Most of you reading this will undoubtedly use Google as your search engine at least some of the time. It may not be your primary choice (although the statistics would suggest it is) but you’ll likely use it on a regular basis anyway. But maybe you shouldn’t. Maybe you should be using Microsoft’s Bing search engine. Especially if you value your privacy.
Privacy on the Web and the right to it has long been a topic for debate. Basically, every time you venture onto the Internet someone, somewhere is tracking you to some degree, either by way of cookies or other data tracing technique.
This week has seen the debate about Web privacy move up a notch. Facebook has rolled out its new privacy controls, which are actually designed to make the site more public. It’s no coincidence that Google recently rolled out its new live search results, of which Facebook updates are soon going to be a part of.
Then came Google CEO Eric Schmidt talking to CNBC about Web privacy. He claimed, “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place,” and that, “If you really need that kind of privacy, the reality is that search engines – including Google – do retain this information for some time and it’s important, for example, that we are all subject in the United States to the Patriot Act and it is possible that all that information could be made available to the authorities.”
This statement caused a tirade of consternation from privacy advocates. Sure, Google has to abide by U.S. law, but Schmidt’s attitude to how Google handles your data and his pronouncement that you shouldn’t be doing anything wrong in the first place was out of order.
Amongst the throng of objections to Schmidt’s comments is this blog post by Mozilla director of community development Asa Dotzler, who also co-founded the original Firefox project. He said:
He links to the Bing add-on for Firefox which changes the search engine of choice at the top of the browser from Google (the default) to Bing. Mozilla is clearly no friend of Microsoft, having intended Firefox as an alternative to Internet Explorer. Whereas it has always had a close relationship with Google and derives most of its revenue from the search giant. The relationship soured a little after Google launched Chrome, and I can’t see this doing anything to heal the rift.