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Opt-In, Opt-Out, Google it All About

24th July 2012 by Radek Milcarz | Data, News & Events

Yesterday, I accidently discovered an Addon for Chrome called “Google Analytics Opt-out Add-on (by Google)” –  an official extension to tell the Google’s tracking script not to send information to Google Analytics. You might be thinking – yay – this is awesome, but is it really?

 

 

Well, there’s a catch. In order for the Addon to work, you have to accept T&C’s. Part of me is irritated by the thought that Google are always trying to track my behaviour online. So, I always (and I really mean always) read the small print. Even when the small print is displayed in a tiny window specifically designed to ‘help’ you miss something, I still found this:

9. Privacy and Information

9.1 In order to continually innovate and improve the Web Store, Google may collect certain usage statistics from the Web Store and user machines, devices, or other hardware, including but not limited to, information on how the Web Store and Products are being used.

9.2 The data collected is examined in the aggregate to improve the Web Store for users and Developers and is maintained in accordance with Google’s Privacy Policy. To ensure the improvement of Products, limited aggregate data may be available to you upon written request.

What does this mean for the end user?

Even if you opt out of Google Analytics tracking, using the “not limited to” part of T&C’s, the leading search engine provider can still easily keep collecting your details via the add-on. This defeats the point of you opting out and in fact adds more data about you, completing your online profile.

The addon even extends the tracking reach to other pages where the Google Analytics tracking code is not present. In other words, the addon is used on every single page, regardless whether GA is used or not. I thought the addon was designed to protect me from tracking…

What is the point of the add on then?

Apart from Google, there are no other winners. Web analysts will get less data and end users who care about privacy will get only receive a false impression that their online behaviour is not tracked.

 

The Google brand have worked hard to create a company image of caring about privacy of internet users, but sadly it’s only a false image. My disclaimer (also known as a small print): Google’s behaviour is not proven and based on my investigation only, you can make your own mind up.

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