Does Google’s Opt Out Widget Have Teeth?

Google announced last year they were offering an opt out option in their Chrome browser. Now they have given it a name “Keep Mt Opt-Outs” and are trying to get more momentum for their effort to appease the FTC.

As Google states: “Recently, the Federal Trade Commission and others have expressed interest in a “Do Not Track” mechanism that could offer users a simple way to opt out of personalized advertising. Advertising companies that are members of the Network Advertising Initiative (NAI) already let you opt out of tracking for the purposes of personalizing advertisements, and many online advertisers and trade associations have also joined a major self-regulatory effort to enforce a uniform privacy icon for ads, as well as opt-out guidelines.”

The FTC’s ‘Do Not Track’ registry has been discussed since 2007. But as many have mentioned it will be a hard widget to create or a hard law to enforce.

“Google, among the largest online ad sellers, made it clear that by enabling its new extension, Chrome users could alter their web experiences for the worse,’ ClickZ noted. “Without a cookie, the ads you see on the web are likely to be less relevant and diverse. It also may result in less profitable ads for your favorite websites,” noted the Keep My Opt-Outs FAQ section.

Given the small number of users of the Chrome browser compared to Internet Explorer and Mozilla’s Firefox, the impact will not be big – but the rhetoric may help Google with the FTC. Both IE and Firefox have stated they will develop similar opt outs in their next version of their browsers.

The rush to offer alternatives to an FTC regulation is interesting. Will this slow the FTC – well given it is now 3 years they have been discussing – possibly.

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