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Join the “1 out of 15” opting out for privacy

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Mon, May 31, 2010 at 2:00 pm

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Join the “1 out of 15” opting out for privacy

Last Tuesday in this space, I opted out of Google’s “interest-based advertising.”  Later the same day, Google unveiled an opt-out tool for another personal information collection agent – Google Analytics.

Website owners can use Google Analytics to track visitors on their sites and Google collects the data from all the visits for its own use. If individual surfers opt out the data will become less useful to the site owners and to Google. Note that opting out will not block information from being collected by sites you visit apart from the Google Analytics service. Also, it will not opt you out of the Double Click ad preferences cookie; see our previous blog post on how to do  that.

Kudos to Google for giving searchers the opportunity to choose. I thought it was difficult to figure out just what was being collected and what it was being used for. I prefer not to send information on my web travels. Thank you!

In comments, many Google Analytics users are voicing their protests; some tech bloggers think that Google is overreacting to the “very vocal minority” demanding more privacy online.

One commenter on the Google Public Policy blog wrote:

“We all know that Google have taken a bit of a hammering regarding privacy recently in the browser wars & was guilty of retaining personal data from their street view outings.

However, is this really an answer, this seems to be a knee jerk – PR friendly action.

If we cannot trust Google analytics data as being accurate then we are encouraged to purchase other paid third party solutions.”

Search Engine Land asked Google representative Brian Richardson about the company’s expectations for the use of the plug-in. Richardson said:

“We’re not sure [what to expect]. But it may be helpful to compare it to similar tools that provide users with more power and control over data. For example, with the Ads Preferences Manager, we’ve seen that of the tens of thousands of who people visit the site every week (out of the millions and millions of users), only 1 person out of every 15 opts out, 4 edit their categories, and 10 do nothing. Greater choice and transparency is good for users and we believe that what’s ultimately good for users will be good for advertisers and Analytics customers.”

So Google is betting we won’t block it? I’m going to take the bet.

Go to the Opt-out Browser Add-on (BETA)  and download. You will need to install this on each  browser you use on your computers.

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This post was written by:

Margot Williams

- who has written 49 posts on Inside Google.

Margot Williams has more than two decades of experience in roles as investigative researcher, research editor, database editor, technology trainer and library director at The New York Times, The Washington Post, Gannett newspapers and Time Warner. She was lead researcher on two Pulitzer Prize-winning teams at The Washington Post for reporting on terrorism in 2002 and for an investigation of the use of deadly force by the District of Columbia police in 1999. Margot is the co-author of “Great Scouts! CyberGuides for Subject Searching on the Web” (Cyberage Books, 1999) and contributed to the “Networkings” column in The Washington Post for five years.

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