I am really interested in how many people have received an email from Google introducing the launch of their ‘interest-based advertising’? According to Google;

Interest-based advertising will allow advertisers to show ads based on a user’s previous interactions with them, such as visits to advertiser website and also to reach users based on their interests (e.g. “sports enthusiast”).  To develop interest categories, we will recognize the types of web pages users visit throughout the Google content network.  As an example, if they visit a number of sports pages, we will add them to the “sports enthusiast” interest category.  To learn more about your associated account settings, please visit the AdSense Help Center at http://www.google.com/adsense/support/bin/topic.py?topic=20310.

This raises some privacy concerns as it seems that Google is taking another step towards the ‘Big Brother Is Watching You’ approach. I mean do we as users really want to be categorized depending on our surfing habits. Heck, 90% of the time I am inadvertently directed to porno sites, but does that mean that I will categorized as a pervert or a dirty old man? Then, once I am stuck into a category, does that mean that every time I visit a site, regardless of what that site is, I will be shown ads befitting my so-called depraved state?

It seems that the only way around this is to install a plugin that will allow me to modify my ‘interest’ categories or to even opt out of the system. Damn, another bloody plugin, and then one has to wonder what other information this plugin will leach from my system. As  bloggers, this ‘interest-based system’ poses another problem, as we now have to update our privacy policy to reflect the fact that our blogs are using Google’s new system, and these changes have to be made by April 8, 2009! Naturally Google can not help us with the language we use to tell people of these changes because “publisher sites and laws vary across countries, we’re unfortunately unable to suggest specific privacy policy language.” Gee, thanks so much guys. Still we can opt out altogether by;

  1. Sign in to your AdSense account.
  2. Visit your My Account tab.
  3. Go to the Account Settings page.
  4. In the Interest-based Ads Preference section, click edit.
  5. Select the button marked Do not show ads based on user interest categories and save your changes.

This does also come with a warning saying that by opting out we may be cutting our own throat by decreasing our earning potential. So, tell me my blogging friends, how will this effect you? Are you happy about it? Will you opt out? Is this another invasion of user privacy?

Edit: I’ve just this minute decided to opt out and have started a poll to see the intentions of others towards Google’s latest escapade.

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