Google Wants To Track You More, But It’s Optional

Category: Privacy

If you have a Google account, you’ve probably received notice recently of a new “optional” set of tools for controlling how your web searches, YouTube viewing, Gmail, and other Google activities are shared with advertisers. The new features also include the ability to exercise finer control over what ads you see, and make it easier to “kill” ads you don’t want to see. Should you “opt in” or leave things as they are? Read on...

How to Control Google's Data Collection

What’s really new is that Google has made these changes “opt-in,” meaning they won’t take effect unless you affirmatively grant permission. That’s a big change from the typical “opt-out” scenario in which things suddenly change and you have to figure out how to get the old settings back.

The new features are described in a strangely fragmented page that you can find on the New Features for your Google Account page. The first thing you’ll notice is that Google wants to share your Google activities with third parties -- “websites and apps that partner with Google.”

Currently, what you do on Google is used only by Google to tailor ads that appear on Google properties. If you opt-in to the new features, other sites will use your Google activities to tailor ads that appear on their properties to your (presumed) needs.

Google Data Collection

The “bait” that Google offers to entice you to opt-in includes new capabilties in a new My Account dashboard. One tempting bait bit is the ability to kill ads that relentlessly follow you everywhere.

For example, you may have searched for “gas grills” weeks ago. But now, ads from a gas grill sellers appear on your PC, your phone, your Chromecast, and every other device on which you use a Chrome browser. They won't go away even if you've already bought one, or decided not to purchase at this time. In the past, you had to kill those annoyances one by one, on each device. Now, "My Account" lets you kill an ad across all devices with one click.

My Account also lets you comb through your own Google actvity history and delete items that you’d rather not let Google or any “partners” remember. You can also tweak the types of data that Google collects from your My Account dashboard. All you have to do is let Google share your Google activities with “partners,” without limitation of the number of partners or knowledge of exactly who the partners are. Will you make that trade?

Should You Opt In?

If you want to learn more about Google's data collection practices and privacy policy, see my articles What Does Google Know About You? and Is Google's Privacy Policy Evil? I also recommend that you run through the Privacy Checkup on your My Account page.

Google stresses that no matter which choice you make, two things will remain the same. First, Google does not sell your personal information to anyone. And second, you are in control of the types of information that Google can collect and use. There is a lot of misinformation and paranoia about what data Google collects, as well as what and how they share with third parties. Suffice it to say that any information passed along to advertisers is done after "anonymizing" the data. Nothing that personally identifies you is shared with third parties.

Facebook has tried something similar, with the big difference that users who objected to the sharing of the Facebook activity with unknown “partners” had to opt out after they’d already been forced into the program. Google’s opt-in approach is certainly preferable from users’ perspective.

You can’t opt into something you don’t know about, so every Google account holder will keep seeing the notices about this change until he or she takes action on it - either opting in or saying, “no thanks, keep things as they have been.”

The choice is yours. What will you do? Post your comment or question below...

 
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This article was posted by on 8 Jul 2016


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Most recent comments on "Google Wants To Track You More, But It’s Optional"

Posted by:

olamoree
08 Jul 2016

Would help to include HOW to access My Account, like: myaccount.google.com from your Chrome page.

EDITOR'S NOTE: I included TWO links to the My Account page in the article...


Posted by:

Rhonda Lea Fries
08 Jul 2016

Just a heads up that Google appears to be rolling this out in stages.

I don't have it yet. No email, and the link to new features just goes straight to my account.


Posted by:

Luke
08 Jul 2016

What I did was to use DuckDuckGo as my search engine of choice, and use rand maps instead of google maps. Works well


Posted by:

MmeMoxie
08 Jul 2016

Bob, you are right on with Google notifying these setting changes very slowwwly! I double-checked my settings and they are fine, just the way I want them. :O)


Posted by:

Bob
08 Jul 2016

You failed to note the basic difference between Google and Facebook. While Google is a utility, Facebook is a religion. Once upon a time you could put you hyand (hand) on the screen and be saved but now you put your face on it and what I find with many users that includes their soul so privacy is not a concern. Oh little town of Whiteplanes N.Y.

EDITOR'S NOTE: I have no idea what that means. I think one of us forgot to take his meds this morning. :-)


Posted by:

Linda
08 Jul 2016

Is this happening worldwide or only in the U.S. at the moment? I have a Google account, but I live in Canada and so far, I have had no notices from Google about this.


Posted by:

James
08 Jul 2016

I long to return to the days of yesteryear when you could just get online and do what you wanted without having to wade through all the ads. Yahoo has so many "sponsored" sites that it's hardly worth getting on. MSN has almost entirely gone over to video's and everyone has a commercial before it. If I know beforehand it's a video I don't bother with it. It's almost not worth getting online anymore.


Posted by:

Reg
08 Jul 2016

No thanks, Google.


Posted by:

shane
08 Jul 2016

Linda from Canada, it has got to Australia, I got in and cleared all my history and turned everything off a couple of days ago


Posted by:

Bob
08 Jul 2016

Clarification for the EDITOR: Possibly you are too young and I too old (81). Anyway back when my 55 year old daughter was in her teens we used to gather round the TV for a laugh watching an evangelist Earnest Angely inviting people to place a hand on the screen. Guess who was born in White Planes (this time spelt correctly) - Mark Zuckerberg. He doesn't claim deity possibly because 2000 years ago another guy got into a bit of trouble doing that.

The longer one is around the greater the arsenal of humor. For much of my life downloads were a private matter.


Posted by:

Hal
09 Jul 2016

Clarification for commenter Bob: That would be White Plains, NY, not White Planes.


Posted by:

Bob
09 Jul 2016

Thanks Hal. For a morning laugh, take a look at what you typed late the day before. I'm sure it was White Plains before Wright Bros.


Posted by:

pshaw
10 Jul 2016

I started using DuckDuckGo when I heard about it and have never gone back. It does a much narrower search than Google (I like to get what I ask for).


Posted by:

David
11 Jul 2016

"I long to return to the days of yesteryear when you could just get online and do what you wanted without having to wade through all the ads."

It's more true than ever. TANSTAAFL.


Posted by:

David
11 Jul 2016

I've used DuckDuckGo and Ixquick. Both promise no tracking of your searches.


Posted by:

carmen
11 Jul 2016

"every Google account holder will keep seeing the notices about this change until he or she takes action on it"

Thanks for the details on this.
I haven't gotten the notification yet, but I think I'll keep things as they are.
I do find it creepy when the ads "follow my every move," but opting-in sounds like it would give me a false sense of privacy.


Posted by:

Midwest Joe
11 Jul 2016

Use Epic Privacy Browser to get rid of most or all ads and all tracking (NO ads on YouTube, for example), and search with DuckDuckGo. Together, the two stop most of the intrusive nonsense.


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