A somewhat vague post on TechCrunch, linking to a Google blog posting of equal nebulousness, suggests that Google will soon be releasing a browser plugin to enable users to opt-out of being tracked by Google Analytics.
Over the past year, we have been exploring ways to offer users more choice on how their data is collected by Google Analytics. We concluded that the best approach would be to develop a global browser based plug-in to allow users to opt out of being tracked by Google Analytics. Our engineers are now hard at work finalizing and testing this opt-out functionality. We look forward to make it globally available to our users in the coming weeks.
Speaking as someone who operates several websites: what? Does this mean tinfoil hat-wearing users will be able to opt-out of whatever habit-tracking information Google may collect for their own purposes, or does this mean they will be releasing a product that cripples their popular website statistics package?
Anyone running a website needs to know how much traffic they get, what the most common screen resolutions used are, what browsers visitors primarily use to access the site, and who’s linking in. Without that basic information, that poses absolutely no privacy threat, you’re flying blind. I assume that Google wouldn’t be stupid enough to build and promote a browser extension that could render their own statistics service useless?
I have no problem with people being able to opt-out of any questionable behavior tracking (i.e. following users from site to site) that Google may be doing behind the scenes, but I don’t want Google Analytics to become absolutely useless. I may be overreacting, but the Google bloggers certainly could have been more clear.