Wednesday 8 April 2009

Turn On, Plug-In, Opt Out!

Starting today, Google will be collecting information on the web pages you view in order to target advertising at you.

They don't need your permission - if you don't opt out then the law apparently allows them to assume your "implied consent". They also have little obligation to make sure you know they're doing this, which one might think would tend to make it rather difficult for you to choose to consent to it even if you wanted to. Anyway, now you know, so now you can choose to opt out.

In fact I hardly ever see any advertising on the internet any more since I got the almighty Adblock Plus for Firefox. Honestly, even if you're the least technical person in the universe, if you use Firefox then click here, click on "Add to Firefox", and let it install. It will tell you to restart Firefox, and then you need to click on a filter to tell it which ads to look for - pick the first US one if you're in an English-speaking country. That's it.

It's easy, I promise it won't go wrong, and I swear I only see advertising on the internet now when I use someone else's machine which doesn't have Adblock installed. Then everything is suddenly plastered in the stuff, which the normal user of the machine usually insists they "never really notice". If they really don't notice that amount of junk on the screen all the time then advertisers must practically have electrodes implanted directly into their subconscious. Give yourself a couple of weeks without the distraction of incessant advertising, and then see how cluttered and shouty other people's experience of the internet begins to seem.

Google, however, will still be collecting information about the pages you view in order to target advertising at you, even if you're not actually seeing the ads. It's the data collection aspect that I object to most, so I still want to opt out of their intrusive scheme and stop them virtually spying on me in the first place.

Trying to find out how to do this involved having to read pages and pages of corporate drivel about how to "improve your online experience" by letting Google show you "the most useful and relevant ads online" which can be "tailored to your interests" with a system based on "transparency" and "choice".

To save you the sheer annoyance, click here, and then click on the big blue thing that says "Download the advertising cookie opt-out plugin". If you have more than one browser then you'll need to do this in all of them, e.g. you need to do this once in Firefox, once in Internet Explorer, and once in Chrome or whatever else you use for browsing the internet. (If you're not sure then you probably only need to do it once.)

After that they should bugger off and leave you alone, at least until the surgeons call round to give you that lobotomy you've implied your consent for by failing to let them know you didn't want it.


Mel said...

Hello Alice, Just delurked to thank you very much for giving that link. I have installed it now, and really appreciate you taking the time to find it and share it with your readers. It is appreciated.

Alice said...

Hooray! I love it when people tell me they've physically done something as a result of reading something here.

May you have many peaceful hours of enjoyment of the internet without it trying to sell you anything.