You certainly don’t need to be an internet privacy expert to be bothered that Google and Bing track every word you type into your browser, compile that data into a meta-profile of who you are and then sell it downstream to people who want to get to know you intimately (including criminals). Cases of browser surveillance have been documented for years. So, for example, if your daughter types the word “bankruptcy” into your browser while doing a high school report, that information is sold to the credit card company you happen to visit next who serves you to a page with a higher APR since you’ve been “flagged” as a high-risk customer (thanks to your daughter’s innocuous search term).
The implications are even greater for companies, who have a lot to lose when surfing behavior falls into the hands of competitive spies, foreign governments or organized criminals. Case in point: I recently delivered a keynote address as an internet privacy expert to a group of Latin-American journalists at a BlackBerry conference. One of the most common questions the journalists asked was how to keep Google from recording their private (and potentially politically sensitive) search terms.