Google and Yahoo! know more about you than you think!Digg.com just linked to an article from The Register, "77% of Google users don't know it records personal data". The article mentions the Google tracking cookie, and offhandedly mentions that Google also records IP addresses. Both the article and the digg discussion focused on Google's ability to track your searches, but both mostly ignored the fact that Google can assemble a pretty good idea of your web browsing habits even if you're not deliberately using any of Google's services!
This isn't just a Google thing; guess what's common between my blog, Sploid, Coop's blog, Instapundit.com, fark.com, and any site including a Flickr image? Each of these includes assets served from a Yahoo! owned server. As you browse the web, start to look for "Ads by Google" or "My Yahoo!" icons; they're so common that you probably stopped noticing them a long time ago.
The moral isn't that your web surfing habits are traceable; nobody's surprised that their ISP knows all about their browsing habits. And it isn't that Google or Yahoo! are evil; they're really not. But for third party companies, they can gather a surprising amount of information about you as you traverse the web. It might not be a bad thing for everyone to be more aware of exactly where their surfing is leaving digital footprints.
Tags: google, yahoo, privacy, technology, web