Users don't trust search engines to store queries

Internet users are split over whether companies such as Google and Yahoo should turn over search information to the government, but are clearly against search companies keeping such data in the first place.

The University of Connecticut telephone poll of 800 adults across the U.S. was conducted from Jan. 31-Feb. 5, in the wake of the Bush administration asking a federal judge to force Google to hand over search records in an effort to sniff out objectionable Web sites, such as those related to child porn.

The survey found that 60 percent of respondents oppose companies permanently storing the search behaviors of their customers. An even higher percentage, 65 percent, oppose the government monitoring Internet search behavior of ordinary citizens.

Half of those surveyed said companies should not turn over search queries to the government, though answers differed across party lines: 67 percent of Democrats are against it, while only 30 percent of Republicans are opposed.

Only 5 percent of respondents said they are extremely confident that their search behaviors will remain private.

About three-quarters of those Internet users surveyed said they use a search engine at least once a week and 13 percent of respondents said they search for Web sites that they would not want others to know about. Both users and non-users of the Internet were surveyed by UConn's Center for Survey Research (complete survey results).

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Network World staff

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