Privacy and search engines

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This article was considered for deletion at Wikipedia on March 2 2015. This is a backup of Wikipedia:Privacy_and_search_engines. All of its AfDs can be found at Wikipedia:Special:PrefixIndex/Wikipedia:Articles_for_deletion/Privacy_and_search_engines, the first at Wikipedia:Wikipedia:Articles_for_deletion/Privacy_and_search_engines. Purge

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Why search engines

In order for us to better understand search engines and their impact, it is important to understand why people use them at all. Since the invention of the internet by DARPA in the late 1960s we can clearly see that the internet and scope of data has grown exponentially from what the initial founders every intended. Data has become widely available and used for four main things; Research,e-commerce, entertainment and manipulation through exploitation. Without any means of accessing this vast information online, information dissection would not be possible. this realization came early with numerous search algorithms emerging from the woodwork to aid the knowledge sharing process. Gerard Salton, was considered the father of modern search technology as his team at Harvard and Cornell developed what was known as the SMART informational retrieval system in late 1960s’ (Wall 2015). Since then we have seen a vast among of newcomers, to the most recognized and largest of them all Google.

How do search engines impact our daily lives(security and privacy concerns)

Search engines are pivotal to how we interact with the internet today, from research to e commerce, we find ourselves utilizing one of the search features offered by one of the 3 major search engine offerings; Google, Bing and Yahoo. If we take a step back and pause just before clicking “go” on that search button, do we really know what goes underneath the fancy search box, where does our search query go and what happens to it, is it private or public data?

Google is one of the largest search engine providers based on global outreach. They have earned the right to be at the top due to their ability to provide users with relevant search results at astonishing precision and speed. On the one hand, we adore these search providers, especially Google for their simple, modest-looking interface while underneath they mask a sophisticated algorithm. On the other hand, we become fearful and protective of our privacy as the uncertainty grows concerning our publicly available information. The biggest concerns that exist, is that these search providers have the capabilities to index our every clicks and potential abuse our information while storing them in a centralized databases that might be susceptible to attacks or even worse sell our information online .This information includes and is not limited our calendars, photos, videos blogs, documents, credit card numbers etc. Major law enforcement agencies and malicious attackers see this information pool of search queries as a goldmine, one that can be easily manipulated to fit their agenda.

The results from a survey done by Pew Internet & American Life Project, which interview approximately 2000 adults in the US revealed the awareness that exist among majority of online concerning internet and search engine privacy.In the diagram below individuals were asked how they felt about their search data being used to personalize future searches.It clearly shown that a vast majority of individuals saw personalized searches as intrusive.

Darker side of the internet

We have heard of stories that cement the concept of a dark internet; a place where popular search engines such as Google, Bing and DuckDuckGo cannot reach. It is referred to as the darknet and contains websites that are considered anonymous due to their ability to operate without being indexed by popular search engines. Search tools such as memex and ahmia provide users with the ability to search underground websites for illegal drugs,guns, etc. Can we say that monitoring these tools and the users that access them invasion of their privacy?


  • Aaron C, N. (2005). Search Engines Used to Attack Databases.
  • Huang, L.-S., & Dibiase, N. (n.d.). Freedom Vs Security: The Struggle for Balance. International Debate Education Association.
  • Matherly, J. (n.d.). Shodan. Retrieved from
  • Trepte, S. (n.d.). Privacy Online. Springer Publishing.

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