When you run a search on, let’s say, google, do you ever wonder what happens to the data you provide? Do you fear that somehow the personal informations you’re providing will get back at you in the most unproper way and time?
Apparently some people do. (Especially if they’re former fans of X-Files seriously into conspiracy theories. Or if they have multiple affairs while sharing their computer with their legitimate partner.)
This little loss of privacy is the kind of sacrifice we’re happily willing to make, because we value so much the informations we have access to, and because we know that search engines base their very existence on this tradeoff: informations for us in return for informations from us.
This may not necessarily be the case.
Ask.com, 4th search engine in the US with 4%+ market share, is introducing AskEraser: in their own words, “AskEraser is a privacy feature from Ask.com. When AskEraser is enabled, your search activity will be deleted from Ask.com servers”.
(It’s only available in the US and the UK, but there are plans for worldwide adoption in 2008)
There are some limitations in how much of your privacy is protected, but nonetheless we have a marginal player from a category built on trading informations, that is willing to give up on a vital source in order, most likely, to gain share.
This might not necessarily work, and it might not result in any change in the search engines industry, but any deviation from a successful and established model is always worth monitoring.
Final Burp: How about social networks? Will they split between open social networks with ads and restricted social networks with other forms of income, just like tv?