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How to stop Google from selling your browser history for ad targeting

Google Chrome

Photo Illustration by Chesnot/Getty Images

Over the past several months, Google has been slowly rolling out Chrome’s new ad technology. Describing it as “Enhanced ad privacy,” the new policy essentially lets websites take a user’s Chrome browser history and serve related ads. 

The new technology first appeared in a Chrome update in July, but now more and more users are reporting a popup announcing the addition. So if you haven’t seen it yet, odds are you will soon. 

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When the popup does appear, it informs users that ad policies are changing and details what’s new. Google does tell users that “You can make changes in Chrome settings,” but clicking “Got it” to dismiss the box leaves the new option on.

While it’s essentially the same as third-party tracking cookies that have been around for some time, many people are upset about Google using their online activity to make more ad profit. Fortunately, there’s a fairly easy way to opt out.

From your Chrome browser, click on “Settings,” then “Privacy and Security,” and then “Ad Privacy.” Once you’re there, you’ll see a screen with three tabs — ad topics, site-suggested ads, and ad measurement. 


Screenshot by David Grober/ZDNet

The first is an algorithm that creates a list of things Google thinks you’re interested in based on your online activity, the second is a service that suggests ads based on websites you’ve visited, and the third is a data category that lets advertisers see how ads are performing. 

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If you’d like, you can dive into ad topics to see what Google knows about you. But if you’d like to just go ahead and stop it from tracking you (at least for these purposes), simply toggle all three categories off.


Screenshot by David Grober/ZDNet

Other sites will still have methods of tracking you, but this cuts down on Google Chrome’s usage of your personal information. 

Of course, this is only a small part of the online privacy puzzle, and you’re still being tracked almost everywhere you go online. Still, it’s a start toward giving users more control over their data. 

If you’re still a little iffy on Chrome’s new policy, you might also want to consider an alternative browser that focuses on that area.

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