But the internet property is going to try to go against the trend. Instead of taking data from customers to target ads, Ask.com will let users "hide" their search data to promote privacy. The company is launching "AskEraser," which will destroy all personal information about a user.
According to The New York Times, unlike typical online privacy controls that can be difficult for average users to find or modify, people will be able to turn AskEraser on or off with a single click."
The privacy police will probably be very happy about the announcement. But it takes a big targeting tool away from Ask, and Ask can use all the help that it can get. It has tried and tried but has had no success in prying search share from Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) or Yahoo! (NASDAQ: YHOO).
The move by Ask is based on the premise that most people care if search engines collect data on them to better target search results and advertising. Since very few people opt out of programs that collect data online, the answer is that almost no one gives a damn.
Douglas A. McIntyre is an editor at 247wallst.com.