Ask.com's AskEraser Deletes Data, But Also Reduces User Personalization

  • December 12, 2007
As promised in July, IAC/InterActiveCorp.'s Ask.com has rolled out AskEraser, a feature that lets users control whether they leave a trail of search data with the engine. Once activated, AskEraser will delete all of the most commonly stored data (IP address, user and session IDs, and the actual text of the query) from Ask's servers after future searches.

The AskEraser button shows up on the upper right side of the screen. If users click on it, a smaller window pops up to ask if they want the feature on, and gives a brief explanation of how it works. AskEraser works across all of Ask's vertical engines, including maps, driving directions, and shopping. The feature went live in the U.S. and the UK on Monday night, with a global rollout slated for 2008.

Naturally, AskEraser eliminates the ability for users to personalize their search experience--as no cookies means not being able to choose the Ask front page skin, or use the "MyStuff" bookmarking feature. Because of this "either/or" scenario, some in the industry argue that while Ask's new privacy measure is a step in the right direction, it's far from an ideal solution.

--Tameka Kee

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