The Register reports on a recent poll finding that “More than three quarters of web surfers don’t realize Google records and stores information that may identify them.” While I can’t vouch for the validity of the poll, it certainly seems to provide evidence that web users have at least some level of expectation of privacy when it comes to their web searches.
The article goes on to mention the various methods for Google (or other online companies) to collect vast amounts of personal information:
Google maintains a lifetime cookie that expires in 2038, and records the user’s IP address. But more recently it has begun to integrate services which record the user’s personal search history, email, shopping habits, and social contacts. After first promising not to tie its email service to its search service, Google went ahead and opted its users in anyway. It’s all part of CEO Eric Schmidt’s promise to create a “Google that knows more about you”.