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Put your tinfoil hats back on, folks. IAC's search engine has announced a new feature called AskEraser, as expected. It's supposed to be a privacy control allowing users to delete their queries from Ask's server logs, a move meant to set Ask apart in the market. But it won't really do either. Like Ask's television commercials, AskEraser is at once ineffective and confounding. Here's why.

If the whole point of privacy is to keep Big Brother from watching what you're up to, then AskEraser fails. In its FAQ, Ask explains that if the government really wants to track your activity, it still can.

Even when AskEraser is enabled, we may store your search activity data if so requested by law enforcement or legal authority pursuant to due process. In such case, we will retain your search data even if AskEraser appears to be turned on.

Not worried about the government? Then maybe it's Google, Ask's world-dominating search-ads partner. Ask relies entirely on Google to match ads to search results — which means Google will store your search query even if Ask does not.