When you use a search engine and then click on a link, your search terms are sent to the site you clicked (in the HTTP referrer header). This sharing of personal information is commonly referred to as "search leakage."
For example, when you search for something in private, you are sharing that private search not only with your search engine, but also with all the sites that you clicked on (for that search).
In addition, when you visit any website, your computer automatically sends information about it to that site (including but not limited to your User agent and IP address). This information can both by itself and distilled with ancillary online information be used to identify you directly.
Thus, even when you conduct a private search, not only can those other sites know your search terms, but they can also know you searched for that specific keyword(s). As such, this combination of available search information in conjunction with your browsing & purchasing history can identify you and that raises privacy concerns.
As this invasion by search engines, marketers, retailers, and governments has become more pernicious, several search engines have come online in attempt to push back against these fundamental abuses of you being secure in your persons and "papers."
While not in any way affiliated with this website, the founders of the Spirit of 1776 website do suggest looking into the following search engines if you value privacy.
Search engines save your search history. Usually your searches are saved along with the date and time of the search, some information about your computer (e.g. your IP address, User agent and often a unique identifier stored in a browser cookie), and if you are logged in, your account information (e.g. name and email address).
With only the timestamp and computer information, your searches can often be traced directly to you generally. However, in conjunction with your additional account information, they can associat the activity & habits directly to you as an individual.
In addition, note that with this account information your searches can be tied together. This means someone can see every term(s) you have been searching, not just one isolated search. You can usually find out a lot about a person from their search history.
While intrusive by itself that people working for search engines can see all this private information about you, more repugnant is when they either:
- a) release it to the public
- b) turn it over to law enforcement
- c) sell it to other third-parties
Why would search engines and corporations release information to the public? One famous case is AOL (now owend by Yahoo) decided to release supposedly anonymous search terms for research purposes. However, AOL did not do a good job of making the data sets completely anonymous. This reality ultimately resulted in multiple lawsuits against the company.
Reported by the Associated Press, circa 2006:"Three AOL subscribers who suddenly found records of their Internet searches widely distributed online are suing the company under privacy laws and are seeking an end to its retention of search-related data ... The lawsuit is believed to be the first in the wake of AOL's intentional release of some 19 million search requests made over a three-month period by more than 650,000 subscribers. ... Filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Oakland, Calif., the lawsuit seeks class-action status. It does not specify the amount of damages being sought."
In fact, almost every attempt to anonymize data has similarly been later found out to be much less anonymous than initially reported. Further AOL is now owned by Yahoo!, which itself has fallen victim to two of the largest data breaches in history.
In addition, another way data is released to the public is by accidental publishing. Moreover, search engines, banks, credit reporting agencies and websites could lose data, get hacked, accidentally expose data due to security holes, incompetence, or all of the above as has been shown multiple times via an array of stories of personal information data breaches becomming a regular occurence... well at least until COVID-1984 sucked all the air out of the room.
Why would websites and the giant tech oligarchs give your search history to law enforcement? Simply because law enforcement asked for it, with or without a warrant. If you read privacy policies and terms of service carefully you will notice that many companies say they can give your information on court order.
While cooperating with a lawful search warrant, as companies may be legally obligated to do so, companies are not legally obligated to collect personal information in the first place. They do it on their own volition.
Moreover, following passage of the PATRIOT Act another piece of Marxist wordsmithing whereby the corrosive powers granted to the STATE are the precise inversion of patriotism, companies can be gagged from even notifying the indivdual their information has been requested by law enforcement, despite the lack of a lawful warrant presented under probable cause as enumerated within the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution.
Thus, at the end of the day, if corporations have your information, it could get be released, even if they have the best of intentions, and as detailed previously, this information (your search, purchasing, browsing history) can be pretty personal.
For these reasons and the principle that as a freely born Human made in the image of God, you are not a commodity, the Spirit of 1776 website takes the approach of not collecting any personal information. The decisions of whether and how to comply with law enforcement requests, whether and how to anonymize data, and how to best protect your information from hackers are out of our hands. Your browsing history is safe with us because it cannot be tied to you in any way.
Information Not Collected
At the Spirit of 1776 website, no cookies are used by default.
When you access the Spirit of 1776 website (or any site/app), your web browser automatically sends information about your computer, e.g. your User agent and IP address.
We temporarily log IP addresses upon loading a page on the Spirit of 1776 website to tabulate visits and to identify potential attack vectors/bad actors. This information is then deleted.
We may in the future, add an affiliate code to some eCommerce sites (e.g. Amazon & eBay) that results in small commissions being paid back to the Spirit of 1776 website when you make purchases at those sites. We do not and will not use any third parties to host the code insertion, and we do not work with any sites that share personally identifiable information (e.g. name, address, etc.) via their affiliate programs. This means that no information is shared from the Spirit of 1776 website to the sites, and the only information that is collected from this process is product information, which is not tied to any particular user and which we do not save or store on our end. We can only see anonymous product information such that we cannot tie them to any particular person (or even tie multiple purchases together). This entire affiliate process is an attempt to keep advertising to a minimal level on the Spirit of 1776 website.
Finally, if you contact us, it may be stored in our email.
We will comply with court ordered legal requests. However, in our case, we don't expect any because there is nothing useful to give them since we don't collect any personal information.
If this policy is substantively updated, we will update the text of this page and provide notice to visitors via red-bold text denoting the change for a period of 30 days.