If you have a Google account, you may have received a notification about new features for your Google account. If you click “I AGREE”, Google will turn on all forms of tracking, which includes receiving all sorts of browsing data from websites that Google partners with, your Google search history, as well as other information stored on Google’s servers.
Turning off ad personalization is actually a bit more difficult than is necessary- perhaps on purpose, as Google makes more money by displaying ads that users are more likely to take interest in. Turning off ads requires you to:
- click “more options”
- select the “No changes- review key privacy settings more fully”, and hit done
- select “Start Now”
- You’re then presented with a bunch of other unrelated privacy settings, ad personalization is hidden all the way at the bottom
- select “MANAGE YOUR ADS SETTINGS”
- Click the button to the right of “Ads Personalization” to turn it off.
Overall, the process to disable ads isn’t that difficult, but it’s far more work than is necessary. Ideally, it should just be a “do you agree to let Google use your browsing data to display more relevant ads?”, with a yes or no option. However, Google makes it a long process requiring the user to read through several menus, select the “correct” option, and then advance to the next. This is most likely to weed out most users from casually dismissing targeted ads, while allowing those that truly value their privacy to go out of their way to turn off data collection. There are several options throughout the process that turn on data collection & targeted ads, so if you select the “wrong” option at any time throughout the process, it turns it on.
Alternatively, if you don’t get this notification, you can do this process by clicking on your profile icon at Google.com, clicking “my account”, selecting “Ads settings” under “Personal Info & Privacy”, then selecting “MANAGE ADS SETTINGS” under “Personalize the ads you see.”
Google does not sell your information to third parties such as market research firms, it’s currently used exclusively to display more relevant ads. Google’s partners do not get access to the information that is collected. Another thing to consider is that data collection for ads is a separate program than data collection for government requests. Turning off data collection for personalized ads won’t necessarily protect you from the government providing requests to Google to provide them with information on its users. Google is likely unable to comment on these types of situations.
Disclaimer: This site does use Google Adsense to display ads from Google. Other than that, I have no affiliation with Google.