is claiming to be the first ever search engine to provide its users with privacy controls over their online searches.

Ask Eraser allows users to delete their search activity by erasing all future search queries and associated cookie information from the servers. This includes IP address, User ID, Session ID, and the complete text of their queries.

The AskEraser facility can be activated by pressing a link in the upper right corner of the homepage and search result pages.

Users will receive indications of when the deletion is complete.

They can also turn off the facility, which works across Ask's Web, Images, AskCity, News, Blogs, Video, and Maps & Directions services.

The introduction of AskEraser follows the search engine provider's announcement earlier this year, that it is implementing a new data retention policy to disassociate search history from IP address and User ID after 18 months.

It has also joined with Microsoft in urging the online industry to develop global privacy principles for data collection, use and protection related to searching and online advertising.