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I'm Tav, a 29yr old from London. I enjoy working on large-scale social, economic and technological systems.

Say No to Google's Intrusion of Privacy

[Blog, Twitter #googlestrike and Facebook this as much as you can — Thanks!]

This is a call to boycott Google AdSense until they change their new monitoring policy to be opt-in.

Earlier today, Google announced that they will be monitoring everybody's online activity. This is clearly a violation of their “Don't Be Evil” policy.

In their quest to serve more targeted ads, Google will now start tracking the sites that we all visit. They can do this because a lot of sites use Google AdSense.

And every time we visit these sites running AdSense, Google will know exactly where we've been. This is an extreme breach of privacy! We must act now or risk handing over our privacy permanently.

So this is a call to all network admins — in homes, offices, university campuses, ISPs and anywhere else — to please add the following 2 lines to your hosts file:

If you are not an admin, then get in touch with whoever runs your local home/office/ISP/university networks and get them to make the change.

By doing this, you will disable Google's tracking as well as take away their revenue — an online equivalent of boycotting. If it is not made clear that our privacy is important, the rest of the industry will simply follow Google's lead even further.

So when should we stop boycotting Google AdSense? When they make it opt-in instead of the current opt-out they provide on their ad preferences page.

The problem with opt-out is that most users simply don't understand the technical details. As Tim Berners-Lee points out it's like having an invisible spy camera following you around.

Most people simply don't even know that it's there! And worse, with Google's current implementation, you have to opt-out from every browser and machine you ever use!! This is outrageous!

If Google would make this opt-in on the other hand, I will happily let them know what my interests are so that they can serve me more relevant ads. There is value in behavioural targetting and Google can derive the same value without having to intrude on our privacy.

But letting Google know my interests is one thing and letting them know every website that I ever visit is a different matter altogether. For that, if some users want to help Google, then fine, let them do so and let them opt-in.

Countries like France are already planning to take away net neutrality — with their upcoming anti-P2P law, illegal filesharers will be denied internet access for up to a year and open Wi-Fi hotspots will only be allowed to give access to whitelisted sites.

With unhealthy legislation/censorship like this being forced upon the world, we really don't need Google adding to our pains and taking away what little privacy we have left.

I'll update this blog article if/when Google do reverse their policy to opt-in. Keep it bookmarked so that you can stop the boycott =)

Please comment, blog, twitter #googlestrike and facebook this as much as you can — Thanks!