Google provides opt-out for website tracking

Google has announced a browser add-on that enables surfers to opt out of its Google Analytics service, claiming the software should provide greater transparency and privacy for end users.

Google provides opt-out for website tracking

Website owners use web analytics from Google and other providers to decipher how visitors engage with their sites, but privacy conscious surfers often resent being tracked. Google says its Analytics Opt-out Browser Add-on will stop usage tracking.

“The opt-out provides users with a choice of whether information about website visits is collected by Google Analytics,” wrote company product management director Amy Chang in a blog. “The add-on stops data from being sent from your computer when you visit websites that use Google Analytics Javascript to track usage.”

In a rare outpouring of privacy announcements, Google Analytics has also released a tool that enables webmasters to provide an additional level of anonymity for site visitors, via an option for webmasters to mask the IP address information sent to Google.

“Google Analytics uses the IP address of website visitors to provide general geographic reporting,” said Chang. “Website owners can now choose to have Google Analytics store and use only a portion of this IP address for geographic reports.”

However, Chang warned website owners that using the service would “reduce the accuracy of geographic data in your Analytics reports”.

The beta version of the opt-out add-on is available for Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome, and can be downloaded from the Google tools site.

The news comes a day after Google announced an encrypted version of its search engine, sparking concerns that widespread use of the tool could also scupper the web analytics market.

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