Google has been asked by the White House to hand over records of internet searches its users have performed. So far it has resisted the request and aims to preserve the privacy of its users as well as trade secrets, but you have to wonder how long it can hold out.
The corporation, whose motto is “don’t be evil”, could do harm to its users if its defenses fall short. A friend of mine has refused the Google cookie since he found out about it though they may have other ways of tracking users. More difficult, but the source IP address can also be used to get to you. Web proxies only prevent some information about the source from being recorded (unless configured not to) and a lot of information still gets through. They can, at the very least, give away your city or service provider.
Services like Google/Gmail have become so essential to us that it’s very hard to avoid them so the best bet is to voice your concern against actions like this. Today it’s just search records that are at risk. What next? Your online emails?
Also check out the Beeb article.