Deleting Your Browsing History Isn’t The Only Way To Opt Out of Google

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Last week there was a lot of discussion about new changes to Google’s privacy policy. Google homepage (Canadian version)

If you haven’t read the new policy yet, you should.

It took effect March 1, 2012.

There’s a good summary here on Computerworld, complete with links for more information. CNet also has a decent summary of the ways it affects individual users.

To be fair to Google, the policy is well written (as privacy policies go) and easier to understand.

Whether you’re down with Google making it easier to use the information it stores about you (whether it’s data you have volunteered or data collected from your browsing history) is another matter.

Google has also made many efforts to tell people the changes were coming.

Each time I’ve logged into a Google service over the past few weeks, I’ve seen notifications that the privacy policy is changing, reminding me that this stuff matters and encouraging me to educate myself.

There were also numerous articles posted by media outlets and bloggers with instructions for users interested in changing their privacy settings or removing browser data before the March 1 deadline.

Privacy is important to me.

Like a lot of people, I logged into Google and spent some time fixing my settings.

Only, when I went to delete my browsing history, I got this: Web history message

If you can’t make out the text and don’t want to click, the screenshot says “Web history has not been enabled by the administrator of the domain _______.”

I thought I had done something wrong.

So I spoke to Richard Rudy (@thezenmonkey), my design and all-things technical expert for this site, and sent him the message I was getting.

EMW: What is up with this page?

RR:  They don’t track your history because you already have a paid account.

EMW: How’s that?

RR: The Dreamhost shared hosting package I use to host your site and a bunch of other stuff ($9/month, btw) includes Google Apps for Business.

EMW: Like Gmail and all that stuff.

RR: Yeah. So you’re already a paying customer.

EMW: Sort of.

RR: They get their money. And I suspect that’s why they’re not interested in doing more stuff with our data.

You can get an Apps for Business account without going through a provider like Dreamhost, but the bundling was one of the reasons @thezenmonkey chose them.

If you deal directly with Google, an account will run you $5/user/month or $50/user/year. At least, that’s the price it gives me.

Who knows if Google adjusts that depending on where you live and what you’ve searched for (kind of like how McDonald’s never gives pricing information online because it changes depending on where you are).

So there’s another alternative for those concerned about the Google privacy issue, particularly if you have a web presence.

And contrary to media reports like that posted on CBC.ca, browsing while logged in is actually a better privacy option for me or anyone else who uses Google Apps for Business.

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