Remember when Google’s motto used to be “don’t be evil?” Those were the days huh?

Google Has Quietly Dropped Ban on Personally Identifiable Web Tracking

When Google bought the advertising network DoubleClick in 2007, Google founder Sergey Brin said that privacy would be the company’s “number one priority when we contemplate new kinds of advertising products.”

And, for nearly a decade, Google did in fact keep DoubleClick’s massive database of web-browsing records separate by default from the names and other personally identifiable information Google has collected from Gmail and its other login accounts.


But this summer, Google quietly erased that last privacy line in the sand – literally crossing out the lines in its privacy policy that promised to keep the two pots of data separate by default. In its place, Google substituted new language that says browsing habits “may be” combined with what the company learns from the use Gmail and other tools.

Anyway, what this means is that Google is now building advertising profiles directly attached to who you are. You’re no longer an anonymous viewer, but specifically who they know you are based on email address, IP address, etc.

Google Settings: Protect Your Privacy In 3 Steps

If you don’t want Big G tracking every little thing you do, follow these steps:

1) Use Google’s Privacy Checkup tool. It provides a pretty good overview of what sharing is enabled on your account.

2) Go to your Google Ad settings.

  • Disable “Ads based on your interests”
  • In the bottom left corner click the button labeled “Control signed out ads” and disable those too.

3) Go to Google Activity controls.  Disable “Include Chrome browsing history and activity from websites and apps that use Google services,” under Web & App activity.

  • Disable Location History.
  • Disable Device Information.

That should keep Google from creating a unique privacy profile that is explicitly tied to you. It’s also important to make sure you periodically check back in on these setting in case there has been a change to the Terms of Service (which is what prompted this PSA). It’s probably worth your time to check back in a couple times a year and make sure you’re still opted out of all the tracking services.

Know who really has a complete profile of you? Amazon. They know everything you shop for and what you buy. So if you buy my book there, they’ll know you like books with words in them.

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