Ask.com has launched AskEraser, a service that aims to give users more control over their privacy when they search.
“Consumers are spending more of their lives online and that trend will only increase,” said Nicholas J. Graham, a spokesman for Ask.com.
When users enable AskEraser, their future search activity will be deleted from Ask.com servers within hours. This activity includes all search queries and associated cookie information, as well as the user’s IP address, User ID, Session ID, and the text of his or her queries.
When asked how AskEraser might interfere with behavioral targeting or other tracking efforts done by marketers, Graham said that Ask.com anticipates that the new feature will only be used by a small, but important, subset of its users. Ask.com will still be able to analyze a sampling of search data from users who choose not to enable this feature, he added.
“We’ve only ever use a sampling of search data in the aggregate to help optimize and improve our search products as well as the overall search and advertising experience,” said Graham.
The use of AskEraser will only enhance Ask.com’s reputation and makes the search engine a destination of choice for a certain group of online users, Graham continued.
“This will reinstate a feeling of integrity and trust,” he said, adding, “That can only be good for the third parties we work with to make Ask.com what it is.”
Ask.com also announced earlier this year that it would be implementing a new data-retention standard that will disassociate search history from IP addresses and User ID after a period of 18 months.
AskEraser is currently available solely on
Ask.com’s US and UK sites. The company plans to globally launch the feature in 2008.