I'm posting this topic in the category of 'new news to me'. I have no idea why I never heard about this before today.
This is a PARTIAL copy of a website that I stumbled across re Google search history archives, i. e., privacy/history type stuff that end users can now access, and if they so choose, delete. This article was dated 04/25/15.
I'm only pasting a part of this article since, given that's it's about Google, end users need to research this, i. e., my view is that each of us needs to read multiple articles on this subject in order to get a clear a sense as possible to comprehend just what the deal is/is NOT. IMO any research on this subject also needs to be read while in a very legalistic frame of mind re interpretation, i. e., unstated caveats re what it actually accomplishes (if anything), to, of course, what it doesn't do re privacy/history matters. You can take it as a given, that Google fought this, in house, tooth & nail, and had its lawyers parse every single word to make it appear that the only reason that it was done to begin with was for benign reasons.
Google now allows you to download an archived list of everything you have ever searched for.
The tech giant has been working on the feature since last year, but it only gained wide-spread attention after it was reported by an unofficial Google Operating Systems Blog last week.
The downloadable collection comprises of terms users have “googled,” including information that may be more sensitive, such as medical symptoms or the names of blind dates.
“You can download all of your saved search history to see a list of the terms you’ve searched for,” according to Google’s website. “This gives you access to your data when and where you want.”
The list does not stop at Google’s search engine function. It also includes documentation of searches within users’ email accounts and addresses that may have been typed into Google Maps. The range of personal information available has given rise to concerns over the databases’ potential vulnerability.
[Me Here: The next last two paragraphs sums up what you can realistically expect from Google]
But just because a user deletes his or her search history, that does not mean that it disappears completely.
Searches “are no longer associated with your Google Account.” However, the company writes, Google may “store activity separately to prevent spam and abuse and to improve our services.”
Me Here: I deliberately did not include in this post the steps needed to delete various histories. I'm especially wondering about how anyone can do this without actually having a registered Google account (which I created only after I got my Android device believing, perhaps erroneously, that I needed one to get my Android to work right).
Finally, I will say this: I've "maxed" the privacy settings in all my browsers, to include frequent daily use of multiple history/track eraser type 3rd party software programs, and yet my 'stuff' still gets tracked, and I suspect that matters only got worse with my purchase of an Android device.
Google may well store your search history without any need to "sign in" the only difference being that it will be related to the IP address of the machine used to perform said search. I'd say, not only google, but yahoo, M$, and any other search provider. The points that may need to be addressed, though, is not that they have the capability of doing this but, a)would they, b)why would they and, probably more likely c)would they have the resources to store such meta-data and then use it.
IMO in any discussion of what the Google monster is tracking and archiving, it only makes sense to bear in mind the whole area of website analytics
which likely have tracking and archiving functions. Google has its own analytics gear department.
Rather than my trying to explain what analytics is/is not, I'll leave it up to forum visitors to research that.
Here is a small verbatim c & p from the introduction home page from a company called "Adobe Analytics" [no idea if this company is part of theAdobe empire].
"What is Adobe Analytics?
It’s the industry-leading solution for collecting, organizing, analyzing and reporting on everything your customers do."
The attached image file is a printscreen of the analytics on just one website homepage that I picked at random from my bookmarks [it's created by a freeware addon called Ghostery; Ghostery proclaims that it is "Our FREE consumer add-on shows you all the digital trackers and lets you make informed decisions about which ones to block." It settings give you the option to momentarily view [a pop up window] what trackers are being used on any givenwebpage and of course to block them [which is what the line through each name indicates].
Even non-profit organizations have these trackers, i. e., organizations that aren't selling anything. Perhaps they are put there by their website provider.
Yay! for Ghostery!
It works on all of mine, except K-Meleon, at the moment.