Ixquick has announced that they are going to permanently delete all personal search details gleaned for its users. This is in response to various privacy concerns and issues that have bene popping up all over the Internet.
IxQuick (http://www.ixquick.com/) is a metasearch that searches several search engines including Gigablast, Yahoo, WiseNut, and Overture (Overture??) It also searches the ODP and Wikipedia. (IxQuick states that “Ixquick does not share the user’s personal data with these individual search engines in any circumstances.”)
I asked Ixquick spokesman Alex van Eesteren a few questions about this new policy. First question: what exactly are you getting rid of? Alex: “We delete the IP addresses of the users. In fact we have a program running which opens the log files, deletes the user related IP addresses and overwrites the ‘old’ logfile. Also we took away the unique ID out of our Cookies, the Cookie is only used for remembering the settings on the user’s PC. We even overwrite the ‘old’ Cookie if a user has one on his PC from before this privacy initiative.”
Third question: Are you retaining any data to help people understand how they’re using your site and what they’re looking for? Alex: “Yes, we are retaining data related to what people are searching for and how. We’re deleting the information that connects the search to a particular person. So we will know if people are using our Advanced Syntax search, and we’ll know how they use it, but we won’t know who uses it.” So in other words, IxQuick is not deleting all the tracks users make on their site, just the tracks that make users identifiable.
Last question: Are you having any third party check to guarantee compliance of this new policy? Alex: “We agreed with the largest computer club (HCC) here in the Netherlands for example that they will check the procedures and that it’s really done as we say.”
While I appreciate the statement, I wish that IxQuick offered a better array of search engines for metasearch — what they’ve got seems a bit long in the tooth. Yahoo and Gigablast are all right, but how about adding some other searches? Even non-engine resources like the Librarian’s Index to the Internet and specialty searches like Sphere would make for an interesting mix.