wheel - 3:40 pm on Aug 30, 2011 (gmt 0)
I'm curious about this claim. Can you source it? I suspect that it's not the search history alone that's enough.
The AOL 'anonymized' data dump they did years ago and released on the web. Search history alone identified a number of people. And from there, all sorts of data that they wouldn't want known.
You either have a fairly unique name, or are well-known enough that your name is commonly associated with you, specifically.
Neither. You know they found personal details of Eric Schmidt online just by searching right?
This isn't that difficult, not nearly as difficult as you suggest.
Just from this forum, people know that I don't live in a large city. They know I sell some type of niche product online. They know some general details about my social/family situation. Throw in my name into a search and determining which individual I am is easy. then throw in the fact that I ran for a local political office and they publish personal details online, and you've got my home address and cellphone number. And with my previous ISP, if you did a reverse lookup of my home IP, you got my name - so you could get all this info just from my visiting your site and you checking your logs.
Throw in some other cross connections that could be made, and you end up not just with a unique identity, but a pretty complete picture.
No wonder I post as little personal information online as I can, and don't let my kids post anything online at all. What's worse is that this stuff is going to be around for decades to come - heck even the crankiness of my posts might come back and bite me in the future.