Google offers Chrome extension to opt out of targeted Ads

Google offers Chrome extension to opt out of targeted Ads

Summary: Thanks to the push for privacy on the Web, Google is the first major Web browser company to offer an extension that will let you opt out of targeted ads.

TOPICS: Browser, Google

" class="alignRight size-full wp-image-593" />It’s always been possible to avoid targeted ads or to hide your Web browsing history. It’s just never been easy. You had to clear out your Web browser cookies on a regular basis, learn how to get rid of the more persistent Adobe Flash cookies; and use applications like Tor to make sure you left no tracks behind you on the beach of the Internet. Now, Google—yes, Google—is offering a new Chrome extension, Keep My Opt-Outs, that will keep many major online advertising networks from following you.

In doing this, Google is following the lead of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which recently declared that “For every business, privacy should be a basic consideration (PDF Link)–- similar to keeping track of costs and revenues, or strategic planning.” To make that happen most of the major Web browsers, including Firefox and Internet Explorer are getting ready to release similar “Do not track” features.

Cynic that I am, my worry about all these schemes is that they require the Web sites and advertising networks to go along with them to work. The FTC can talk all it wants about the importance of privacy, but the Web financial wheels go around and around thanks to the engine of personal information.

I mean, where did Google make all its billions if not from tracking all those innumerable searches and using that information to better target ads? Is Google mad? Or, does its new leadership just want to do right by its users?

Be that as it may, Google makes it new extension sounds good though. In Google’s Keep My Opt-Outs announcement, Sean Harvey and Rajas Moonka, Google Product Managers, wrote, “There are more than 50 companies that are members that offer opt outs via these programs, including the top 15 largest ad networks in the U.S. Some, like Google, enable you not only to opt out, but to tailor the personalization of ads by specifying what types of ads you’re most interested in seeing.”

According to Google, this new extension will allow “you to permanently opt out of ad tracking from all companies that offer opt-outs through the industry self-regulation programs. Keep in mind that once you install the Keep My Opt-Outs extension, your experience of online ads may change: You may see the same ads repeatedly on particular websites, or see ads that are less relevant to you.”

I can live with that.

In addition, Google states that, “We’ve designed the extension so that it should not otherwise interfere with your web browsing experience or website functionality. This new feature gives you significant control without compromising the revenue that fuels the web content that we all consume every day.”

Google also claims that “As more companies adopt the industry privacy standards, their opt-outs will be automatically added to Keep My Opt-Outs. As with all Chrome extensions, you’ll be asked to allow Chrome to update the extension.”

If you want to see how protected, or not, you are from advertisers tracking you, you can visit  Self-Regulatory Program for Online Behavioral Advertising site. You can also use this site to decide which, if any, advertising networks you would like to continue tracking you.

This all sounds nice, but I’m going to have to try Keep My Opt-Outs for a while before I’m willing to give it a thumbs-up. If nothing else, though it is nice that Google is electing to give its Chrome users some control over their Web browsing cookie trail. What the heck, if Don Draper on the fictional Mad Men ( can give up on cigarette ads, then maybe Google can give up universal ad tracking.

Topics: Browser, Google

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  • Nice add-on, but not new

    Abine, Inc. released a Chrome add-on months ago that does more than Google's new Keep My Opt-Outs. I've been using it for a while, and it has the added benefits of blocking not just cookies, but ad networks and trackers, as well as letting users choose what they want to opt out of. From my experiences with it, I can't recommend it enough. Here's a link to their site:
  • IE8 has this feature as well

    Although you have to turn it on. But it won't share tracking data across sites if you enable it. Originally it was going to be on by default but the advertisers cried and Microsoft would have likely been sued for something.
  • RE: Google offers Chrome extension to opt out of targeted Ads

    Google wants to make sure that the only targeted ads come from them. This way they can block all competition.

    Better to use Firefox with AdBlock, Ghostery, NoScript, and BetterPrivacy.
  • The best way to avoid targeted ads

    is to stay away from Google altogether