My Activity at Google

There may be some advantages to being able to see your activity on all the Google properties – and on pages that serve up Google ads. This would especially be the case if you are researching a topic across media and need to keep a trail. Or you need to confirm something you found earlier.

Google’s new My Activity page lets you see all your Google history in one place, Napier Lopez, The Next Web (June 28)

Nonetheless, it’s a bit scary to realize that Google could track all activity rather than just web search and therefore deliver more ads. But it might also be true that the ads will be better directed. “Mainly, you can control which kind of ads show up everywhere, across various devices and websites.”

You can find this through “My Account” – or go directly to

Your privacy settings at Google

Google has made it easier to review the information that Google displays about you – and for you to change the detail.

Search on your name to see a small knowledge panel with the profile information and a button to update the profile. Also sign into your Google accound and click on your name in upper right to get to a full page in reasonably clear English on Google’s policy, and to My Account where you can easily turn public into private.

Googling yourself will soon lead to personal privacy controls, Michael Liedtke, AP via Globe and Mail (Jun 2)

Do Not Track Search

Hongkiat has compiled a list of search engines that don’t track your search activity — 12 Private Search Engines that Do Not Track You (May ). A list of these is always handy but,  as mentioned at Research Buzz,  “do your own due diligence”. Not all of these are top notch.

  • DuckDuckGo is an excellent search engine.
  • A couple on this list are using Google Custom Search – which is ok.
  • Yippy has some interesting features but is not forthright in showing the sources of its results and it truncates the results.
  • Hulbee looks interesting. It does some analysis of results to pick out key words that may represent concept or topic.

Firefox’s control center

If you are concerned about privacy when browsing, it will be worth while reading about the control center in the Firefox browser regarding protection against tracking and adjusting permissions.

Control Center – manage site privacy and security controls

The Control Center panel opens when you click the Site Info button button in the address bar. It lets you manage security and privacy settings for a website in one place. Use the Control Center to view information about a site and to make choices about site permissions, trackers or insecure content.

Digital Afterlife

What do you want done with your online accounts? Add this to writng your last will and testament:  At Google you can make arrangements for your Google services through Account Manager.

How to prepare for your digital afterlife, CNet (Mar 2)

Google doesn’t explicitly talk death, but they do let you decide what happens to your Google accounts — Gmail, Photos, Google Drive, etc — when you haven’t signed into your Google account for a period of time. Google lets you add up to 10 friends and family members who will be notified if your account is inactive for a certain amount of time, and who will (with your permission) be able to download data from your accounts for three months.

It’s hard to find — sign into your Google account, click on your picture for Profile, find My Account, scroll to Personal info and privacy, click on “control your content”, and “assign an account trustee”. Then answer the questions.

Searching Google’s Country Versions

Google is making it harder to search country versions of its databases other than your own.

Google Drops Change Location Search Filter From Search Results, Barry Schwartz, Search Engine Land (Dec 1)

Schwartz reported, ” A Google spokesperson told us this feature was intentionally removed last week. Google said, “it was getting very little usage, so we’re focusing on other features.””

Which I find infuriating. Low use for removing a feature is not a good reason.


There is still the Chrome extension for SEO Global search.

For general use, try Disconnect – – it ensures anonymity and you can adjust the country.

Firefox private browsing

Firefox has added new privacy protection, anti-tracking tools.

Firefox keeps your browsing truly private with new Tracking Protection feature, PCWorld (Nov 3)

The new feature is an enhancement to Firefox’s Private Browsing mode, which deleted users’ browsing history and cookies after they closed a private window. Tracking Protection adds an extra layer of privacy to that by blocking code embedded in websites that tracks the way people behave around the Web. That means it will block a lot of ads, along with analytics tools and some social sharing buttons in order to help users keep their browsing habits more closely under wraps.

Guarding against personal photo theft

We know we must take precautions to protect ourselves from identity theft. This new online handbook – Stop Internet Image Theft –   warns us about personal photo theft.

Personal photo theft and online distribution is a growing problem. The rise in social media often means more of your photos are readily accessible and there is unfortunately a growing trend of distributing private images of former partners as a means of revenge.


This kind of incident can have a real impact on the lives of the individual affected and their family so it is vital we not only raise awareness of the issue but also provide guidance on resolving and preventing this.


In our guide, found here –, we cover the practical steps any victim (or family member helping a victim) can take.

The guide was prepared by Who Is Hosting This, a service that can help determine who is hosting the offending content (photos, videos etc).

Google voice search recordings

Google stores your voice searches on its servers – claims this helps Google’s work in voice recognition. If you’d like to see what has been saved so far, delete any of your voice searches, or stop the recording entirely, watch this how-to video from CNet on how to change the settings in your Google account – Stop Google from tracking your voice: How To Video



More push for “right to be forgotten”

Russia and China are introducing “right to be forgotten” legislation by which indviduals can ask for information involving them to be removed. It could become a quagmire and has signiticant implications for historical record.

The Right to Be Forgotten Becomes a Critical Issue for the Internet’s Future by Nancy K. Herther, Newbreaks (Aug 4)

Daphne Keller (a former Google employee) writes in a blog post for The Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School that the ruling represents an ill wind for hosting services such as “the Twitters, Facebooks and YouTubes of the world—not to mention European hosting services like DailyMotion, local political discussion forums, and blogs or newspapers with user comment sections. And it matters to Internet users, because the way the ‘Right To Be Forgotten’ plays out for these services will have a very real effect on our ability to speak freely and find information online.”