Search portal Ask.com plans to make it easier for Web searchers to cover their tracks. The company is introducing a new feature to its Web portal later this year called AskEraser, which will let users perform anonymous searches.
When AskEraser is turned on, the Web site will not retain the data it typically stores during a search, said Patrick Crisp, an Ask.com spokesman. “We will allow users to select a privacy setting that says ‘I do not want you to retain my data at all,’” he said.
If AskEraser is not turned on, the site will store the search query, the IP (Internet Protocol) address and some cookie information from the user, as well as the URL the user visited before coming to Ask.com, Crisp said.
Search engines like Ask.com say that they retain this sort of information in order to improve their sites, but this practice has become controversial, with privacy advocates worrying that the data could be leaked or misused.