Big news last night, Google wrote they will be taking steps to further improve our privacy practices. What that means is that after 18 to 24 months, Google will begin to anonymize their sever logs to help protect it a lot better.
This has been a common concern over the past couple years. Danny pressed this issue with Google's CEO, Eric Schmidt in A Conversation With Google CEO Eric Schmidt:
Q: Danny brings the NY Times up about the woman who was found via token data from the AOL slip up. He said there are tons of privacy issues. What do you do to protect this? Government taking it, accidents, etc.... A: This is obviously a terrible thing. The data was not anonymized and it was a mistake. If Google were to make this mistake, it would be a terrible thing. They have lots and lots of systems to prevent this from happening at Google. They don't share everything in Google with everyone in Google. He describes a case where the government gave Google a subpoena that was over-broad, and they fought it in court. They take is so seriously that they fight it in court.
Q: Will Google destroy data they have? A: Eric said they had this debate in Google. But they are take steps to prevent issues.
The AOL issue has undoubtedly pushed this concern to the front of the pack for Google. And I am happy that they have announced they will be doing this. Here is a PDF document of the log retention policy.
But this does not mean all your privacy will be anonymized. As Danny explains in detail you still need to be worried about several things including:
(1) Search History On Your Computer (2) Search History & Your ISP (3) Search History & Search Engine Server Logs (4) Search History & Personalized Results Or Personal Search History Records
You can control number four, Google will allow you to do that. You can try to clean your computer for number one. Your ISP is your ISP and not sure what you can do about that. Same with number three.