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Google allows consumers to block Analytics

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On Tuesday, Google revealed a new browser add-on that will allow web users to block its Google Analytics (GA) from gathering information about them as they move around online. In addition, the web company is providing website owners the option of adding new coding that would allow visitors to anonymize their IP addresses, thereby enhancing privacy but also reducing a company's ability to gather customer geographic information.

Months ago, Google had said it planned to release a GA opt-out tool. It announced the additions in a May 25 blog post.

We've worked hard to make Google Analytics both a robust and reliable web analytics platform while also ensuring the trust and privacy of visitors of these websites. Today we're taking additional steps to provide even more choice and transparency for both website owners and users.

It might seem strange that Google would want to reduce any of the functionality of its popular GA tool. Businesses large and small make use of GA to better understand and target their customers. But if you've been paying attention to any web-related news lately, you'll know that privacy is the crucial issue for 2010. Facebook comes to mind, as does Congress, which has proposed new wide-reaching online privacy controls to protect the public from what it sees as overreaching marketers.

The beta version of the new opt-out tool will work in Google's Chrome, Firefox and IE.

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