Google Attacks Itself Over Privacy

Company has a tool to let you block another company tool

By Jackson West
|  Wednesday, May 26, 2010  |  Updated 6:07 PM PDT
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Google Attacks Itself Over Privacy

Google managed to partially blind it's all-seeing Google Analytics eye with a solution in search of a problem that may not exist.

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Google's widely used Analytics tool allows website publishers to keep track of when, how many, how long and from where users visit their sites, but not who.

It's critical information for anyone serving advertising and calculating what changes or content led to an increase, or decrease, in users.

However, thanks to Google, it just got a little less reliable.

That's because the company, citing possible privacy concerns, has released a browser plug-in that allows users to avoid being counted when visiting sites that run Google Analytics.

What's strange is that of all the Google products that have raised privacy complaints -- including AdSense tracking users across sites, storing search data from individuals and the ham-handed launch of Google Buzz -- Google Analytics wasn't one of them.

And publishers who use the tool to report statistics to advertisers and other clients are now in the dark as to accurate their information is. Though, to be fair, anyone can simply edit their browser's host file to block Google Analytics already, no download necessary.

The company's public policy team might instead focus its efforts on not letting, say, code that stores private wireless network traffic be allowed on to the Google Maps Streetview cars.

Because that case? That case is already drawing lawsuits.

Jackson West figures this was just something done to have talking points while in Washington lobbying the FTC.

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