Disabling The Google Toolbar Doesn’t Stop Google From Tracking You

Ben Edelman uncovered evidence that even if you disable the Google Toolbar, Google may still be tracking your web browsing behavior.

Edelman documents how he disabled the Google Toolbar within the preference, then visited a web page and captured how Google was sending browsing data from the toolbar to Google’s servers. Edelman first clicked the “X” icon at the top left of the Google Toolbar. Then he selected “Disable Google Toolbar only for this window,” and clicked “okay.” While in the same window, requested the Whitehouse.gov site. He noticed that his network monitor showing that the Google Toolbar continued to transmit his browsing to its toolbarqueries.google.com server.

Edelman posted a video screen cast documenting this process.

I reached out for Google for a statement a few hours ago. I have yet to receive anything back. If and when I do, I will update this post.

Postscript: Google sent me a statement on this matter, here it is:

To be clear, this is only an issue until a user restarts the browser, and it only affects the currently open tabs for a small number of users.

Specifically it affects those using Google Toolbar versions 6.3.911.1819 through 6.4.1311.42 in Internet Explorer, with enhanced features enabled, who chose to disable Toolbar without uninstalling it. Once the user restarts the browser, the issue is no longer present. A fix that doesn’t require a browser restart is now available on www.google.com/toolbar and in an automatic update to Google Toolbar that we are starting tomorrow.

I wonder if Ben Edelman knew about restarting I.E. would fix the issue and left it out?

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Google: Security | Google: Toolbar | Legal: Privacy | Legal: Security

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About The Author: is Search Engine Land's News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry's personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio over here.

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