This is intriguing for me.
I use the Disconnect.me extension in Firefox and Google Chrome for perhaps a different reason than most. Its purpose is to block those websites who would track you. For me, the attraction was the promise of faster internet access by blocking the extra traffic. The statistics, as reported by the program look like this.
and to visualize things on a particular page, it looks like this.
Moving your mouse over each of the nodes gives you an idea of what’s blocked and what’s not. With the slowness of the internet connection here, I go under the logic that blocking speeds up my experience by not allowing things to come through.
Disconnect also provides another service and this is what’s interesting to me. It’s based on the logic that when you do a search on Bing or Google or …, that a profile of the search could be built by what’s being searched. Goodness knows what my profile would be. Certainly, I do a lot of educational searching but I always have a device at my side when I’m watching television. I might be watching the news or a favourite show and regularly use online searches to enhance the television experience. For example, there might be a chemical or drug used in a crime drama that I’d never heard of. Search for it. There might be a criminal or celebrity made reference to and I want more details or a picture of that person. Search for it. When I think about it, the totality of the searches would make for an interesting profile. How about you?
To its suite of privacy comes Disconnect Search.
It’s an interesting concept. The search goes through the Disconnect folks and then passed back to you. So, as far as the search engine is concerned, they’re doing the search and not you. Tech Crunch shared a really useful post explaining the background of Disconnect and a description about how it works. The logic certainly makes sense. You do have to rely on the promise that Disconnect is not taking the search terms and creating their own profile of you.
To me, it boils down to this question – how paranoid of tracking and profile building are you? Would you download and install this extension to protect your privacy?