There was an old story I was told as a kid about boiling a frog to death. As the story goes, you can’t boil a frog to death by dropping him in a pot of boiling water. But put him in cool water and bring the water to a boil, and he won’t know the difference. Eventually, the water will get so hot that the frog will die happily in the water.
In today’s age of the internet and privacy concerns, the proverbial frog is us and we are getting more forgiving and giving regarding our personal lives. We are voyeurs online, sharing photos on Flickr, making friends on MySpace, buying stuff online and finding it “cool” to see those purchases show up in Facebook.
Perhaps the most dangerous of all precedents is what our friends at the search giants are doing. Desktop Search clients documenting everything on your computer – to make finding data easier. All our mail and other data in one place – but easily given to the government without subpoena. Personalized search based on personal trends – but those trends must be extrapolated from stored data regarding your behavior.
Fortunately, there is one search engine who recognizes the dangerous precedents set my the search giants and have taken steps to remedy the problem. At least on their end. It’s unclear if this move will serve to push more users to Ask.com, but it can’t hurt.
Users have the ability to turn AskEraser on at the cost of personalizing Ask.com. Hey, does Ask really need the data they use to personalize it for you anyway?
So in a world where our privacy is going farther away, Ask is taking a sane approach and making sure that we have the choice in the matter.