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Who gives a stuff about Google tracking

Updated on February 13, 2012

This hub is in response to articles I have read recently concerning privacy on the net.

With issues that are hard to comprehend like tracking codes on the net there can be a tendency for fear-mongerers to take advantage of the lack of understanding of what actually goes on and for fear to overtake rational thinking.

For a start does anyone really care if others (like Google or Microsoft) have access to webpages visited - really, if your philosophy is to hide what do you have to hide?

Even sexual preferences are nothing to be ashamed of in these modern times - does anyone really care.

If you always have to hide yourself are you really living?

If you are suspicious of what others know about you does this mean you feel you are being controlled or have issues about control.

On the other hand, letting go of these suspicions may be the best thing you ever do to finding out that the world actually has your best interests at heart.

Wouldn't you want Google to find out your interests and serve more pages and ads relevant to you?

Is that really sinister? In my opinion, it's the opposite - it's actually helping you and in fact your self-realization UNLESS it falls into the wrong hands or if Google was corrupted - what are the chances of that (I don't know - let's hope it is well nigh impossible)?

If tracking is ONLY available to a few, than that would be unfair too, but you do not want this to fall into the wrong hands either so it would be best to leave the tracking to a trusted and secure and publically accountable authority or those who are doing the right thing - the white hats like Google - not black hats (to use an old internet adage).

Understandably, if it's your banking details that are publically available it would be a different story but IT'S NOT and wouldn't you want someone to be tracking a criminal who was trying to access these via the internet anyway?

Of course you would. We need police and intelligence people to protect our lives and sometimes this requires them to track the movements of others on reasonable grounds of suspicion.

Our society needs this protectiion so in my opinion tracking us all is good policy.

So though it is easy to make the emotionally charged leap to thinking Big Brother is watching everything we do, that there is no privacy, it would be irrational to be thinking this is necessarily a monolothic and sinister thing.

Banks use secure servers (you will see an extra 's' in the request. NOT http:// but https:// in the address bar - very simply this means the info is scrambled in communication and nearly impossible for others to access without the password which you will notice is NOT remembered automatically in browsers) .

With tracking codes - let's get this straight from the outset - we are not talking about malware or viruses or trojans or stealing of passwords.

Most sites you visit will have tracking codes and these are the web developers and owners way of understanding visitor interaction with their site - what they like and don't like - what works and does not work.

One of the first sites I started on the internet was on sitetracking codes in PHP. What does this give website owners access to?

It does NOT give you access to -

A visitors name or gender or eye-color or bank account details or what they had for breakfast.

It can help you find out where the visitor came from - what search engine (Google, Yahoo or Bing or direct) or country. It can tell the country and city or district the visitor came from. If you find a lot of your visitors are coming from Japan, for example, you might like to use a few Japanese words on your page.

The length of time the visitor stayed on your site can also be tracked but only if they visit more than one page as far as I know ( timing starts when the visitor goes to another page).

Well, very simply, tracking, is a form of business or website intelligence which every owner of a website or search engine would, if they are serious, take up as a matter of course to learn about their constituents.

With the information provided by using tracking codes, the website owner can see which pages are getting good attention and engagement etc...

It makes sense to know what is pleasing your visitors just as it makes sense to know what pleases your customers if you own a shop - part of any business strategy is to learn your market and understand the markets needs.

If you feel this is an intrusion on your privacy the internet may not be for you!


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    • profile image
      Author 5 years ago

      Good to see ya and thanks iamaudraleigh! I get a real buzz from other people's enjoyment of my writing!

    • profile image

      iamaudraleigh 5 years ago

      Nice to read your hub today! I liked your hub! My favorite line was, "letting go of these suspicions may be the best thing you ever do to finding out that the world actually has your best interests at heart." are so spot on!

    • profile image
      Author 6 years ago

      I should have added for Google (or anyone for that matter) to access a database requires the password for that database - web users/non-tech people often don't realize their is a huge difference between having access to the info in a database (when you look at webpages you are often looking at the results of database queries) and having the password to a databse (this requires a password and administrator priveleges to (re-)write codes to deliver the information in a database to users. For example if I'm buying a car online, I can get access to makes and models, pics, prices and owners details which are displayed for me (as the buyer say) to look over - but I have no way of changing any of these details - I can only look as the car ad is outputed to my browser Hope that makes sense.

    • skyfire profile image

      skyfire 6 years ago

      I have specifics check boinboing blog for the updates and the way google cover that up. As for google apology, thats because some company caught this,otherwise do you think there was a chance for google to apologize,it was going smoothly afterall. But then again google is white hat. They had no partnership of any sort. Using adsense/adwords doesnt mean google is your partner. Its just display incentive program. You can call it over-the-head generalisations of mine, afterall there are no threats and google is white hat remember? Lol

    • profile image
      Author 6 years ago

      Cheers Skyfire I don't know the full details but if the Kenyan company had Google ads then they are in partnership with Google or maybe Google have offered them some kind of partnership such as Adword Client Management - do you know? or are we just having a top of your head type of argument - generalizations with no specifics to the case? If a company has a stuff up or employs someone who does - the point is not that they stuffed up but whether they are doing anything to stop it happening again. Google apologized and was mortified when they found out from what I've read. We need to remember Google isn't a person.

    • skyfire profile image

      skyfire 6 years ago

      Whats unacceptable is google calling their paid clients and saying that kenyan company is in partnership with them. You do understand that part of this issue ? I dont know how it ends up in child crying analogy. Whats unacceptable is google deindexing pharma sites only to allow them in their adwords. Whats not acceptable is penalyzing autoblogs only to start their own version of it. Or buying sites likes quotes which got penalyzed for shady stuff. There are tons of examples against them. Atleast google, apple and microsoft are far from -do no evil motto. My 2 cents.

    • profile image
      Author 6 years ago

      Skyfire - I meant to also say (ran out of time) that it was funny for me to read your comment re the Kenyan startup for small biz directory - I've done exactly the same in my local area! If Google happens to approach clients from my database I really don't care - I built my site on resources supplied by Google in the first place - Google was the first startup indexing people so am I stealing Google's idea by starting a directory? I would be an ungrateful person to copy Google and then complain when Google approached clients I had found first - reminds me of a child complaining to a parent who has taught them what they know and given them their upbringing and start in the first place.

    • profile image
      Author 6 years ago

      thanks Skyfire - I don't see the world as without threats - quite the opposite and that's the upside of tracking - it can help expose threats I would have thought

    • skyfire profile image

      skyfire 6 years ago

      I guess you're too powerful with political or with financial status to manage any offline opposition to your online views. Or maybe you simply don't care for what's ahead. Or maybe you're in the part of the world, where there's peace and no chaos. It's great in any case. It's not same for all. For example, consider the case of journalists or people who use their real name to voice their opinion end up fleeing off the city or state or sometimes even country. By forcing them to disclose their data, It becomes difficult for them to use internet in case of broadcasting sensitive issues. If you're using real name on google plus or facebook and sharing your political views or religious views then it's easy to target you. That goes beyond threat and stalking stuff sometimes. Google made it difficult to use anonymous names, you know that already. We have cases here on hubpages where people deleted their hubpages account and blogspot posts for their opinion against/for some ideology. Check the recent case of hubber keithtax who got stalked here on forums and in offline life. That aside, If you're non-religious and if extreme religious person see your public posts or leaked private posts then surely it's easy to target you. Political and religious powers can use social network data to harass people based on their views or use it for their benefit.

      You may feel this whole stuff as paranoia because you're still way off from seeing the negative side of information manipulation. Coming to business point, Mood change as per surrounding- is the part of psychology which is often ignored by business. I'm into internet marketing as well and I'm totally against "observe-n-slap recursively" same ads tactics. I don't know about you but living a monotonous life based on slapped ads and agencies tracking your likes and dislikes is something I don't want to happen to me. This is no different than stalkers keeping track of your life, only just for their benefit more than your occasional benefit.

      As for Google being White hat is the funniest stuff I heard this year. The company that stole database of kenyan small business directory and later made a coverup to get the steam off this issue is far from white hat. That's not all they're the ones who paid government a fine of few million for hosting pharma ads last year. They're the ones who are buying companies with patent portfolio to stand against other patent troll firms - like apple and microsoft. White hat? When there is money involved in anything, these corps - google and microsoft can sell the data to their clients without much holding back, afterall money can shut off paranoia too. Microsoft recently leaked passwords accidently from their app store, If you digg deeply you'll understand that such companies with walled garden focus and privacy issues can create a lot of problems. If it's just a password, you can always ignore but when your CC is linked with appstore and personal info, then there is too much to lose. I guess you see the world with no threats around you. I see the word with random threats If I let my guards down.

      Anyway, this is the biggest comment ever written by me. I apologize for that. Have fun :)

    • profile image
      Author 6 years ago

      skyfire - thankyou. See how I'm allowed to use any name I like - LOL - I do get privacy on the internet! I can pick and choose who I trust and will give my real name to - Google, Microsoft etc - I trust - others can't get that info so easily unless I choose to divulge it to them! I could do this practice in the 'real' world too. On your other point - business is a great thing and any business who wants to dig around and find out what I like and don't like is quite welcome - I have no qualms about it whatsoever. I seriously don't understand why anyone would not like that.

    • profile image
      Author 6 years ago

      Jumpto - thanks for dropping in and your feedback. I do not agree with you, however, the future is only to be feared if the WRONG people with the WRONG (undemocratic) values get into positions of authority over others - I hope trusted authorities like Google and Microsoft etc continue to track and keep watch over our lives and our freedoms to pursue what we want... I'm all for this type of protection.

    • Jumpto profile image

      Jumpto 6 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, Canada

      You know, it is thoughts like these that make me fear for the future of our race. Okay, so you think that tracking is no big deal. Where does it stop? If you are complacent about Google tracking and selling your activities to anyone with enough cash what about Uncle Sam? Big Brother? Absolutely NOT! This is a slippery slope and for my money, NO tracking or better surfing in complete privacy and anonymity is what I would vote for. Jumpto was created for this exact purpose. To keep private what should be kept private.

    • skyfire profile image

      skyfire 6 years ago

      I would love to take your hub seriously if you use real name and details in username and profile. Why be annonymous to teach lesson to fearmongers? No offense. Lets walk the talk? I wonder what should be considerd as acceptable next. Installing cam in mall's changing room? Air hostess and crew keeping track of what you eat and read and offering only these options in next flight? Bank employees using customers account balance and issuing banks insurance policy and credit cards to complete their sales target-which is already happening in india (check icici bank obdusman cases). Digging through social network to gain insight to political views of user, to sell this data to campaign agencies for their benefit, which is already tested in uk?want more examples? I agree people who value privacy should not be on the internet. Only google fanboys who think what type of people should use and what privacy should apply, are supposed to use internet.