Posted by: kurtsh | August 25, 2007

HOWTO: Block Google Analytics from tracking you

Blocking Google’s cookie, ‘eh? 

So you think they can’t track your movements if you simply block their cookie, right?  After all – how can they track you if they don’t have a 1st party cookie associated with you?  Because you block 3rd party cookies in your browser – most people do.

Silly human.  Here’s a bit of cold water:  Even if you block 1st party & 3rd party cookies from Google, Google is still tracking you.  There’s a number of ways they do it but Google Analytics is one of the more creative ways that Google tracks you.

QUICK SOLUTION TO BLOCKING GOOGLE ANALYTICS:
1)  Open your to your HOSTS file at %SystemRoot%system32driversetc.
2)  Enter the following line:
               127.0.0.1       google-analytics.com

3) That’s it.

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DETAILED SUMMARY:
Google traditionally tracks you using a 1st party Google cookie.  If you block this, normally this would be enough to protect your privacy however every time you go to any other 3rd party web site that participates in Google Analytics (and there’s a lot of them… it’s basically any site with "Ads by Google") they drop a cookie on your machine that’s a true 1st party cookie for that particular 3rd party web site, (like fredsdiscountstores.com) then they feed your actions & information to Google Analytics to cross correlate this with other information they’ve got on you, frankly using your own computer to pass the information on by having your browser session reach out to http://www.google-analytics.com.

Interesting isn’t it?

It’s very difficult to block using cookie blocking technologies because you’d effectively block EVERY 1st party cookie out there being that there’s really no way to tell which sites are using Google Analytics and which one’s aren’t.

SOLUTION:
The solution is to simply block your computer from ever going to the domain name "google-analytics.com"… ever.  This prevents your system’s registration with Google Analytics and keeps your actions from being cross-referenced with other sites that you may have visited using Google Analytics and other more detailed actions you may have taken on those sites.  While it’s impossible to prevent the site from logging your presence, it’s extremely difficult for Google Analytics to know you’d visited both Site A and Site B.

For more information, on the ways Google tracks you, check this page out:
http://kurtsthoughts.spaces.live.com/blog/cns!97895BBB8AD10F37!589.entry


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