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Google Rules Despite Privacy Concerns

Although Google's new privacy policies have proven controversial, that hasn't stopped the company from cementing its position as America's favorite search engine.

According the latest survey from the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 83 percent of American Internet users say they use Google to search most often while just 6 percent say they use Yahoo most often. All other search engines accounted for just 6 percent of American Internet users while just 5 percent reported that they didn't use one search engine more often than another.

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The findings show that Google has dramatically consolidated its position as America's top search engine since 2004, when Pew found that 47 percent of Americans most often used Google for their searches, while 26 percent reported using Yahoo most often. Other search engines in 2004 accounted for 19 percent.

Pew also found user satisfaction to be high, as 91 percent said that they "always or most of the time find the information they are seeking" from their searches, while 73 percent said that "most or all the information they find as they use search engines is accurate and trustworthy." Additionally, 55 percent say their search results have been getting better over time while just 4 percent say they've gotten worse.

But even though Google is dominating the American search market, Pew also found that Google's new privacy policies are causing some trepidation. For example, Pew found that 65 percent of users surveyed said that they would "not be OK" with a search engine using their searches to give more personalized search results. Similarly, 68 percent said they were "not okay" with targeted advertising culled from tracking their search results.

Google recently caused a stir when it decided to consolidate its privacy policies and share users' personal data across multiple Google services, including Gmail, Google search and YouTube. Google has maintained that these new policies will benefit users by providing them with more relevant advertising that comes from a broader variety of data on a given user's Internet behavior. Google insists that it is not selling users' data to outside parties and says that users can always sign out of their Google accounts if they don't want their searches tracked and used for personalized advertising.

The changes to Google's privacy policies, which took effect on March 1, sparked concern among 36 state Attorneys General who wrote a letter to Google CEO Larry Page asking him to address the potential increased risk of identity theft that users could be subjected to under the new policies. Specifically, the AGs claimed that Google's new policy of consolidating users' data profiles across multiple services such as Gmail, YouTube and Google+ could make it easier for hackers to gain users' personal information and to steal their identity.

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