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Opt Out of Creepy KissMetrics Surveillance

When the internet was founded, the use of the technology for pecuniary gain was a banishable offense. Now spying on people is considered the norm.

Take Kissmetrics, which tracks people and connects their common browsing of websites across different computers and tablets so that people can be profiled and monetized. Even when two people use the same computer, Kissmetrics uses data mining and analysis to distinguish between them and monetize your personal identity. Kissmetrics boasts:

“Every last piece gets connected to a real person. All of it. It doesn’t matter if people bounce around between different browsers and devices. Or even if it takes them 6 months to come back. You’ll see what real people do.”

In the past, Kissmetrics was even more aggressive about profiling people online than it is now: according to privacy blogger Maggie Moran, the company got sued for using “supercookies” that people couldn’t disable and appeared to pool data to track people as they moved between sites. In the present, Kissmetrics appears to be quietly integrated into WordPress website tools like Jetpack without users being told about it upfront. (This is why Irregular Times has disabled Jetpack.)

Let’s not beat around the bush: this is corporate surveillance, and it’s creepy.

In an increasingly common variety of the creeps, Kissmetrics doesn’t ask for you to agree for your identity to be tracked. In order to avoid being spied on, you have to become aware of Kissmetrics and then find their “opt out” page. How likely is that? Well, let’s make it a bit more likely. Kissmetrics’ opt-out page is here. No, you don’t have to give your name when you’re opting out. Apparently, they already know.

4 comments to Opt Out of Creepy KissMetrics Surveillance

  • J Clifford

    When I tried to use the opt-out function on the KISSmetrics site, it just took me to a blank page. No confirmation message that the opt-out was successful, and I see the word “toggle” in the page I was taken to, which leads me to believe that, if I reloaded that page out of confusion about whether the opt-out had been successful, I might just toggle the KISSMetrics tracking right back on.

    KISSMetrics is an embodiment of the worst of what the Internet has become.

    • Bill

      Hey, J. Try ‘Pause Blocking’ on your Ghostery plug-in after you go to the KissMetrics opt out page. Then refresh the page. You’ll get a properly working form. Then remember to turn blocking back on.

      This the the only real disadvantage to Ghostery that I know of. A goodly number of pages don’t work right when it’s active.

  • Mark

    I noticed that in order for the opt-out to work your browser has to enable third party cookies. Useless! Enabling third-party cookies is almost as bad as being tracked.

    • Bill

      Yeah, I was just about to comment on this. On the one hand, KissMetrics claims it can track you “between different browsers and devices,” but then on the other hand it claims it can’t untrack you between different browsers and devices. I think it’s pretty obvious that one of these two statements is a lie. No, wait, that’s not really fair; it is also possible that both are lies.

      Hey, WordPress: fly with the crows, get shot with the crows.

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