I personally don't care that much either. In my mind, that website actually did the opposite and reinforced my position.
Yeah, Google tailors my search results based on previous searches and whatnot. I agree with that. The point where we disagree seems to be that this is a "bad thing." If I do some generic Google search, I enjoy having the results filtered/reordered in a way that makes sense for me. If I wanted to find results that wouldn't normally be what I'm after, I'll make a more targeted query.
Personally, when I search for information, I want what's matching what I search for and then use my own decision processes for determining relevance.
That approach is rather impractical when you consider that, without any filtering, Google's searching algorithms might come up with tens of millions of results (or more).
That relevance might actually shift completely within the scope of 2 hours depending on what I'm up to.
... which should be reflected in your queries (e.g. using required words, exact phrases, words required to not be matched, etc.).
Also, I've heard friends say that they were reading gmail while being presented with ads matching the contents of that email. It may very well be that they do "only" match email contents against existing ad keywords, but in my book you never ever even glance at someone elses (e|snail)mail or whatever else has a specific recipient stamped anywhere near it.
The problem I have with this argument comes from potentially unsecure nature of the path e-mail messages travel while going from sender to receiver.
Yeah, Google might use some client- or server-side keyword matching to rank their pool of ads by relevance. So what? You're going to get an advertisement anyway... why is it a bad thing if the advertisement chosen just actually happens to be more relevant to the information being presented to you at the time?
(Again, if you're worried about the contents of that e-mail being divulged to others, well... I guess that means you've already verified the path the message traveled never contained an insecure connection and enforced the sender(s) to use some form of message encryption? I doubt it.)
Looking at Chromes options, you might be surprised to find: 'Send "Do Not Track"-requests'. WTF? Reading up on what that means made me realize just how screwed up things are: this option makes the browser send HTTP headers requesting that the user not be tracked. Seriously? This sounds like something out of a 10 year old IE6 horror movie! A header! To REQUEST that you not be tracked!
Why is it wrong for web services to assume that you want them to remember where/how you've already used their services in the past in order to possibly better shape your future use of them?
How about a bloody header "request to be tracked" instead? How about a bloody opt-in to be spied upon? Now that would be respecting user privacy. The other is nothing but a marketing stunt while going R-Kelly on our privacy.
Sorry, but this argument makes absolutely no sense.
Consider the generalization that there are two different buckets in which you could categorize the "suppliers" on the Internet: those that respect the user's wishes (in regards to privacy), and those who do not. Now, tell me, how is using a "Please Track Me" header is any better or worse than a "Please Do Not Track Me" header? The only answer I can come up with is: it isn't - both have the same results.
Hmm... hand over my ability to connect (or not connect) to a given entity based on the subjective decision of this "Dan Pollock" fellow? No thanks; never even met the man.
(This, of course, is not even touching on how archaic and slightly misleading it is to use a HOSTS file for such things.)
In summary... it's not that I don't care about user privacy in the least. I just think there are too many tin-foil-hat-wearing people out there who want to have their cake and eat it, too. There are plenty of opportunities for entities to be devious and underhanded when it comes to respecting (or, more aptly, not respecting) user privacy that slide right under the radar. If you're really serious about protecting your privacy with an ironclad fist regardless of any entity's intentions... don't use the Internet. Period. (Maybe even 'exclamation point.')