Lately, I’ve been putting a great deal of emphasis on security for my PC and websites. Adware, spyware, viruses and hackers abound on the Internet so it only makes sense to at least have a firewall and good virus software on one’s PC. Data encryption is also something may people consider to order to make their computers more secure.
But, websites can also have security breaches and this can be aided by the info on your PC. Storing cookies, history, IP addresses, logons and passwords in your email software and FTP software can also open a door for these breaches.
So, as an experiment I decided to use Internet Explorer’s InPrivate Browsing feature. It can be found under the Safety tab on the toolbar. But, when I started using this feature I noticed something. That something is that Google would like to access your location.
In fact, sometimes during private browsing, which doesn’t store cookies, history, logons and passwords, a message will pop up on the Google Toolbar that states, “Google would like to access your location. The Google Toolbar will periodically use the network to keep your location up to date.” Of course on the toolbar you can allow or disallow the Google toolbar to have your IP address.
According to Google, “When My Location is active, Toolbar will automatically send local network information (including, but not limited to, visible WiFi access points) to Google Location Services in order to determine your location. This information is not tied to your Google Account, and you can disable the My Location feature at any time by clicking the My Location icon.”
The benefits of letting Google and other websites know your location are several. First, Google Maps can serve up businesses in your area and second, location specific ads can also be served up. Localize results are also a benefit of knowing the IP location.
As for other websites knowing your location, they can track statistics used to enhance their websites and your experience on their site. The downside is that not all websites are friendly and can use your geo location, cookies, history, stored logons and passwords against you.
You’ll have to decide for yourself whether or not private browsing is for you. For me, I bounce back and forth between the two and let my best judgment decide whether I would like to keep my info private or not on a website by website basis.