Google offers new way for users to manage ads, personal data: Report
Google offers new way for users to manage ads, personal data: Report

Google offers new way for users to manage ads, personal data: Report

Google is introducing a more expansive ad tracking system that will include all your accounts on all Google-related sites and apps that you use. It sounds like an annoying but necessary evil when dealing with “free” services that still have to earn their money through advertising, not to mention it feels like a privacy issue as well. But the good news is that, unlike some others who are introducing something similar (cough, Facebook), at least you get the chance to opt-in for such a change.

Opting in gives you more granular control over how ads work across devices signed into your Google account. If a search for boat shoes (you know, the grey ones with white laces) haunts you across the web, you’ll be able to kill it everywhere, all at once, rather than going device by device.

Google’s also introducing My Activity, a page that bundles search history, videos you’ve watched, and pages you’ve visited that serve Google ads. Opt in to the new setting, and you’ll be able to comb through your online life in far finer detail. That fine-tuning won’t all come today, but instead will roll out gradually over time. Google says it will continue to refrain from sharing your data, and you can tweak the type of information it collects from the My Account page.

The move to use your Google information across the web echoes a similar endeavor from Facebook, with a key difference: Google lets you opt-in to the program, rather than requiring you to opt-out. That’s one reason Google is broadcasting it so loudly—you can’t enlist in something you don’t know about. Google users will see the notification until they act on it.

“The fact that it’s an option, and that the user has to think through some of the account, and ad, and other implications of it, is really the best thing about it,” says Brenda Leong, of the Future of Privacy Forum, a think tank funded largely by corporations (including Google) that focuses on data privacy best-practices.

If you’re a privacy hawk, you’ll probably want to keep your settings as-is. Google appears to be gaining more than its users here, and your ad blocker makes most of this moot. But if the idea of a more extensive search history and greater control over the ads you see is appealing, you’ve got the option to fiddle to your heart’s highly relevant content. More importantly, no one’s making that choice for you.


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