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Privacy Protection and Personalised Profiles in Web Search Engines

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Privacy Protection and Personalized Profiles in Web Search Engines

Assignment 5 for Advanced Applications of the Web and Internet, Dr. Jim Jansen


AlHasan AlSammarraie

College of Computer Science and Engineering

Hamad Bin Khalifa University

Doha, State of Qatar



In this Assignment, I have introduced Google Custom Search and did an extensive research about privacy protection and personalized profiles in Web Search Engines.

Installing Google Custom Search in my consultancy services e-commerce website showed how Google made it simple to integrate state of the art search capabilities built by Google in any website. Google monetizes that by having ads within the search box results or by charging certain amount regularly.

In regards to Web Search Engines research topics, as such search engines specially Google have become an essential part of today’s lifestyle, there are tremendous number of topics that is related and is an area of research. Having this said, Privacy has been always an attractive topic when web technologies are in discussion as people started realizing that their privacy is being compromised in all aspects by having technology adopted everywhere and almost for everything.

Privacy in Web Search Engines as a topic also have different aspects one of which is its relation with personalized profiles of users of Web Search Engines that is our topic in this research paper.


Most of the search engines nowadays uses personalized profiling in order to optimize search results and also to contribute to its advertising services among other services that the search engine utilizes to make money. As search by it self is a free service, Web Search Engines utilizes other services to make money one of which advertising and specifically targeted advertising.

Collecting user information and search engine queries contribute heavily to the personalized experience user gets in addition to the success of provides advertisement engines.

Having this said, linking search engine queries with a specific person reveals a lot of information about the person that is considered private and raise privacy concerns [1].

Personalized profiles and its privacy issues is not the only privacy topic related to Web Search Engines. Another privacy issue for example is the ability to search for a person and interrelate his data that is spread over multiple locations on the web and in different time spans by certain identifiers such as email address, name, mobile number or physical addresses and nicknames [2].

Web Search Engines and Personalized Profiling

Personalized profiling is considered as a great tool introduced in the Web search industry to optimize results in addition to contributing to other services such as advertising.

The following is a simple diagram that demonstrates how personalized web search works in in its simplest form [3].

[pic 1] 

To explain the model, the following is a list that described the process.

  1. A user sends a web search query (q) and a tool that is called profiler which builds the profile receives the query and sends it to the User Profile as an input to the process of building and optimizing the profile.
  2. The profile also sends information to the profiler (g) to be added to the query that is sent to the servers that conducts the actual search (q+g).
  3. Server sends a response (r) to the profiler which again sends it to the user profile and filter it based on Users profile before sending it to the User (r’) [3].

This process shows the direct impact of personalized profiles on user search results.



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