First it was the Google Toolbar, then it was an integrated search box in the corner of my browser. It's no secret Google's been slowly attempting to take control of our computers for years. The desktop search is a testament to that. What's really creepy is the new Web History tracking service Google quietly rolled out last week. This new service doesn't go after items on your computer, rather what you're looking at online.
Google Web History archives everything you've searched for (while signed in to your Google account), and gives you a bookmarklet to bookmark sites you like. The whole idea is to make the browsing experience something you can search through and access from any computer, anywhere. Search history has items listed by time of search, with the most recent ones on a front page.
Searches are broken down by Google category like Web, Images, Maps, and (the now misnamed) Froogle. Users can also see how many searches they've done by month, day, and hour. Drilling down deeper, you can also go in and click on the number of searches and see the top sites and results. It's a total analytic overload.
The real creepy part in all this is the integration you get if you have the Google Toolbar installed on your browser. This will track every single site you're visiting, and apply the same aforementioned analytics so you can keep track of which sites or services you're using the most. Sure, we've had browsing history for years, but it's always been localized. It's a little alarming to see it online, regardless of the fact it can't be shared with others.
The good news is that users can opt-out of Google's Web History program, along with the capability to delete any item that's been archived. The bad news is that if you have a Google account, all your search activity has been tracked since last week.
For more shots of the service, keep reading.… Read more