Abine Acquires Service That Keeps Google Searches More Private

Consumers can protect their search histories from Google’s new privacy policy

BOSTON--()--Abine, Inc., a leader in online privacy protection for consumers, announced its acquisition of the popular Google Sharing privacy service. Developed by renowned security expert and web engineer Moxie Marlinspike, GoogleSharing anonymizes users’ Google searches, preventing the search giant from gathering personal information about consumers’ search histories.

The changes to Google’s privacy policy, which go into effect today, will allow Google to begin connecting search activity to a user’s profile that spreads across the company’s more than 70 properties. If users are logged into any Google accounts and are using its services, the company will be able to create a profile for them filled with an alarming amount of information that includes every search they’ve run, email they’ve sent or received, video watched on YouTube, conversation had on GChat, and more.

“Our searches, like our private thoughts, arise from anything from curiosity to boredom and shouldn’t be a basis for judgment,” said Bill Kerrigan, Abine’s CEO. “We’ve all searched things that we wouldn’t want to be part of our permanent record, and we’re giving consumers the ability to protect that info.” Kerrigan continued, “We’ve acquired GoogleSharing to give consumers the ability to take back control and block the collection of search data about them.”

“Google should do more to provide consumers choices that allow them to protect their privacy. By working with Abine, the GoogleSharing project can continue to protect consumers’ online privacy even more effectively,” said Marlinspike, GoogleSharing founder.

GoogleSharing lets users search without Google tracking their IP address, cookies, or other personally-identifiable information, providing the convenience of Google’s search without the tradeoff of a loss of privacy. The tool is available immediately at Abine.com for the Firefox browser and will be called Protected Search; Abine plans to release it for other major browsers soon. Abine will add GoogleSharing to its existing portfolio of privacy products and services, which currently includes Do Not Track Plus, a free browser add-on that stops tracking by advertisers, and DeleteMe, a subscription service that removes customers’ personal data from public databases.

People search Google over 3 billion times per day—2 million times per second—and many searches contain sensitive personal information, like medical symptoms or employment research. Google stores records of every search, tying them back to a user’s IP address, browser type, time and date, operating system, and computer. These searches can come up in employment checks, lawsuits, and investigations.

The GoogleSharing system, however, strips identifying information from searches. When Google requests a users’ information during a search, GoogleSharing anonymously redirects the request to a GoogleSharing proxy where the user’s identifying information is removed and replaced with the information from an anonymous GoogleSharing identity, one of many in a pool. GoogleSharing pairs each search with a different shared identity from this pool. The service is unrelated to Marlinspike’s other projects and companies, including WhisperSystems. Use of GoogleSharing does not impact Google’s advertising model: the company can still serve contextual ads to users on a per-search basis, but they cannot track users across multiple searches, Gmail, YouTube, and other Google services.

In a survey of Abine’s Do Not Track users, one third said the reason they took action and downloaded the tool was to improve their online privacy due to worries about the Google changes. Do Not Track Plus blocks Google’s advertising tracking, including through its +1 buttons, and the addition of GoogleSharing to Abine’s portfolio brings powerful privacy protection to users’ Google searches.

Abine, a leader in online privacy, currently has more than 1 million people using its products and services to better control their personal information on the Internet. The company expects the use of privacy tools to double in the US during 2012.

About Abine

Abine provides consumers with online privacy solutions that are innovative, easy to use, and actually work. With proven tools, Abine enables people to both benefit from the Web and retain control over their personal information. Abine is backed by premier venture capital firms Atlas Venture and General Catalyst Partners. Abine: The Online Privacy Company ™. Abine.com.

Contacts

Abine, Inc.
Sarah A. Downey, 860-707-3631

Release Summary

Abine acquires GoogleSharing, a service that keeps Google searches more private. Consumers can protect their search histories from Google’s new privacy policy.

Sharing

Contacts

Abine, Inc.
Sarah A. Downey, 860-707-3631