If you don't want Google or anybody else to build a profile on you, or if you consider what you do on the internet to be your business and nobody else, here are some simple steps to maintain your anonymity on the web, particularly from Google.
Uninstall anything Google Google uses software, such as Google Desktop, to collect information about you. Uninstall all Google products, including the Google search bar for Mozilla Firefox and Microsoft Internet Explorer.
To uninstall the Google search bar in Mozilla Firefox, click the icon to the left of the search bar and select *Manage Search Engines . . .*, select the Google search engine from the list, click *Remove*, and click *OK*.
To uninstall the Google search bar in Microsoft Internet Explorer 7, click the down arrow to the right of the search bar, click Change Search Defaults . . ., select the Google search engine, click *Remove*, click *OK*.
If your home page is www.Google.com or www.Google.com/Firefox, change it to something else, possibly a competing search engine, as will be discussed below. To change your home page in Mozilla Firefox, go to Tools --> Options --> Mail --> Startup*, type your new home page into the *Home Page text box, click *OK*.
To do this in Microsoft Internet Explorer, go to Tools --> Options --> General --> *Home Page*. Type the URL of your new home page into the text box. Click *OK*.
Use an alternative search engine (ixquick and Scroogle have options for SSL.)
Block Google cookies
You can install the CustomizeGoogle add-on for Firefox to block Google analytic cookies. As stated by their web site, "CustomizeGoogle is a Firefox extension that enhances Google search results by adding extra information (like links to Yahoo, Ask.com, MSN, etc.) and removing unwanted information (like ads and spam)." To block Google analytic cookies, go to Tools --> CustomizeGoogle Options --> Privacy and check both check boxes. [CustomizeGoogle is no longer maintained. OptimizeGoogle is supposed to replace it.]
Block Google cookies with you browser To block specific cookies in Mozilla Firefox, go to Tools --> Options --> Privacy --> Exceptions*, and in the *Address of web site: text box type the address of the cookie you wish to block.
To block specific cookies in Microsoft Internet Explorer, go to Tools --> Internet Options --> Privacy*, go to the *Settings section, click the Sites radio button, type the address of the cookie into the Address of website text box, click *Block*.
Block web bugs
To prevent various networks including Google Analytics from tracking your behavior across the web, install the popular Firefox add-on called Ghostery. By default, Ghostery does not block the scripts that networks use to track you. After installing, click the ghost in the status bar and select Options. Switch to the Blocking tab and change the Enable web bug blocking option to On. Next, click All, and lastly, click Save.
Change the default Location Bar search to another search engine.
By default, when you enter a non-address in the Location Bar it is treated as a Google search. You can correct this in the about:config editor. Type in "keyword.url" in the Filter bar. Double click the only entry there and change the URL to the disired one. The one for Scroogle is http://www.scroogle.org/cgi-bin/nbbw.cgi?Gw=.
See the Keyword.URL at the MozillaZine web site for more details.
When you must use Google. Open Google from a new tab, not from a loaded page because Google will record that. Don't click links on the search results page; Google records that, too. Copy the URL of the link to the clipboard and past it into the location bar of a new tab.
I realize that Google is not the only one that records an inordinate amount of information about its users. I simply pick on Google because I know more about them and they are used more widely.
Read more on the subject at Google Watch.
Also read Practical Internet Privacy by Paul Green.