Google Offers a Tin Foil Hat for Your Browser

They’re watching you. How you browse. At what time. And where you’ve been.

Google Analytics, the software that helps Google identify browsing habits and advertise accordingly, hasn’t won many fans with privacy advocates. But soon, you’ll be able to simply flick a switch and turn it off.

Google announced an upcoming browser plug-in that will cut the flow of data to Analytics late last week. “Over the past year, we have been exploring ways to offer users more choice on how their data is collected by Google Analytics,” product manager Amy Chang wrote in the Analytics blog. “We concluded that the best approach would be to develop a global browser based plug-in to allow users to opt out of being tracked by Google Analytics.”

Analytics uses cookies to code embedded in more than half of the world’s most popular Web sites to keep tabs on data like which pages visitors came in from, how long they stayed, and their geographic location. None of the information individually identifies users.

Although a number of sites already offer workarounds to block Analytics, Google’s plug-in will make the process simpler. Google hasn’t yet announced which browsers it will support, but the plug-in should be forthcoming within weeks.

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