Please stop tracking me

January 21, 2024

Google has finally admitted that it tracks your search history, activities, the websites you visit and the services they use even in Incognito mode.

I’m fairly technical and extremely online, so Google tracking me when I’m in incognito mode is unsurprising, which is why I mostly don’t use it for anything other than debugging weird website behavior or logging into stuff with a alternative account.

I have what I think is a fairly pragmatic and nuanced take on online trackers: If I’m using your site, feel free to collect any and all information you want about me. If I’m not using your site, you should know nothing about me.

What does this mean in practice?

It means that if I’m using Youtube to watch videos about camping and hiking and snowboarding, then use that shit to show me advertising for camping, hiking and snowboarding products. Advertisers are happy because they get access to targeted users, I’m happy because I the ads I see are, at the very least, not offensive and possibly useful. Google is happy because they’re making $$$ from happy advertisers, win win win.

It also means that Google should never know anything about my browsing habits on sites that are not owned by Google. They shouldn’t know my REI purchase history, they shouldn’t know that I’m visiting, they should have no knowledge of anything I’m doing on a site that isn’t explicitly owned by Google.

All personal data, profile information or browsing history should be available to only the company or site I’m currently engaged with and never shared with marketing firms, data brokers or social networks. I suspect this is how most naive internet users assume the internet works, this is how it SHOULD work, and the US (or, if we want to be a bit more realistic, California) should enact strong legislation to ensure that this is how it does work.

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