There have been rumblings about web analytics and privacy ever since there was web analytics and this has largely been aimed at Google Analytics. Why? Probably because of the huge quantity of data that Google has accumulated from its free analytics offering and partly no doubt because of it it head and shoulders above any other internet property.
It seems that Google is now planning the release of a plug in which will allow visitors to prevent the website they are visiting from collecting data via Google Analytics. It is quite a low key little announcement at this stage and one wonders why Google has decided that that now is the time to do itA very interesting blog post by Eric Peterson suggests it is a way of Google maintaining and increasing its ability to accumulate data – all the world’s data according to Mr Peterson – and I can’t argue with his reasoning. No doubt it does make financial sense to offer GA free as a way of increasing revenue on Adwords, but call me cynical but I can’t helping there must be other benefits beyond Adwords revenue.
Google itself says the plug in will ‘give more choice for users’ – an interesting variation on ‘to improve the search experience’.
Whatever the reasoning, when the opt out plug in is released it will be very interesting to see just how many ordinary web surfers are really worried about privacy issues and use the opt out. My guess is that very few have ever even given the matter any thought, are not interested in what GA is and isn’t doing, but are much more interested in how quickly they can find the price/information/music they are looking for or even, if they are UK surfers, how the meerkats managed to travel across those wastelands to find more grubs.