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Google Embedded Tracking and Hidden Redirects in Search Results

News Privacy is Dead – Get Over It Recommended Links Big Uncle is Watching You How to collect and analyse your own Web activity metadata
Google Toolbar spyware Google secret redirects in search results Issues of security and trust in "cloud" env Search engines privacy Pitfalls of Google as a Search Engine
Nicholas Carr's "IT Does not Matter" Fallacy and "Everything in the Cloud" Utopia Cyberstalking   Humor Etc

Google practically owns search space. At least it used to own it before the current NSA-related backlash. But it has problems with tracking which links out of search results you chose to click. They are going to websites other then owned by Google so in no way it can retrieves information on which link you clicked. 

But look at the links to the following pages all extracted from Google search pages:

Do you see anything special? There is a clever trick in all of them. Google search results will appear in a normal link. However, behind the scenes, redirect for tracking is embedded and it can then "travel" to the site that used particular link in the webpage, like in cases above. This is a part of larger problem: continues tracking your activities on the Web by "cloud services" providers,.  See The SSD Project EFF Surveillance Self-Defense Project

There is actually several Trojans that reused this trick

Here is much more annoying example of such "hidden tracking" from Jason Ditz article White House Defends NSA ‘Social Mapping’ of Americans (September 30, 2013, The offending link with imbedded tracking is in red bold. The second link is "normal":

So when the New York Times  revealed over the weekend that the NSA has for the past 3 years been using its wholesale data collection from American citizens to construct elaborate maps of “social connections,” it was only a matter of time before the White House shrugged it off as perfectly legal and reasonable.

Although I was aware about this Google "feature" for a long time recently I swiped my site for such links and discovered almost a coupe of dozens "hidden redirects" that the site accidentally incorporates. For example:

./Security/intrusion_detection.shtml: <li><a target="_blank" href="">Firewalls 
./Security/Internet_privacy/google_tracking_links.shtml: <a href="">
./Security/Internet_privacy/google_tracking_links.shtml: <a href="">
./Security/Internet_privacy/google_tracking_links.shtml: <a href="">
./Security/Internet_privacy/google_tracking_links.shtml: <a href="">
./Security/Internet_privacy/google_tracking_links.shtml: <a href="">
./About/buzz.shtml:<a rel="nofollow" href=" bezroukov&source=web&cd=293&ved=0CDEQFjACOKIC&url=">
./Access_control/Groups/user_private_groups.shtml:<a rel="nofollow" href="">
./Access_control/Groups/user_private_groups.shtml:<a rel="nofollow" href="">
./Access_control/Permissions/suid_attribute.shtml: <a rel="nofollow" href="">setuid - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia</a></li>
./Access_control/Permissions/suid_attribute.shtml: <a rel="nofollow" href="">[Chapter 5] 5.5 SUID</a></li>
./Access_control/Permissions/suid_attribute.shtml: <a rel="nofollow" href="">Care and Feeding of
./Access_control/Permissions/suid_attribute.shtml: <a rel="nofollow" href="">UNIX Basics - File Access Permissions</a></li>
./Access_control/Permissions/suid_attribute.shtml: <a rel="nofollow" href="">Files and File system Security</a></li>
./Access_control/umask.shtml: <a rel="nofollow" href="">
./Access_control/umask.shtml: <a rel="nofollow" href="">
./Access_control/umask.shtml: <a rel="nofollow" href="">
./Access_control/umask.shtml: <a rel="nofollow" href="">
./Admin/Administration_of_remote_datacenter/administration_of_remote_servers.shtml:<a rel="nofollow" href=" or remote linux servers by boris loza, phd, cissp&source=web&cd=1&sqi=2&ved=0CCQQFjAA&url=">
./Admin/HP_operations_manager/Migration_from_tivoli_tec/index.shtml:<a rel="nofollow" href="">
./Admin/HP_operations_manager/Migration_from_tivoli_tec/index.shtml:<a rel="nofollow" href="">
./Admin/HP_operations_manager/Policies/measurement_threshold_policies.shtml: <a rel="nofollow" href=" threshold monitor&source=web&cd=8&ved=0CEcQFjAH&url=">
./Admin/HP_operations_manager/Policies/measurement_threshold_policies.shtml: <a rel="nofollow" href=" threshold monitor&source=web&cd=9&ved=0CEwQFjAI&url=">
./Admin/HP_operations_manager/Policies/measurement_threshold_policies.shtml: <a rel="nofollow" href=" threshold monitor&source=web&cd=16&ved=0CDkQFjAFOAo&url=">
./Admin/HP_operations_manager/Policies/measurement_threshold_policies.shtml: <a rel="nofollow" href=" threshold monitor&source=web&cd=17&ved=0CD4QFjAGOAo&url=">
./Admin/HP_operations_manager/agents.shtml:<a rel="nofollow" href=" HPOM agent troubleshooing&ei=G5O0TLyNKsSAlAfp7azlCQ&usg=AFQjCNFaqDLlPp2MDY8otzhzZQ43xoXwZw">
./Admin/Tivoli/ITM/index.shtml: in 2004 (<a rel="nofollow" href="">IBM).</a> ./Admin/Tivoli/index.shtml:<a rel="nofollow" href="">
./Admin/Tivoli/tivoli_alternatives.shtml:<a rel="nofollow" href="">
./Algorithms/Compilers/lexical_analysis.shtml:<a href="">
./Algorithms/Compilers/lexical_analysis.shtml:<a href="">
./Algorithms/Compilers/recursive_descent_parsing.shtml:<a href="">
./Algorithms/Compilers/recursive_descent_parsing.shtml: <a href="">
./Algorithms/Compilers/recursive_descent_parsing.shtml: <a href="">
./Algorithms/Compilers/recursive_descent_parsing.shtml:<a href="">
./Algorithms/Compilers/recursive_descent_parsing.shtml:<a href="">
./Algorithms/Compilers/recursive_descent_parsing.shtml:<a href="">
./Algorithms/Compilers/recursive_descent_parsing.shtml:<a href="">
./Algorithms/Compilers/recursive_descent_parsing.shtml:<a href="">
./Algorithms/Compilers/recursive_descent_parsing.shtml:<a href="">
./Algorithms/Sorting/bubblesort.shtml:<a href="">
./Algorithms/Sorting/quicksort.shtml: <a href=" quicksort&source=web&cd=12&ved=0CCQQFjABOAo&url=">
./Algorithms/Sorting/quicksort.shtml: <a href=" quicksort&source=web&cd=22&ved=0CCMQtwIwATgU&url=">
./Algorithms/Sorting/quicksort.shtml: <a href=" quicksort&source=web&cd=25&ved=0CDoQFjAEOBQ&url=">
./Algorithms/Sorting/quicksort.shtml: <a href=" quicksort&source=web&cd=12&ved=0CCQQFjABOAo&url=">
./Algorithms/bit_tricks.shtml: <a href="">
./Algorithms/bit_tricks.shtml: <a href="">
./Algorithms/bit_tricks.shtml: <a href="">
./Algorithms/bit_tricks.shtml: <a href="">
./Algorithms/bit_tricks.shtml: <a href="">&nbsp;Bit ./Bookshelf/Classic/tmmm.shtml: <a target="_blank" href="">
./Bookshelf/Classic/tmmm.shtml:<a target="_blank" href="">

If you are using Firefox, you can protect yourself from this kind of tracking using one of the following two Firefox add-ons:

  1. Google/Yandex search link fix by by Wladimir Palant

    Google Search has the annoying habit of changing the result link when you click it. If you try to copy the link you get some gibberish instead of the actual link. This extension disables this behavior - on any Google domain, without having to configure anything. Simply install and enjoy!

  2. Remove Google Tracking 1.8:
    This addon will remove such embedded tracking when click a link in Google Search and open a link directly.


    Remove tracking(redirect) Quickly(no contents rewrite) and Simple(rewrite tracking URL in HTTP request) on

    • Google Search
    • Google Custom Search (since version 1.3)
    • Google Images (since version 1.3)
    • Google Maps (since version 1.4)
    • Google News (since version 1.5)
    and also remove tracking from Javascript dynamic generated URL.

    Remove tracking is performed in the following four patterns.

    1. Left-click a link to open in that window.
    2. Right-click on a link to open in a new tab.
    3. Right-click on a link to open in a new window.
    4. Copy a link and paste it into the URL bar.

    And remove tracking supports normal HTTP request and secure HTTP request (https).
    For protect your privacy, I recommend you to use Google Search in secure HTTP request

    Known Issues:

    Sometimes 'Left-click the link to open in that window' was failed.
    In my trouble shoot, Network monitor captured tracking removed url only.
    So I think Firfox failed to refresh window in some internal conditions.
    If firefox failed to refresh window, please use other patterns.
    In addition, this issue does not occur almost when using secure http request (https).

    Also "Remove Yahoo Tracking" is available.

  3. Remove google search redirects 1.1.0

    Google uses a redirection link to tracks your clicks, in order to analyze the stats and later optimize their search results. This addon simply removes that redirection and turns every search result in its original link, saving your time and giving you more security.

    Works on results accessed from or (and any country variation like, and so on) and from the Firefox search box, works on regular results and Google Blogs, Google News, Google Recipes, Google Images, Google Videos and even using

    It also cleans up all the links you copy & paste from Google search results pages. This is one is a feature most users are looking for and other similar addons don't have.

    Please give me feedback as much as you can and suggest features. I'll be maintaining and supporting this addon since it proved to be useful for the community. I'll be glad to hear from you.

You can also block Google Analytics, which is another backdoor using which Google tries to track your activities. See NO Google Analytics 0.5

Top Visited
Past week
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Old News ;-)

[Nov 05, 2013] How to prevent Google from tracking you How To by Dennis O'Reilly

January 30, 2012 | CNET

The Electronic Frontier Foundation offers the Panopticlick service that rates the anonymity of your browser. The test shows you the identifiable information provided by your browser and generates a numerical rating that indicates how easy it would be to identify you based solely on your browser's fingerprint.

According the the entropy theory explained by Peter Eckersley on the EFF's DeepLinks blog, 33 bits of entropy are sufficient to identify a person. According to Eckersley, knowing a person's birth date and month (not year) and ZIP code gives you 32 bits of entropy. Also knowing the person's gender (50/50, so one bit of entropy) gets you to the identifiable threshold of 33 bits.

When I ran Panopticlick's test on a Mac Mini, it reported 20.89 bits of identifiable information, which according to the entropy formula would be insufficient to identify me. But maybe I want the sites I frequent to know a little bit about me. As I explained in a post from last October, personal information is the currency of the Web.

... ... ...

Free add-on for Firefox and Google Chrome targets tracking cookies

Several free browser extensions help you identify and block the companies that are tracking you on the Web. For example, Ghostery (available in versions for Firefox and Chrome) adds an icon to your browser toolbar showing the number of trackers on the current page. Click the icon to see a list of the trackers and view options for blocking or white-listing specific ones.

The free Disconnect extension (also available for Facebook and Chrome) takes a more direct approach to wiping your Web tracks. Disconnect blocks tracking by Google, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, and Digg. It also has an option for depersonalizing searches.

As with Ghostery, Disconnect places an icon in the browser toolbar that shows the number of elements it has blocked on the current page. Click the icon to open a window showing the number of trackers blocked for each service. To unblock tracking for one of the services, click its entry. (Note that I tested Disconnect only with Google; also, blocking of international Google domains is not yet available, according to Disconnect's developers.)

When I tested Disconnect, I had to sign in to Gmail, Google Docs, and other Google services every time I returned to or refreshed one of those pages, which is understandable considering that blocking the cookie prevents Google from keeping you signed in. Otherwise I was able to use Google services without a problem, including search, viewing and sending Gmail, and accessing, creating, uploading, and downloading Google Docs files.

While people are rightly concerned about who is watching and recording their Web activities, at least Google makes it possible to use the company's services without being too forthcoming with your personal information. ISPs and other Web services do as much tracking as Google--or more--but garner far fewer headlines. For a detailed look at the state of privacy in the digital world, read about the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Surveillance Self-Defense project.

After all, the true threat to privacy is from the trackers we don't know about, and who aren't household names.

[Nov 05, 2013] How to Stop Google, Yahoo & Bing from Tracking Your Clicks

Whenever you click a link in Google Search, your click is redirected through a secret URL. If the site you're going to is, Google will do a secret redirect through a URL that looks similar to In some cases, you can reveal the secret redirect by right-clicking on a linked search result. If that doesn't work, your last resort is an HTTP sniffer.

There are several Firefox add-ons that claim to get rid of Google Search's click tracking. CustomizeGoogle is one of them. Among other tweaks, it promises to remove click tracking and disable Google Analytics cookies. If you just want the anti-tracking feature without the bells and whistles, there's a Greasemonkey script you can download called Google Tracking B-Gone. To use Greasemonkey scripts, you need to install the Greasemonkey add-on for Firefox. Also, if you use an international version of Google such as, you have to change the script's URL range from http://** to http://*.google.*/* to ensure that the script is allowed to operate on your local Google site.

[Nov 05, 2013] undirect - Chrome extension that removes google redirect search result

Google Project Hosting
When searching using google, the result links don't go directly to the site - they first send the user to an interim "redirecting" page, which they use to keep track of user's search results.

Usually, this isn't a problem, but sometimes when you're on a slow connection, or want to send friends a link straight from the search results, this just gets in the way.

Undirect is a simple chrome extension that removes this tracking and redirection from google search results.

Works for all google domains across all countries, and is very light-weight.

Undirect @ Chrome Web Store

Install latest version

How To Disable Google Search Redirects By

April 22, 2011 | Ghacks

Many websites look up the IP address that you are connecting with, or other browser header information, to redirect you automatically to a language specific website. While those systems usually get it right, they are annoying for users who do not want to be redirected to a country specific domain name or different language version.

The search engine Google is for instance redirecting first time users automatically to a localized search engine when they open but do not have an IP address that resolves to the US. You can click on the go to link at the bottom to force the switch but this is saved in a cookie which means that you will be redirected again if you delete the cookie or if it expires. Some users do not like to be patronized.

Back in 2008 I posted a solution to the question Why is redirecting me to another Google domain?. The solution back then was to use a special url to load without being redirect to a country specific search domain. in english

The url still works as intended. Roman send me an email recently that described a second option which blocks the redirect completely and loads the standard Google search engine homepage.

If you load you tell Google that you do not want to be redirected. The NCR supposedly stands for No Country Redirect.

Now, if you bookmark that domain name you will always end up on the default search page. Google will automatically save a cookie on your computer that prevents redirects to other localized Google search engine domains. You can theoretically open directly after this point as long as you keep the cookie on the system. If you want to avoid troubles at all, you may want to always use the ncr address.

It is not an ideal solution, considering that you cannot seem to use as your browser's search engine for instance, but it works reasonably well if you bookmark the url and use that bookmark to open the Google search website.

Tutorial stop Google redirecting to local search results Neorelic [The Blog] by Patrick Jones

November 23, 2011 |

Recently, I've been hearing a few complaints about Google automatically redirecting to location-specific search results. Most of the time, this is fine. However, sometimes you might find this to be too restrictive and want to expand your search outside of your own country.

Here are a couple of quick tips on how to get around Google's automatic redirection.

>Use instead of

How to Stop Google from recording your Search habits

AOL, the fourth most popular search engine, recently released search queries of 650,000 AOL subscribers on the Internet. Though AOL now says that it was a mistake and quickly removed the search data from their website, mirror copies of AOL search terms continue to be available across the web.

It is a universal truth that all search engines, including Yahoo, Google and MSN, retain search data of their users which can easily give a clue about the person's identity and a glimpse into his mind and online activity.

Though it is highly unlikely that Google users will ever come across this "AOL Data Spill" like embarrassing situation, the possibility cannot be ruled out completely especially after Eric Schmidt's remark that ".. this sort of thing would not happen at Google although you can never say never."

If you are worried that some day Google, by mistake, might disclose your private search terms into public internet domain, try some of the following suggestion that may fool the search engine or give it a hard time recognizing you.

The background is that when you perform a search on Google, the site search logs keep a record of your computer IP address, cookie ID and the search query terms. Google may also track your clicks on the search results by rewriting the destination URL. So we will look at possible ways to manipulate each of this information:

1. Disallow Google to Store Cookies - The important thing is that it doesn't suffice blocking cookies from just domain, you must also block cookies from google site in your country.

For example, in India, one would block and - This is because Google redirects you to your local country page when you type in in the browser address bar.

To block cookies, open the Cookie blocking dialog in your browser, type the site url and click disallow or block.

IE: Click Tools->Internet Options->Privacy->Sites
Firefox: Click Tool->Options->Privacy->Cookies->Exceptions

Remember that Google Personalized Search History won't work after you disable cookies from Also, you may have to type the user name and password of other Google services like each time you have to login since cookies are disabled and you won't be automatically logged in.

2. Use Scandoo - Scandoo is a wonderful wrapper written around search engines that warns you of malicious websites in search results. Now the good part is that Scandoo can help you search Google, Yahoo or MSN without disclosing your actual geographic location (or IP Address) to the search engine.

Scandoo interace remains invisible to the end user and one would feel that he is searching via Google itself. [Scandoo Google, Scandoo IE Toolbar]

3. Download HideMyIp software - Your IP address is one big link between your search queries. You would be lucky if your ISP provides you a dynamic IP address that changes frequently but if you are stuck with a static IP, you can still hide it with Hide MyIP address software.

HideMyIP conceals your real IP address and shows a fake IP with a hostname to the sites that you visit. You can set Hide-My-IP to change your IP address every minute. [Download]

4. Download CustomizeGoogle for Firefox - If you Google using Firefox, this is a highly recommended extension that completely enhances your Googling experience. It can help remove Googel Ads, anonymize your Google userid, remove click tracking or filter google search results. [Install CutomizeGoogle]

5. Block cookies from Yahoo, Google and MSN. Then use for searching these three search engines simultaneously. [Dogpile Search]

6. Block Google from Tracking Your Clicks

7. Don't use Google or Yahoo to search the web as they will store your entire trail of activity on their servers. Try or which do not save users search data. Clusty is a meta search engine based on Vivisimo clustered search - It queries several top search engines, combines the results, and generates an ordered list based on comparative ranking.

8. Finally, you can try Scroogle Google Scraper, a search wrapper around Google (and yahoo) search that lets you anonymously search Google and promises not maintaining your search query terms. [Google Scroogle]

By typing "/ncr" at the end of the URL, this indicates that you don't want to be automatically redirected to your localised version of Google. This also works if you want to specifically direct your browser to any other localised version of Google from around the world. For example:

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