Google produces personalised ad blocker

Kevin Rawlinson

Untitled 115 300x245 Google produces personalised ad blockerInternet users tired of being pestered by personalised adverts will be able to avoid them in future after Google launched an extension to stop their browser cookies being tracked by online companies.

The company made the announcement in a blogpost on Tuesday, saying the launch of the “Keep My Opt-Outs” extension was aimed at making it easier for users to opt out permamently. It also pre-empts an expected move towards a “Do Not Track” system for browser cookies by the US government.

Personalised ads work by analysing a person’s online activity – stored as “cookies” – and tailoring the adverts to match. Therefore, someone who regularly searches for news on a particular sport may then begin seeing adverts related to it.

The extension, currently available for download in Google’s Chrome browser, stops online firms from analysing that data. It does not, however, block the ads themselves and users will still be confronted by generic publicity.

In the blogpost, a Google spokesman explained that more than 50 advertising companies that are members of the US-based Network Advertising Initiative (NAI) currently allow users to opt out of tracking, “including the top 15 largest ad networks in the U.S.”.

However, if users clear their cookies, they lose those preference settings. Google’s extension, in contrast, is a permanent bar and will apply to all ads from the companies currently offering individual opt-out services. According to technology blog CNet, a similar system has also been proposed by Mozilla for its leading browser Firefox.

The post, on Google’s Public Policy blog, explained that the extension “should not otherwise interfere” with users’ web browsing experience. A Google spokesman added: “This new feature gives you significant control without compromising the revenue that fuels the web content that we all consume every day.

“We’re working to make this feature available for other browsers, too. We’ve also decided to make the code for this extension available on an open-source basis, so that other developers can let us know if there’s a bug, or even extend the code’s capabilities if they want to.”

Personalised ads are a major weapon used by some of the web’s most recognisable online companies in their fight to harvest a profit from their sites. They are a prominent feature on Facebook while Twitter opts for so-called “promoted tweets”.

The news of the launch comes just hours before the company’s former CEO Eric Schmidt told the annual DLD media conference in Munich: “we know where you are, down to the foot”, before hurriedly adding: “with your permission”. He also announced that the company would be creating 1,000 jobs in Europe.

Last year, Google faced censure for “mistakenly” collecting data including passwords with its Street View cars. It later deleted the data.

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  • brightonbackpacker

    Ohhhh Yeesssssssssssssssssssss!!!!! At last.

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