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Search Archive Obfuscator

Automatically search for random things. Hundreds of thousands of times over.
  (+24, -4)(+24, -4)(+24, -4)
(+24, -4)
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There is, according to the press, a huge threat to our online privacy in the form of search archives.

AOL deliberately published users' searches, for research purposes. Google has refused so far to blanket release searches to law enforcement agencies, but clearly the archive is there, and it's bound to leak out sooner or later.

AOL hid users' identities behind numbers, but at least one user has already been "outed" by investigative journalists, matching her searches on her family name and relatives, and her dog's bladder problems.

Now, my searches are pretty darn random to begin with (constantly looking up things from the halfbakery, after all), but therein, perhaps is the answer for the little old ladies who only search on their own and their relatives' names, the weird diseases they suffer from, and kiddie porn.

This service will automatically flood your Internet connection with random, bizarre searches for all sorts of obscure products, medical conditions, scams, and sexual dysfunctions. It will also insert searches on randomly selected family and pet names, as well as widely dispersed geographic locales, to completely bury your identity.

DrCurry, Aug 15 2006

TrackMeNot http://mrl.nyu.edu/~dhowe/TrackMeNot/
Appears it was totally baked. [Laimak, Aug 26 2006]

[link]






       Odd that I had this idea the other day, but then realized if you ever auto-googled, you'd be sunk. But as I can't remember why, I'll have you give you a +.
ldischler, Aug 15 2006
  

       Great idea and seems very bakeable; perhaps as a Firefox plugin.
Laimak, Aug 15 2006
  

       I thought this interweb thigamaboobie was anonymous! Go figure.
methinksnot, Aug 16 2006
  

       You are using a service, stop thinking you have these rights, which you do not and which grant you no privacy. Those logs are invaluable as research data, and the same communities who should see the value in that condemn AOL for what they did, which really wasn't a bad thing to do. For a search engine, understanding user behavior and pattern is absolutely essential to providing relvent advertising, which keeps them in bussiness, so you can continue to use the services you are hoping to sabatoge out of baseless fear.   

       Fishbone for not realizing you get what you didn't pay for.
ironfroggy, Aug 16 2006
  

       Well, not quite, [ironfroggy]. Users have some expectation of privacy; had it been made clear from the start that their personal details would be made available, they may have behaved differently. As far as advertizers are concerned, anonymized data *should* be as good as identifiable data, unless they intend to use the identifiers.
angel, Aug 16 2006
  

       It's not anonymity (per se) that the idea proposes though - it's the obfuscation to avoid profiling. This profiling is what leads to targetted advertisements
Jinbish, Aug 16 2006
  

       [Jinbish]: I agree; my meaning is that use of a system does not necessarily imply acceptance of unstated conditions - such as that one's personal details may be published. I agree that [DrC]'s proposal is somewhat mean-spirited (accepting advertisement-supported assistance while actively attempting to negate the benefit to the advertisers).
angel, Aug 16 2006
  

       The idea that the data has any value without any relation between individuals searches is not well thought. There is very little value in knowing that there were X searches for "linux" and Y searches for "nvidia", but there is a lot more value i knowing that Z number of users who searched for one searched for the other. It is the association between the searches and finding patterns between topics and keywords, which is the real value to the data crawlers.   

       In the end, it really is as mean spirited as has been stated. If you use a free service, don't expect it to be free. This is pretty much akin to buying a pack of tube socks at Wal-Mart, taking out a few pair, and returning them the next day.
ironfroggy, Aug 16 2006
  

       Now I know why I had an odd number of socks this morning. Thanks a lot, [ironfroggy].   

       [normzone] goes off to search for ironfroggy+socks [+].
normzone, Aug 16 2006
  

       ironfroggy: I am puzzled - you appear to have fishboned this idea (if that is your fishbone) because you are imputing all sorts of hidden messages that are not contained in the idea. Do you work for Google or something?   

       This is just a service for those who wish to preserve some measure of anonymity online, not a statement of rights or intentions.
DrCurry, Aug 16 2006
  

       [Curry] - I like it. The frog's comments puzzle me. I do think that the autosearcher should not be too prolific - maybe a search every minute or two, not millions of times.   

       This reminds me of another idea around here to obfuscare the temporary files, or the browser history - I believe with the intent of concealing porno use.   

       It also reminds me of a robot which could be used to search google images for randomly titled large images, then post them as a screensaver. The screensaver would change with the randombot found another large one.
bungston, Aug 16 2006
  

       //This is pretty much akin to buying a pack of tube socks at Wal-Mart, taking out a few pair, and returning them the next day.//
I just want to note that I always put them back in the package. Then I trade them for a bag of clean ones.
ldischler, Aug 16 2006
  

       If you use Linux, this should do it for you. It will do any number of searches of a randomly selected word from your system dictionary (acutally only the first 32768 words in the dictionary, but close enough)   

       Set "limit" to how many times you want it to run. Set "pause" to how long it should pause for each search. Leave "i" alone, its just an index. And if your dictionary is located somewhere other than /usr/share/dict/words, set that. And take out the space between "search" and "?hl" the halfbakery needs it for display, but it breaks the code.   

         

       i=1   

       limit=2   

       pause=1   

       source=/usr/share/dict/words   

       while test $i -le $limit   

       do   

       rand=$RANDOM   

       p=p   

       arand="$rand$p"   

       word=`sed -n "$arand" $source`   

       result=`wget http://www.google.com/search ?hl=en&q="$word"`   

       #take out the space between "search" and "?hl" the halfbakery needs it for display.   

       sleep $pause   

       let i=$i+1   

       done
Galbinus_Caeli, Aug 16 2006
  

       Erm.... baked!
Jinbish, Aug 16 2006
  

       GC: now add a snappy name (Doogle, maybe) and a pretty interface, and sell it!
DrCurry, Aug 16 2006
  

       A fifteen line shell script is not an invention, it's a slow afternoon in the code mines.
Galbinus_Caeli, Aug 16 2006
  

       who is the autoboner? your greatest admirer possibly!
po, Aug 16 2006
  

       Make sure "kiddieporn" is not one of your 32768 search expressions.
  

       I learn so very much here.
methinksnot, Aug 16 2006
  

       Sorry if I got a little up-in-arms about this. I understand the idea wasn't a "statement of rights or intentions", as you put it. This is one issue where the general reaction among the community is uncalled for and overly paranoid, and stinks of wanting to get something for nothing. The reaction just bugs me, that is all. Maybe I reacted too strongly here, but I keep my fishbone just the same.
ironfroggy, Aug 16 2006
  

       //RANT//   

       I don't see what's so wrong with using search engines however you see fit. With Television, nobody finds out what shows I specifically watch to change the advertisements to suit me, yet they do just fine.   

       With the Internet though, for some reason, you believe that it's wrong of me to not want personalized advertisements? Hey, nobody ever told me that my searches were being recorded in the first place...   

       Moreover, nobody told me I had to actually read the advetisements, or buy the products. I don't. Does that make me some sort of shoplifter? Does that make me the same as the girl who buys a pair of thong panties to wear to a party, and then returns then the next day?   

       Advertisements do not equal sales. Macro advertising equals micro sales. Next you'll try to make me feel guitly for using Yahoo Mail without reading the spam.   

       It's not like we're worried specifically about advertisers... I just don't want people looking through my personal information. You're not allowed to read my letters, so what makes you think its right to view my web searches. My letters at least I write for someone else to read. I don't search the internet based on what other people will think of me if they see what I was looking up.   

       //End Rant//
ye_river_xiv, Aug 16 2006
  

       [ironfroggy]: //The idea that the data has any value without any relation between individuals searches is not well thought.//

That's not what I said. All the advertiser needs to know is that the same person who searched for X also searched for Y; he doesn't need to know who that person is. Data can be anonymized and still be valuable.

[ye_river_xiv]: //With Television, nobody finds out what shows I specifically watch//

No, but they *do* find out what groups of representative individuals watch, by asking them, or by (consensually) monitoring their viewing habits. You're saying that Google, or whoever, can provide a search service but not use the data that they get from it. It's not 'your' search, it's usage of their service. It costs them to provide the service and they're entitled to recoup some of that. They're not revealing any data which identifies you individually. If you don't like the notion that your search terms wil be saved, please feel free to stop using Google.
angel, Aug 17 2006
  

       I'm against this idea, for a slightly different reason from [ironfroggy]. I believe that when you do a search there's an expectation of how your search data will be used and it's this that's important. You believe that the search engine will use it for targetting ads, but not that the search engine will publish it for all to see. The reason I don't like this idea is that it will start a privacy/data collection arms race. If you prevent the search engine from collecting meaningful data about your searching habits they'll have to up their game and find some new way of collecting the data. If they don't collect this data their business model goes out the window, so you can be sure they will find a way of collecting it.
hippo, Aug 17 2006
  

       And the obvious way of collecting it is to find out which are the legitimate searches. Perhaps only the ones where the user actually follows one of the results?
methinksnot, Aug 17 2006
  

       hippo: if it's bad, it's bad. The search engine business model consists of selling ads, not on selling search data. This does not interfere with that - the click rates may go down, but absolute number of clicks will stay the same, and in a pay-per-click world, no one will be hurt.   

       And the Internet is already one sprawling arms race, so abstinence won't get you anywhere.
DrCurry, Aug 17 2006
  

       Third party anonymity router, is that what you were thinking?
Jinbish, Aug 17 2006
  
      
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