Google has announced the launch of a browser plugin that lets users avoid being tracked by Google Analytics. The company warned two months ago, in the midst of loud privacy-related complaints, that it was working on such a tool.
Google says the plugin will work in the following browsers:
- Internet Explorer, versions 7 and 8
- Mozilla Firefox, 3.x and higher
- Google Chrome
It’s not available for Safari, but Google’s Brian Richardson hinted that may change in the future by saying today’s announcement is a “first step” and that Google hopes to “build continuous improvements moving forward.”
In its announcement today, Google positions this as a win for user control and privacy. As I pointed out in our previous article, this is a smart move for Google; they’ll be able to tout this as a feather in their cap when it comes time to field complaints about user privacy.
It’s anyone’s guess how many web searchers will even be aware that the plugin exists, much less use it. We asked Richardson what Google’s expectations are for adoption of this plugin, and his reply suggests that Google is aware it won’t be widely used:
“We’re not sure [what to expect]. But it may be helpful to compare it to similar tools that provide users with more power and control over data. For example, with the Ads Preferences Manager, we’ve seen that of the tens of thousands of who people visit the site every week (out of the millions and millions of users), only 1 person our of every 15 opts out, 4 edit their categories, and 10 do nothing. Greater choice and transparency is good for users and we believe that what’s ultimately good for users will be good for advertisers and Analytics customers.”
On a related note, Google also announced today that website owners can tell Google Analytics to use only a portion of a visitor’s IP address for geographic reports. While this gives site visitors an additional layer of privacy, Google says it will “somewhat reduce the accuracy of geographic data in your Analytics reports.”