A quick foolproof guide to hinder Google from tracking your internet activity
By End the Lie
After yesterday’s article on Google I received some concerned e-mails from readers who wanted to know what steps they could take to stop Google tracking so I decided to write up this brief guide.
First, why should anyone care about this if they don’t have anything to hide?
Well a lot of people don’t like the idea of a corporation keeping tabs on most of your internet activity which they can tie to your identity and sell or hand over to a governmental agency. You don’t need to be doing something wrong to enjoy your privacy.
I think of it like this: no one says “why do you have blinds on the windows of your home? Do you have something to hide?”
Since it is commonly accepted that we do not like people looking in on our private lives even when we’re just sitting around doing nothing noteworthy, the fact that most people have blinds or shades on their windows isn’t questioned.
However, it seems that the self-same concept has not been extended to the internet in a lot of peoples’ minds. This is mirrored in the calls across Europe for even less internet privacy in the wake of the Norwegian terrorist attacks.
For those, like myself, who don’t like people infringing on my right to keep my private life private in both the physical and digital realms, there are a few methods to avoid the extensive Google tracking network.
As I briefly explained in yesterday’s article, Google Analytics and Google AdWords/AdSense operate on much of the websites commonly visited. If you want to find out if your favorite website is using either of these you can use a website analysis tool like this in order to see all of the scripts the site calls back to. You can also just look at the status bar in your browser.
The reason Google Analytics is a free service is because they actually record, analyze and save all of the data you gather for them. Essentially your website is acting as a Google internet spying outpost helping the internet giant track users around the net.
I know it is hard for a lot of people to realize this and accept that all of your website visits are collated and stored in a central location but this is how Google makes such massive profits from their advertising programs.
Your activity is tracked over no less than six months, building a profile which is used to serve you advertisements.
There are a few very easy ways to keep Google from building up this profile on you and essentially profiting off of your private online browsing habits.
One is the opt-out policy that Google has that allegedly allows users to bypass the Google tracking through their advertising service.
For users running Firefox, Internet Explorer and Chrome, you can download the opt-out plugin here.
Other browsers might require something a bit different which you can check out here.
However, this opt-out policy is a complete sham to anyone remotely tech-savvy.
So if Google’s so-called opt-out policy doesn’t stop the script from being downloaded and executed, what is a privacy-minded internet surfer to do?
There are two things that can actually enhance your privacy a great deal, both of which are easy to start using and can be utilized by even the most clueless computer users.
This means that, unless you manually enable Google Analytics, the script will not be downloaded and executed as it would be with Google’s opt-out plugin.
This plugin also conveniently blocks many ads, clickjacking, malicious script injections, anti-XSS features etc. all without you having to do a thing.
Some people find the plugin annoying because you have to manually approve websites, however if you care about privacy and security, this tiny inconvenience is more than worth it.
The next step is to obfuscate your IP address.
You can do this through a myriad of ways but the most simple is through a virtual private network, or VPN.
This entails multiple servers in various locations through which you connect to the internet. In doing so the website’s server that you are connecting to only sees the VPN server connecting to their server. You then connect to the VPN server and download the information from there.
This gives you another layer of security and privacy in your browsing.
There are a great deal of VPN providers out there and you could even get your own server if you have the funds but it is a bit time consuming and quite costly. Companies like MegaPath offer both VPN services and VoIP services to keep your information private.
But the best service that I have found is the HideMyAss VPN and desktop client, due to the fact that it has servers in over 100 countries and has over 10k IP addresses you can cycle through and takes absolutely no knowledge whatsoever to use.
There are many other additional layers of security you can utilize. You could connect to a proxy server through a VPN, giving you two levels of IP obfuscation. You can download desktop programs to scan your computer for tracking cookies. You can spoof your MAC address and so much more, however I believe the above two solutions are the quickest and easiest way to make your internet browsing a much more secure and private experience.
Note: if you purchase a HMA VPN subscription through this link, you donate a percentage of the purchase to End the Lie which significantly impacts our hosting costs. We would greatly appreciate if you could simply click through our link if you’d like to purchase it as you would be essentially donating to us without spending an extra cent. For your reference and for the sake of transparency, you can see how much we would get from your purchase by clicking here.
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