Implicit Analytics…

Okay, call me paranoid, but with Google buying recaptcha (e.g. Teaching computers to read: Google acquires reCAPTCHA, By Acquiring ReCaptcha, Google Acquired a Crowd Computer Along the Way ), the Goog got another way of seeing how much traffic a particular web page is getting, and potentially yet another way of tracking how identifiable people move across websites…

Now I don’t know if the various Google properties and services share traffic information, or reconcile user cookie IDs to piece to together as much as they can about where you’re visiting on the web, but if I was to have a paranoid moment, I’d start to think about how many websites don’t have one of the following associated with them:

There are other ways for Google to find out what you’re up to of course…

  • Google Reader – so the Goog can see what fed powered content you’ve been looking at – and clicking through on
  • Google search (and all the other Google search properties) – you think Google doesn’t pay attention to which links you click through to? (see Google Web History for what Google might have learned about you from that source if you you have a Google account.)
  • Google Toolbar – this can track you wherever you go…
  • Google Chrome – and presumably, so can this… ( this is a paranoid fantasy, right?!;-)
  • Google Latitude, and ‘My Location’ services on mobile phones: it’s not just your web locations the Goog is tracking; and you have all seen The bright side of sitting in traffic: Crowdsourcing road congestion data , right?;-)
  • not strictly tracking, but it still helps Google build up a picture of you: Google social graph API (See also: Time to Get Scared, People?);
  • [added] Google Calendar – so the Goog gets clues as to where you are in time and space in one fell swoop… (Doesn’t Gmail also scan emails for calendar info that it can helpfully add to Google Calendar? Which means it can glean some of this info from your email, too..?)

But then again, I suppose my ISP could record the URL of every page I visit if it wanted to…?

PS here’s another thought – ReCaptchas are often used on sign up pages… so if there’s a ReCaptcha cookie with a user identifier in it, you can see keep track of what services a particular individual is signing up to… maybe…?! (paranoiiiiaaaaaa… heh heh ;-)