Howto avoid on line tracking

Last update: 17 September 2014

On your laptop or home computer

Avoid google tracking by installing  “Do not track me” or “Ghostery” as an extension for your browser.

Quote of  developer of “Do not Track me” Abine:

“Companies place third party trackers on their sites for a variety of reasons: to get insights on you, gather information about you to sell to advertisers, or combine what you do on their site with what you do on other sites.

How does DoNotTrackMe block them? When web pages load, there are snippets of code that instantly start tracking you. Our engineering team works hard to figure out who these companies are – and how their code works – so that DoNotTrackMe can stop them.

DoNotTrackMe also protects your email address, phone, and credit card from being abused by companies on the web and on your mobile device.

You can get started for free. Just install DoNotTrackMe for Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera, and Internet Explorer. When you browse, you’ll automatically block these trackers!”

On your smarphone

When you have ‘location services’ switched on in your phone, Google is tracking wherever your smartphone goes, and putting a neat red dot on a map to mark the occasion. You can find that map here.

Google’s mobile Maps apps for Android and the iPhone track everywhere you go. Every single day. All of the time.

To see if you have location history enabled, head to the Google Maps Location history page.

Click the gear-icon button to access History settings. Here, you can choose to disable or enable the service.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET
Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

The data Google collects is put to use in a number of ways. It helps Google better tailor its services to each individual user, and it also obviously helps Google build a more accurate advertising profile of each user. But you can opt out of Google Maps location tracking quickly and easily.

In Google Maps for the iPhone:

  1. Drag the tab in the bottom left corner to the right to slide open the menu and then tap “Settings.”
  2. Tap “Location History,” then “Location History” again.
  3. Check the box next to “Do not store,” then tap the back arrow.
  4. Tap “Location Reporting.”
  5. Check the box next to “Do not report.”

In Google Maps for Android:

Drag the tab in the bottom left corner to the right to slide open the menu and then tap “Settings.”

  1. Tap “Google location settings.”
  2. Under “Location Services,” tap “Google Location Reporting.”
  3. Tap “Location Reporting”
  4. Slide the toggle to “Off,” then tap the back arrow.
  5. Tap “Location History.”
  6. Slide the toggle to “Off.”

That’s it! You can now rest easy knowing that Google is no longer keeping a record of every single location you visit.

Those looking for a little added peace of mind can also delete all of the location history Google has already stored on its servers. Simply visit Google Maps Location history page. and click the “Delete all history” link in the menu on the left side.

How serious this is?

In 2009 Google made a blogposting about their research: “Eye-tracking studies: more than meets the eye”  They state:

“Based on eye-tracking studies, we know that people tend to scan the search results in order. They start from the first result and continue down the list until they find a result they consider helpful and click it — or until they decide to refine their query. The heatmap below shows the activity of 34 usability study participants scanning a typical Google results page. The darker the pattern, the more time they spent looking at that part of the page. This pattern suggests that the order in which Google returned the results was successful; most users found what they were looking for among the first two results and they never needed to go further down the page.”

Of course they do not tell us that based on eye-tracking studies, they offer the for-profit content of their Adwords and AdSense clients on the right place… because clicking these pages is the major income of Google as you can see in the infographic below.

Gppgles revenues of 2013, source: The Main Street Analyst
Googles revenues in 2013

Source: The Mainstreet Analyst 

Look at the video about eye-tracking on Google universal search:

Sources  about this issue

How to find out who Google thinks you are from your web history (and how it may even have your sex wrong) (Dec. 2012)

The society of the query and the Googlization of our lives by Geert Lovink (2008)

Waarom Google onze zoek geschiedenis bijhoudt (Dutch 2011)

Google Big Brother? Eyetracking en Latitude on Daniv – Testbed (2009)

How to delete and disable your Google location history (2014)

Google Maps tracks every single step you take – here’s how to stop it  (2014)

Google Maps Has Been Tracking Your Every Move, And There’s A Website To Prove It  (2014)

1 thought on “Howto avoid on line tracking

  1. DoNotTrack is an excellent way for the unethical to separately track you… most ad servers are unethical (injuring user privacy to make money)

    Advising there is a safe use of google [maps] is like suggesting you carry a condom for prospective rapists.

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