Google launches 'cookie choices' site to let users know how they're being tracked

Publishers can incorporate data notifications into their sites using Google's code

Google has launched a new site, CookieChoices.org, to help visitors of European sites learn more about the digital breadcrumbs they leave behind through cookies.

The site includes code that publishers can use to incorporate notifications into their own sites and apps. The notifications could take the form of pop-up alerts or a bar at the top of the screen, ostensibly to give details like the visitor's browsing history or profile information.

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The site is meant to address European laws that require that digital publishers give visitors to their sites and apps information about their use of cookies and other data. The site's tools should be used as part of a wider compliance package, Google said on its landing page.

People in other countries like the U.S. could see the notifications too, Google said, unless the publisher adds their own geographic restrictions.

It's not clear when exactly the site launched. Google did not immediately respond to comment.

Cookies are files stored on people's computers that help enable targeted ads -- the lifeblood of Google's business. Google already provides information about how it uses cookies, such as in its terms, as well as within Chrome for managing cookies.

Google's new site could give this type of information prime real estate across the wider Web. It comes amid a recent European ruling letting Europeans submit "right to be forgotten" requests to have search links to information on them removed.

CookieChoices.org is not focused on Google search results. But if enough sites make use of it, it could improve people's understanding of the massive amount of data collection that goes on behind the scenes of the Web.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

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