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June 18, 2008

Ask.com Makes More Moves on Privacy

Several weeks ago, a group of privacy advocates contacted a major company in the search marketplace, requesting some key changes to its website to make weblinks to its privacy policy more accessible and conspicuous. This included placing a “Privacy” link directly on the homepage that would, in one click, serve up the company’s privacy policy to the user

In their June 3rd letter requesting the change, the privacy groups stated that such a move represents “…a commitment by a commercial website to inform users about the company’s privacy practices.”

Ask.com agrees.

At Ask, we take our commitment to user privacy and data protection very seriously. We’ve demonstrated this not just through words, but through deeds and actions. We were the first major search company to announce that we would be placing privacy tools directly in the hands of our users, as we said we would do in July 2007. Then, we did it: we launched AskEraser in December 2007. Ask remains the only major search company to develop and deploy a privacy protection tool that that empowers web users to make decisions as to data retention by Ask. The AskEraser tool is right there on our homepage, a one-step mechanism to deleting a users’ search data from Ask.com servers.

Now, we’re going several steps further.

As of today, Ask.com has added a direct link to our privacy policy via a “Privacy” link prominently placed right on our homepage. It is only one of four non-search related weblinks on our homepage. We’ve also made sure that the “Privacy” link appears on the landing pages across most of Ask’s verticals as well, which cover almost all of Ask’s search traffic.

In addition to this important and timely step, Ask has also added a conspicuous link to our privacy policy right on our Ask “About” page, which is one click off our homepage.

At the same time, we realized we can – and should – do more to inform our users about the importance of privacy on Ask, and in general on the web. And we have. We are developing and finalizing two separate Ask “Smart Answer” search results pages, so when a user goes to Ask.com and types in “Ask Privacy” or “Privacy” in the search box, they will get served up a specially designed, robust, and comprehensive results page that is a one-stop shop of answers on both Ask’s privacy policies and actions (including AskEraser), as well as on privacy in general.

No one required that we take any of these steps. We took a look at our webpages, and realized we could make some key improvements when it came to privacy links on our service. It’s simply the right thing to do for the information and awareness of our users.

We strongly encourage others in the search marketplace and online industry to do the same.

Warmest Regards,
The Ask.com Team

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