Google Analytics and Privacy Concerns

Discussion in 'privacy general' started by Rmus, Feb 10, 2006.

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  1. Rmus

    Rmus Exploit Analyst

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2005
    Posts:
    3,943
    Location:
    California
    A while back, on connecting to a site I look at frequently,
    my firewall alerted to a connection attempt in the background:

    http://www.rsjones.net/imgs/csm-google2.gif

    A check of WhoIs listed Google.

    Checking the source code of the site revealed:
    script
    src="https://ssl.google-analytics.com/urchin.js" type="text/javascript"
    /script
    It turns out that Google purchased Urchin Log Analyzer, a web traffic log analysis program. Now, web traffic analysis is nothing new. Another program is NetTracker Web analytics. But the fact that the web site's data is sent to the program's server for analysis (Google in this case) is starting to raise eyebrows .

    From the Google Terms of Service
    "Customer Data" means the data concerning the characteristics and activities of visitors to your website that is collected through use of the UTM and then forwarded to the Servers and analyzed by the Processing Software."
    UTM is referred to in the above javascript file as "Urchin Tracking Module" and further defined in the TOS as "proprietary Google Analytics Tracking Code, which is installed on a web page for the purpose of collecting Customer Data".]

    This is accomplished via the .js file which is cached (if the user has javascript enabled).

    It's not clear how this impacts visitors to the site. Do their IP address become part of the data sent to Google?

    Does anyone else know how this type of web traffic analytics works?

    I have written to the webmaster of the site and am waiting to hear back.

    Other articles:

    http://michaelzimmer.blogspot.com/2005/11/google-analytics-and-end-user-privacy.html

    http://www.webpronews.com/topnews/t...1PrivacyConcernsMayImpactGoogleAnalytics.html

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  2. lotuseclat79

    lotuseclat79 Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2005
    Posts:
    5,103
    Hi Rmus,

    I do know that you can block google-analytics by using Firefox and the two extensions, NoScript 1.1.3.9 and CustomizeGoogle 0.41.

    However, I see you are using Opera as your browser. Perhaps Opera has a way to do the blocking as well?

    I suspect that it works by using various spyware scanning techniques such as scanning the browser cache, accessing other cookies for information, or accessing history and typed URL information to capture surfing patterns across different IP addresses. I don't know for certain how it works - to know that, I'd have to look at the code.

    -- Tom
     
  3. Rmus

    Rmus Exploit Analyst

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2005
    Posts:
    3,943
    Location:
    California
    I've blocked it with a firewall rule.
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