Google offering to pay web users to track their every move

The Screenwise project is designed to send usage data using browser plugin or special hardware

Today in Tech | Feb 13, 2012

By Tecca

Less than a month after announcing a controversial new privacy policy that shares user data across all its sites with no opt-out option, Google is introducing a system to monitor all online activity of those who participate in a program called Screenwise. In exchange for unrestricted access to information on your every online move, the search and software giant is offering financial compensation.

By signing up for Screenwise and installing a browser plugin (only Google Chrome is supported at present), you’ll be given $5 in store credit on Amazon. For every three months you continue to provide Google with browsing data, you’ll earn an addition $5 gift card, up to a total of $25. Only those over 13 can participate and, perhaps not surprisingly, signups are currently on hold due to overwhelming interest.

For those willing to make their online lives a completely open book, Google plans to offer a more elaborate tracking system that utilizes special hardware. The device, which connects to your broadband router, will monitor the online activity of all computers in your home. This program, which isn’t available yet, will compensate participants $100 for signing up and $20 a month for up to a year.

While the idea of getting paid to browse the web might sound win-win, it’s important to note that Screenwise will track private browsing data in its Chrome extension (though supposedly won’t link it to you directly) and will share data with third-parties should you opt for the hardware-based option.

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