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Is Google Tracking me?

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009 by | Filed Under: Security Help
 
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Q:
I read recently that Google is tracking my interests for advertising purposes. Is this true and should I stay away from Google?

A:
This is a great question and I will be happy to let everyone know how this works.

It is true that Google just announced a new technology for Internet advertising that they call Interest-based Advertising. As I’m sure you can guess, this allows Google to know what kinds of products you are interested in. It will then allow them to display advertising to you that meets your interests. They figure that if they can show you ads that you are interested in, they will make more money.

So, now that you know what it is, let me explain how it works and why it is not a threat to you.

Google makes Interest based advertising happen using the wonderful world of cookies. Let’s say you go to a website that displays ads from Google (We display ads from Google, so if you want to see one just click here . You’ll see it at the top). When you visit this site, a cookie will be stored on your computer that will give you an ID number. (This number will not personally identify you, just your computer. It does not store any personal information.) As you continue to surf around the web, each site that has Google ads will see if you have this cookie on your system. If you do, it will report back to Google telling them that you visited the site.

So, since most sites on the web these days have Google advertising, you can begin to see how this works. You visit many sites a day that report to Google. Google keeps track of what kind of sites you visit and in turn show you ads about things you are more interested in. This is very cool if you ask me!

Now, lets talk about the privacy part of this situation. I am sure that many of you out there are saying “I don’t want Google tracking me”. I thought the same thing when I first read about this, but I changed my mind. Here is why: Google is not really “tracking” you. They are simply looking at the types of sites your computer goes to. It does not use any of your personal info such as name, address or email. It simply assigns a random number to your computer.

My thought on this is: If I have to see advertisments every day, I would rather that they be about something in which I am interested. That way it’s not a total waste of space, right?

If you disagree with me and Google, you do also have the option to opt out of this feature. You can read about it here

Until next time, stay safe out there!

~Gary


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