privacy rights will welcome this move and will be watching to see if rival search engines follow suit.

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