Google to Start Paying You To Monitor Your Browsing Habits

Martin Brinkmann
Feb 8, 2012
Updated • Dec 1, 2012

As soon as you start using the Internet, your actions are tracked by specialized companies. This not only includes web server logs but also third party tracking through advertisement, social networking scripts and other third party scripts.

Google is about to launch Screenwise, a project that allows them to monitor the sites users visit and how they use them. For that, participating users get paid up to $25 in gift cards over the course of a year. Users who sign up get a $5 Amazon gift card right away, and then additional $5 gift cards for every three months they stay in the project.

According to the information posted on the Screenwise Landing panel, Google attempts to use the information to "improve Google products and services and make a better online experience for everyone".

Participating users need to download the Google Screenwise browser extension for the Chrome web browser and use the browser for their Internet activities. Eligible are Google account users who are at least 13 years of age. Google notes on the page that the company will not save user email addresses, or "associate it with any other personally identifiable information".

Google has partnered up with Knowledge Networks, a research company that specializes in Internet research.

Interested users can submit their email address to receive notifications when registration opens. According to the landing page information, users will receive participation information in the coming days.

The process, even though opt-in, will certainly face its share of criticism, especially since Google is currently already facing public pressure over their privacy policy and terms of service changes.

The question is, how many users are willing to give up their privacy for 12 months for $25 in Amazon gift certificates? What's your take on this?

Update: The Screenwise website is no longer available. We have removed the link as a consequence.


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  1. Anonymous said on February 14, 2012 at 7:32 pm

    People DON’T fall for the banana in the tail pipe. This is just another slick way for the New World Order to invade our privacy. Are you kidding me? The US Government is treating their citizens like the Nazi Concentration Camp error.

  2. Roman ShaRP said on February 11, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    For now it’s just a too small money for me.

    But, like Anon said above, “For something like $15-20 instead of $5 it’d be kind of worthwile. They are collecting my data anyway, so at least they are finally giving me my share.”

  3. Levi said on February 9, 2012 at 8:26 pm

    There is no such thing as free money

    no work no eat

  4. Robert Palmar said on February 9, 2012 at 6:20 am

    This is not the stuff Google may be collecting normally.
    Agreeing to this constitutes an opt-in in their privacy policy:

    Information sharing

    Google only shares personal information with other companies or individuals outside of Google in the following limited circumstances:

    * We have your consent. We require opt-in consent for the sharing of any sensitive personal information.
    * We provide such information to our subsidiaries, affiliated companies or other trusted businesses or persons for the purpose of processing personal information on our behalf. We require that these parties agree to process such information based on our instructions and in compliance with this Privacy Policy and any other appropriate confidentiality and security measures.
    * We have a good faith belief that access, use, preservation or disclosure of such information is reasonably necessary to (a) satisfy any applicable law, regulation, legal process or enforceable governmental request, (b) enforce applicable Terms of Service, including investigation of potential violations thereof, (c) detect, prevent, or otherwise address fraud, security or technical issues, or (d) protect against harm to the rights, property or safety of Google, its users or the public as required or permitted by law.

    If Google becomes involved in a merger, acquisition, or any form of sale of some or all of its assets, we will ensure the confidentiality of any personal information involved in such transactions and provide notice before personal information is transferred and becomes subject to a different privacy policy.

  5. Anon said on February 8, 2012 at 8:22 pm

    For something like $15-20 instead of $5 it’d be kind of worthwile. They are collecting my data anyway, so at least they are finally giving me my share.

  6. Ross Presser said on February 8, 2012 at 8:18 pm

    How is this different in kind from being a Nielsen family? (Clearly it’s different in degree — people’s web browsing shows a lot more personal interest than watching TV. But different in kind? I don’t think so.)

  7. Robert Palmar said on February 8, 2012 at 7:19 pm

    I imagine joining this program constitutes an opt-in and consent
    to share personal information under Google’s new privacy policy.

    As such any personal information acquired under this program
    can be shared according to that privacy policy terms which include
    within Google itself, other businesses, and sometimes law enforcement.

  8. Anonymous said on February 8, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    Big Brother Google doesn’t have enough information on peeps? Beats me who would want to participate in that scheme!

  9. Anonymous said on February 8, 2012 at 4:48 pm

    “. . . a project that allows them to monitor the sites users visit and how they use them.”

    Gee, I thought they already did that. Now they want to pay you for it.

  10. EuroScept1C said on February 8, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    Make it 400€ to get a new Graphics Card and I’m in.

  11. Sina said on February 8, 2012 at 2:31 pm

    LOL !
    What do you think about users, Google ?
    In addition to @Yoav, I believe even a “Six year-old net-savvy” won’t wait an YEAR just for 25 bucks …

    Just wondering how ‘don’t be evil’ became ‘let’s all be evil’ … !!

  12. Yoav said on February 8, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    This is interesting – I wonder if this is a result of many more people using their services anonymously.
    Also – who are they targeting with 25$ a year? Six year-old net-savvy, cash-strapped users?

  13. Dan said on February 8, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    I’ve already signed up. Now I am eagerly awaiting the $5 GC so I can cancel my participation. :D

  14. Transcontinental said on February 8, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    Is it possible to bargain ?

    I love starting the day with a big laugh :) Great Caesar’s ghost, I wouldn’t have read it here I wouldn’t have believed it : getting paid by Google (if you can call that a salary) to undress yourself without getting undressed by them, what a deal !

    Well, I really think having chosen to close my Google account was the right decision. Google isn’t blacklisted because I continue to use (anonymous) services, but no exception on a default ‘no cookie’ policy and use of a keen “protect yourself” Firefox extension called ‘Google Disconnect’ together with a few system-wide privacy instances help me manage a minimum of space to breath. Of course, other Big Brother, Facebook, is completely blacklisted.

    Gosh, oh! boy …

  15. Paul said on February 8, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    So what if you sign up for the project and than continue browsing the web with your favorite furry browser?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on February 8, 2012 at 12:38 pm

      They are probably asking for a minimum browsing time per month or quarter.

  16. Nebulus said on February 8, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    This is really ridiculous. Though I’m sure there will be some people that will accept that…

  17. Finvana said on February 8, 2012 at 11:23 am

    $25 a year? My privacy is quite more expensive.

    1. Roebie said on February 8, 2012 at 11:29 am

      Yeah, mine too.
      Google, please add a couple of zeros (3 might do) to the equation.

      1. EuroScept1C said on February 8, 2012 at 2:51 pm

        I strongly believe all of the money come from Advertisers already… You see it’s gift cards, not cash…

        Google won’t give a cent.

      2. Paul said on February 8, 2012 at 12:38 pm

        If a million people participate that’s 25 mil a year expenses!

      3. Martin Brinkmann said on February 8, 2012 at 12:39 pm

        Which they make back in an hour or so.

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