It seems that Google’s toolbar tracks even those users who specifically disable the toolbar, a step many take to ensure that they’re not being tracked.
Google’s “Do No Evil” commandment is being stretched a little if word from security expert Ben Edelman is true. According to an incredibly detailed posting on Edelman’s own blog about the topic, it seems as though users who decide that they’d rather not have their browsing habits tracked by Google, and then specifically go on to disable the Google Toolbar, are often still being tracked.
Indeed, according to Edelman himself,
“I then offer screenshot and video proof showing that even when users specifically instruct that the Google Toolbar be ‘disabl[d]’, and even when the Google Toolbar seems to be disabled (e.g. because it disappears from view), Google Toolbar continues tracking users’ browsing.”
Edelman also got down and dirty with the EULA for the Google Toolbar and found it to have grown slowly worse over time. Perhaps most interesting though, is the question he poses fairly early on, when he effectively asks…
If the “disable” button doesn’t turn of the Google Toolbar’s tracking, then how indeed is the average user supposed to ensure that they’re not being tracked?
It’s certainly an interesting piece, and one that will certainly lead many to be a little more sceptical before they make the previously fairly light-hearted move of installing the Google Toolbar. We’ll be especially curious to see how Google responds to this after the initial privacy concerns that were raised about its browser, Google Chrome and its speedy response to them.