Adam Fields (weblog)

This blog is largely deprecated, but is being preserved here for historical interest. Check out my index page at for more up to date info. My main trade is technology strategy, process/project management, and performance optimization consulting, with a focus on enterprise and open source CMS and related technologies. More information. I write periodic long pieces here, shorter stuff goes on twitter or


More specific Google tracking questions

I asked two very specific questions in a conversation with John Battelle, and he’s received unequivocal answers from Google:

1) “Given a list of search terms, can Google produce a list of people who searched for that term, identified by IP address and/or Google cookie value?”

2) “Given an IP address or Google cookie value, can Google produce a list of the terms searched by the user of that IP address or cookie value?”

The answer to both of them is “yes”.

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4 Responses to “More specific Google tracking questions”

  1. furious george Says:

    I hope this doesn’t come across non sequiture but, If one were concerned about the visibility of their interests one could “fog”, is it were, the collective results by searching for all manner of things and effectivly blur the presumed interests of the searcher.

    IE: if one were concerned about their political interests they could add a number of searches for terms that match the opposite of their presumed ideology; “bush not so bad”, america is really not the luciferian empire that they appear to be”, “no such thing as bohemian grove” or “franklin cover-up based on pure speculation”. I would guess that These searches would have to match the number of opposing searching as would their newgroup activity, posts, ect.

    I wonder if one could create a bot to automatically create opposing searches for every search one makes.

    Other examples would not be hard to imagine. Perhaps if people were truly concerned (and perhaps they should be?) about gulags and “info-crimes” they could use such tactics as to secure themselves freedom from those supposed re-education camps they are supposedly building in the mideast or wherever.

    or perhaps I am just drunk? and I am drunk. I’m not paranoid tho.

  2. James Wetterau Says:

    re: furious george’s comment

    I don’t think equal and opposite searches solve the problem. At best this might slightly complicate analysis of a candidate for further monitoring. The only way to be sure not to become a suspect for further investigation is never to do a search on suspicious terms at all. If you mix suspicious terms with terms that are somehow righteous, it might mean you have very wide-ranging interests, or it might mean you are trying to throw investigators off the scent.

    Why wouldn’t they err on the side of caution and monitor you to make sure?

  3. Tarek Says:

    What about this follow-up:

    Given a Google cookie value, can Google produce a list of IPs at which Google has seen that cookie?

  4. adam Says:

    Tarek, the answer to that would have to be yes. If all of the data about IPs and cookies is stored, correlating them is possible. The questions were intended to get to details about what’s being stored in the logs. Assertions were made that that data was kept, but kept processed and protected in such a way that prevented the construction of a detailed profile of the habits of a user. According to these responses, that assertion is incorrect.

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