• http://blog.agrawals.org rakeshlobster

    I’m surprised to see that both Firefox’s and Chrome’s private surfing modes still pass referrers.

    That seems to me to be a reasonable compromise vs. stripping referrers entirely from the browser. If someone goes into private mode, referrers are blocked along with history, cookies, etc.

  • gluejar

    I also am a fan of referrer data, But I’ve come to believe that the Referer header is too dangerous not to abolish. It causes web browsing to do things that even web developers don’t expect.

    Last week, I discovered that a firefox add-on developed by bit.ly has the effect of sending them essentially all of my we browsing activity via the referrer header. That’s a horrific leak of my privacy. Full story at http://go-to-hellman.blogspot.com/2010/05/bitly-preview-add-on-leaks-user.html

  • http://phonemarketinginsider.com rbrody

    This article spurred my thinking, that while we see these complications and restrictions for the referrer, we are also witnessing all sorts of new tracking technologies for offline conversions, such as ad tracking analytics and dynamic toll free numbers on websites (which I write a bunch about on blog – Phone Marketing Insider- http://phonemarketinginsider.com). Perhaps people won’t have as many privacy concerns with these specific examples. For example, call tracking really only manifests itself at the time of an offline conversion, at which point people are already more comfortable with the fact that the business they called wants to know where they are coming from, as they are expressing interest in a relationship with this business. What do you think?

  • http://blog.protocol80.com Josh Curcio

    Danny, In relation to this, what are your thoughts on tracking your referrals and whether or not analytics might block this as well. While extra steps need to be taken to track a click from your site to an outbound link, it is not difficult and can create the same privacy concerns as referrals to your site. The ability to track visitors following outbound links will also be simplified in HTML5 with the Ping attribute. More marketers will likely take advantage of these to track things like click-throughs to affiliates, subsidiaries, members of organizations, etc. While they will be looking mostly at data, there are certainly instances where privacy would be a concern.

  • http://scottedwardcummings.com/games/flash-linear-audio-envelopes/ scott_c

    A lot of traffic to the site I work on comes from groups such as Elementary schools and libraries that are traditionally very protective of their computer user’s privacy. I’m worried we’ll take a hit on our stats once the Google Analytics opt-out becomes well known in those communities.

    I expect that this could hit other sites with users concerned with privacy (Slashdot.org, etc) as well.

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    Gluejar, that is scary — thanks for the link.

    Josh, the issue is much less on site referral tracking. You can do that in other ways. It’s about understanding how people came to you. You can’t see the clicks people make on other sites except through the referrer.

  • http://www.alanmitchell.com.au alanmitchell

    Hi Danny,

    I agree – SSL will make analytics pretty much useless, and argue the point in a recent article I also wrote on the subject.


    I think such a move by Google is a natural progression of the increased fashionability of privacy. We need to realise that as long as data collection is anonymous and not personally identifiable, it’s not actually a bad thing, and is essential for a healthy online economy. Without it, the internet would not be as we know it.