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Search engine privacy is a concern held by many individuals and businesses. Companies can use search engine results for many different purposes ranging from behavioral targeting to simple search statistics. At a very basic level, an individual can use someone else's computer and check what was searched for, assuming that the owner of the computer has not deleted the stored browsing data. Typically, invasions of search engine privacy are not intended to be malicious; often they are only used to ensure that the advertisements that someone sees online are relevant to his or her interests.
Individuals may have many different reasons to want keep their internet searches secret; these people tend to be very interested in search engine privacy. Sometimes, the reasons are simply personal. This can include anything from pornography to financial or health information. Other people are afraid of someone discovering their private information, such as name, address, phone number, or Social Security number through their search engine results. Whatever their motivations are, many different people find search engine privacy to be important.
Search engine information can be used maliciously in some cases, but this is not always true. The information entered into most of the popular search engines is, generally speaking, not private. The companies who operate the search engines can access search queries and use them for advertising and research purposes. Generally, this does not lead to anything but more target advertisements. In some rare cases, though, the wrong people can get their hands on search queries, and can sometimes see private data that individuals have entered into their search engines.
Search engines are not always entirely secure, so it is generally unwise to enter private information into them. There are several other methods that people use to ensure search engine privacy. One possible option is to use a public computer; if a search query can not be linked to an individual, it is not particularly significant. Some sites offer tools that can be used to guarantee anonymity when searching for particularly sensitive pieces of information. Using a variety of different search engines can prevent any single search engine from developing a complete profile of an individual user.