Jonathan Saipe

Google Offers Increased Visitor Privacy Options

26 May 2010, Jonathan Saipe

Google Analytics is a product that digital marketers and web analysts know and use ubiquitously. Of course, what most Internet users do not realise, is that their every step is normally being recorded by either Google Analytics or another web analytics tool.

Today, Google announced some measures to ensure that online visitor privacy is maintained.

Opt-out browser add-on made available

The first announcement is the launch of a Google Analytics opt-out browser add-on for Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome (all in beta).

The opt-out provides users with a choice of whether information about website visits is collected by Google Analytics. The add-on stops data from being sent from your computer when you visit websites that use Google Analytics Javascript (ga.js) to track usage.

The opt-out browser add-on can be downloaded at http://tools.google.com/dlpage/gaoptout

Google trying to repair recent privacy blunder?

The question begs, is Google attempting to “look good” re privacy especially in light of the recent privacy blunder when it came to collecting WiFi data in their Street View cars;  (Google claimed they unknowingly collected snippets of payload data such as MAC addresses as they drove through your neighborhoods).

Or is Google genuinely attempting to empower end-users who deserve to protect their privacy. Either way, if it catches on, this could seriously affect the accuracy of reported visitor data.

Ability for website owners to anonymise visitor IP address information

The second announcement allows website owners to anonymise visitor IP address information sent to Google so that only a portion of the IP address is used for geographic reporting.

It is however worth noting that the accuracy of Geographic reporting will be impacted:

Keep in mind, that using this functionality will somewhat reduce the accuracy of geographic data in your Analytics reports.

For further information on implementing this feature within Google Analytics visit: http://code.google.com/apis/analytics/docs/gaJS/gaJSApi_gat.html

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