Google Analytics Lets Users Opt Out of Website Tracking for Privacy

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2010-05-26

Hounded by privacy watchdogs in the United States and overseas, Google May 25 made good on its March promise to deliver an opt-out plug-in that allows Google Analytics users to hide what Websites they're visiting.

Google Analytics is a suite of business intelligence software that tells Website publishers how users are interacting with their properties and whether their AdWords and AdSense marketing campaigns are effective.

The program's effectiveness is dictated by the information the tool gathers about how often users visit Websites.

For such a service, Google is challenged in finding a balance between trying to collect enough data to help advertisers tailor their campaigns and respecting Web surfers' privacy.

Some users don't want Google tracking their frequenting of Websites. Now Google has delivered an answer for that quandary.

The Google Analytics Opt-out Browser Add-on stops data from being sent from their computers when they visit Websites that use Google Analytics Javascript to track usage.

The beta version of the Analytics opt-out is available to users here for Internet Explorer (versions 7 and 8), Google Chrome (4.x and higher) and Mozilla Firefox (3.5 and higher).

Google Analytics also uses the IP address, that unique identifier assigned to users' personal computers, of Website visitors to provide Analytics users geographic reporting information.

To provide more user privacy, Google also released a tracking API that lets Website owners anonymize information sent to Google about users' IP addresses.

The tool lets Website owners decide whether they want to have Google Analytics store and use only a portion of the IP address for geographic reports.

The new privacy tools come in the middle of a war U.S. and European regulators are  waging versus Google on multiple fronts, mostly stemming from the company's increased presence on the Web.

Google has always been hounded for its data collection practices, but recent privacy gaffes involving Google Buzz and WiFi spying via Street View have forced Google to not only be more transparent about its business practices, but to provide users with greater control over the data they create by using Google's applications.

The Google Analytics Opt-out Browser Add-on is the latest tool and comes just a day after Google revealed its revenue splits for its AdSense for content and AdSense for search products.

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