Google Toolbar Bug Allows Google To Track Sites Visited

A bug in the Google Toolbar application apparently enables Google to track URLs of the websites visited by the user along with associated directories, filenames, URL parameters and search terms even after the user has ‘disabled’ the toolbar’s ‘enhanced features’.

Ben Edelmen, a Harvard professor and a long-time Google critic reported on his blog that Google Toolbar continued to transmit data back to Google servers even after he disabled the feature and he further went on to supply screenshots and video evidence to support his claim.

In his blog post, commenting on Google’s intrusion of a user’s privacy, Edelmen said that “Fact is, the 'Disable Google Toolbar only for this window' option doesn't work at all: It does not actually disable Google Toolbar for the specified window."

However, the search engine giant Google was prompt in issuing a statement, acknowledging a bug along with a patch that fixes the problem.

The company said in an emailed statement that the bug only affects versions 6.3.911.1819 through 6.4.1311.42 of Google Toolbars for Internet Explorer web browser.

Google also claimed that the bug does not come into affect until users activate the ‘enhanced features’ of the toolbar, which according to Edelmen, is surprisingly easy than disabling it altogether.

Our Comments

Though Google seems to have responded adequately to this allegation of privacy violation, the search engine giant will be have to be more careful in future in order to avoid criticism from privacy advocate groups. But at least Google responded to the request of Edelmen rather than ignore it altogether.

Related Links

Google Toolbar caught tracking users when 'disabled'

(The Register)

Google Fixes Toolbar Privacy Flaw

(Information Week)

Google Toolbar Still Spies When Told Not To

(PC Mag)

Google Toolbar keeps going and going

(The Inquirer)