Google Enables Users to Opt Out of Analytics

With add-ons for all major web browsers

Online privacy issues are a big deal these days and a couple of the biggest web companies online, Google and Facebook, have been feeling the heat lately. Both are taking steps in ensuring that they meet the users’ demands. Google is now offering a way to opt out of analytics tracking with Google Analytics on any website that uses the tool. Users have to install a browser add-on, after which website owners won’t be able to see any details of the visit or even that the user landed on the site.

“Today we’re taking additional steps to provide even more choice and transparency for both website owners and users.First, we’re announcing the availability of the Google Analytics Opt-out Browser Add-on. 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,” Amy Chang, director of product management, Google Analytics, wrote.

For now, Google is labeling the add-ons as beta. Add-ons to enable users to opt out of Google Analytics are being made available for Microsoft Internet Explorer 7 and 8, Mozilla Firefox 3.5 and higher and Google Chrome 4.0 and higher.

With the add-on installed, visiting any website with the Analytics script installed will not enable it to send back information about your visit. Of course, webmasters will still be able to check the server logs, which usually store the IP address and other info about any visitor, the add-ons don’t protect you from this.

Google is also enabling webmasters to provide their visitors with increased privacy. They can choose to use and store only part of the IP addresses of their visitors providing a higher level of anonymity. However, this makes the geographical data less accurate, since it will only be based on the first numbers of the IP address, which are attributed to a wider geographical area.

This is just the first step, an add-on for Safari may be launched at a later date and other options may also arrive. Privacy is a very touchy subject right now, especially for Google. Still, Google doesn’t expect that many users to install the add-ons. The company says that only one in 15 users choose to opt out of the personalized ad program Google provides. Four of them edit the interests information Google has acquired and the remaining ten do nothing.

Google Analytics Opt-out for Internet Explorer is available for download here.

Google Analytics Opt-out for Firefox is available for download here.

Google Analytics Opt-out for Chrome is available for download here.

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