Google users sell their privacy cheaply

Posted by Emma Woollacott

An offer from Google to pay users up to $25 to give up their privacy has been swamped by takers.

The company's new Screenwise project is offering users a reward if they install a browser extension that shares with Google the sites they visit and how they use them.

"Our panel management partner, Knowledge Networks, will give you a $5 Amazon.com Gift Card code instantly when you sign up and download the Google Screenwise browser extension," says the company.

"Then you’ll get additional $5 Amazon.com Gift Card codes every three months for staying with it.2 It's our way of saying 'Thank you'."

Users will need to install a free router, which the company refers to as a Screenwise Data Collector, and which will monitor the usage of all internet-connected devices in the home.

It'll capture user data, browsing start time, duration and mode. The data will allow the identification of individuals, and Google says it will share it with quite a few third parties, including academic institutions - and advertisers.

There's a maximum of $25 in it. However, the company says it's already 'overwhelmed' by the interest, since launching the project on Tuesday.

The data will tell Google more or less everything that users are up to on the internet.

But the most important piece of information to come from the project may just be that users are apparently not only willing but eager to hand over all their personal data - in exchange for no more than a small gift voucher.

What price privacy now?