Jun 282010
 
 June 28, 2010  Breaches, Online

Patrick Stafford reports:

SEO and privacy experts have raised questions about a feature in Google’s Analytics Dashboard that allows website operators to find information on individuals who have linked to their site through social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

The Google Analytics tool, highlighted by SEO expert and SmartCompany blogger Chris Thomas in his blog today, allows websites to track who has linked back to their site. While most of these links come from blogs and websites, a significant number now come from Facebook profiles where users have shared a link with their friends.

As a result, not only can websites identify the Facebook and Twitter profile names who have visited their site, they can identify the specific pages those users have linked. Additionally, websites can then potentially visit these Facebook or Twitter profiles and gather further information, including potentially personal details.

Read more on SmartCompany. So far, they seem to be the only ones raising this as a privacy concern. Chris Thomas cites Google Analytics’ T&C:

7. PRIVACY. You will not (and will not allow any third party to) use the Service to track or collect personally identifiable information of Internet users, nor will You (or will You allow any third party to) associate any data gathered from Your website(s) (or such third parties’ website(s)) with any personally identifying information from any source as part of Your use (or such third parties’ use) of the Service. You will have and abide by an appropriate privacy policy and will comply with all applicable laws relating to the collection of information from visitors to Your websites. You must post a privacy policy and that policy must provide notice of your use of a cookie that collects anonymous traffic data.

  3 Responses to “SEO and legal experts point to Google Analytics privacy issues”

  1. This very well may be construed as a “privacy issue”, but it’s not a privacy issue on the part of Google or the Google Analytics users. It’s on the part of the poster. If you post something about someone or a company, that person or company has a right to see it if it’s archived in Google. YOU however, if you don’t want other people seeing it or if you find yourself posting stuff that may offend someone and you don’t want that coming back on you, you damn well better be posting anonymously, pseudo-anonymously or using tools such as robots.txt files and the like to keep people and search engines from finding and archiving your post.

    The bottom line is, if it’s on the internet, it can be archived. You are posting to a publicly available medium. Back in the day, when the majority of folks that were “on the internet”, had a clue. Nowadays, the unintelligent masses are finally coming to realize what most of we geeks knew all along. Now they want someone to help them because they’re so goddamn stupid, they can’t figure out how to post pseudo-anonymously enough to keep their big mouths from getting their big asses in trouble.

    /CF

    • Other than that, how’s your campaign for “Mr. Congeniality” going? 🙂

      • Well, considering how long I’ve been involved in this game, “Mr. Congeniality” is something I would loathe to become. I’ve watched the idiot-masses begin with a “hunt and peck” to a “hunt and peck and whine”. I don’t condone unethical behavior by businesses or pseudo-businesses, but the bottom line is, a little intelligence on the part of the consumer goes a long way. I believe, hell no, I KNOW, it’s our responsibility as users to protect ourselves. If you cannot do that, you don’t belong in the online community and you damn sure have no one to blame but yourselves.

        The one thing I’ve witnessed over the years that has contributed the most to people’s mistakes on computers: They attempt to over think the situation and they don’t break it down into it’s most basic level. People tend to forget there’s dictionary.com that will show them the definition to anything. Then, when they actually use it, they’ll let their A.D.D. kick in and go chasing butterflies on Yahoo!

        It’s nobody’s fault but their own.

        You must maintain a constant vigil on that which is yours, otherwise, someone else will attempt to take it.

        /CF

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